Final entry

This is my final post here. Many thanks to Kevin Drum and the Washington Monthly for having me as a guest this week. One last word on bipartisanship, blame and Katrina. As Kevin said a few days ago, while the lion?s share of the responsibility begins and ends at the Federal level, there?s also plenty of blame to go around for Democratic politicians at the city and state level. The President and Congress don’t want to get to the bottom of what happened, since that would only reveal their collective failure to exercise foresight. We need an independent commission to investigate, if there is going to be accountability for the past and better planning for the future.

But a system that doesn?t think forward can?t plan forward. As reconstruction proceeds along the Gulf Coast, we need to ask whether we are just going to protect against lessons-learned, or against lessons-anticipated; what?s likely to happen in the future. Global warming, rising sea-levels, increasing frequency and severity of storms are examples of the latter.

Other forces are gathering in the world. Read the National Science Foundation?s reports on the social, economic and physiological effects of onrushing new sciences and technologies, such as nanotechnology, genetics, and informatics, for a wake-up call about what is perhaps only twenty years away. Twenty years seems long for us individuals, but is not much time at all for us as a society to think about where we are going and how to shape the outcomes. In a democracy, we need time to register emerging issues; time to debate what to do about them; and time to do it.

The breathing spaces between major shocks are getting ever shorter ? we need to anticipate them rather than just react to them. We have the analytic capacity to think about these things, but our political leadership doesn?t use it. For that to happen, we need a public which will push leaders to take the risk of preparing for problems early on, when it counts. I think blogs and blogging can be a part of that public argument, and would appreciate your comments as to how this might work.