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I saw "An Inconvenient Truth" with some friends on Friday. I was reluctant to see this film because I thought it would be depressing and this choir does not need to get depressed. While the science behind the Global Warming conclusion was indeed grounding, the producers worked really hard to make this an upbeat positive film. Near the end, when Gore is suggesting solutions to fix the carbon problem, he also busts several myths about environmental issues. My favorite (though it is tough to choose) was the idea of "businesses vs. the environment".

All too often, business proponents act like we can either choose the environment or wealth. However, that view is very short sighted with no vision on how economics and business (and progress) works. The economy and resulting wealth (from a good economy) is the consequence of energy put into being productive. What we produce is entirely up to us and should reflect on our culture and values. Are we going to put energy into environmentally friendly technology and production or into making lots and lots of useless plastic widgets?

The other side of our economic decision is marketing. Are we going to spread tons of money/energy convincing people to purchase useless plastic widgets (the latest model!) or are we going use that drive to convince people to reduce, reuse, recycle, and when they do purchase to possibly spend more money (that they now have because they are not buying tons of useless plastic crap) to purchase quality products that last awhile and are not harmful to the earth? True, shifting from one economic paradigm to the other might include a short tough period but the economy experiences these all the time (think dot-com bubble bursting).

However, on the flip side of free market economy, is government spending. People forget that government spending is not a subsidy but rather an investment for general public benefit. Public schools for instance: regardless of whether or not I have children using them, by investing in the education of my neighbor's child, I am ensuring a better future for my society because this person is going to eventually add to our economy and the wealth of our country.

But what do you do if the finances for schools are competing with another important investment? Currently there is an amendment Minnesotans will vote on in a few weeks to insist that all money earmarked for transportation goes to transportation. In the past, although all money from motor vehicle taxes was supposed to go to transportation, as much as three million of it each year has gone to fund other things.

Transportation, especially in the form of better roads (less congestion) newer buses (more fuel efficient, or electronic) and improved mass transit (get people out of those cars!) is a really important investment - especially in the face of global warming.

Yet, by insisting this money go towards transportation, schools and hospitals (among other things) will be short this year. All three are investments that affect the future of our society - healthier people, educated youth, or improved transportation: How do you decide in a situation like that?

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