There are many challenges out there and most folks are oblivious. Pick any area and change is most certainly needed, but beyond policy changes, a concurrent fundamental shift in how government works, or should say operates, must occur. Why does the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exist and what should they be doing? Why is this a federal program? The FDA is one of many proverbial 800 pound gorillas, but where is the oversight? Congress? It can’t seem to enforce existing laws, so why would the citizenry believe it controls, or cares, what the FDA does.
The FDA is an easy example.
The problems exist in other Divisions and Departments. So many policy areas are failing, it can be overwhelming. In a perfect world, leadership steps in and divides the workload. It requests people work on one problem or another. It divides the pie into pieces. As prior blog posts have made clear, sometimes it is difficult to divvy up policy. One policy often intersects another, but subdivision is possible.
And it needs to happen.
As an example, climate change appears to be pushing the Biden agenda. It might be the other way around, this administration’s messaging has been convoluted. The green new deal looks great on paper, but unless there is a significant change in how society work and live, it is a pipe dream. Whether someone believes in climate change or sees it as fiction, the real answer is the U.S. is gluttonous. As a simple example, in most of the rest of the first world countries, they heat or cool the room they are in, not the whole house.
The immediate reaction when the term climate change is uttered is usually agreement or disgust. Reactions like this are counterproductive, they don’t encourage change or promote discussion. Common sense should make clear we can improve. We may not be able to alter how much coal China or India burn, but we can improve our efficiency.
Plastic, and specifically plastic waste, is often in the news. Some states have banned plastic bags as a small step towards waste reduction. It is a small step. How about all the waste we throw away. Most people have a pretty good idea how much their electric or water costs each month but many have no clue how much trash removal costs. If you want people to pay attention to things, bill them for it. It is amazing how this generates interest.
Can containers be reused? Until there is a cost associated with this use, it will never be considered. Water bottles are another great example. Want to reduce the use of water bottles? Tax each one. Some states do it already, but if the goal is waste reduction, raise the tax until demand drops, by a lot.
Why isn’t this the policy?
Consumer demand and company profits are the two short answers. Like bags, society sees water bottles as easy, and cheap. They are also very hard on the environment. I have said for years that every high school student should be forced to visit the dump (I would argue work there for a day). Policy can change behavior but we have to do it as a focused effort. One piece at a time. Let different locations handle different pieces and see what works best.
We need to start soon.