The Amazon rainforest is one of the most beautiful and essential natural features on our planet. Yet, it is now in great danger as fires, raging for many weeks, threaten the “lungs” of Earth. We should be worried about the Amazon rainforest. But calls for the government to act are not the answer. If they give up ownership and privatize it, governments will provide the best way for the Amazon and other threatened natural resources to be saved. By doing so, they will introduce a beneficial profit motive.
Over the past few days, the internet came ablaze with the late-breaking news that the Amazon Rainforest is burning. Concerned teenagers filled Twitter and Instagram with “pray for Amazonia” and cries that “the planet’s lungs” are on fire. The spectacle social and news media has presented to young privileged people is that the Earth is dying and these fires are part of it. But the hysteria around these fires, and forest fires in general, is wholly unjustified. The Amazon and most other forests have very specific burn seasons that can become extremely intense if those of former years have been relatively mild. There is no reason for the Brazilian government to take any extreme action against this part of the Amazon’s cycle. But the pictures, to a coastal urban citizen, are shocking; the mainstream media has not hesitated to exploit that shock.
The concept of what it means to be an American has changed a lot since its inception nearly two and a half centuries ago. One of the most drastic changes, brought upon by the industrial age and a capitalist mentality, is the concept of consumerism, which has entrenched itself into the lives of nearly all Americans. The largest single facilitating entity behind this rise of consumerism throughout the 20th century was catalog company-turned-retailer Sears, Roebuck and Company, better known today as Sears. Although now a shadow of its former self, Sears was the largest retailer in America until 1990 when it was passed by Walmart. Even though Sears is still a well-known brand, it’s better known for its prolonged struggle through bankruptcy court and its controversial “former” CEO, Eddie Lampert, who is still very much in control of the brand.
Although it seems logical to blame the downfall of Sears on its failed 2005 merger with Kmart, along with incompetent management and the financial crash of 2008, the truth is much more complex than that. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Sears was actually well-positioned to become the dominant retail force in the 21st century before backward-thinking management sold their advantages away. This slow-motion-trainwreck of a story is more than just Sears and Eddie Lampert. It’s Amazon, Walmart, the internet, the Great Recession, and a three-decade head start that Sears had over the rest of American retail. Sears may have lost the title of America’s consumerism champion, but it can’t stop us from looking at the current landscape and wondering what could have been.
Nate Galt | United States
Amazon has just shockingly announced that it has pulled out of a deal that would move its second headquarters to Long Island City, opposite Manhattan on the East River. It has finally canceled the awaited move due to pressure from community activists and notable politicians, namely from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). After the cancellation of the deal was announced, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez claimed victory for New York’s workers. She took to Twitter to proclaim a win against corporate greed, saying, “Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”