I voted for Joe! (and I stand for…) (11/2020)


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ventdouxprod 2020 nicolas barbier people who voted for joe biden stand for fracking on most us lands, nuclear energy, billionaires, a potentially even stronger military, polluting agriculture, etc.
November 2018: Joe Biden, then chair of the National constitution center, honors George W. Bush with the liberty medal for his charitable mission in favor of American veterans wounded after September 11, 2001. No word for the tens of thousands of Iraqis who died because of Bush's war. But Biden said this: "We share a belief that those values which undergird our democracy are precious".

IS IT TRUE? JOE REALLY WANTS a green economy, to help the poor and economic migrants in a meaningful way, to put an end to police brutality, and so on and so forth?

Shall we go a little further? What do people who voted for Joe Biden stand for in more detail?

5G: Let’s go! Full speed!

Biden and the 79 million Americans who voted for him bless the forthcoming 5G (fifth generation of cellular networks). They consent to the exposure to electromagnetic fields with the frequencies reserved for 5G. The electromagnetic radiations associated with 5G have not been proven safe for people subject to them (5G Appeal, 2020; Biden, 2020 [e]; BRHP, 2020; jrs eco wireless, 2020).

ventdouxprod nicolas barbier 2020 biden supports a conventional agriculture that pollutes the environment and damages people's health i voted for joe
October 2020: Joe Biden speaks at at rally in the largely rural State of Iowa (photo : AP).

Agriculture: Chemicals and ethanol first 

Anyone who voted for Biden also votes for a U.S. conventional agriculture on steroids, addicted to a slew of toxic chemicals. U.S. conventional agriculture pollutes U.S. soils, waters and foods, while putting people’s health at risk due to the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers and, in many cases, GMOs. Biden “stands up for American farmers”, whether or not these farmers use toxic chemicals. Journalist Lisa Held went to see meetings organized by the Biden campaign for U.S. farmers: “Instead of a panel that included small, diversified vegetable farms, regenerative ranchers, or organic crop farmers, the farmers given the microphone during the Biden campaign’s Farmers and Ranchers Roundtable were primarily large commodity producers”… (Beketov et al., 2013; Biden, 2020 [d]; Held, 2020; Koutros et al., 2016; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2020).

In the same vein, Biden wants more ethanol as biofuel, which is known to harm both the environment (e.g., air pollution, reduced fuel efficiency, less land for organic agriculture and biodiversity) and people’s health (asthma, increased ozone-related mortality etc.) (Biden, 2020 [d]; Yale Environment 360, 2016).

ventdouxprod 2020 nicolas barbier joe biden agriculture i voted for joe
Joe Biden's plan for U.S. agriculture welcomes, among other things, this type of "farm" in Arizona: thousands of plastic shelters for calves, surrounded by vast irrigated fields to feed them (photo: azcentral.com, 2019).

Climate: Carbon neutrality in 2050, with lots of emissions

Biden says that he will ensure “net-zero emissions [of carbon dioxide] no later than 2050”. Net zero emission of carbon dioxide (carbon neutrality) does not mean zero emission of carbon dioxide from human activity. Instead, carbon neutrality means two things:

  1. To reach a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks (like forests and oceans);

  2. To offset emissions made someplace by reducing them somewhere else.

More importantly perhaps, Biden has no way of keeping his promise of carbon neutrality. First, he cannot force the U.S. Congress to pass an act that would make net-zero emissions by 2050 a legally binding commitment. Neither did he say that he would attempt to persuade the U.S. Congress to pass such an act. Second, Biden will be long gone by 2050 (Biden, 2020 [c]; EP, 2020).

Energy: Oil sector reassured, “new” nuclear celebrated

Biden declares that he will “ensure [that] the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy by 2050”. The problem is that his program is inconsistent with this commitment. His program allows most of U.S. oil drilling to continue. He promises to eliminate new drilling only on federal lands and waters which provide about 25 percent of the total oil domestic production. So areas where 75 percent of the oil domestic output comes from will not be affected. Neither will be preexisting drilling on federal areas. The U.S. could also keep on importing and exporting huge amounts of oil as it did under Obama, and then Trump (Biden, 2020 [c]; Reuters, 2020 [a]).

