The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion How to kick coal and finally start living the good life

5 min

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In today’s edition: Bailing out banks. The joy of preventing climate change. ‘Trump 2.0’ border policies. The risk of a primary challenge to Biden.

What will it take for banks to grow up?

“Boy or a girl?” “Bank!”

After watching the federal government swoop in to guarantee uninsured deposits at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, humor columnist Alexandra Petri imagined a world in which parents hope their offspring are born financial institutions.

It’s an understandable wish, no? “If my son is just a human boy and he suddenly finds himself owing a lot of money to a lot of people,” one imaginary parent-to-be muses, “Jerome Powell will not leap into action.” Plus, there’s the chance that your bank-child could also be a coffee shop, if it’s in a trendy part of town.

Alexandra’s column obviously skewers this government intervention. But what if the problem isn’t that the government intervened, but that it pretended it wasn’t going to?

The ostensible $250,000 cap for federally insured deposits at a single bank is at this point “illusory,” write law professors Lev Menand and Morgan Ricks. The government waived that cap here, when it really mattered, just as it did during the 2008 financial crisis and just as it did during a big bank’s failure in 1984.

What the government ought to do is come clean that it’s going to insure whatever amount disappears in a bank bust — in exchange for charging institutions “much more for operating a government-backed deposit business,” Menand and Ricks write.

They detail a host of benefits that would bring, including making holding money easier for people with much more than $250,000 who now split up their accounts (if only!). Most important, the authors write, it would clarify that banks “exist to serve the public interest, not to privatize gains and socialize losses.”

Still, it pains columnist Charles Lane to see a bank bailed out whose failure was due to nothing more than “greed, fear and groupthink.” They’re what every financial crisis has in common, he says, and no amount of policy changes are going to eradicate them, or the chaos they wreak.

Greed, Fear and Groupthink. Now those are some good baby names.

Chaser: From contributing columnist Adam Lashinsky, “Silicon Valley is again in denial about its dependency on the feds

Kick coal and finally live the good life

Most people given the option of trading in their gas guzzlers for lifelong peace of mind, stronger social ties, and improved mental and physical health would see that choice as a no-brainer. Yet collectively, we’re really struggling with the decision.

That’s because we think about fighting climate change in terms of what we have to give up, not in the benefits of our efforts. At best, we see our sacrifices as for the Earth, but not for us. That needs to change, essayist Rebecca Solnit writes.

Rich lives of “joy, beauty, friendship, community, closeness to flourishing nature, to good food produced without abuse of labor” are at our fingertips, Solnit says, if we can prioritize those things over the consumer comforts we so prize. Just look at fossil fuels: The industry has corroded our politics, the burning of them kills millions of people a year, and their release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere increases anxiety and despair. It’s clear we could kick the habit and thrive.

A faulty understanding of abundance helped get us into the climate crisis. Real abundance can help get us out.

Chaser: As long as we’re redefining abundance, we might as well redefine “food waste,” too. Tamar Adler recently explained how.

The unnamed source at Immigration and Customs Enforcement was talking to columnist Greg Sargent about the possibility of President Biden reviving the Trump-era policy of detaining at the border migrant families who cross illegally.

Greg spoke with several immigration employees, and they were clear in warning Biden that no one wants to go back. Greg himself notes that such a decision would be a grave mistake.

Chaser: This isn’t the only “Trump 2.0” immigration policy Biden has mulled. Catherine Rampell rebuked him for one last month.

More politics

Conservative columnist Henry Olsen’s latest advice to Biden might come as a surprise: Don’t tack too far to the center.

Of course, Henry is just looking after the president’s best interests, and he writes that sidling up too close to Henry’s own policy preferences could invite a primary challenge from Biden’s left. Already, Biden’s choice not to veto Congress’s override of a D.C. crime bill and his approval of Alaska drilling have the left dyspeptic.

It’s unlikely that an insurgent progressive could topple Biden, given the order of Democratic primary states — but the right one could certainly weaken him. And that’s all the Republican would need to beat him in the general.

Chaser: Last summer, Democrats had a “mini-2024 primary.” Perry Bacon Jr. tracked who was in the running.

Smartest, fastest

  • Jennifer Rubin says the two top GOP presidential candidates want to dump Ukraine. That’s a huge problem.
  • You know where a me-first mentality doesn’t actually dominate sports? Women’s leagues, writes Mitch Daniels. Everyone should tune in.
  • Republicans treat parents like victims, Alyssa Rosenberg writes. They should meet these PTA moms.

It’s a goodbye. It’s a haiku. It’s … The Bye-Ku.

What’s in it for me?

Besides kinship with the Earth

And a longer life


Have your own newsy haiku? Email it to me, along with any questions/comments/ambiguities. See you tomorrow!