Selected Writings, Volume 1 of 5

Selected Writings, Volume 2 of 5

Selected Writings, Volume 3 of 5

Selected Writings, Volume 4 of 5

Selected Writings, Volume 5 of 5

From A Distance

As we look at our earth from satellite photographs, we see what appears to be a perfect home for humankind.  However, from a distance, we don't see the 50,000 people who suffer to death needlessly each day.  Most die from preventable disease and malnutrition.  Children make up the majority of these deaths.  We don't see their mothers and fathers watching in agony nor can we see that they are also living on the edge.  We don’t want to be reminded that this horrendous suffering and death are normal occurrences for more than a billion people who live with these conditions throughout their lives. 

From a distance, we don’t see the devastations and pollutions caused by activities like intense mining, agricultural, fossil fuel extraction and fishing.  Most of these problems are the result of growing demands for resources to satisfy the excessive consumption of increasing populations in affluent countries like ours.  Our normal activities are destroying our planet and much of it is happening in other lands where people who are harmed by this exploitation with little or no benefits to them.

Today, a third of the world’s population is subjected to abhorrent conditions we describe as abject poverty.  Many don’t have enough food to provide the stamina for ordinary tasks.  Safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, that would end the spread of common diseases, are unavailable.  Stunted growth, agonizing infections and shortened lives are the results of inadequate diets, contaminated food and industrial pollutions.  

Of the 7,200,000,000 people now on our planet, 1,500,000,000 are now living in extremely horrid conditions.  Every year another 30,000,000 people will join the 1,000,000,000 living in slums and shantytowns.  Many of these people fled from conflict zones or rural areas where living conditions are even worse than the slums.  Many are refugees who have been forced from their homes because they are in the way of corporate mining, foresting and industrial operations run by powerful corporations.  Most of the resources are used to provide greater comforts and appease the insatiable desires of people like us. 

The population of slums and shantytowns is likely to double to 2,000,000,000 within 30 years.  Such unfortunate people often live next to open sewage ditches or use scavenged plastic bags as toilets.  Much of their necessities come form materials discarded by affluent people in vast garbage dumps.  All too many endure rodent and insect infestations that spread deadly diseases.  Adding to their distress are inescapable weather conditions such as insufferable heat, cold and flooding that are easily avoided by wealthy people of the world.

An estimated 30,000,000 people are still held in slavery and their children can expect the same fate.  A substantial number are trafficked into developed countries where they are kept hidden from the rest of the society.  They are most often abused as domestic servants or exploited in profitable prostitution rings.  Since desperate and impoverished people are much more plentiful today than ever before, the cost of a human slave has fallen to the lowest price in history.  The abhorrent practice of debt bondage and forced servitude continues even though it is now illegal in all countries.  Parents may surrender their children for adoption with the belief that they will have a better life as servant-slaves compared to living in poverty, which is often the sad truth. 

At least 200,000,000 children are compelled to work in awful conditions not significantly different from those enslaved.  Some of these children burrow tunnels into the earth by hand to scrape and collect valuable minerals that will eventually used to make cell phones, cars, jewelry, computers or other products exported to prosperous countries.  Their extremely small wages keeps prices low for the goods we buy at chain stores, supermarkets and at the most expensive boutiques and jewelry stores. 

The more fortunate of these maltreated children work alongside adults in factories and farm fields.  Many are compelled to work twelve hours a day while being exposed to dangerous chemicals and machinery without safeguards.  They can’t complain since they would be quickly replaced by others who anxiously await these pathetic opportunities.  As conditions of employment, many of these abused children are also the victims of violence and sexual exploitation.  Some will survive with physical and emotional scars that never heal but many others will just die young. 

Seldom do we think of ourselves as the wealthy consumers who benefit from the struggles of distant people.  We don’t want to know what becomes of them when they are injured and unable to keep up the pace demanded by aggressive competition.  Retail stores, suppliers and manufacturers certainly don’t want such horrid conditions exposed.  Mainstream media won’t report on these revolting conditions either because their advertising profits depend upon many of the businesses perpetrating these abhorrent practices. 

Too many of us simply don’t care enough to try to learn what is necessary to rid the world of these terrible situations.  We might dismiss such suffering as part of human existence and that it will always be this way.  When it becomes overwhelmingly evident that this is all terribly wrong, we quickly assign blame to wicked ideologues, corrupt governments and greedy business owners.  Also convenient is finding examples of those who are suffering who are causing their own troubles.  We then use those rare example to dismiss everything else declaring it’s their own fault not ours.  In any case, finding others at fault is always much easier than acknowledging our own participation. 

Although 18,000,000 people die needlessly each year, another 80,000,000 people survive to join us on our crowded planet.  A small portion will have the comforts and security that we enjoy as we consume five to twenty-five times more of everything than do half the people in the world.  We may learn of the others and their children living in hideous poverty and despair but honest explanations about why such misery exists will be conveniently ignored.  Few of our leaders, teachers or media commentators will take the time to consider what might actually be the reasons for such horrors.  If any explanations are given, they will likely be with the same shameful distortions and justifications that our parents were led to believe. 

The atrocities, thefts and deceitful schemes that help maintain the lavish lifestyles of the citizens in wealthy nations like ours are not mentioned.  Although these deplorable practices are cunningly disguised to appear benign, they become obvious when honestly examined and brought into the discussion.  We would then have to acknowledge that people are suffering because of our normal behaviors and indifference. This misery would not exist if we were willing eliminate our abhorrent practices and pay a fair price for the resources, goods and services we consume.  However, we maintain our ignorance from a comfortable distance so we do not see the billion or more people who suffer nor see their tears and we certainly do not feel their pain.

Note: If you have read to this point, please let me know by emailing me at: abjectnormality.isnormal@gmail.com (Your email will only be used if you ask for a response.)

Normal

Our usual activities, behaviors and habits are normal by definition.  People think of normal as acceptable or good while abnormal is unpopular, disfavored, defective or bad.  However, equating normal with something positive is actually bad since we seldom consider the harms that come from our normal activities.  For instance, butchering people for dinner was normal for cannibals much as it is normal for us to be cannibalizing our planet causing irreparable damage to natural environments. The degradation environments needed to sustain our lives is creating grave problems now and will cause future generations even more troubles.  We don't think of this degradation as an atrocity because it has always been and still is just normal to accept this behavior while ignoring the facts or hoping that these problems will be resolved somehow, someday by someone.  

We are compelled to be normal if we want to be accepted by family, friends and society.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are extremely dependent on other people.  We risk the loss of vital connections with acquaintances when we diverge too far from normal.  For virtually all of us living in wealthy countries, normal includes a home, car and the advancements in medicine, technology, entertainments, and many other great comforts.  However, the unseen and/or unacknowledged costs of those comforts are immense although most or those cost actually fall on others.

