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Wednesday, April 22, marks 50 years since the first Earth Day. I was in college then, majoring in science.

Back then we knew that human activity was causing a major mass global extinction of millions of species.

We knew that this represented a tragedy not only for the species involved but for the knowledge lost that could have been important in medicine and molecular biology.

But human-caused global warming from carbon dioxide emissions was just beginning to be appreciated.

Worried oil barons (the Koch brothers and their band of billionaires) began plotting what to do. A multimillion-dollar campaign to disparage the science began. But, since they could not refute the science, they refuted the idea of government.

The philosophy became that business is everything and government is only an unwise drag on the economy.

They had the Cold War to aid their opinion — communism was just a problem of too much government.

They pointed fingers at the “stupid”, “tree-hugging”, “bleeding heart” liberals who had lost all common sense at college.

So it happened that the richest country in the world could not afford the social benefits that other democracies were giving their people.

Instead, tax cut after tax cut, America became ever more unequal. Trickle-down happiness never materialized.

Instead, five of the six recessions since 1970 have been under Republican presidents — often due to their own deregulation of the banking system.

The reduction of environmental protections, consumer protections, voting rights, and more have all contributed to making America the most unequal of democracies with over 2000 billionaires and 500,000 homeless.

For the sake of outlandish profits for the few, they are willing to threaten life on Earth. Business can never be a substitute for good governance.

Tracy Rupp

Brookings

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