Noam Chomsky: US Scandalous Healthcare symptomatic of populations’ failure to defend Democracy | Choice of disenfranchised masses to have blind faith in ruling elite

As the title suggests, in this interview and article by C.J. Polychroniou, Noam Chomsky unveils his expansive view of the United States.

truthout

truthout

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/39064-noam-chomsky-the-us-health-system-is-an-international-scandal-and-aca-repeal-will-make-it-worse?tsk=adminpreview#disqus_thread

Chomsky claims that the rejection of healthcare and lack of a real labor presence is symbolic of the much larger issue in the United States > that people do not participate or defend democracy, but are willing puppets of a political realm ruled by a wealthy few, to whom the population simply does not oppose, but subjugate their passions and dreams to agree to the system dictated by a ruling class – who the population could overpower with their force, if they simply wished to stand up for their rights to represent and govern themselves.

I’ve basically excerpted the article, juggling it around a bit to put the most poignant parts from the conclusion – at the beginning – for those who have no time to read. Hence it’s a sort of ‘cliff notes’ version of the article.

And as I posted on Facebook regarding this Truthout article, thank you so much Noam Chomsky for being the expansive and insightful person whom you are!

Noam Chomsky-information website

Noam Chomsky-information website

“The US health care system has long been an international scandal, with about twice the per capita expenses of other wealthy (OECD) countries and relatively poor outcomes. The ACA did, however, bring improvements, including insurance for tens of millions of people who lacked it, banning of refusal of insurance for people with prior disabilities, and other gains — and also, it appears to have led to a reduction in the increase of health care costs, though that is hard to determine precisely.

Returning to your question, it raises a crucial question about American democracy: why isn’t the population “demanding” what it strongly prefers? Why is it allowing concentrated private capital to undermine necessities of life in the interests of profit and power?

….The question directs our attention to a profound democratic deficit in an atomized society, lacking the kind of popular associations and organizations that enable the public to participate in a meaningful way in determining the course of political, social and economic affairs. These would crucially include a strong and participatory labor movement and actual political parties growing from public deliberation and participation instead of the elite-run candidate-producing groups that pass for political parties. What remains is a depoliticized society in which a majority of voters (barely half the population even in the super-hyped presidential elections, much less in others) are literally disenfranchised, in that their representatives disregard their preferences while effective decision-making lies largely in the hands of tiny concentrations of wealth and corporate power…

Turning finally to your question again, a rather general answer, which applies in its specific way to contemporary western democracies, was provided by David Hume over 250 years ago, in his classic study of the First Principles of Government. Hume found “nothing more surprising than to see the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and to observe the implicit submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is brought about, we shall find, that as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. `Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.”

Implicit submission is not imposed by laws of nature or political theory. It is a choice, at least in societies such as ours, which enjoys the legacy provided by the struggles of those who came before us. Here power is indeed “on the side of the governed,” if they organize and act to gain and exercise it. That holds for health care and for much else.”

The House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans (with a minority of voters), has voted over 50 times in the past six years to repeal or weaken Obamacare, but they have yet to come up with anything like a coherent alternative.

Comparison of the attitude toward elementary rights of labor and extraordinary rights of private power tells us a good deal about the nature of American society.

The expulsion or mass killing of Indigenous nations cleared the ground for the invading settlers, who had enormous resources and ample fertile lands at their disposal, and extraordinary security for reasons of geography and power. That led to the rise of a society of individual farmers, and also, thanks to slavery, substantial control of the product that fueled the industrial revolution: cotton, the foundation of manufacturing, banking, commerce, retail for both the US and Britain, and less directly, other European societies. Also relevant is the fact that the country has actually been at war for 500 years with little respite, a history that has created “the richest, most powerful¸ and ultimately most militarized nation in world history,” as scholar Walter Hixson has documented.

Administrative costs are far greater in the private component of the health care system than in Medicare, which itself suffers by having to work through the private system.

Comparisons with other countries reveal much more bureaucracy and higher administrative costs in the US privatized system than elsewhere. One study of the US and Canada a decade ago, by medical researcher Steffie Woolhandler and associates, found enormous disparities, and concluded that “Reducing U.S. administrative costs to Canadian levels would save at least $209 billion annually, enough to fund universal coverage.

Another anomalous feature of the US system is the law banning the government from negotiating drug prices, which leads to highly inflated prices in the US as compared with other countries. That effect is magnified considerably by the extreme patent rights accorded to the pharmaceutical industry in “trade agreements,” enabling monopoly profits. In a profit-driven system, there are also incentives for expensive treatments rather than preventive care, as strikingly in Cuba, with remarkably efficient and effective health care.”

Carol Keiter, the blogger

Carol Keiter the blogger

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Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

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Break Free from Fossil Fuels | 2 week global Wave of Escalated Action > Keep Coal, Oil + Gas In The Ground | Sat. May 14th

Time to Break Free from Fossil Fuels May 4-16th

break free, break free from fossil fuels, actions worldwide

Actions are happening all over the world

Top US Actions Break Free from Fossil Fuels

On Saturday May 14th, all over the world, a coordinated action to break free from fossil fuels will take place. These actions will take place at strategic locations where people can come together. The southwest central hub is Los Angeles, California. People will meet at the City Hall at 1pm, 200 N. Spring St.

