Monday, November 17, 2014

The Common Good - 9

A heart grown cold.
In this series we have been reviewing the seemingly extinct concept of the common good, a.k.a. the public good (The Common Good, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

Meanwhile, the number of homeless children in the U.S. is at a high (Number Of Homeless Children In America Surges To All-Time High) and military corruption climbs way high too (Prosecutors Troubled By Extent Of Military Fraud).

In today's post we will discuss that concept of the common or public good in the context of "The Public Trust Doctrine", specifically focused on the question of whether or not the doctrine applies to the federal government.

The vehicle for the discussion is a federal lawsuit involving a recent petition to the U.S. Supreme Court:
Today prominent national leaders, including legal scholars, economic and national security experts, religious groups, climate scientists, conservation and social justice organizations, native communities, business and government leaders, and cities filed amicus briefs with the United States Supreme Court in a major climate change case. The case, Alec L. v. McCarthy, Supreme Court Case No. 14-405, seeks a decision that the federal government has public trust obligations to protect essential national natural resources for present and future generations. The three amicus briefs, representing scientists, legal scholars, and diverse national interests, displayed resounding legal support for an October 2014 Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed on behalf of group of young Americans with the United States Supreme Court.
 (Our Children's Trust, cf. Alec L. v McCarthy Main Docket, Supp. Docket; Alec L. v McCarthy, Petition, PDF). The issue is "does the public trust doctrine, a facet of the notion of the common good, compel the government to be trustworthy in terms of the well being of future generations?"

It would seem to be a no-brainer, however, our nation has some severe mental problems whereby we project our self-generated cultural aggressions against each other into other nations and places:
The "foreigner" is, moreover, outside the principal immediate system of law and order; hence aggression toward him does not carry the same opprobrium or immediate danger of reprisal that it does toward one's "fellow-citizen." Hostility to the foreigner has thus furnished a means of transcending the principal, immediately threatening group conflicts, of achieving "unity" —but at the expense of a less immediate but in fact more dangerous threat to security, since national states now command such destructive weapons that war between them is approaching suicidal significance.

Thus the immense reservoir of aggression in Western society is sharply inhibited from direct expression within the smaller groups in which it is primarily generated. The structure of the society in which it produced contains a strong predisposition for it to be channeled into group antagonisms. The significance of the nation-state is, however, such that there is a strong pressure to internal unity within each such unit and therefore a tendency to focus aggression on the potential conflicts between nation-state units. In addition to the existence of a plurality of such units, each a potential target of the focused aggression from all the others, the situation is particularly unstable because of the endemic tendency to define their relations in the manner least calculated to build an effectively solidary international order. Each state is, namely, highly ambivalent about the superiority-inferiority question. Each tends to have a deep-seated presumption of its own superiority and a corresponding resentment against any other's corresponding presumption. Each at the same time tends to feel that it has been unfairly treated in the past and is ready on the slightest provocation to assume that the others are ready to plot new outrages in the immediate future. Each tends to be easily convinced of the righteousness of its own policy while at the same time it is overready to suspect the motives of all others. In short, the "jungle philosophy"-which corresponds to a larger element in the real sentiments of all of us than can readily be admitted, even to ourselves-tends to be projected onto the relations of nation-states at precisely the point where, under the technological and organizational situation of the modern world, it can do the most harm.
(Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala). One result of this madness is that our concept of "the common good" could morph to eventually mean "what is good for my group" and "to hell with your group."

So, we have 2.5 million homeless children in our country while we spend an estimated 10 trillion dollars subsidizing Oil-Qaeda in the middle east oil war zone (The Peak Of The Oil Wars, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11) as our infrastructure crumbles (Mega Infrastructure Bill To Make Jobs? - 2, A Decline Of The American Republic - 4).

The answer to today's question is a resounding "yes, the public trust doctrine applies to the 2.5 million homeless children in the U.S. and to our future children too."

Yet, the 2.5 million homeless children among us now is a witness against whether or not we still have our traditional concept of the common good.

The infiltration of every group and movement, including environmental groups, by Oil-Qaeda is another indicator that "the common good" now has the look of a game board to the powers that be:
Klein goes so far as to argue that the environmental movement has itself become little more than an arm (or perhaps one should say a column) of the fossil fuel industry. Her proof here is that several major environmental groups have received sizable donations from fossil fuel companies or their affiliated foundations, and some, like the Nature Conservancy, have executives (or former executives) of utility companies on their boards. “A painful reality behind the environmental movement’s catastrophic failure to effectively battle the economic interests behind our soaring emissions,” she writes, is that “large parts of the movement aren’t actually fighting those interests—they have merged with them.”
(NY Books, emphasis added). The toxins of power, in a toxic form of emergence, have occasion to build fences around elitist conclaves where they ought not be.

Anyway, in the case we are contemplating, the lower courts ruled that the public trust doctrine does not apply to the federal government, it only applies to the state governments.

Let's hope that the increasingly brain-locked supreme court holds to its past cases that came to the opposite conclusion - the federal government is also subject to "the public trust doctrine."

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

How unlikely it is for reality to make news (click the youtube button bottom right) ...



    Comet team detects organic molecules, basis of life on Earth


    1. The distinction between organic and inorganic carbon compounds, while "useful in organizing the vast subject of chemistry... is somewhat arbitrary." (Wikipedia, Organic compound).

      They are playing the crowd.

  2. Saw this today:

    Video: NASA computer model provides a new portrait of atmospheric carbon dioxide

    An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe.

    Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.

    Scientists have made ground-based measurements of carbon dioxide for decades, and in July, NASA launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite to make global, space-based carbon observations. But the simulation – the product of a new computer model that is among the highest-resolution ever created – is the first to show in such fine detail how carbon dioxide actually moves through the atmosphere.

    “While the presence of carbon dioxide has dramatic global consequences, it’s fascinating to see how local emission sources and weather systems produce gradients of its concentration on a very regional scale,” said Bill Putman, lead scientist on the project from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Simulations like this, combined with data from observations, will help improve our understanding of both human emissions of carbon dioxide and natural fluxes across the globe.”

    The carbon dioxide visualization was produced by a computer model called GEOS-5, created by scientists at NASA Goddard’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office. In particular, the visualization is part of a simulation called a “Nature Run.” The Nature Run ingests real data on atmospheric conditions and the emission of greenhouse gases and both natural and man-made particulates. The model is then is left to run on its own and simulate the natural behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere. This Nature Run simulates May 2005 to June 2007.

    While Goddard scientists have been tweaking a “beta” version of the Nature Run internally for several years, they are now releasing this updated, improved version to the scientific community for the first time. Scientists are presenting a first look at the Nature Run and the carbon dioxide visualization at the SC14 supercomputing conference this week in New Orleans.

    “We’re very excited to share this revolutionary dataset with the modeling and data assimilation community,” Putman said, “and we hope the comprehensiveness of this product and its ground-breaking resolution will provide a platform for research and discovery throughout the Earth science community.”

    In the spring of 2014, for the first time in modern history, atmospheric carbon dioxide – the key driver of global warming – exceeded 400 parts per million across most of the northern hemisphere. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide concentrations were about 270 parts per million. Concentrations of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere continue to increase, driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels.
    [there's more]


    1. Tom,

      I embedded it on the Agnotology post (Tuesday's post).