The very first question asked of me after I sent out copies of the Energy Quest Report and its Appendices was what did I mean by planning “with magnanimity.”
It obliged me to articulate what had to that point been inchoate.
Planning with magnanimity means, at least (that is to say, leaving room for additional interpretations):
1. Assuring the participation of all those who might otherwise be unable to afford what they, too, will need to be doing; and
2. Assuring that all who might otherwise or at some time be perceived as being “losers” as a consequence of the displacements ahead are fully factored in and offered options, alternatives, perhaps even compensation (a la a policy analogy to eminent domain compensation whereby the public purse can offset what would otherwise be an unfair loss caused by a sweeping policy shift.
The central element of the concept, therefore, is first that its meaning can and should evolve but, more importantly, that we understand we are all in this together. We will and are all equally affected by the energy/climate crisis and, therefore, should share equitably, if not all equally, in the solutions we evolve. The concept of community lies at its heart as I think of it.
It is a curse of the modern political era that community and commonality have been so resolutely distorted in our rhetoric and in our thinking of how we self-govern ourselves. When a “leader” of the Maine Republican Party speaking to the narrow and very ill-advised upholding of the Governor’s veto of the solar legislation in April 2016 objected to the (in his vocabulary) “socializing the costs,” it’s hard to know whether he was displaying his ignorance or a perverse sense of reality. The privately-owned fossil fuel industries have thrived on pushing wholly on to the public the full secondary costs of what we now see its use has brought to us all. There have been losers and winners, and there will be again. But as we work to rationally transform into a sustainable, renewable energy stance, we should have the heart and good will to assure that all are watched out for and none are expected to shoulder more than their fair share or more than they should be expected to bear.
For example, those who decades ago made investments associated with the fossil fuel economy should expect to be held harmless by a public policy decision that takes their livelihood away. Those who earned a good living as internal combustion engine experts will required new training for equivalent trades when liquid fuel engines are replaced by electric motors and batteries. A whole new system of raising and collecting funds for highway construction and maintenance will need to be devised when liquid fuels on which excise taxes are collected fade from use. As this transition is subject to careful analysis and imagination these kinds of illustrations will be joined by countless others.
That’s what I mean by magnanimity.
This illustrative by no means exhaustive conversation must continue to grow and evolve . . .
September 29, 2016 and May 20, 2018