I wish to join from my current location in Tucson, Arizona, however I don’t have a vehicle or disposable income. It’s a 7.5 hour drive along Interstate 10. I just hitched to San Francisco 10 days ago, and frankly, would prefer to join people in a ride. nomadbeatz@graffiti.net If anyone reads this, perhaps a few vehicles could be coordinated. https://la.breakfree2016.org/transport/

Californians and people of the southwestern states will convene in L.A., home to the nation’s largest urban oil field in the United States—ground zero of California’s climate fight. We will demand that our elected leaders put an end to the oil and gas production that threaten the state’s health, environment and future. If California wants to uphold its legacy as a global climate leader, then we must keep oil and gas in the ground as we work toward establishing a sustainable energy economy.

In my case, I wish to attend the Los Angeles action. If anyone is interested in joining, here’s the link to get involved. https://la.breakfree2016.org/#join

Carol

Paul Heise Professor Economics | A Happy New Year is your proactive responsibility |

Having not lived in the United States for a while, I’m not familiar with this writer nor his column, yet the contents of his words reverberated. Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College. This was published in the Opinion section of the Lebanon Daily News, January 5th, 2012. He suggests that Americans let go of their fears and apprehension, and open their minds to seizing new opportunities; through actively taking proactive steps and taking responsibility for creating the life that we want, to once again set examples for the world to follow!

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-
A happy new year, if we will work at it

By PAUL HEISE

The new year is a good time to seek out and celebrate the opportunities that life presents us.

The actual happiness of this new year will depend not on fate or accident but on how we respond to the opportunities we face. The opportunities are there, and we face a bright future so long as we do not panic and retreat into fear.

Certainly, our highest hopes flow from the physical sciences because they are the base of the technology that sustains us. The theoretical scientists, working in real time, promise new worlds as yet undreamed of.

For example, in biology, DNA research offers the opportunity to change the very nature of humanity. In physics, the search for the boson particle offers us the excitement of a possible fifth dimension. These opportunities are so stunning that they are and should be frightening.

America as a nation spends huge sums on scientific research. While too much of that is military, a lot does spill over to the private sector. Advances in robotics in regard to artificial limbs have been applied to the general population. GPS technology is good for more than just smart bombs targeting terrorists. Similarly, drone technology has been applied to rescue people as well as to slaughter them.

Managing these technologies promises a future of both jobs and wealth, if we are willing to spend the research money directly on domestic needs.

Technically and economically, the world can produce enough to feed, clothe, house, medicate and educate to a reasonable middle-class standard. The only problems in the way of that are political. The 30-year stagnation of the wages of the middle-class and therefore much of our poverty are not accidental. They are the result of class warfare.

We now live in a plutocracy, government by the wealthy, with extremes of inequality in wealth and income not seen for more than 80 years. These inequalities are also the underlying cause of our current depression.

America will get a growing, prosperous economy in 2012 only if we give the middle-class a wage increase commensurate with their increased productivity.

If we want to have a prosperous new year, we must put our political house in order. The financial sector does not have a right to the money it stole or the political power it purchased with that money. We need to demand accountability for the criminal behavior of bank presidents and not just crack addicts.
Our Constitution and all of our universal and unalienable rights, especially freedom from warrantless search and seizure, must be defended and not given up because we are afraid. Corporations have limited liability, uncontrolled size and immortality; no person I know has any of those attributes.
The tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement agree on at least this much, so the country is surely ready to fight those battles. Coordinated SWAT team action and pepper spray should not deter us.

America is still the most powerful cultural force for good in the world, and politically the world is going our way despite what you hear.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, with its attack on income inequality, was quickly copied across the developed world. Divergent forms of democratic capitalism are emerging and being welcomed. The repressive aspects of Chinese state capitalism are being challenged by the Chinese people themselves. India’s combination of socialism and capitalism is still emerging. Latin America is quietly slipping free of the IMF and North American corporate control. A democratic Arab Spring is outperforming militant Islamism. Across the world, the creation and spreading of wealth is becoming more important than political ideology.

If we revive the middle class here at home and reach out to others, we will have a great year, and the world will go along. Instead of projecting power in the Far East with aircraft carriers, we will share with China the development of an emerging Southeast Asia. Instead of threatening Iran, we will recognize its natural position as a leader in the Middle East. Instead of fighting the world consensus on global climate change, we will be leading the repair of the planet. Instead of fearing science, we will complete that stalled particle accelerator down in Texas. Instead of closing our borders and our hearts, we will open them so we are still the land of the free.

List your own favorite tasks, and we will all have a daunting but exciting agenda.

America and the world face the prospect of a prosperous and peaceful world. But America is still the only country that can lead us all forward. If we succumb to a bickering fear – of technology, of dark-skinned people, of ourselves – we will not lead.

Let’s look at the new year not just as a gift of opportunity but as a task to be accomplished. Then it will be a really happy new year!
A resident of Mt. Gretna, Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College. His column appears every other Thursday. He maintains past columns and can be reached through his blog, paulheise.blogspot.com.

