Change Control

  • How even modest measures to ameliorate problems in NYC face resistance;
  • How religious certitudes from Alito and others will not end well.

Still under the weather, but let’s try a couple items from today’s NYT, about perhaps the broadest issue possible: Change. Perhaps the most fundamental principle of all. And perhaps I need to focus more on such big issues, rather than be bogged down almost every day by interminable political idiocy (even though that mostly illustrates the same thing), not matter how amusing. Life is short.

NY Times, 14 Jun 2024: It’s Tough to Get Things Done in New York. Here’s Why.: “Congestion pricing was the latest ambitious proposal that couldn’t navigate New York’s rocky political terrain. It’s a tall order to achieve substantial change in the city.”

It was the print title, in today’s paper, that captured the essential theme: “In New York City, Change Is Constant but Obstacles to It Are Many”.

(This news item is by Dana Rubinstein and Emma G. Fitzsimmons. As opposed to an ‘analytical’ or an op-ed. My current policy is to credit the authors where the piece reflects their opinions, and is not just a news article, which presumably has been vetted by various layers of editorial oversight.)

The immediate issue is almost incidental; it’s about the idea of “congestion pricing,” the notion of controlling flow of car traffic into Manhattan in order to “slash traffic, fund the subway and cut air pollution.” The news this week was that NY Governor Kathy Hochul tabled the idea on various, short-term-thinking, grounds. Much interesting detail in the article.

The big picture is this: humanity has been changing the planet for millennia; we’re filling it up; we’re ruining its ecology in a way may be irredeemable. We must be responsible for the changes we’ve made, in the sense that we need to try to ameliorate those changes, even if it means inconveniences to some people now living. Because the consequences, if we do not, are dire.

In the context of my table, some people are aware of the need to address these potentially catastrophic changes, and others deny them or ignore them in favor of short-term interests.


The other item for today goes to the comments by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mentioned here a few days ago about how “one side or the other is going to win.”

NY Times, Guest Essay by Marc O. DeGirolami (a law professor at the Catholic University of America), 13 Jun 2024: What Exactly Did Justice Alito Say That Was Wrong?

Nothing, legally, the writer says. His views are held by a large part of the population. The writer goes into detail. I’m not going to quote. I’m going to consider this in, again, the broadest possible perspective.

My take is this: His comments reflected a kind of Manichaeist worldview between absolute good and absolute evil, with no shades in between. What did he do wrong? He was not wiser than most people, who think their own way is the only way. Change: the world population is expanding, bringing different groups together, each with their certitude about their local truths. This will not end well.

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