Snow in Hawaii and Car Payments

February 13, 2019

It may seem odd to link two apparently unconnected subjects, the recent snow event in Hawaii (the first such event ever) and the rise in unpaid car payments, as the title of this blog, but let me explain.  Wild climate change events and income inequality indebtedness are the most important public policy concerns facing this nation. While Washington and the political class brawl over border security and tax cuts, it is the regular occurrence of bizarre weather and deepening debt that must rise to the top of the legislative and executive agenda.

It is not necessary now to quarrel over whether man made global warming is the cause of our weather. What really matters is that climate change is wreaking havoc on human life, critical infrastructure, private property, insurance premiums, long and short term displacement and fear of the unknown. Those public officials who aren’t bogged down in ideology are beginning to push for changes in building codes, protection of low lying areas, early warning detection systems, and sensible evacuation procedures.  Day by day our lives are changing as weather reports become more disturbing and dangerous. Action must be taken now.

Then there is debt, not the $ 22 trillion- that’s twelve zeroes- national debt but the fact that new data point to 7 million Americans who are behind in their car payment by up to 90 days. We are back in the pre-2008 era with credit card debt out of control, bankruptcies a regular occurrence and foreclosures a common announcement. Some will say that all this personal debt is the result of poor personal financial decisions, that may be true in part. But debt for millions and millions of Americans is mainly the result of an inability to live with security and confidence in our economic system which clearly is skewed toward the rich and well born.

Who in Congress, the White House and those running for high public office will take on climate change and income inequality? So far there are scattered proposals like the Green Deal and soak the rich tax promises. These may foster debate and controversy but on closer inspection are non-starters. Nothing gets done in our government these days when solutions are presented that immediately strike fear among policy makers and then political push back. Although moderate, middle of the road proposals that occupy the center of the political spectrum currently reside in a time far removed from reality, it is essential that the political class move as quickly as possible to deal with extreme weather climate change and income inequality induced debt.

Back in the old days of common sense politics piecemeal change and incremental policy making were heralded as the answer to pressing problems. There is nothing wrong with inching toward solutions to grave problems as long as there is inching forward, not being mired in partisan wrangling and gridlock. Let’s get started on inching forward on climate change and income inequality.