I have an 11-year-old special needs daughter. Since my divorce, I have been trying to make a living without much luck. My skill set is varied, but doesn't fit into any box neatly. I had the hair-brained idea to start a website that was intended to "fix Washington" or at least allow the average person to run for federal office without spending a fortune. The more congress misbehaves, the better Writeindependent.org should do.
That idea never made much money.
However, when I explain my purpose in life to my daughter, I tell her "Mommy's trying to save the world," because it's just too difficult to explain how politics run everything or ruin things, as the case may be.
We worry far too much about the fiscal cliff.
The fiscal cliff is the least of our worries, because the fiscal cliff is a human concoction. We got ourselves here on purpose. If we really wanted to get out of our financial troubles, we have everything we need to summon the political will to make that happen.
If we want to worry about something, we should be worrying about our children and their future instead.
The big ticket items for me have always been, and will always be: will my daughter have enough to eat, and can I put a roof over her head? Will she be safe and sound in her bed at night, and healthy enough to enjoy herself? The difference between me and someone who worries about the fiscal cliff is that I think years ahead.
The looming problems seem to me, in order of importance:
1. Global warming. If you think a fiscal cliff is horrible, just wait until your home is ripped apart by a tornado or sunk under two feet of water and then tell me about your financial troubles. And if you're living far from the water and away from the tornadoes, then please tell me: what will happen to food prices when our dustbowl can't provide the quantity of food we need? If we don't gear up for more extreme weather, it's not that we will suffer today, but that our children will suffer for years to come.
2. Pollution. If you thought pollution wasn't a problem now, just wait until fracking and weather patterns collide. Fracking may be "safe" under dry conditions, but when storm water floods through an area, it indiscriminately picks up whatever is in its path. A report published by the NYSDEC called a "Review of Selected Non-Routine Incidents in Pennsylvania" explains what happened to one site under flood conditions: "The discharge of fluid from the well pad was caused by the failure of stormwater controls on the well pad due to extraordinary precipitation and other factors." And trust me, you don't want your children drinking from wells or a water table that has fracking contaminants in them. For more information about fracking, read here.
3. War. I used to think that war was something we could just stop. Now I think it's a problem that will never get solved. There will always be bullies and vendettas, religious fanaticism, or people who have something that other people want. But what I do see is a trend toward peaceful involvement, of activism speaking louder than bombs. When more calamitous events occur that threaten human survival, we won't be thinking about making weapons, but rather how to make our way in a new world by cleaning up messes: hurricane by hurricane, and health-related event by health-related event. We will all be soldiers of storms, fighting the elements and our own struggle to find energy sources.
Every now and then, when I fret over money, my daughter reminds me, "You're saving the world, Mom" and then I don't feel so badly that it's not coming together just yet. "Yes," I agree with her. "It's a long-term project."
For solutions to the fiscal cliff and our flagging economy, visit here.