John B. Wells was joined by futurist and author David Brin, who discussed how 2014 might be the real start of the 21st Century and how the planet may be on the cusp of a brighter future. He noted that, in the last 60 years, violence has "plummeted every decade," despite how it is portrayed in the media. In fact, he argued that the relentless depiction of violence, as well as poverty, has fueled the public to "feel bad" about these issues and take steps to improve them. He also credited the sacrifices of the "Greatest Generation" for helping to create the wealth which allowed subsequent generations to be able to focus on solving social issues. Reflecting on the journey of the human race over the last sixty years, Brin marveled that, despite humanity's foibles, "we are capable of beginning to get things right."
That said, he warned that "self-righteous indignation" has become an addiction that is gripping America and is worse that "heroin, cocaine, and alcohol combined." Brin explained that the thrill derived from being sanctimonious was beneficial in previous years when warfare was more commonplace, but has become crippling to the psyche of the modern population and has given rise to an "outrage industry" which fuels political polarization. "If you're constantly returning to the sense of pleasure that you get from being so right," he cautioned, "there is a real chance that you're a junkie." He blamed this paradigm for causing the death of negotiation and the inability to spawn conversations about problems which "could easily be solved if we just talked to each other."
One positive aspect of this institutionalized self-righteousness, he said, is that "you create an atmosphere of suspicion of authority" which can lead to whistleblowers speaking out against what they see as unjust actions by the government. Regarding recent whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, Brin observed that most of their revelations were of actions that were actually not illegal, but spawned discussion over "whether or not these things should be legal." Ultimately, he pointed to such conversations, aimed at finding a middle ground, as the key to overcoming the obstacles which still challenge the country. Brin suggested that listening and acknowledging the opposite viewpoints of our political adversaries could lead to a society where people realize that "it's a complicated world and we're going to have to guard each other's backs."
Animal Food Industry Chicanery
In the first hour, attorney and advocate for sustainability, David Robinson Simon, detailed how the animal foods industry has rigged the game with artificially low prices, resulting in higher costs imposed on society. He lamented that this issue is compounded by programs, created by the government, that promote consuming more animal foods in the form of ads like the iconic "Pork: The Other White Meat" campaign. This subtle brainwashing of the public, Simon contended, has resulted in an unhealthy level of animal food consumption which, in turn, causes serious health issues for the population. In order to curb these eating habits, he suggested a 50 percent tax imposed on meat products which would reduce consumption to a more natural level and, in turn, provide future tax credits for healthier eating.