A Proposal for “Occupy Wall Street” by Michael Moore | 10 Things We Want |

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here? …a proposal from Michael Moore

Occupy Everything” Discussion panel on Democracy Now with Michael Moore, Naomi Klein…guests of Amy Goodman.
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Friends,

This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement’s “vision statement” to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

We Envision: [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society; [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus; [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others; [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few; [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

The next step will be to develop a specific list of goals and demands. As one of the millions of people who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I would like to respectfully offer my suggestions of what we can all get behind now to wrestle the control of our country out of the hands of the 1% and place it squarely with the 99% majority.

Here is what I will propose to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

10 Things We Want
A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street
Submitted by Michael Moore

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.

3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.

4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.

6. Reorder our nation’s spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.

7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can’t run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)

10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.

b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.

c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a “second bill of rights” as proposed by President Frankin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age.

Let me know what you think. Occupy Wall Street enjoys the support of millions. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. Become part of it by sharing your thoughts with me or online (at OccupyWallSt.org). Get involved in (or start!) your own local Occupy movement. Make some noise. You don’t have to pitch a tent in lower Manhattan to be an Occupier. You are one just by saying you are. This movement has no singular leader or spokesperson; every participant is a leader in their neighborhood, their school, their place of work. Each of you is a spokesperson to those whom you encounter. There are no dues to pay, no permission to seek in order to create an action.

We are but ten weeks old, yet we have already changed the national conversation. This is our moment, the one we’ve been hoping for, waiting for. If it’s going to happen it has to happen now. Don’t sit this one out. This is the real deal. This is it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@MichaelMoore.com
@MMFlint
MichaelMoore.com

The Population Elephant | “The Problem” we choose not to discuss | by Kurt Dahl

I was sent this article a week ago, and upon reading it, feel that it needs to be circulated !-o


The Population Elephant

A resource for those who are willing to think

http://www.populationelephant.com

Why overpopulation and the population problem are never discussed – the taboo topic of overpopulation.

The problems with the “The Problem”


The Real Problem

Some things are so preeminent within their context that they need no adjectives or explanation. Ask any American football fan what is referred to by “The Play” and they will tell you abut the final play in the 1982 Cal/Stanford game when, after several laterals and a mad dash through the Stanford band, Cal scored the winning touchdown as time expired (do a Google search on “the play” and see for yourself). Likewise, “The Open” refers only to the British Open golf tournament, even though there are dozens of other “Open” athletic events.

The world today is beset with a host of major issues – oil depletion, climate change, food shortages, resource wars, species extinction – to name but a few. But these are only symptoms of the one true problem. “The Real Problem” – the one that spawns all others, and the one that mankind must face at some point – is that there are simply too many human beings on this planet.

Therefore, I suggest, that like “The Play” and “The Open” – hereafter overpopulation should be referred to as “The Problem”.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, we are content to address only the consequences of the The Problem – climate change, energy depletion, food shortages, etc. This is the same classic mistake that a physician makes in treating only the patient’s symptoms, and ignoring the fundamental disease.

So then, the million dollar question is: “Why aren’t we addressing the real problem?”

First – A brutally honest reality check is necessary

World population stands at over 6 billion today. Every four days one million more people are added. Reasonable projections put world population at between 9 -11 billion by 2050. Rocket science is not required to understand what that implies for the host of issues (symptoms) listed above.

CO2 emissions are causing global warming. This is a fact. Many in the scientific community propose that an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 is necessary to forestall the extreme consequences of global warming. But how can this be done when at the same time we are adding 3, 4, or even 5 billion more people to the world?
Get real – it can’t!

Likewise for energy and food consumption – the addition of billions of people means that these commodities will dramatically increase in consumption. But these are finite resources, already we are far above sustainable levels. So, can this go on forever?
Get real – it can’t!

Can the use of new light bulbs, hybrid cars, cloth grocery bags, and mass transit offset the sharply upward consumption demand that will come from both the increasing world population and the dramatically increasing standard of living of the existing populations in developing countries like India and China? No way!
Get real – it can’t!

So why aren’t the sirens blaring, why isn’t the alarm sounding, why isn’t this even being discussed?

In fact, the opposite is happening. There have been several recent opinion pieces in the Boston Globe and the New York Times expressing the belief that we have a problem with decreasing population! Absurd.

Why then is overpopulation not discussed? The Problem, it turns out, has many fatal problems of its own:

Five Fatal Problems with The Problem:

1. There is no money in it.

Going “Green” is a huge industry. Thousands of companies are trying to sell you efficient light bulbs, hybrid cars, cloth grocery bags, solar panels and a host of other gimmicks and gadgets.

Alternative energy sources need massive investments in capital expenditures and research and development. Government grants to universities, venture capital, bond issues, etc., all create a whirlwind of financial activity.

Money is to be made everywhere. And with these massive financial opportunities come huge profits, well financed lobbyists, publicity, and media creation. Indeed, the media explosion surrounding “going green” is a major industry all by itself. Everyone benefits financially by “going green”. Though, in the end, it is not a solution. At best, it will only modestly delay the dire consequences of our current over-consumption.

But, conversely, who would benefit financially from reducing the Earth’s population? No one! There is absolutely no money to be made in the one and only solution – fewer people.