Biden’s program embraces fracking on 72 percent of the U.S. landbase. It only bans new fracking on federal lands which cover 28 percent of this national landbase. Fracking consists in getting oil or gas from the rock underground by making large cracks via the injection of liquid under pressure. Biden’s program also welcomes nuclear energy, including the future development of small modular nuclear reactors. That development could multiply the risks of nuclear accidents across the nation (Biden, 2020 [a]; CBS News, 2020; Forbes, 2020 [a]; Fox News, 2020; Portland alliance for democracy, 2017; Scientific American, 2020).

ventdouxprod nicolas barbier 2020 joe biden protects most oil drilling in the united states
ventdouxprod nicolas barbier 2020 joe biden cracker petrochemicals complex pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, most of the fracking activity takes place on private and State lands, and thus will be able to continue unabated. In this State, the Shell company's Cracker petrochemicals complex (photo) is almost completed. It will be used to convert natural gas into ethylene (up to 1.5 million metric tons/year) and polyethylene, and then into plastics (sources: Inside climate news, 2020; Shell, 2020).

(Indigenous) Lands

Biden asserts that he “will provide tribes with a greater role in the care and management of public lands that are of cultural significance to tribal nations”. How “greater” this role might be is anyone’s guess, but their role will continue to be defined by the federal government (Biden, 2020 [f]).

There are two things way more significant in terms of territorial justice for American Indians that Biden totally ignores.

  1. He does not support the right of tribal nations to veto projects that would negatively impact their environment in the oldest treaty areas.
  2. He never talks about the return of vast uninhabited federal lands to these tribal nations as fully autonomous American Indian lands. Yet, dozens of million of hectares of these particular federal lands are located in old treaty areas. As such, they should be given back. No Non-Indian would be forced to move (Barbier’s PhD dissertation, 2012 [summa cum laude]; Biden, 2020 [f]).

Under the old treaties signed between American Indian nations and the United States, unceded treaty areas were supposed to remain exclusively reserved for American Indians as Indian reservations. For instance, Indian reservations were very large according to the following treaties (among dozens of others): the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty between the U.S.A. and the Sioux; the 1855 treaty signed with the Nez Perce in the northern Rockies; the one signed in 1837 with the Ojibwe in the Great Lakes region; another signed in 1864 with the Ute in the northcentral Rockies, etc., etc. The U.S.A. stole most reservation lands from American Indians thereafter (Barbier’s PhD dissertation, 2012).

Contrary to subsequent treaties (e.g., 1863 Nez Perce treaty instead of the 1855 one), older treaties are usually the ones with the least provisions imposed on the tribes by the United States government. In more recent “negotiations” before the signing of treaties or agreements, the U.S. government tended to use a lot more coercive, brutal or genocidal tactics and policies to impose its laws and steal more lands (Barbier’s PhD dissertation, 2012 ; Biden, 2020 [f]).

In its treatment of Indigenous peoples’ land rights, the U.S.A. is more cruel than Brazil for instance, and a much bigger thief of land. Under the Brazilian constitution, about 900,000 Indigenous peoples have an imprescritible right to the exclusive use of the soil, lakes and river resources over 286 million acres of inalienable lands. However, Brazil remains a colonial State which claims that these Indigenous lands are also part of the Federal Union. By comparison, about 3 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S.A. retain the exclusive benefit of some 100 million acres of lands, most of which are held in trust by the U.S.A. for the benefit of the Indigenous peoples concerned (Barbier’s PhD dissertation, 2012; IWGIA, 2020; Leuzinger and Lyngard, 2016, p.421; NCAI, 2020).

ventdouxprod 2020 nicolas barbier joe biden american indian stolen lands terres amérindiennes volées
This land is part of 3.8 million acre of uninhabited public lands that should be given back to the Nez Perce Indians because they are located within the 1855 Nez Perce Treaty Area. Today, this area is artificially classified as the Eagle cap wilderness area in Oregon. The U.S. government used coercion and genocidal military campaigns to steal these lands from the Nez Perce (photo: Nonplussed2, 2018).

Migrants: Message to most destitutes: Stay home!

Biden and his voters agree to send back scores of economic migrants to extreme poverty in their countries of origin after they have entered the United States. The fact that the U.S.A. could afford to welcome them in good conditions is overlooked. Biden declared that he would “abide by international law” on refugees. That law allows countries to deport economic migrants to their countries of origin, no matter if they endure extreme poverty at home (Biden, 2020 [b], p.40; UNHCR, 2017; UNHCR, 2007).

Military: Where U.S. love is

Biden said that he would agree with a U.S. military budget potentially higher than the latest one under the Trump administration: 738 billion dollars… In terms of nuclear weapons, Biden’s words do not require further clarification: “My administration will pursue a sustainable nuclear budget that maintains a viable deterrent for us and our allies”, he said during his campaign (Bloomberg government, 2020; DemocracyNow!, 2020; Washington Post, 2020).

ventdouxprod 2020 nicolas barbier joe biden loves the military
Utah, January 2020 (photo: US Air Force).

