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Shortsightedness

There has typically been an uptick in disaster preparation in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe.... That was just as typically followed by a return to normal behavior as the memory of the disaster faded.
- ADAM NAGOURNEY and JESS BIDGOOD, In Houston, a Terrifying Real-Life Lesson for Disaster-Prone Cities, NYT, SEPT. 5, 2017


That we came so close, as a civilization, to breaking our suicide pact with fossil fuels can be credited to the efforts of a handful of people, among them a hyperkinetic lobbyist and a guileless atmospheric physicist who, at great personal cost, tried to warn humanity of what was coming. They risked their careers in a painful, escalating campaign to solve the problem, first in scientific reports, later through conventional avenues of political persuasion and finally with a strategy of public shaming. Their efforts were shrewd, passionate, robust. And they failed. ...
Politicians were capable of thinking only in terms of electoral time: six years, four years, two years.
- Nathaniel Rich, Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change, NYT, AUG. 1, 2018


As a species, we’re wired to be nearsighted.
- Adam Grant, How Do We Make the Long-Term Decisions That Matter?, NYT, Oct. 2, 2018


Fifty-seven percent of working age Americans have no pension assets, neither an individual retirement account nor participation in a traditional employer plan. And not surprisingly, lower income Americans are more often uncovered.

As for those who have pension assets, the typical worker nearing retirement has about $60,000 ensconced in his accounts. But an individual should have about $350,000 saved to have about 80 percent of his working income available to him in retirement, after including Social Security benefits in the calculation.
- Steven Rattner, Help Is Almost Here for Retirement Savers, NYT, June 11, 2019


Indeed, this moment reminds me of something that Mark Mykleby, a retired Marine colonel, said in a book I co-authored in 2011 with Michael Mandelbaum, “That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back:

“At no time in our history have our national challenges been as complex and long-term as those we face today.” But, he said, the most salient feature of our politics of late has been our inability “to respond coherently and effectively to obvious problems before they become crises. … If we can’t even have an ‘adult’ conversation, how will we fulfill the promise of and our obligation to the Preamble of our Constitution — to ‘secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity’?”
- Thomas L. Friedman, The Biggest Threat to America Is Us, NYT, July 2, 2019




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