Politics, Science|and Fiscal Cliffs

     Scientists are better than politicians because scientists want to know if they’re wrong.
     Politicians – and their friends in the timber and cattle industries – don’t give a damn. So long as the money rolls in: to them.
     I see 5,000 lawsuits a week editing the Courthouse News page – stories of rape, murder, drugs, perversion, official corruption – revolting stuff.
     But the most obnoxious lawsuit I saw this week was from the timber and cattle industries, which claimed that scientists exert “improper influence” on the U.S. Forest Service, by seeking ecological sustainability above industry profits in National Forests.
     Really. I’m not kidding.
     Citing an 1897 law, a bunch of blood-sucking lobbyists with noble-sounding names such as the American Forest Resource Council, the Public Lands Council, and the California Forestry Association claimed that National Forests should be “‘controlled and administered’ for only two purposes – to conserve water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the American people – and not for aesthetic, environmental, recreational, or wildlife-preservation purposes.”
     These public-land-dependent vampires claimed that this pathetically limp, spineless administration “is causing current and threatened injury” to industry by demanding ecological sustainability in forest management.
     Isn’t that great?
     Can you imagine anything more stupid, petty and grasping for the timber industry than suing the Forest Service for trying to preserve National Forests?
     Their insane federal lawsuit claims – I’m not kidding – that the Forest Service “effectively trivializes public participation by forbidding decisions based on non-scientific information, which is what the great majority of public comments will contain. … The rule gives ‘scientists’ improper influence on natural resource management decisions, and skews multiple-use management by improperly elevating scientific information as the centerpiece of forest management”.
     Notice how they put “scientists” in sneer quotes?
     These industries have powerful friends in Congress, willing to howl this nonsense into our ears for as long as it takes until we stop paying attention, and they can grease it through.
     Republicans in Congress live today, in great part, by attacking science: Darwin, genetics, climate change, medical research, even basic arithmetic are all nefarious plots against God and America.
     But let remind you, and Congress too, if it can read: Science works because it’s based on facts. Scientists publish their research in journals because they want to see if someone can prove them wrong.
     U.S. politicians today, more than at any time in our history except perhaps before the Civil War, not only do not care if they are wrong, they want to punch you in the mouth if you suggest it, and are willing to wreak untold damage upon anyone at all in the name of their myths.
     My own trade is not blameless. Even the so-called liberal New York Times and National Public Radio have been howling about the “fiscal cliff” we face on Jan. 1, because unless Congress does something, the Bush tax cuts will expire.
     This is like saying that a patient faces a “health care cliff” because he may recover from pneumonia.
     It is undisputed that the G.W. Bush tax cuts for the wealthy have increased the national debt by trillions of dollars.
     It’s undisputed that Bush, and Congress, claimed that those tax cuts would be temporary.
     It’s undisputed that before those taxes were cut, and an unnecessary war was started, the federal government, for the first time in decades, had a budget surplus.
     So tell me: Why is it a “fiscal cliff” that we may return to a situation in which all of us – you, me, the government – were better off?
     True, part of the “fiscal cliff” is that federal spending may be cut – something that everyone in Congress claims to want.
     Congress today bases our laws, to a great extent, upon nonsense. And we let them get away with it, because 150 million Americans actually seem to believe that “science” is biased – but poofty-haired congressmen and industry lobbyists are not.
     Our nation is sick unto death because of Republican liars and Democratic cowards. And voters who blindfold themselves and then stumble around near cliffs.

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