Disparity  

The tremendous differences from the excessively rich to miserably poor that persist throughout the world are often accepted as if it were some natural phenomena.  Many people explain this great inequality as unintentional or unavoidable. But they are results of free market capitalism and greed.  Sadly, it is normal to tolerate extreme poverty rather than considered it something we must eradicate.  It is always someone else’s fault and nothing we are causing.

In defense of the status quo, many attribute conflicting perspectives as unreasonable, naive or unworkable.  Of course, perspectives held by those in powerful positions are able to publicize effectively that there are no alternatives.  They realize that reducing poverty might require them to give up many of their comforts and desires.  Likewise, ordinary citizens of wealthy countries would have to give up many of their comfort as well.  For instance, if minimum wages were raised in impoverished countries to the U.S. poverty level then the price of many of the goods we import could quadruple.  We would have to go without these things or make them last much longer.

Opponents to the status quo will assert that the immense differences in lifestyles, comforts and security are unjust, immoral and the root cause of conflicts and wars.  They consider such great inequalities as repugnant and a discredit to any civilized society that claims to have compassion for their fellow human beings.  While compassion is most often associated with charity, challengers of the status quo are confident there would be little need for such aid and assistance if greater equality were the norm.

Money may not be the only measure of disparity and it may not be a good gauge for happiness or contentment.  But at the low-income levels, money is a very good indicator of actual living conditions where happiness or contentment is unobtainable without adequate food, basic health and a safe place to live without threats of violence.  Although people accustomed to living in poverty may never experience anything better, they certainly know a small increase in income would make a large improvement in the lives of their children.

For the affluent, a substantial increase in income results in insignificant improvements compared to the impoverished, especially in heath, security and comforts.  A family who could only afford a $50,000 mobile home has the same typical necessities and conveniences as someone living in a $200,000 home.  Both have running water, a flushing toilet, stove, refrigerator, heating and air-conditioning.  However, living on $5 a day compared to $20 often means not having enough safe food and uncontaminated water.

We may hear of all the people who live on a dollar a day or less.  This $1 is an amount given as the purchasing power equivalent for the value of goods and services around the world.  It might represent a day’s labor collecting an amount of food to eat that would cost 1 US dollar.  While not perfect, these often-quoted parity figures are probably the best way compare living standards around the world. 

Consumption is also a measure used to compare living conditions.  A World Bank study determined that the richest 10% of the world’s population are able to purchase 59% of all the goods and services produced for private consumption, which is everything from food to plastic surgery.  This richest 10% includes not only movie stars and corporate presidents, but also those living at the poverty line in wealthy countries like the US. 

The poorest 10% of the world’s people could afford only 0.5% of total private consumption.  The World Bank study shows that on average, the richest 20% could afford 50 times more than the poorest 20%.  Dividing the world population into two equal parts, the study also shows that the “haves” could afford 93% of all goods and services while the other “have-nots” could only afford 7%. 

The bottom half the world’s people (now about 3,500 million) have an income of less then $3 a day per person.  At the same time, half the populations of wealthy countries have an income of $35 a day or greater.  The average income in the wealthiest countries is over $100 a day.  Of course, this average it is pushed upward by the extremely high earnings of those at the very top. 

About 90% of the world’s population lives on less income than do people living at or above the poverty line in the US.  In other words, the poor of the U.S. enjoy far more comforts and security than nearly all the world’s population.  In addition, all U.S citizens have many virtually free benefits that are often unavailable in impoverished counties.  

Accumulated wealth is also enormously unequal.  A 2006 study from the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University found that bottom half of the entire world’s adult population owns only about 1% of all private property and assets.  This bottom 50% of the world owns virtually nothing when compared the richest 10% who own about 85% of all private wealth.  The richest 2% alone own more than half of the world’s wealth. 

The World Institute’s study also showed that to be counted among the world’s richest 1% requires someone to have about $500,000 worth of property and assets.  This amount is seldom considered wealthy by those living in places like the US where many people are worth much more, especially when accounting for the expected values of pensions, social security and annuities.  Not counted, is the shared value of subsidized infrastructure like schools, roadways, libraries, medical facilities and innovations from tax-supported research. 

The gap between rich and poor has grown within most countries of the world.  For example, a government publication the Statistical Abstract of the United States shows that the richest 20% of all households in the US had an average income that was 10 times more than the poorest 20% in the year 1980.  By 2005, this income gap grew 50% or to about 15 times more.  The income gap is not only greater in developing countries but also growing faster.

Different methods may be used to determine incomes so some show a greater equality than others do.  For instance, the details of one method might reveal that incomes were excluded of a very small, but extremely wealthy, portion of the population.  The justification might be that it would be misrepresentative of the entire population or that their incomes can’t be accurately determined.

Often quoted publications from the United Nations and US Central Intelligence Agency also compare the top and bottom income groups for countries.  Their methods show that richest 10% in the US have incomes about 15 times more than the poorest 10%.  This is in stark conflict with the Statistical Abstract, which shows as 15 times more between the richest and poorest 20%.  In other words, the methods used by both the UN and CIA shows much less inequality in incomes.

Recent research by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett has presented evidence that major social problems are higher in nations and U.S. states with greater economic inequality.  Crime rates, physical and metal health troubles, mistrust of business and government, teen-age pregnancies, obesity, drug abuse, and even incidents of grade school bullying are lower in countries like Japan or Finland when compared to countries with greater disparity like the U.S. or U.K...  In societies where inequality is high, the correlations show that all people, not just the poor, have more problems.  Regardless of how high or low average incomes are, these correlations hold in virtually all nations and states within those nations.

A few generations ago, the world could have easily been producing enough food, water and shelter for the entire world population.  But this was never the goal.  Helping and/or allowing everyone to obtain the things that we in wealthy countries take for granted would have stifled our own rapid economic growth and we wouldn't have the comforts we now enjoy.  This is one reason why about half, or 3 to 4 billion, of the world's people must live on the equivalent of less than of $3.00 a day while middle-income families in the U.S. and other wealthy countries have about $40 a day per person.

Today, it is simply impossible to provide the world's 7 billion people with enough of what we consider minimal necessities.  It would cause an immense amount of irreparable damage to earth's environments and deplete nonrenewable resources much faster.  It would accelerate and intensify the damaging weather that is resulting from global warming.  The earth simply can't sustain many people living like us without extreme reductions in energy and all other types of consumption.   

