Potential Job Losses Are The Worst Excuse To Not Do Something
It’s often the worst excuse to not move our society toward progress, but one that many Americans have a hard time wrapping their brains around: how does the country move forward on something important with the threat of potential job losses looming over our heads? How can we justify doing something positive when some Americans might struggle financially as a result?
We hear this argument being deployed against progress rather frequently in climate change and health care debates. The theory is that we shouldn’t act on those concerns, because the potential job losses would be tragic for the people working in those fields.
Ending our dependence on fossil fuels completely, or moving toward proper universal healthcare and ending the reign of health insurance corporations, would shore up workers in those fields and leave them updating their resumes. But is that alone enough of a reason to not make huge, sweeping changes that benefit all of society? Should their financial losses justify the losses experienced by everyone else?
Adapt Or Die
One year ago today, I was struggling to make ends meet. My career as a political satirist, writing “fake news,” was grinding to a halt, thanks to rather draconian rules Facebook decided to implement against satire websites (other than The Onion, of course).
A lot of love and craftsmanship went into my satire articles. Most “serious” writers couldn’t do what we did on their best days… writing satire is a true art form that usually goes painfully underappreciated and is almost always misunderstood. I loved literally every aspect of that career.
Conditions for me were changing rapidly. I was left with only three choices, so far as I could see: keep writing fake news until the power went out, give up on writing entirely, or adapt and move into a new writing field. It was difficult, but I chose the latter, and I’m glad I did… writing real news is almost as fun as writing fake news, and considerably more rewarding in several ways.
This is the kind of decision people in archaic fields have had to make for centuries. You won’t find many cobblers hand-crafting shoes today. Modern medicine has done away with the need for plague doctors and their funky facemasks. Computers have put switchboard operators out of business. At one point or another, all of those people had to adapt to their changing worlds.
Some Industries Need to Go, Potential Job Losses Be Damned
If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, he’ll most likely go on to win the general election. And if that happens, people working in the fields of health insurance and big oil would be wise to update their resumes. Ask any of his supporters: universal health care and environmentalism are two of his biggest selling points, and both are used as examples of how he’s arguably more progressive than his primary rival, Hillary Clinton.
Now here’s the part where you get shocked: Donald Trump, the radical right-wing bigot who some analysts predict might win the GOP primary? He wants universal health care, too. That’s right. Those foaming-at-the-mouth teabagging fringers who back Trump may not realize it, but The Donald is vowing to end private health insurance forever and replace it with socialist, government-funded universal healthcare.
America has two paths — one more realistic than the other — toward true universal health care. And that also means health insurance salesmen might soon become as popular as gandy dancers. The fact that 99 percent of you just had to Google “gandy dancer” and that my computer doesn’t recognize “gandy” as an actual word tells you everything you need to know about where the health insurance industry is headed.
The same can be said for the oil industry. The world is rapidly shifting toward green energy. Solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, ethanol and methanol, hydrogen fuel… we’re hell-bent on ending our addiction to fossil fuels, and petroleum and coal will be about as popular in a hundred years as kerosene lamps are today. Ask anyone who drives a Tesla if they’d rather switch back to a smelly gasoline-powered car.
America needs alternative fuels. We need universal healthcare. There aren’t any sentences beginning with the word “But” that we need to consider here. Potential job losses might scare the Hell out of politicians, and they certainly scare the workers in those fields a whole lot more, but those workers can and will adapt. They have to. Progress should never be asked to wait.