In Beijing, they celebrate when they have a “blue sky day,” when, that is, the haze clears long enough so that you can actually see the sun. Many days, you can’t even make out the next block.
Washington, by contrast, looks pretty clean: white marble monuments, broad, tree-lined avenues, the beautiful, green spread of the Mall. But its inhabitants — at least those who vote in Congress — can’t see any more clearly than the smoke-shrouded residents of Beijing.
Their view, however, is obscured by a different kind of smog. Call it money pollution. The torrents of cash now pouring unchecked into our political system cloud judgment and obscure science. Money pollution matters as much as or more than the other kind of dirt. That money is the single biggest reason that, as the planet swelters through the warmest years in the history of civilization, we have yet to take any real action as a nation on global warming.
And if you had to pick a single “power plant” whose stack was spewing out the most smoke? No question about it, that would be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose headquarters are conveniently located directly across the street from the White House. On its webpage, the chamber brags that it’s the biggest lobby in Washington, “consistently leading the pack in lobbying expenditures.”
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