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Perverse pride in plasticware.

March 3, 2011

You’ve probably heard by now about how the House Republicans, on sweeping into power, immediately put a halt to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “Green the Capital” initiativean early and symbolic target of the new GOP majority. It seems that Republicans just can’t stand the compostable utensils and takeout containers that came in with the Democratic majorities of 2007. They’ve complained that the utensils were shoddy and the composting program was expensive, and of course, elections have consequences, so out it goes. So what’s with the gleeful tweeting about plastic?

Speaker John Boehner’s press secretary, Brendan Buck, tweeted on Monday: “The new majority – plasticware is back.”

I think Dan Farber Ann Carlson at Legal Planet is right when she says:

It’s a small statement but it’s part of a much, much larger problem:  not only is the House of Representatives unwilling to do anything about climate change but they’re proud of themselves for turning their backs on science.  And our future.

(Dan Farber also has a great post on the unconstitutionality of Michelle Bachman’s light bulb bill, the next step in the Republicans’ determined quest to do the opposite of everything that constitutes sound policy.)

If this tweet, and the end of the Green the Capital initiative, were an isolated incident, it would have a different meaning. But this is all happening in the context of Republicans doing everything they can to, against public opinion, de-fund the federal agencies that are trying to protect our health and environment, stop scientific research on clean energy and climate science, and throw every conceivable stumbling block in the way of progress towards a coordinated, international effort to address the effects of climate change.

And what is the point? What’s the Republican angle on filling up landfills with petrochemical-based plastics? Is it simply that they delight in filling the world up with toxic chemicals and trash? Do they have futures on sending garbage to outer space? Or are they simply so ill-informed and short-sighted that they can’t conceive of any possible downside to proliferating the world with disposable plastic?

I’m inclined to go with the former, since I think it’s the most charitable explanation for their motivation. Yet that doesn’t square with Speaker Boehner’s own rhetoric. According to a speech he made just the day before his flack’s exultations on Twitter, the morality of what we leave the next generations is very much on his mind:

Yes, this debt is a mortal threat to our country. It is also a moral threat.

It is immoral to bind our children to as leeching and destructive a force as debt. It is immoral to rob our children’s future and make them beholden to China.

No society is worthy that treats its children so shabbily.

‘A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children,’ Proverbs reminds us. For too long, Washington has been ignoring this time-honored principle.

He even was so good as to up and Twitter-ize that for those of us following from our mobile devices:

It’s striking to me how blindered he must be to not see how these exact arguments are just as applicable and forceful when it comes to climate change. Seriously: just do a Find and Replace on “debt” with “climate change” – wouldn’t it be great if  we could run that algorithm on the entire GOP?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ann Carlson permalink
    March 3, 2011 12:38 am

    Glad you think Dan Farber is rift but I wrote the post you cited, not Dan. Thanks!

  2. Libel permalink
    March 3, 2011 12:43 am

    Nothing says “fiscal” like being absurdly wasteful!

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