Foundations of Wealth  

Anyone reading this article is most likely one of the wealthiest people on the planet.  You probably enjoy comforts that most of world’s people can only dream of having.  A despicable but seldom acknowledged fact is that the foundations of this wealth and comfort are conquests, pillage and aggressive competition where unfair rules are devised by the most powerful in their favor.  Many people will argue that this is no longer true, insisting that oppressive acts seldom happen today.  In fact, it does continue but with fewer atrocities and genocidal carnage than in the past.  However, this more peaceful trend still creates great animosities in those at the bottom.

Rather than ignore or deny, we should acknowledge that nearly all wealthy countries like ours were built on a foundation of wars, conquests, genocide and brutal colonization.  Attempts are often made to justify or deny that great part of accumulated wealth, power and advantages are a result of those atrocities.  There are many examples of such aggressions throughout history and around the world.  Our country is certainly not an exception. 

Consider that Europeans had refrained from the immoral and violent colonization of the Americas.  While many of us would never have been born as overpopulation and disease were taking a great toll in Europe. Perhaps Europeans would have then resolved their problems.

Historical records of the Spanish and others have noted that there was much less poverty, disease and chaos in most New World’s cities compared to Europe.   Even when native inhabitants were aggressive, they clearly were much less violent than Europeans and their conflicts never went on for very long.

The conquest and colonization benefited our ancestors immensely.  The plundered riches went back to Europe and led to rapid economic growth in Europe.  That led to an acceleration of many good technologies that were indeed welcome.  However, many of those advancements enable further immoral exploitations of weaker peoples around the world. 

Imagine the response of a universal judge considering this case.    The crime of murdering someone and then stealing their property is certainly illegal.   If the guilty party gives that property to his decedents then it makes them guilty too.  Our ancestors murdered and pillaged and very few of us, the beneficiaries, show any remorse.  We can't say we didn't know about the theft of lands, enslavements and genocides.  Of course, the similarities of atrocities committed today are not so obvious and great efforts are made to keep hidden any hints of wrongdoing.  

People of wealthy countries like ours have a form of debt to humanity for those sins.  This debt can never be repaid but it can be acknowledged.  Perhaps people would then be more willing to stop participating in today’s atrocities like supporting dictators such as Saddam Hussein by conducting business with his regime or supplying weapons used to kill his country’s people and many others.  

Our country is certainly responsible for many atrocities throughout its short history.  Yes, other countries have been worse or as bad but many more are much better.  None are as powerful as the U.S. today but it is also the most hated by many who have suffered by U.S. policies.  Of course, nobody here will allow those facts on mainstream media because it’s like acknowledging guilt.

The aggressive quest for more resources continues today although it is usually done by developed countries in milder forms than war.  It is usually legal but this should not be surprising when powerful profit-seekers make the rules.  When the details of these milder forms of aggression are understood, it becomes apparent that it is unfair and unethical, if not immoral. 

One example is that large institutional investors are buying up hundreds of millions of acres of farmland in poor countries around the world.  This is displacing local farmers with mechanized industrialized operations.  Much of the food produced is exported to markets in wealthy countries, which adds to the problems of food shortages and hunger in areas where the food was grown.  The investors include pension funds, private equity and university endowments.  Virtually all the profits benefit citizens in wealthy countries like ours.

Typical excuses given to rid ourselves of any culpability is that we did not ask to be born here or that the atrocious behavior of our ancestors is not our fault.  Hundreds of other convenient excuses are suggested and then quickly accepted, which ends further discussion.  But the discussion does continue on the other side.  Consider what you might be talking about if you lived in poverty because yours or your ancestor's lands had been pillaged.  These conversations are taking place and animosities continue to grow. 

Throughout history and as nations became more powerful, their lower class citizens were enticed or drafted into the growing armies then sent to conquer and occupy foreign lands exterminating native populations who resisted.  Again, these atrocities are at the foundations of the wealthy nations today.  While methods of gaining and maintaining prosperity are not so obviously cruel today, the results of current economic practices are much the same. 

Like the fantastic rags to riches stories, exceptions can be found when searching through thousands of examples, especially when inconvenient facts are omitted.  For instance, the British did indeed build railroads throughout their colonial empire that benefited indigenous people.  They also built many schools and hospitals.  Similar good deeds can be sited for the other wealthy countries of today.  However, the intention and results were to increase the effectiveness of resource extraction, labor and control rather than improve the lives of native people.  In turn, this pillage stimulated economic growth and trade among conquering nations that made them even more powerful.  Powerful enough to initiate wars among themselves, which brought the even greater havoc and suffering to the world’s most innocent people. 

Inventing reasons for being proud of such atrocious actions are initiated by ruling elites and their supporters.  The know that ordinary citizens will be serve them better with stories of honor, patriotism and moral necessity.  Of course, the citizens of wealthy countries, who share in the benefits of such atrocious tactics, would prefer to believe the stories rather than the facts.  Then the mainstream belief can be that wealthy nations were built on foundations of fair competition and their cumulative advantage is well deserved.

Scientific advancements and technologies derived from diligent studies, discoveries and just hard work are commendable.  However, the good aspects of this progress would have required much greater efforts and time without the ill-gotten gains at the foundation.  Without doubt, many ancestors of today’s affluent were immigrants who willingly risked their lives for their dreams of a new land of great opportunities.  It is also true that their sacrifices would benefit them and their children.  Today most people are proud of this heritage.  They believe the actions of their ancestors were courageous and honorable.  Any wrongs committed are dismissed as unavoidable.  Such arguments are used by adamant proponents of aggressive competition that creates great wealth. The stories always suggest that the completions are not aggressions and are necessary to improve life for everyone and future generations everywhere. 

In our country, proponents of these wonderful stories typically ignore that many immigrants were tricked or forced into a life of horrendous hardships where they could barely provide enough for their families to survive.  A great many did not survive and huge numbers died on the way to their new home from being crammed into filthy disease laden ships.   Europeans could pretend they chose to migrate and tell wonderful heroic stories to the grandchildren that would conceal their shame of being tricked or forced.  However, Africans and other ethnic groups could not pretend since their skin color gave away the truth.  The stories conceal the truths about atrocities many immigrants inflected on other immigrants and the indigenous of the new lands.  The modified stories become the justifications for aggressive competition.  

The historical facts of nearly all wealthy countries of today include the worst violent conquests, lands thefts, forced servitude, slavery, stolen resources, displaced natives and genocides.  Exceptions are rare.  Humane alternatives were seldom, if ever considered. 

The situations Today’s are similar as wealth is generated from the work of those at the bottom and it flows to those at the top.  The idea that wealth is created by the affluent and then trickles down to the impoverished is a myth.  Consider the middle-class factory worker in Asia who earns $5 a day making cloths for a middle-class factory worker in the US who earns $100 a day.  The overabundances of workers at the bottom of the chain are competing for fewer jobs and must accept whatever is offered.  In effect, low foreign wages means that much more of US workers’ incomes go toward their accumulation of comforts, property and investments.  The nation also benefits as higher wages support higher taxes, which in turn provides more services and, of course, a powerful military.

