Saturday, September 1, 2012

The old economy vs. environment ideas live on

If ever the ignorance of the real economy needed a perfect example, Romney's line about being more concerned about families than he is about the rising oceans will work just fine.  The reason that paragraph in his RNC acceptance speech was so thunderingly clueless is that these two issues are inseparably linked.  So while the shock and outrage over this lunatic crack circled the globe last night, some heavy "thinkers" who want to believe that someone as rich as Romney must have a flicker of intelligence in there somewhere, came up with a version of "the Mittster has a point, ya know."

So here is Blodget over at Business Insider essentially saying that Mitt's line probably played well in front of focus groups.  Of course, he gives the game away when it becomes clear HE doesn't understand the linkage between environmental change and economic prosperity either.  He is stuck in some "Save the Baby Seals" version of environmentalism so he can "understand" why people give priority to their personal lives as opposed to a distant threat.  Considering that Blodget has managed to sell his "deep" thoughts for serious money over the years, this "profound" level of cluelessness is actually quite shocking.

That Line In Romney's Speech That People Are Outraged About Actually Gets At A Profound Reality...

Henry Blodget | Aug. 31, 2012

Mitt Romney delivered a startling line in his speech last night.

And part of the line got a startling and unfortunate reaction.

The line, however, also invoked a profound truth, one that politicians and people on both sides of the aisle need to pay attention to.

This was the line:

"President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. And to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family."

The first part of that line—the part about slowing the rise of the oceans and healing the planet—was met with laughter. That's unfortunate, because it confirms the stereotype of the GOP as the party of benighted meatheads who couldn't care less about the environment or science.

(You don't have to think it's ridiculous to care about the environment to believe that the well-being of people is a more important priority.)

But the end of the line—about helping families—was met with cheers and applause. As it should have been.

President Obama wants to help families, too, of course—in fact most of his speeches and policies are about doing just that. And protecting the environment is often very consistent with helping people. So Romney trying to draw a contrast with Obama in this way is unfair.

But Romney's line does get at an important truth:

When it really comes down to it, if you forced most people to choose between easing human suffering OR slowing the destruction of the planet, they would choose easing human suffering.

Put differently, the health of the environment will always be a lower priority for most people than the health of themselves and their families and friends. And that's perfectly fair.

So if we really want to help the planet—and we should want to, given that we live on it—we need to remember where that priority falls in the hierarchy of most people's decision-making. And we need to do everything we can to help everyone on the planet satisfy their basic needs—food, shelter, safety, and healthcare. more
And on the same day, BI posts this story about how the drought is wrecking homes.  So someone obviously understands at some superficial level the link between environmental concerns and people's personal prosperity.  Trust me on this, MOST people would consider an unexpected bill for $50,000 an economic disaster.

The Drought Is Becoming A Costly Problem For American Homeowners

AP | Aug. 31, 2012

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Carol DeVaughan assumed her suburban St. Louis home was simply settling when cracks appeared in the walls. When she noticed huge gaps between her fireplace and ceiling, and that her family room was starting to tilt, she knew she had bigger problems.

Like thousands of other Americans getting stuck with huge repair bills, DeVaughan learned that the intense drought baking much of the country's lawns, fields and forests this summer has also been sucking the moisture from underground, causing shifting that can lead to cracked basements and foundations, as well as damage aboveground. Repairs often cost tens of thousands of dollars and can even top $100,000, and they are rarely covered by insurance, as shocked homeowners have been discovering.

DeVaughan, a retired Presbyterian minister, said she expects it will cost more than $25,000 to fix the split-level home in Manchester, Mo., where she's lived for 27 years.

"I had retired," said DeVaughan, 70, who has stayed busy filling in at the pulpit for vacationing pastors. "I guess I'll keep working."

Home repair businesses, especially those specializing in repairs to basements and foundations, can barely keep up with demand. Drought-related home damage is reported in 40 of the 48 contiguous states, and experts say damage to homes could exceed $1 billion.

Dan Jaggers, a board member of the Basement Health Association, a Dayton, Ohio-based trade group for basement and foundation repair businesses, said this year's drought is probably the worst for homes since the late 1950s. Houses in the central U.S. — from Louisiana up through the Dakotas — are getting the worst of it, but significant damage is being reported in all across the country, he said.

"It's not only basements but crawl spaces and slabs," Jaggers said. "Wherever the soil is interacting with the foundations."

The lack of moisture in the ground has been causing the soil to crack open and pull away from homes' concrete bases.

"It's very common right now to walk around the outside of somebody's home and see gaps in the soil wide enough to put your fist in," said Jason Courtney of the St. Louis-area repair firm Helitech.

All of the movement from the shifting soil can cause cracks in the basement walls or floor. But the damage doesn't necessarily stop there.

"When the foundations move they cause structural damage that can lead to problems above the ground," said Matt Stock, owner of U.S. Waterproofing in the Chicago area. "Windows don't open properly. You can get large cracks in the foundation wall, cracks in brick work and mortar, cracks in drywall."

Experts say the problem is made worse in areas where the soil is largely clay, which is more prone to movement when moisture evaporates. Cities like St. Louis with an abundance of brick homes are also seeing more problems because brick weighs more than siding or wood and therefore adds more stress to foundations.

Repairs are expensive because they involve more than simply patching up the cracks. Oftentimes, piers must be installed beneath a home to help it better withstand shifts in the soil. This involves hydraulically driving steel tube sections deep into the bedrock, and it is costly. more

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