Date: 2017-04-17 03:43 am (UTC)
flwyd: (rose red sky blue)
From: [personal profile] flwyd
Okay, but how are you going to get policies that would result in a higher standard of living from the current society?

A couple threads:
First, one of the authors' goals is to convince environmentalists to support raising standards of living for folks in the developing world, rather than hoping we can protect the environment by keeping people poor. They have a chapter focused on Brazil and protection of the Amazon: laws meant to preserve the forest are fairly ineffective because there are several stronger incentives in place to cut down the forest. The authors argue that if we can raise the standard of living for Brazilians—including by forgiving outstanding foreign debt that's draining government coffers—we can bring more folks into the middle class and in a position to be concerned about environmental preservation, who will then be motivated to apply political pressure from within to enforce environmental laws.

On the American front, I haven't finished the book yet, so I don't know their full proposal for "The Politics of Possibility," which is the title for the second half of the book. Earlier in this chapter, though, they say that by most standards, even poor Americans have a remarkably high material standard of living. We aren't struggling for food and shelter, but we are struggling for status, community connection, and other types of fulfillment higher on Maslow's hierarchy.

As I discussed in my review of George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant, it's important to communicate in a way that activates your moral frame. Campaigning against someone else's point of view gets that position rattling around their brain. Campaigning for your vision of the world reinforces that idea. When Obama won in 2008, his primary messages were hope and change, not fear and reactionary. His focus on health care aimed to reduce one of the biggest elements of fear and worry that Americans face, and a further push for universal health care could solidify that.

Liberals have done a pretty poor job proposing a framework for a post-scarcity society where people find fulfillment even though the need for labor declines due to automation and efficiency. Imagine a politician who ran on a platform of national strength through community resilience and freedom and opportunity supported by a foundation like basic income. This is a positive message meant to raise standard of living and reduce fears. It's also not a message designed to activate those fears and folks into a fight-or-flight response.
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