Minimum wage: Joe, why don’t you try to live with it?

Biden pledges to raise the federal hourly minimum wage to 15 dollars. This pledge may have been one of the two or three main reasons why millions of U.S. citizens voted for him. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, has been paying his employees in the U.S.A. a minimum of $15/hour since 2018. Many big cities like New York City, San Francisco or Seattle already have a mandatory $15-16/hour minimum wage. According to the AFL-CIO, “if the federal minimum wage had kept pace with workers’ productivity since 1968, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage would be $18.67” today (AFL-CIO, 2020; Biden, 2020 [g]; CNBC, 2018; Investopedia, 2020).

With $15/hour in 2020, if you work 40 hours/week all year long, you cannot afford a modest average two-bedroom appartment in 46 U.S. States out of 50. In California, the hourly wage needed in order to rent this type of two-bedroom appartment is $37/hour; it is $26/hour in Colorado and $24/hour in Florida; it was $23/hour in Chicago in 2019 and it is $64/hour in San Francisco in 2020. In New York City, you needed $29/hour to afford a mere studio in 2018. With $15/hour, having a good health care insurance in the United States is often impossible (CLEISS, 2019; Housing action Illinois, 2019; National low income housing coalition, 2020; NBC New York, 2018; Statista, 2020).

Obviously, Biden does not address wealthy U.S. companies that rely on poverty wages and mistreatment of workers abroad, in the textile or computer-electronics industries in Asia for example (Biden, 2020 [g]; Business insider France, 2019; Post Magazine, 2020).

Police: Biden “totally opposed” to the defunding demanded by Black Lives Matter

People who voted Biden either want or resign themselves to the hundreds of billions of dollars spent for police departments nationwide every year (e.g., more than 10 billion dollars for the New York Police Department alone). Under Biden, defunding the police will not be an option: “I am totally opposed to defunding the police officers”. These were the words of Joe Biden during the debate between him and Trump in September 2020. Following the murder of George Floyd by police officers in May 2020, Black Lives Matter called “for a national defunding of police. We demand investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive” (Black Lives Matter, 2020; Bloomberg, 2020; CBC, 2020).

ventdouxprod 2020 nicolas barbier joe biden totally opposed to defunding the police, biden ignores black lives matter
Philadelphia, November 2020 (photo: McGrath).

The very rich: Can rest easy

The existence of billionaires and multi-millionaires suits Joe Biden and his voters. The absence of limit in terms of individual wealth and private properties (e.g., real estate) suit them too. For his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden received 636 million dollars of donations from 166 billionaires. It was almost twice as much as what Donald Trump got ($329 million) from billionaires (Forbes, 2020 [b]).

Conclusion

In the U.S. democracy as in other western democracies, crowds often rush to vote for the lesser of two evils: Biden rather than Trump over there, Macron rather than Le Pen here, etc. Among “the lesser of two evils” enthusiasts, a few categories of people are easily distinguishable:

  • Agressive upstarts always ready to follow the political fashion of the day.

  • People who are politically lost.

  • Well-intentioned people who are afraid of the opponent.

  • People convinced that the lesser of two evils is panacea in democracy.

  • People who give in to pressure from others to vote that way.

Sources

5G Appeal, 2020. Scientists warn of potential serious health effects of 5G. 11/24/2020.

AFL-CIO, 2020. Raising the Minimum Wage. 11/24/2020.

Barbier N., 2012. Conflicts between Indians and non-Indians over the management of land, the environment and natural resources in the Nez Perce aboriginal territory (Idaho, Oregon, Washington). PhD dissertation [summa cum laude]. 11/24/2020.

Beketov et al., 2013. Pesticides reduce regional biodiversity of stream invertebrates. PNAS, vol. 110, num. 27. 11/24/2020.

Biden, 2020 [a]. The Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future. 11/24/2020.

Biden, 2020 [b]. BIDEN-SANDERS UNITY TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONSCOMBATING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AND PURSUING ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE. 11/24/2020.

Biden, 2020 [c]. The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice. 11/24/2020.

Biden, 2020 [d]. The Biden-Harris Plan to Build Back Better in Rural America. 11/24/2020.

Biden, 2020 [e]. The Biden Plan to Ensure the Future is “Made in All of America” by All of America’s Workers. 11/24/2020.