So – one problem with The Problem is that it is a pauper, and therefore has no friends.

2. Not my problem – the short term view.

The United Nations provides the basic population projections that everyone else quotes. There is some arbitrariness necessary to create these models. For instance, the year 2050 is the endpoint for their current set of projections for no reason other than it is a convenient round number.

Almost every article written about population growth quotes the figure of 9 billion people by 2050 (though the UN projects other possible 2050 outcomes of 7, 11, even 13 billion). And then the reader of the article goes: “So what, I won’t be around by then.” As if the problem won’t happen until 2050.

I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I would strongly assert that in the United States, the “event horizon” for concern about the future, is short and getting shorter. A major problem that arrives in 2050 is too far away for most people to even think about, much less do anything about.

Not only that, but you can’t reduce The Problem to a short time frame and have it make sense to the average person. To say that there will be two million more of us on the planet in just a little over a week (a true statistic) also gets a big “So what?” “These two million newcomers aren’t in my neighborhood, so why should I care?”

Unfortunately, even though the problem won’t manifest itself for several decades, the solutions must begin now!

So – one problem with The Problem is that by the time it becomes obvious to the average person, it will be way too late.

3. The world’s fundamental systems oppose it.

Today there are three dominant systems that define and control the culture of human beings – democracy, capitalism, and religion. And unfortunately, all three of these fundamental systems work against addressing The Problem.

Democracy, to our great benefit, allows us the freedom to make certain personal choices. Among those is the choice of how many children we are allowed to have. No democratic government would even consider limiting that choice – because, at the first opportunity, they would be voted out of office. Simply put – it is impossible to imagine a situation where any mandate resembling population management could be enacted under a democracy.

Capitalism requires growth. Anything other than growth in consumption and demand under capitalism is considered bad – a recession, or worst case, a depression. But, The Problem is only solved by a declining population and declining consumption – or negative growth. It would be hard to conceive of a model of capitalism that could “succeed” under such a deliberate, sustained, long term, decrease in demand.

Imagine how capitalism would function if population declined steadily over several decades to levels approaching one billion people. The excess quantities of goods alone (think of housing) would virtually eliminate demand and eliminate the incentive for the constant struggle to achieve the ever bigger income. Capitalism, at least as we know it today, simply wouldn’t work in a declining population scenario.

Organized religion’s primary goal, like living organisms themselves, is to continue to exist. Religions always strive to increase the flock, whether by conversion or by birth. And in today’s world, they have even become competitive with one another to see who has the bigger numbers and thereby will “rule” here on Earth.

What would happen to the Catholic Church if each Catholic couple only had one child? It would shrink dramatically – heaven forbid! That is why they continue with their completely irrational stand against birth control.

And all religions work to obfuscate The Problem by proposing bizarre superstitions like the rapture. We will all be taken up into heaven soon, so why worry? Or even more simply: Worry not, God will solve this problem.

All religions work actively, aggressively, and with massive resources, to discredit any hint of activity that might be construed as population management. Considering the influence that the world’s religions have in today’s world, it is assured that The Problem will never be allowed to be addressed in any meaningful way.

As proof that these three fundamental systems work against a solution, look no further than China. The only successful approach to population management in the world is China’s “one child per family” mandate. Without this program, China alone would have several hundred million more people today, and perhaps a billion more by 2050. As it is, China’s population will increase by only 100 million by 2050 – in contrast, India will increase by almost 600 million in the same timeframe. China’s policy is by any reasonable measure, a great success. And yet, it is relentlessly attacked, here and abroad.

And now, with the dramatic rise of capitalism in China, internal attacks on the one-child policy are beginning. The capitalists in China are raising concerns about whether a declining young demographic can “support” (read – continue to grow consumer demand) an aging population. And concerns are being raised about China’s internal market not growing fast enough. If China’s one-child policy is ever watered down or eliminated, it will be because of this increasing pressure from the pro-growth, new Chinese capitalists.

So – one problem with The Problem is that it requires a godless socialist dictatorship in power in order to mandate any actual action.

4. The Problem has no voice.

It is hard to think of any issue in today’s media saturated world that doesn’t have several advocacy groups speaking and lobbying for or against it. If you are a newcomer to this population debate, I am certain that you assume that an issue as important as The Problem has many powerful voices advocating for population management, sustainable population goals, etc. Unfortunately – you would be wrong.

But, you say, surely the environmental groups all support population management and sustainable population goals? After all, isn’t their primary responsibility the health of the Earth’s ecosystem? Well, once upon a time they did, but ˇ˝ no more – not even one of them.

More remarkably, the group created solely for this purpose – ZPG (Zero Population Growth) – its name identifying its position – began turning away from any specific population management agenda in the 1990’s. And now, it has even abandoned its own name! (Too confusing to have a name that says “Zero Population Growth” when that is no longer your position, I guess.) It is now called “The Population Connection” – a happy name, sounding like an arm of “Sesame Street”. Now it specializes in educating young people.

There are several reasons given for this complete abandonment of the issue by the very groups that strive to protect the planet – starting, once again, with money.