Cumulative Advantages  

When the efforts of one person are rewarded so much more than the equivalent efforts of another, it obviously creates advantages.  The advantage of higher incomes makes possible durable homes, improved health care and infrastructure.  Many improvements are permanent and accumulate to serve the community and following generations.  This accumulation continually increases the gap between the “haves” and “have nots”. 

Persons living in developed nations earn many times more that of their counterparts in a poor nation doing essentially the same work.  Besides personal benefits, with higher earnings some can be invested in many private organizations and governments.  Roadways, universities, fire and police services, water and sewage systems, shopping malls, hospitals, recreational facilities and military are a result of accumulated wealth.  Investments to assist citizens of wealthy nations include farm subsidies, minimum wages, safe food and workplace regulations, anti-discrimination laws and environmental protection.  These accumulating benefits add to the general welfare of citizens who already have very substantial advantages.  Few of these benefits exist in impoverished nations because most surpluses generated from their resources and labors are siphoned off by the wealtlhy countries   

As in the saying “the rich get richer”, wealth increases even faster for those starting with the advantage of living in a wealthy country.  Likewise, a family can pass those benefits on to its children.  On the other side, virtually everyone born into poverty has nothing extra to accumulate. 

Hundreds of rags to riches stories will contradict the facts but virtually all are popularized fictions.  The real exceptions are terribly few, but they can be found and quoted when searching through billions of actual life examples.  These fictions and exceptions help maintain an illusion that anyone can become wealthy if only they apply themselves to the task.  However, the most accurate records and statistics can predict a person will have nearly the same comforts, economic status and security of their family and place where they happen to be born.   

Throughout history, many actions were taken by the most ruthless to protect their wealth and accumulate more.  In the Middle Ages, making clothes was a most profitable enterprise.  The knowledge of how to manufacture cloth was a guarded secret kept from rural villagers.  If villagers did learn how to construct their own weaving machines to make clothing then the militia would be sent out to destroy the looms thereby eliminating the competition.  Similar measures were taken as confiscations and colonial rules were established in foreign lands by the Greeks, Romans, Turks, Spanish, Dutch, British and Americans to name the most infamous.

Of course, the rules still favor the wealthy today.  For instance, those who have accumulated money to invest pay lower tax rates on the profits compared to income earned by a persons labor.  The rich tend to get richer and the difference between those at the top and bottom grows. 

Information Bias  

Information will be distorted, outright lies will be promulgated and the misinterpretation of facts will remain commonplace.  People and media outlets will present information that emphasizes one perspective while ignoring others.  Research, statistical information and scientific theories will be disputed.  Cultural, political, economic and religious ideologies that are embraced by some will be presented as intolerable by others.  Manipulating information is certainly not a new phenomenon.  The reasons for these biases are simple.  Some individual, group or government will always have something to gain or lose depending on how their ideas are accepted.  Those who gain the most will further their control over mass media and their perspectives will dominate. 

The first widespread use of recorded information was mostly for keeping track of debts beginning about 6,000 years ago in some cultures.  Later, more symbols were invented to convey language allowing oral stories to be recorded as texts and history began.  However, writing was a high-level skill mastered only by the elites or their scribes.  This allowed some of the royalty or clergy to communicate their own or a false interpretation of these laws to the illiterate masses to suit particular situations. 

Interpretations would likely be of greater benefit to leaders rather than the common people.  In order to maintain power and influence, laws were created protecting the privileges enjoyed by leaders and their supporters.  Offensive actions could be justified as divine intentions as confirmed by the written words.  While a few laws may have had benefits to peasants and commoners, most would be quite detrimental.  The documented rights of the entrenched authorities became unquestionable and often enforced with severe punishments. 

Today, those who have the greatest power still create laws and influence the media.  That control is more subtle now and may or may not seem as detrimental as in the past.  However, powerful influences are used to resist changes in economic, political and cultural practices especially when it threatens elite dominance. 

Since nearly everything people learn about what is happing in the world comes through mainstream media outlets, people’s perspectives are formed mostly by what they are given.  In countries with a free press, domination by biased information is accomplished but with much greater difficulty than when a singular authority controls all media.  

Much of this that you now reading is also biased.  It's is meant to influence your perspectives.  It focuses on the dreadful rather than the wonderful aspects of our culture.  It emphasizes that humanity as a whole may have much to lose by continuing business as usual.  Statistics presented here will also be disputed regardless of how reputable the organizations compiling the information.  As usual, those presenting the statistics and facts have something to gain.  While compensation for the time and effort spent accumulating information or data is legitimate, other purposes might not be well-intentioned.

Much of the data in these essays, such as the share of private goods and services consumed by the world’s people was derived from publications of the World Bank.  By showing the enormous disparity, the World Bank might hope to receive more money from wealthy investors in support of their stated mission, which is to improve conditions in poverty-stricken nations.  The money is then loaned out to private businesses and governments for projects that are intended to increase economic activities that provide jobs and improve living conditions.  Since the money is repaid with interest, it also benefits the World Bank and their investors while perpetuating the unfair economic practices that help make the World Bank seem necessarily. 

Some people may doubt the efficacy of the World Bank’s projects because some are harmful to the environment, like coal-fired power plants.  Sadly, about a quarter of the world’s people don’t have electricity and coal is the least expensive way to provide it.  Another legitimate complaint is that the money spent on projects by the World Bank benefits businesses and politicians more than common people.  The result is that poverty persists in countries even after years of World Bank interventions and loans.  Other doubts arise because specific information about conditions imposed by the bank before making loans is often unavailable for public scrutiny.  Another complaint is that the World Bank’s policies assume that the best way to end poverty is by motivating people towards making profits rather than simply earning a sustainable income. 

These are all reasonable suspicions especially in a world with so much corruption and greed.  However, even critics who scrutinize the bank’s activities consider the World Bank’s statistics legitimate.  They agree with the mission of the bank rather than its methods.  Their complaints should actually be against normal business practices where inequality and the domination by elites is acceptable.

Much of information bias conveys what we want to believe.  We are reminded that our wealth and comforts have been and still are the result of fair play, diligent efforts or simply the results of fate.  We prefer to consider ourselves innocent bystanders or casual observers of the obscene conditions that billions of people must endure.  We do not want to understand how our activities help create and maintain these appalling conditions.  And so, the horrors will continue as we tolerate, excuse, ignore and refute any involvement or responsibility.  We consent by supporting our businesses and governments that enable our comforts but are withholding the same comforts from others.  With a mindset of innocence and an avoidance of facts, we set a course for the future where many more of children will be subjected to the horrendous conditions now endured too many. 