Biden, 2020 [f]. Biden-Harris Plan for Tribal Nations. 11/24/2020.

Biden, 2020 [g]. The Biden Plan for Strengthening Worker Organizing, Collective Bargaining, and Unions. 11/24/2020.

Black Lives Matter, 2020. #DefundThePolice. 11/24/2020.

Bloomberg, 2020. Biden ‘Totally Opposed’ to Defunding the Police. 11/24/2020.

Bloomberg government, 2020. Biden White House Seen Revamping Strategy for Nuclear Weapons. 11/24/2020.

BRHP, 2020. Significant discrepancy of opinions on 5G and health between ICNIRP and the Health Council of the Netherlands. 11/24/2020.

Business insider France, 2019. Amazon, Walmart, and Target sold clothes from factories that were blacklisted after a Bangladeshi factory collapsed and killed 1,100 workers. 11/24/2020.

CBC, 2020. Was the NYPD Budget Cut by $1 Billion? 11/24/2020.

CBS News, 2020. Biden unveils $2 trillion climate plan. 11/24/2020.

CLEISS, 2019. Le régime américain de sécurité sociale. 11/24/2020.

CNBC, 2018. Amazon raises minimum wage to $15 for all US employees. 11/24/2020.

DemocracyNow!, 2020. Joe Biden Says He May Further Increase Military Spending If Elected. 11/24/2020.

EP, 2020. What is carbon neutrality and how can it be achieved by 2050? 11/24/2020.

Forbes, 2020 [a]. What Will A Biden-Harris Administration Do For Nuclear Energy? 11/24/2020.

Forbes, 2020 [b]. Billionaire backers. 11/24/2020.

Fox News, 2020. Debate: Second Presidential Debate in Nashville With Donald Trump and Joe Biden – October 22, 2020. 11/24/2020.

Held L., 2020. In a Year of Climate Reckoning, Where Does Joe Biden Stand on Climate and Agriculture? Civil Eats. 11/24/2020.

Housing action Illinois, 2019. Nowhere in Illinois Can Low-Wage Workers Afford Rent, But New Investments Promise Brighter Future. 11/24/2020.

Inside climate news, 2020. Five Things To Know About Fracking in Pennsylvania. Are Voters Listening? 11/24/2020.

Investopedia, 2020. The Top 5 U.S. Cities With the Highest Minimum Wage. 11/24/2020.

IWGIA, 2020. Indigenous peoples in Brazil. 11/24/2020.

Jrs eco wireless, 2020. EU 5G Appeal – Scientists warn of potential serious health effects of 5G. 11/24/2020.

Koutros et al., 2016. Occupational exposure to pesticides and bladder cancer risk. International journal of epidemiology, 45 (3). 11/24/2020.

Leuzinger M. D. and Lyngard K., 2016. The land rights of indigenous and traditional peoples in Brazil and Australia. Revista de Direito Internacional, 13 (1). 11/24/2020.

National low income housing coalition, 2020. How Much do you Need to Earn to Afford a Modest Apartment in Your State? 11/24/2020.

NBC New York, 2018. Report Reveals How Much New Yorkers Have to Earn Per Hour to Rent an Apartment. 11/24/2020.

NCAI, 2020. Indian Country Demographics. 11/24/2020.

Portland alliance for democracy, 2017. The danger of small nuclear reactors. 11/24/2020.

Post Magazine, 2020. Dying for an iPhone: investigating Apple, Foxconn and the brutal exploitation of Chinese workers. 11/24/2020.

Reuters, 2020. Factbox: How a Biden presidency would transform the U.S. energy landscape. 11/24/2020.

Scientific American, 2020. First U.S. Small Nuclear Reactor Design Is Approved. 11/24/2020.

Shell, 2020. Shell’s Pennsylvania Ethane Cracker Completes 70% Construction. 11/24/2020.

Statista, 2020. Hourly wages needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the United States in 2020, by metropolitan area (in U.S. dollars). 11/24/2020.

UNHCR, 2017. A guide to international refugee protection and building state asylum systems. 11/24/2020.

UNHCR, 2007. Refugee Protection and International Migration. 11/24/2020.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2020. GMO Crops, Animal Food, and Beyond. 11/24/2020.

Washington Post, 2020. ‘Our industry knows Joe Biden really well’: Defense contractors unconcerned as Biden clinches victory. 11/24/2020.

Yale Environment 360, 2016. The Case Against More Ethanol: It’s Simply Bad for Environment. 11/24/2020.

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