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Generational Equity

Our opinions should be, I believe, open to challenge and to change when new circumstances, new  facts, or individual maturity push us to modify previous convictions.  John Maynard Keynes, a great economist, famously responded to a critic who accused him of inconsistency, of changing his opinions, with  “I change my opinions when the facts change.  What do you do?”

One of the foundations of my campaign for Congress in 2010 was that the federal government’s spending $1.40 for every $1.00 it received in tax revenues was wrong,  and that deficits threatened our futures and  our children’s.  I read an article today in The Guardian UK which opines that worrying about financial deficits is nonsense, that we should instead be worrying  about natural resource deficits and their consequences.  I wasn’t convinced by the arguments that financial deficits don’t threaten us, but the author’s viewpoint got me questioning one of my beliefs about what’s needed to protect America.

If the deficit has little to with the wellbeing of our children and grandchildren, global warming has everything to do with it. We run the risk of handing them a planet without many of the fascinating features that we had the opportunity to enjoy (for example, coral reefs that are dying, plant and animal species that are becoming extinct, landscapes that are being transformed). Far more seriously, we face the likelihood of handing them a planet in which hundreds of millions of people risk death by starvation due to drought in central Africa, or through flooding in Bangladesh and other densely populated low-lying areas in Asia, as a result of human caused global warming.


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