Lies of Omission  

Like lies, omitting information is atrocious.  Most of us living in wealthy nations are given few details of the terrible situations around the world in the mainstream media.  Never mentioned are the 50,000 people who die needlessly every day.  We certainly won’t hear any rational discussions about what are the real causes for their suffering.  Stories of people suffering around the world will be omitted from the news but it's not only because people don’t want to hear.   

When needless deaths are mentioned in the news then the story is typically give in 10 seconds or a short paragraph.  We’re given a flash of awareness followed by a lighter story or a weather report and then, of course, a commercial advertisement.  Perhaps, buried in a back page article a bit more information might be provided.  Such virtual omissions provide no more relevance than a segment from some sitcom and it is forgotten or dismissed just as easily. 

Besides the usual omission of callous acts, never mentioned is that media outlets can't be found guilty of any crime when falsifying news.  In other words, it is not illegal to lye to the public and so outraged citizens have no recourse.

Bringing to our attention details of natural disasters is okay because nobody can legitimately feel responsible for causing them.  The media attention given to natural disasters gets a great response from media outlets, governments and charities, as well it should.  However, natural disasters are uncommon and fatalities are few compared to the millions who needlessly suffer and die each year from things within our control.  Likewise, responding to disasters requires little effort when compared to what would be required to bring about a secure and sustainable world.

The perspectives gained from commercial media outlets are near meaningless in the brief coverage given most topics.  Details are omitted because significant facts and historical context would bring attention to the egregious acts of our businesses and governments that we support.  Certainly avoided will be anything that hints at how our own normal activities help perpetuate these horrendous troubles. 

Information is omitted from the news is often in the self-interests of commercial media outlets themselves.  Many of the mainstream media outlets, like television, radio and newspapers, are owned by some of the largest international corporations in the world.  They are supported by advertisers who are also many of the largest corporations.  A single corporation could be both an advertiser and media outlet owner. 

General Electric, with some collaboration from Microsoft and others, is an example.  At the time of this writing, GE owns 80% of NBC and pending deal between NBC and Comcast will further concentrate ownership into a media hierarchy.  In addition to omitting embarrassing information, mergers give large conglomerates both the production studios to create what is broadcasted and the networks that control its delivery.  The result, independent journalism and dissenting perspectives are silenced.

Information that might portray corporations as anything other than providers of useful goods and services will be omitted.  Anything they do that is harmful to people, animals or our environment must also be omitted.  Any commentary that might allude to anything embarrassing to these large information outlets will lead to the journalist being shunned.  For a greater offence, some excuse can always be found to fire a reporter who crossed the line.  Once dismissed, a reporter may hope to find another job in an independent media group but at much lower pay, longer hours and harassing from the more influential mainstream outlets.

The concentration of media ownership is seldom, if ever the subject of mainstream radio and television programs.  However, what is allowed are provoking issues or antagonistic political perspectives.  Distractive infighting among media personalities use disputes about allowed subjects to pass for news.  This often serves to antagonize the compassionate and appease the callous.  Much of it is intended to raise emotions and therefore fulfill the commercial media’s primary job of holding our attention until the commercial comes on.  Rather than inform, they tend to play on fears or curiosities that stops the audience from changing the channel.  Of course, this increases audience size, which means more viewers and higher advertising profits. 

The tactics of many media outlets can distract or confuse those who might otherwise want a better understanding of the world we live.  Most our perceptions are formed more by television and radio than real experiences.  The self-interest and self-censorship of mainstream media has sheltered us from being reminded of our dependency on many of the largest corporations in the world.  These profitable businesses have few responsibilities for the welfare of ordinary people or even their own employees. 

Many of us work for these large corporations, buy form them and of course, we are entertained by their productions.  Our savings and pension funds are invested in their stocks and bonds with the hope that we will profit too.  Their corporate interests coincide with ours.  If we are tempted to blame them for keeping us in the dark, we should remember that shedding light on their deficiencies and biases would illuminate many of our own.

Obviously, impoverished people become enraged when they learn that much of their suffering is caused by wealthy people.  When their rage turns to violence, it will be covered in U.S. mainstream news report but accurate stories of their grievances are omitted.  They will be portrayed as insurgents, terrorists or evildoers that must be destroyed so good can prevail. 

Not mentioned is that much of the materials necessary to make life comfortable for the affluent depend on operations in countries where millions of people live in slums.  Most others live in conditions much worse than that considered extremely impoverished in wealthy countries like ours.  Other perspectives are omitted because it might focus attention on all those responsible for miserable poverty. 

History  

A lot of history is about thousands of murderous conflicts and horrendous sufferings that we have inflected on one another.  Much of the remainder tends to celebrate the great accomplishments of the men who led their countries to victory.  Seldom mentioned is that these great people usually instigated the abhorrent atrocities that fill history books unless of course it is about those on the other side. 

Most cultures have a way of distorting the facts of current events to make them acceptable.  At the same time the acts of other cultures or nations are often exaggerated to appear more wicked than they actually are.  Many people believe these misrepresentations and very few investigate any further.  They sustain this comfortable ignorance for the remainder of their lives.  Of course, people like to believe that fewer lies are promulgated now than in the past but the evidence of this greater accuracy is sparse. 

An example, President Bush told Americans that the 9/11 “evil doers” attacked the U.S. because they were envious of our democracy and freedoms.  In other words, since the terrorists couldn’t have democracy and freedom than they attempted to destroy ours.  This childish explanation is accepted by many Americans to this day.  Next citizens were told that 2003 invasion of Iraq was necessary because Saddam Hussein threatened the U.S. with his weapons of mass destruction and that he was supporting the terrorists.  While both were known to be false at the time, it was seldom even suggested in the mainstream media, at least not until after the invasion when it was too late reconsider.  Then the rhetoric was that citizens must support the troops who were fighting for freedom and democracy for both U.S. and Iraqi people.

Typically, as time passes then history becomes more accurate.  A historical record written 5 years after an event will contain more distortions than one written 15 years latter.      However, people seldom read any the revised accounts of past events and so they are left with the biased impressions they acquired early.  Of course, if predominate ideologies of a culture are threatened, events will remain inaccurate forever.