For the reasons stated above, The Problem has no friends. And no friends, means no money from contributions, memberships, grants, etc. In fact, many grant-giving entities would shy away from any organization that advocates positions directly opposed to such powerful institutions as the Catholic Church. So, no matter how important The Problem is, if it doesn’t generate any income (or might even cost money and members), the big environmental groups have no use for it.

And in addition, as it turns out, The Problem runs afoul of several Liberal sacred cows (Just an FYI – I’m a knee-jerk liberal personally, so don’t think this piece is some kind of veiled right-wing political agenda – it is not).

Understand, the big environmental groups are primarily American institutions, and so they generally take an American perspective. Population management from a solely American position (specifically – managing America’s population) becomes then a discussion of immigration policy, or of minority fertility rates. Since the Liberal “politically correct” tradition is to not offend any minority groups, serious population management strategies cannot be discussed.

But the killer blow for population management advocacy has probably come from the women’s-rights movement. Women have made incredible progress toward equality in this country in just the last forty years. The women’s rights movement is now a large and powerful force. And one of the foundational rights of women, is the right to personally control their own reproductive choices. Obviously, this is in direct conflict with most population management solutions (China’s one-child policy, for example).

Population lore even puts a time and place when the women’s movement usurped any meaningful population management advocacy. In 1994, at the U.N. International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the paradigm for population management dramatically shifted from “population control” to “the empowerment of women”. Virtually all environmental advocacy groups now promote the education and empowerment of women as the only acceptable population management strategy.

Now the world, facing a horrifying disaster in the making, is left with only a grassroots effort by a handful of individuals with personal websites trying to sound the alarm.

So – one problem with The Problem is that no one speaks for it.

5. There is no positive approach (spin) to solving The Problem.

Our culture thrives on optimism. We believe that every problem must have a positive solution. I recently watched Al Gore’s newest version of his global warming slide show. The first third of the presentation now emphasizes how optimistic Mr. Gore is about both our ability to fix the problem, and how positive the fix would be for us – a true win-win – problem solved, and a richer world to boot.

Politics works the same way. To the politician, all situations, all problems have a wonderful and positive solution. Perhaps the last politician to even remotely suggest that things will get worse and stay that way, was Jimmy Carter, and he was roundly criticized for his “negative” approach, not to mention being roundly defeated in the next election.

But there is a simple and obvious solution to The Problem – one that has been tested and proven to work – one that causes no unnecessary harm to anyone – and one that costs absolutely nothing: the one-child per female policy. If implemented today, calculations show that world population would be reduced to a sustainable level of 1 – 2 billion people on earth by 2100. Within one hundred years the problem would be solved at no cost, and no harm – so simple.

But the one-child solution is considered completely onerous by almost all cultures on this planet. To almost everyone, it is a terrible choice, with difficult and frightening possible consequences that would require a rewiring of our thinking. No positive spin can be applied to this solution – except that in a hundred years, people will still be here and will be living on an increasingly healthier planet.

So – one (last) problem with The Problem is that the only reasonable solution is the worst possible choice – except for all the others.

If you have read this far – thank you. Now, go forth find your own way to sound the alarm. It is up to us to speak the harsh truth – the powerful will not.

Because – as it is now – mankind heads to the abyss, knowing why, and doing nothing.

Copyright “The Population Elephant” and Kurt Dahl January, 2009 – All rights reserved.

Send any comments or reprint requests to suggestions@populationelephant.com

Comedien Steve Berke seriously running for Mayor of Miami Beach | on the ‘After Party’ ticket |

Meanwhile, in Florida, Steve Berke, a 30 year old comedian whose family has lived for three generations in Miami Beach, is running for major on the “After Party” platform.

What perhaps started as a dare, has become a legitimate aim. As stated in a New York Times article, he’s doing a kind of reality show campaign with camera’s covering his every move; of publicity stunts, parody videos on YouTube, posing with models, downing shots of alcohol and an advocate of the pro-marijuana ticket. Not shying away from revealing blunders, his commitment is to unwavering transparency. He’s a serious contender among three others, one of them a 72 year old incumbent Cuban American woman in her second term as major.

Michael Moore on bin Laden & the American military industrial complex

Some Final Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden …a letter from Michael Moore

“The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we’re not like them. We’re Americans. We roll different.” – Michael Moore in an interview last week

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Friends,

Last week, President Obama fulfilled a campaign promise and killed Osama bin Laden. Well he didn’t actually do the killing himself. It was carried out by a very brave and excellent team of Navy SEALs. Not only does Mr. Obama have the overwhelming support of the country, I think there are millions who gladly wish it could have been their finger on the gun that took out bin Laden.

When I heard the news a week ago Sunday, I immediately felt great. I felt relief. I thought of those who lost a loved one on 9/11. And I was glad we finally had a President who got something done. This is what I had to say on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet in that first hour or two:

I want to point out that Barack Obama took two years to do what Bush couldn’t do in over seven. That’s the difference between STUPID in charge and SMART in charge. STUPID pursues two reckless wars, lets OBL escape from Tora Bora, keeps looking for him in caves and invades the wrong country. He bankrupts us to the tune of $1.2 trillion for the Iraq War (it will eventually actually be over $3 trillion), and worse, he cost us the lives of almost 5,000 of our troops, not to mention hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan – and, after all that, he STILL couldn’t bring the perp to justice. In fact, in 2005, Bush closed down the CIA station that was devoted to looking for bin Laden! What does SMART do? He sends in a small elite strike force, no troops are killed, and the perpetrator is stopped for good.

