Prehistory social relations served human needs. Safety was on top of the list, but since then it has matured into a desire to live free from fear. The demand for physically strong leaders was followed by male dominance. Tribes form and trade or war between them became national security through conquest and this may mature to become interdependence through trade. Little has changed in this give and take between men and “their” families, tribe and nation for 5,000 years. One problem though, supremacy is still considered the final prize. It is not. The variations of supreme powers are many. However, the connective tissue composed of dominant men throughout this history is failing. It must. Kavanaugh, the man is now a symbol of the triple bottom line (TBL).
Two out of three TBL arguments (seeking social, ecological and financial safety) are failing. John Elkington’s introduction of TBL brings this point home in the last sentence of the first chapter.
“Developing this comprehensive approach to sustainable development and environmental protection will be a central governance challenge – and, even more critically, a market challenge – in the 21st century.”
Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business,” Capstone, 1997
The expression and fulfillment of need, once represented by trade as a social and economic activity has become the abstraction of “stock” as an economic act. Elkington asks, “Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?” The annual value of trading derives from bets on labor. Today, the dividend value of this bet is thousands of times higher than the total paid in wage income in the same period. From the viewpoint of observers, this path leads to catastrophic social events, the most recent being the Great Recession of 2008.
In the following decade, the “central governance challenge” has yet to be accepted. The Senators are talking. There are warnings by Elizabeth Warren (D-CT) on the weakening of Dodd-Frank’s demand for accountability continues, the market challenge is failing as well, see and here Bernie (I-VT) or Robert Reich on the subject. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is the Senate’s most active advocate on climate change says we are failing.
How Did We Get Here?
One of the sources of this failure comes from an attempt to establish a basis for congressional independence and power. There was Bruce Babbitt, Bill Bradley, James Fallows, Mike Kinsley, and Chuck Peters of course. There was Nicholas Lemann, Gary Hart, and Paul Tsongas and some other privileged white males who were encouraged to develop a workable across the aisle relationship with the minority party and the Executive Branch. Upon implementation, that became Bill Clinton in 1992 and that is when the Congress of the United States lost its ability to govern. A new, very wealthy group of equity owners arrived to forecast the shift from manufacturing to the information age. Support for the working family and their unions slipped into a wink and a nod in favor of the technical professional class. Laborers lived in other countries. Economists called it the “death of distance.” The influence smelled like big packs of crisp hundred dollar bills in every urban electoral district. Government’s national leadership fell into vats of cash because they needed it. The tragedy of the George Bush wars and the obstruction aimed at the Barach Obama presidency like a shotgun exposed every raw nerve of America leading to POTUS45. If this sounds a little off, read about the Atari Democrats. The Atari video game is gone, but not the rise of the neo-liberal compromise. Make your case for when and how we got into this mess (Comment Below) (NY Times Story).