One good example is that WWII was ended by dropping atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan to surrender.  It was reported that this would save the lives of many thousands of U.S. soldiers who would have had to fight hand to hand in the invasion of the heavily defended land of the enemy.  In reality, most of Japan’s cities had already been destroyed in thousands of fire bombing raids.  Their islands were surrounded by aircraft carriers, battleships and submarines.  Unable to import fuels and necessary materials, the Japanese would soon have to surrender since they were in fact already defeated.  The atom bombs killed nearly 300,000 men, women and children.  Most, if not all, were innocent victims of another unnecessary war forced upon them by psychopathic impulses of the world’s business and political leaders.   

Another example is that many older U.S. citizens still think of the conquered American Indians as uncivilized savages who resisted the benevolent efforts of the European “saviors”.  The events recorded in scholarly works and letters of those times have always revealed these lies but this was omitted form popular accounts for the longest time.  Today, younger people are likely to be exposed to more factual and less biased accounts.  Slowly the history books have been revised and are now more inline with the truth but it took a hundred years.

For much of their research, historians rely on the work done by reporters and journalists .  The general ethics and rules that guide historians and good journalists are much the same.  They are to consider the veracity of the source, identify any bias that would benefit special interests and consider the full context of statements relied upon for verifying facts.   However, the ethics of professionals are often no match for politicians, governments or businesses who often have the final say on what is first published.

Since ordinary people are unable investigate for themselves, they must rely on reporters,  journalists and historians. Making connections between historical records and events today is eye opening.  History helps us understand how and why current events are often biased and determine what distortions are likely.  But without reading and contemplation, history has no value and can’t help people make reasonable judgments about  political, societal and ethical issues. 

People unaware of mistakes made in the past will most likely repeat them.  Appalling problems exist because so many of us are uninformed of the past and how it is similar to what is wrong today.  In many ways, each of us is contributing to these wrongs but seldom do we attempt to understand how or why.  This leaves us with a comfortable feeling of innocence.  In other words, ignorance is bliss.

 

Education  

Education is another advantage that accumulates for those of wealth.  Tremendous disparities exist for learning opportunities available to both children and adults.  Today, about 1 out of 6 people older than fifteen years cannot read or write.  Having time for school is unobtainable luxury for over a billion people whose efforts must go toward just trying to survive. 

A lack of education is dangerous everyone.  There are many examples.  People are at risk when warnings about toxic chemicals used in products can’t be understood.  Without access to multiple sources of information, people are easily deceived.  Unable to investigate other perspectives, the illiterate are the first to be convinced to fight wars for the benefit of others.  Education and time to evaluate geopolitical and business motivations are critical for the welfare of all.  It helps people distinguish facts from fictions, science from mythology and understanding the repercussions of their behaviors. 

A meaningful education was once only available to elites.  Now it is encouraged as the way out of poverty and misery.  It’s touted as a requirement to obtain wealth and happiness.  There is a lot of truth in those statements but education can and is often misused.  If the core curriculum promotes a culture individualism that tolerates poverty, inequality and conflicts then what is gained comes at the expense of others.  Although people are said to be encouraged to study diligently to provide society with beneficial services and learn civic responsibility, this is seldom the reality.  Education is promoted for monetary and competitive advantages.  This premise for education helps create an acceptance for aggressive competition.  Having a good education is often used to explain the great differences in wealth and comforts.  This justifies the idea that extreme poverty is the result of a poor education.  In turn, that is then used to justify the competitions that perpetuate poverty.

Without doubt, education is beneficial but it can also be used as a detriment to society as a whole.  Consider the fisherman who discovers a new technique that increases his catch in less time.  He would have an incentive to teach his children to learn the new method so they can prosper by selling the additional fish they caught.  However, with a belief that completion is beneficial then he would not be inclined to teach the new method to others or their children since it would reduce the fisherman’s income, as everyone would learn to catch more.  Competition incentives that compel the fisherman to monopolize the market and become rich are a detriment to everyone else in his village.  Conversely, educating others in the new technique is beneficial to all.  The two ideals are in opposition, one is for the benefit to an individual the other is better for their village. 

If the new fishing method is taught to everyone in the village then it now has the same conflicting incentives.  They can keep the new technique a secret and use it to accumulate advantages over neighboring villages or share the new method so they can prosper too.  Obviously, this incentive conflict is at the root of many societal afflictions.  Within today’s global economy, the problems are much more complex.  New techniques for fishing and most everything else are considered intellectual property and protected by law.  Not only does this encourage greed, it discourages education since teaching protected techniques to others is now illegal.   

Incentives that widen the gap between rich and poor should be acknowledged as they are detrimental to everyone overall.  Promoting education for competitive advantages increases tensions that progress to conflict because it perpetuates discrimination and poverty.  When people become hungry, they will break the rules that protect the accumulation of wealth and the result is fighting.  If people are hungry, they can also be manipulated fight and oppress those who are less educated and even weaker.  The conquest of the Americas is a disturbing example.  The result was the greatest genocide in history.  It was led by those educated and indoctrinated into a culture of aggressive completion but fought by masses of illiterate and hungry Europeans.   

Removing the incentives for educational advantage and the resulting accumulation of wealth is often described as creating a level playing field, an analogy to the fair rules of a sport.  Assume a ball game ends with the final score of 20 to 5.  Imagine the winners being able to start their next game with the 20 points won from the last, which is an obvious advantage.  Now imagine that the winning team gains enough influence to rewrite these already unfair rules.  The new rules state that the losing team must forfeit their 5 points and begin the next game starting at zero, a greater disadvantage.  While this analogy does not represent the complexities of today’s economic systems, it is how cumulative advantages are perceived by the losers.  However, making the rules is done by the winners, which is a fact rather than a perception.  

Depletions and Pollutions  

Over the last century or longer, we have been depleting the planets resources as if they would last forever.  Our ever-increasing population and economic growth places an immense stress on nature and resources.  These troubling matters are accurately described in thousands of journals and research papers with implications that problems may now be to great to resolve.  With the overburden and loss of ecosystems, we have surpassed the earth’s natural ability to absorb, cleanse and recycle our wastes.  Many toxins are freely discharged into the environment.  Sewage treatment plants, power plant scrubbers, and hundreds of other procedures can’t remove much of the known pollutants. 

All over the world, fresh water supplies are being depleted and lands degraded by intensive mining and tree harvesting.  Once abundant resources are now becoming much scarcer.  Increasing amounts of fuel is now needed to extract and transport water, minerals and most other resources from more distant places.  Energy resources are becoming exceedingly difficult to find or produce and require increasing amounts energy to process those resources as well.  Ever larger industrial operations are contaminating rivers, streams and water wells.  Ocean fisheries are being depleted and can only be replaced with fish farms that breed infectious diseases that spread to natural habitats.  Most of these horrendous damages would be extremely difficult to reverse even if people were compelled to do so.  Problems are the greatest among the world’s impoverished where people don’t have the strength or stamina to demand that powerful nations change their exploitive behavior. 