I was thrilled that the Osama bin Laden era was over. There was now an end to the madness.

Being near Ground Zero that night, I decided to head over there and join with others who saw this event as a chance to have some closure. On 9/11, Bill Weems, a good and decent man I knew and worked with (we had just recently completed a shoot together in Boston), was on the plane that was flown into the Twin Towers. I dedicated ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ in part, to him.

But before leaving to go to the former World Trade Center site, I turned on the TV, and what I saw down at Ground Zero was not quiet relief and gratification that the culprit had been caught. Rather, I witnessed a frat boy-style party going on, complete with the shaking and spraying of champagne bottles over the crowd. I can completely understand people wanting to celebrate – like I said, I, too, was happy – but something didn’t feel right. It’s one thing to be happy that a criminal has been captured and dealt with. It’s another thing to throw a kegger celebrating his death at the site where the remains of his victims are still occasionally found. Is that who we are? Is that what Jesus would do? Is that what Jefferson would do? I was reminded of the tale told to me as a kid, of God’s angels singing with glee as the Red Sea came crashing back down on the Egyptians chasing the Israelites, drowning all of them. God rebuked them, saying, “The work of My hands is drowning in that sea – and you want to friggin’ sing?” (or something like that).

I remember my parents telling me how, on the day it was announced that Hitler was dead, there was no rejoicing in the streets, just private relief and satisfaction. The real celebration came six days later at the announcement that the war in Europe was over. THAT’S what the people wanted to hear – not just the demise of one evil madman, but the end to all the killing.

When the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, people didn’t pour into the streets to whoop it up. Yes, people were happy that it might help end the war, but there was not a public display of “Yippee! A hundred thousand Japs have been fried!” If they had done that, well, who could have blamed them after so many tens of thousands of their sons and fathers had been lost in the war (including my uncle, a paratrooper, killed by a sniper near Manila). But the sailor kissing the girl in Times Square was on August 14th, 1945, when the Japanese surrendered and the war was officially over. That’s when America went crazy with joy – not over a killing, but over an announcement of peace.

We are a different people now, aren’t we? Well, sorta. There was no bloodlust euphoria on the day Timothy McVeigh was executed. We were silent. The families of the Oklahoma City dead were silent, relieved. What is the difference between McVeigh and bin Laden, other than the number they slaughtered? I wonder. I think we know the answer.

Though bin Laden is dead, we are told that Orwell’s Permanent War – the “War on Terror” – must continue! Not allowed to have our V-J day and run into Times Square with exhilaration! No, there could be terrorists there. So all we’re left with is to cheer the death of one evil man, and that is supposed to make us feel powerful and good. There can be no celebration for the end of the Afghanistan War because the war isn’t ending. The war must continue! Even though our own CIA tells us there are no more than a few dozen al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. We still have 100,000 troops there fighting a few dozen crazies? We say we’re fighting the Taliban, too, but the Taliban are Afghan citizens, not an invading force, and, for better or worse, they seem to enjoy the support of many of the common people throughout Afghanistan. (If you don’t believe that, ask any soldier who has served there and seen it. Every day is like ‘Apocalypse Now.’ Poppies, anyone?)

Meanwhile, we – me, included – get lost in the weeds of how this one madman was killed. The official story from the Pentagon changed four times in the first four days! It went from OBL firing on the troops with one hand and using his wife as a human shield with the other, to, by the fourth day, not single person in the main house, including bin Laden, being armed when killed. Instantly, this created a lot of suspicion about what really happened, which itself was a distraction.

Here’s my take: I know a number of Navy SEALs. In fact (and this is something I don’t like to talk about publicly, for all the obvious reasons), I hire only ex-SEALs and ex-Special Forces guys to handle my own security (I’ll let you pause a moment to appreciate that irony). These SEALs are trained to follow orders. I don’t know what their orders were that night in Abbottabad, but it certainly looks like a job (and this is backed up in a piece in the Atlantic) where they were told to not bring bin Laden back alive. The SEALs are pros at what they do and they instantly took out every adult male (every potential threat) within a few minutes – but they also took care to not harm a single one of the nine children who were present. Pretty amazing. This wasn’t some Rambo-style operation where they just went in guns blazing, spraying bullets. They acted swiftly and with expert precision. I’m telling you, these guys are so smart and so lethal, they could take you out with a piece of dental floss. (And in fact, one of my ex-SEAL guys showed me how to do that one night. Whoa.)

In a perfect world (yes, I would like to reside there someday, or at least next door to it, in Slightly Imperfect World), I would like the evildoers to be forced to stand trial in front of that world. I know a lot of people see no need for a trial for these bad guys (just hang ’em from the nearest tree!), and think trials are for sissies. “They’re guilty, off with their heads!” Well, you see, that is the exact description of the Taliban/al Qaeda/Nazi justice system. I don’t like their system. I like ours. And I don’t want to be like them. In fact, the reason I like a good trial is that I like to show these bastards this is how it’s done in a free country that believes in civilized justice. It’s good for the rest of the world to see that, too. Sets a good example.