While some of the most obvious degradations are being resolved in wealthy nations, the harms to a majority of the world’s population are growing.  Economic growth in many areas may now outweigh the benefits.  People certainly disagree about just bad these problems are, but the threats are undeniably.  Whiteout argument, impoverished people are subjected to a much greater share of the risks and consequences.  Hundreds of seldom-publicized examples can be found if a little time is taken to look.  For instance, much of the iron, copper and aluminum ores are now extracted from lands occupied by people who will not enjoy many improvements in their living conditions.

Of course, increasing economic and population growth does not always cause more pollution.  Greater efficiencies and improvements in production methods have reduced harmful discharges in many industries.  But overall, much more needs to be done because consequences of exceeding certain limits are catastrophic.  For instance, the sewage from 100 homes dumped into septic tanks around a small lake may have few bad effects.  The leakage that unavoidably escapes is absorbed by naturally occurring organisms in the lake and considered harmless.  But 200 homes may exceed the lakes natural cleansing ability.  Over time, the imbalance will degrade the lake to a point unable to support normal life.  Eventually, contamination can seep into wells and cause drinking water to be too dangerous to use or too expensive to clean.

Many of these problems are the result of too many resources are being used up to make products for developed countries.  Typically, pollution is less a problem for citizens living in affluent areas where people are able to demand laws that protect their own natural environments.  This has caused many industrial operations to be moved into impoverished areas where few restrictions exist.  Harmful discharges are overlooked where weak foreign governments can be bribed, or intimidated by military force when necessary.  Therefore, mining operations continue to generate greater profits for owners and cheaper resources for their customers.  Once the ores are depleted, the environmental devastation and toxins are left behind to ruin streams and water wells.  These activities are so common that they are not newsworthy enough to mention anymore.  Or is it that we just don’t want to be reminded?  Obviously, it certainly wouldn’t help to sell more products using resources that originate from areas being destroyed.

Pollutions can only increase as population and consumption grows.  The noxious wastes that accumulate in the air, water and soil are the unavoidable result of producing more goods and services for an ever-increasing number of consumers.  Of course, the wealthiest are most responsible for the pollutions as they consume so much more than the rest of the world.  But few, if anyone, living in a rich country would suggest that people must change their lifestyles.  To the contrary, great efforts are expended to push people towards consuming more thereby accelerating economic growth, which is the most revered and publicize measure of progress.  

Problems caused by the type of economic growth we have become so accustomed are far more harmful then previously understood.  Many chemicals released into the environment are suspected of being dangerous.  Although it is beyond our abilities to determine their lasting effects on life forms, especially our own, we continue to produce more.  These waste chemicals and compounds often combine to create new substances that do not occur in nature.  Without having the ability to test many of these substances, we can’t know how harmful they may be.  Making matters worse is that the research determining the safety of compounds is often done by those creating them in the first place.  We should recall how cigarettes were once determined to be harmless by research funded by the tobacco companies.  Oversight by government agencies is minimal as wealthy business owners have a great influence in deterring who will be the government. 

All too many of the effects of pollution are carelessly ignored or concealed by manufacturing facilities in impoverished countries where the burden of toxic wastes fall on the defenseless.  Multi-national corporations often collude with corrupt leaders in underdeveloped countries to allow damages to continue without penalties.  Low operating costs and wages with few worker protections assure high profits to owners and low prices for consumers.  The wealthy reap most of the benefits while most of the detriments fall on the poorest.  Of course, the pollution produced in poor nations is seldom publicized as the result of manufacturing plants built by corporations from rich countries.  As in the past, those profiting are successful at convincing those subjected to harm that things will improve if only they stay the course.  

Many of the most dangerous pollutions have long-term consequences that can’t be accurately predicted.  For instance, scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that it is primarily caused by burning fossil fuels.  However, exactly how severe the problems will be that are caused by climate change are still unknown.  Sea levels will rise with higher tides and storm surges that will flood low-lying areas.  Fertile agriculture lands that provide rice for millions will be destroyed.  More rain will fall causing flooding.  People will be forced to migrate to much less suitable areas that are often already overcrowded.  Millions of people will surely suffer as a result but how many will die can’t be determined.  But some areas will have a nicer climate, especially in Canada and Siberia where there’s plenty of thin and unfertile soils.

Climate Disruptions  

It is terrible that so many people are still unconvinced and ignorant of the fact that global warming is real.  Many dismiss this fact saying that dangerous disruptions to our climate are exaggerated beyond reason and perhaps some are but it’s a terrible excuse since it leads others to dismiss the intensive research that led to factual conclusions. 

Many people think that a global temperature increase of a few degrees isn’t alarming saying it's not so bad if summer temperatures rise a few degrees or it's good if winters are warmer.  However, those averages are only slightly changed by the very dangerous extremes like prolonged and hotter heat waves that kill many more people.   Others adamantly insist or believe that humankind cannot cause such tremendous changes although they have no problem believing that atomic weapons could destroy or diminish all life on our planet. 

Most anyone with a desire to learn is capable of understanding the principles that determine the planet’s temperature.  The history of global warming science dates back over 150 years.  John Tyndall was one of the first to describe basic details about climatic temperatures in 1862.  He learned that light rays pass through the air and heat the oceans and the earth.  The warmed earth then radiates heat back into outer space at night keeping overall temperatures balanced.   This heating is done by the sun’s visible light rays and the cooling by invisible heat rays.

Tyndall discovered in laboratory experiments that certain gases in the atmosphere are transparent to visible light rays but less transparent to heat rays.  These gases are called greenhouse gases because of this process.  Transparent gas and objects don’t absorb much light energy but opaque objects do.  Greenhouse gases are more transparent to light rays that warm the earth than to heat rays that would otherwise radiate that heat back out to space.  This causes the greenhouse gases to absorb heat radiation rather than allowing heat to escape.  If the heat couldn’t escape then our planet’s temperature would be extremely hot.  Without any greenhouse gases our planet would always be frozen.   

Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are rapidly being added to the atmosphere.  For instance, burning one gallon of gasoline produces about 1,300 gallons of carbon dioxide, or by weight, burning a pound of gasoline produces over 3 pounds of carbon dioxide.  This is because when fuel is burned the carbon it contains then combines with a lot of oxygen from the air to form the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). 

Although water vapor is another greenhouse gas, the amount added by burning fossil fuels doesn’t trap heat like carbon dioxide and it returns as rain.  However, the warming of oceans and lakes is causing much more water to evaporate.  This additional vapor is significant because it forms more storm clouds, rainfall and flooding.  Clouds created by water vapor will reflect some sunlight back into space and help offset some global warming effects but it’s not a significant amount. 