The other thing a trial does is, it establishes a very public and permanent historic record of the crimes against humanity. This is why we put the Nazis on trial in Nuremberg. We didn’t do it for them. We did it for ourselves and for our grandchildren so that they would never forget these horrors and how they were committed. And we did it for the German people so they could see the evidence of what their elected leaders had done. Very helpful. Very necessary. Very powerful.

And for those who wanted blood back then – well, the majority of the Nazis all hanged in the end. So, it doesn’t mean the bad guys get away – they still swing from the highest tree.

My own spiritual beliefs do not allow for capital punishment, and I was raised in the state (Michigan) that in the 1840s was the first government in the English-speaking world to outlaw it. So, I’m just not inclined that way. I don’t believe in “an eye for an eye.” I know the old book said that, but I like its sequel better (a rare case in which the sequel – like Godfather II, Star Trek II, Terminator II – is better than the original). If you don’t believe the way I believe (it’s also the official position of the Catholic Church, for whatever that’s worth these days), then that’s your right, and I understand.

Perhaps there was no way to bring him back alive – I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be in that dark house trying to make that snap decision. But if the execution was ordered in advance, then I say we should be told that now, and we can like it or not like it.

For nine years I wrote and I said that Osama bin Laden was not hiding in a cave. I’m not a cave expert, I was just using my common sense. He was a multimillionaire crime boss (using religion as his cover), and those guys just don’t live in caves. He had people killed under the guise of religion, and not many in the media bothered to explain that every time Osama referenced Islam, he wasn’t really quoting Islam. Just because Osama said he was a “Muslim” didn’t make it so. Yet he was called a Muslim by everyone. If a crazy person started running around mass-killing people, and he did so while wearing a Wal-Mart blazer and praising Wal-Mart, we wouldn’t automatically call him a Wal-Mart leader or say that Wal-Mart was the philosophy behind his killings, would we?

Yet, we began to fear Muslims and round them up. We profiled people from Muslim nations at airports. We didn’t profile multi-millionaires (in fact, they now have their own fast-track line to easily get through security, an oddity considering every murderer on 9/11 flew in first class). We didn’t run headlines that said “Multi-Millionaire Behind the Mass Murder of 3,000” (although every word in that headline is true). You can say his wealth had nothing to do with 9/11, but the truth is, there is no way he could have kept Al Qaeda in business without having the millions he had.

Some believe that this was a “war” we were in with al Qaeda – and you don’t do trials during war. It’s thinking like this that makes me fear that, while bin Laden may be dead, he may have “won” the bigger battle. Let’s be clear: There is no “war with al Qaeda.” Wars are between nations. Al Qaeda was an organization of fanatics who committed crimes. That we elevated them to nation status – they loved it! It was great for their recruiting drive.

We did exactly what bin Laden said he wanted us to do: Give up our freedoms (like the freedom to be assumed innocent until proven guilty), engage our military in Muslim countries so that we will be hated by Muslims, and wipe ourselves out financially in doing so. Done, done and done, Osama. You had our number. You somehow knew we would eagerly give up our constitutional rights and become more like the authoritarian state you dreamed of. You knew we would exhaust our military and willingly go into more debt in eight years than we had accumulated in the previous 200 years combined.

Maybe you knew us so well because you were once one of our mercenaries, funded and armed by us via our friends in Pakistan to fight the other Evil Empire in the last battle of the Cold War. Only, when the killing stopped, the trained killer, our “Frankenstein,” couldn’t. The monster, you, would soon turn on us.

If we really want to send bin Laden not just to his death, but also to his defeat, may I suggest that we reverse all of that right now. End the wars, bring the troops home, make the rich pay for this mess, and restore our privacy and due process rights that used to distinguish us from any other country. Right now, our democracy looks like Singapore and our economy has gone desperately Greek.

I know it will be hard to turn the clock back to before 9/11 when all we had to worry about were candidates stealing elections. A multi-billion dollar industry has grown up around “homeland security” and the terror wars. These war profiteers will not want to give up their booty so easily. They will want to keep us in fear so they can keep raking it in. We will have to stop them. But first we must stop believing them.

Hideki Tojo killed my uncle and millions of Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and a hundred thousand other Americans. He was the head of Japan, the Emperor’s henchman, the man who was the architect of Pearl Harbor. When the American soldiers went to arrest him, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The soldiers immediately worked on stopping his bleeding and rushed him to an army hospital where he was saved by our army doctors. He then had his day in court. It was a powerful exercise for the world to see. And on December 23, 1948, after he was found guilty, we hanged him. A killer of millions was forced to stand trial. A killer of 4,000 (counting the African embassies and USS Cole bombings) got double-tapped in his pajamas. Assuming it was possible to take him alive, I think his victims, the future, and the restoration of the American Way deserved better. That’s all I’m saying.

Good riddance Osama.

Come back to your ways, my good ol’ USA.

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

Politicians in Corporate Sponsored Suits

This was posted today on FaceBook, among my community of friends on the Left Coast of the USA.

Bill Hicks | piercing and hilarious comic | who exposed all

Prayers of peace and comfort to the earthquake and tsunami victims of Japan and surrounding areas.

Somehow, I had not known of Bill while he was alive, and only discovered him from a comedian here in Berlin. I fully appreciate his insights!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Hicks

“Revelations” Series of 8; in 8, he rocks the quantum level!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBbHfI8jfmg

“Sane Man” Part 1 of 9

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMjNT_dTeB8

¿ Is the world going crazy, or merely some, getting away with murder ?

I was distracted from my ‘work’ today, after perusing the news. Frankly, I’m just wondering about how undeniably confused and bizarrely maligned, some people’s intentions are in the world that we live in. I guess you could call it, “off balance”.

A splash of the headlines:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/us/03tampa.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

It took the mother three (3) days to acquire the gun in Florida, which she used to murder her adolescent children. Let’s keep those loose gun laws intact, NRA! Fire away USA!

And then there are the headlines from Pakistan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/world/asia/03pakistan.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

Shahbahz Bhatti was murdered yesterday by Muslim extremists, who had been threatening him. He was dedicated to trying to repeal the Islamist law imposed in 1986, which seeks the death penalty for anyone accused of speaking against the Prophet Muhammad. Bhatti worked towards abolishing this law, within this climate of extreme intolerance. He was among the 5% Christian and Hindu population, among the predominantly Muslim one, making up Pakistan’s 180 million inhabitants.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11930849

An example of what Bhatti was fighting for, is this woman in Pakistan, who was accused of saying something blasphemous about the Prophet Muhammad… uhh, and she happens to be a member of the only Christian household in her village. The real discussion was over water rights, among her female Muslim neighbors with whom she would pick berries, who were her accusers.

They not only want to kill her, but there’s a price over her head; a reward for anyone to kill her. Hey, I bet Prophet Muhammad would be all over this one, huh! I mean, would anyone with any spiritual attributes, condone slaughtering a person because of alleged accusations stemming from ignorance?

This blasphemy law, is also the reason that the Christian, Salman Taseer, was assassinated a week earlier; as he and Shahbahz Bhatti, were both publicly trying to change this law.

Ahhh, religious freedom and tolerance, go Pakistan! Jesus! will people ever learn? d’oh!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/business/energy-environment/01drill.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha25

Bounce back to the USA, to the Gulf Oil crisis which took place a year ago in April, 2010, in which the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, and spewed about 5 million barrels of oil into the ocean. Well, now the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, has granted permission for deepwater drilling once again, in the same region. Yeah, we’re all over that too! “Let’s go to the Gulf and do some grillen’, just ignite the water with a match, and bar-b-q whatever surfaces!

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/28/nation/la-naw-deepwater-cement-20101028

The one thing that sparked my attention about the whole incident in the first place, is that Halliburton had been in charge of the cementing process of the well. The cement mixture that was being used to seal the well, had been found to be unstable, prior to the explosion, yet they decided to go on with the process. “The cement mixture is used to secure the metal casing around the string of pipes and the drill bit as they penetrate the reservoirs of oil and gas lying deep beneath the ocean floor. Cement also is supposed to keep oil and gas from pushing back up the well, causing a blowout.” It obviously didn’t do the job, and populations of the neighboring states, as well as all of the wildlife in the area of the Gulf, have been the victims.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/us/01earthquakes.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

Speaking of Halliburton, I was just reading about the unprecedented number of earth quakes that have been occurring recently in Kansas, in the Midwest of the United States. Recently, a connection of these rumbles has been made to “hydraulic fracturing”, an invasive natural gas drilling technique, which I first heard about on the television program “60 Minutes” a year ago in the U.S. Not only is the process intensely disturbing to the earth, but there’s also indication that the process releases toxic contaminants, among them, radioactive material, into the waterways and ground water in the vicinities that this drilling takes place.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/02/the-watchdog-clean-air-act_n_830183.html

Guess who is involved in this destructively greedy process, along with a laundry list of other contaminating and deceptive stuff happening all over the world, yes, evil incarnate “Halliburton”. Let’s just say, “corpocracy” rules again; greed and power, united to make the world a better place, through pilfering and destruction of the planet and it’s inhabitants! I vote for Halliburton, as the crème de la crème of the elite corporate corrupters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/opinion/03tue3.html

Regarding this drilling process, Dick Cheney, former Vice President, allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to get away with murder, of the environment. Entitled “The Hallliburton Loophole”, the EPA was stripped of it’s authority to investigate this new drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, when it was in its’ infancy.

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/28/why-is-china-nervous-about-the-arab-uprisings?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=thab1

Then spin the globe around to China, where authorities have become worried about all of the protests in the Arab world. Despite their stronger economy than most of these Arab nations, they’re so concerned about these various pro-democracy demonstrations, that they’ve been heightening their crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists, and words like “Egypt” and “Tunisia” have been blocked on some internet web search engines and social network sites, making them completely inaccessible.
It’s always valuable when you want to maintain your power, to keep your subjects afraid and uninformed.

For some comedic relief, check out Jon Stewart’s take on Gaddafi.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/03/jon-stewart-takes-libya-gaddafi_n_830706.html