The warming climate also increases wind speed and patterns. As oceans and earth become warmer, the air above warms and rises causing winds as cooler air rushes in.  As warming continues, stronger wind currents disrupt weather conditions further.   In turn, winds move more moist air into many areas that already have too much rainfall.  At the same time, other winds move dry air into area that are already to dry. The additional heat in oceans also increases the wind speeds of hurricanes making them even more devastating.  Still being determined is whether global warming will make tornadoes significantly worse.

Oceans also expand as they warm causing higher water levels everywhere.  However, the increase from expansion is dwarfed by the water added by melting ice packs and glaciers in places such as Antarctica, Greenland and most high mountains.  It’s very unlikely that all the ice will melt within many centuries but if or when it does it will cause the oceans to rise about 225 feet submerging all costal cities.  However, the amount of sea level rise is already causing harms to coastal and island areas. 

Cities around the world now at much greater risk of flooding include Miami, New York, New Orleans, Tampa and Boston.  As sea level continues to rise, it will cause many more deaths while displacing hundreds of millions of people.  In addition, tremendous amounts of very essential areas will be lost as seas inundates farmlands and saltwater rusher further inland during higher tides and storm surges ruining villages, farms and natural habitats that many millions of people depend upon for food and freshwater. 

Ocean acidification is another result of burning fossil fuels.  About a third of the additional carbon dioxide added to our planet is absorbed by the oceans.  In effect, the carbon dioxide forms carbonic acids that degrade and destroy many life forms and habitats in the food chain of oceans that we and other many animals depend upon for survival.  A warmer ocean will also reduce reproduction of essential sea life on reefs and other breeding areas. 

All international scientific organizations have now determined and described the facts that our activities are causing the earth to warm.  There is no longer a reasonable doubt that the results will include increased flooding in some areas, severer droughts in others and higher ocean levels everywhere.   These scientists are certain that these harmful effects are increasing and can now only be reduced rater than stopped.  Any confusion is because climatologists, atmospheric chemists and physicists may disagree about how bad the changes will be or how soon the worst outcomes will happen.  Sadly, many have also concluded that we can only adapt because people and their governments can't agree on enough reductions in heat trapping gas emissions.  The result is that small reductions are still much less than additional emissions that come from increasing economic actives and from populations that keep growing.

Many questions about the consequences of climate change can’t be answered very precisely.  For instance, knowing that rainfall will increase overall does tell us exactly where flooding will occur or how devastating the flooding may be.  It is most likely that rains will increase in areas that already receive sufficient rainfall.  It is also most likely that area now in need of more rain will become even dryer. Global warming will cause some areas to experience terrible changes like more deadly heat waves although a few areas will experience mild temperature drops.  It may or may not cause profound and abnormal weather everywhere but overall there will far more devastations then improvements when compared to normal weather patterns over the last 8,000 years.  Some areas that now have a severe drought every thirty years on average may experience such droughts every year or two.  

Making this even more alarming are the studies that show the possibilities of temperatures increasing much more than likely.  Even aspects of some particular event that scientists say is very unlikely are defined as that event having up to a 10% chance of happening.  This is like picking the right number between 1 and 10.  No reasonably sane person would drive a car if the chance of being mutilated in an accident were 10% yet many dangerous events due to global warming are reported in mainstream media as very unlikely but they actually have a 10% chance of happening.  While it is despairing that scientists can only determine the possibilities for some aspects of global warming, many terrible outcomes are certain to happen.

Politicians, pundits and others who don’t want the science to be accepted or believed rely on the uncertainties of precise explanations in an attempt to discredit climate change.  Sadly, these deniers are motivated to convince others that climate science is wrong because they want to protect their profits from the coal, oil and natural gas industries along with many other industries that will be much less profitable because safe energy production is much more expensive.  The same applies to consumers because expensive energy will make the price for all goods and services much more expensive.  

Obviously, denying scientific facts will lessen people’s concerns and make it much easier to continue doing business as usual.  Deniers of global warming may be popular but their misrepresentations can’t change nonsense into scientific facts.   Certainly, distortions take place but soon experiments and research reveals the deception.  Criminal attitudes exist in every field, especially when profits are at stake.  Some deniers have even suggested a worldwide conspiracy.  Such a conspiracy is ridiculous because it would require millions of educated people to be involved including young school students who duplicate experiments that prove many facts of global warming. 

Suggesting or insisting that climate change is not real is also telling us what we would like to believe rather than what we need to know.  Certainly, everyone would prefer that consuming fossil fuels was not harmful and global warming was extremely unlikely.  We would all be relieved if the science could be proven wrong.  In fact, many scientists keep trying to prove various aspects are wrong.  Often more research goes toward disproving an idea then the time it took to formulate the idea in the first place.  Scientists won’t accept any new idea before they have spent many years researching and experimenting.  Of course, all scientists have opinions and hypotheses but nearly all are clear to state it as such or risk losing their job and credibility.  However, politicians, pundits and everyone else don’t need to adhere to those same principles.

Over the last 25 years, nations have made an effort to appear to be negotiating treaties that will result in greenhouse gas reductions but results have been minimal.  For instance, regulations requiring greenhouse gas reductions by increasing miles per gallon for cars.  Sadly, the reductions are less than the increases caused by more and bigger cars along with exempting trucks and SUVs.  Sadly, most motivation is are those that save people money but not saving the climate.  Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is expensive for those living in poverty.  By comparison, reductions are only inconvenient for the affluent who consume most of the fossil fuels.

This ‘do nothing approach’ makes global warming a moral issue because people who are the least responsible for excessive greenhouse gas emissions will be the first to suffer and most likely to die.  About 7% of world’s wealthiest people are responsible for over 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.  The poorest 50% of the world’s population contribute only 7% of total emissions.  Besides climate change, similar unfair proportions exist for most other environmental degradations.  It is also unfair is that people living in the affluent nations of northern latitudes are less likely to be as severely affected as poorer people who live at more vulnerable latitudes. 

We now tolerate the needless death and suffering of many millions.  Ignoring the facts about climate change will add to these cruel realities.  Believing that our own children will escape the consequences may be reassuring but might also be foolish.  History is filled with examples of people and nations that have unexpectedly brought immense suffering onto themselves by denying or ignoring facts.  Climate disruptions do not recognize borders and areas where the severest destruction will take place are less certain than overall damage.  Perhaps the U.S. will experience increasingly severe droughts or excessive rainfalls that wash away the topsoil in agricultural regions.  The now sufficient rain in the U.S. may move northward into Canada where infertile sands and rocks are much more abundant than topsoil.  This will cause food scarcity and more people to suffer or starve. 

We are taking an enormous risk by not making drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  It would still be an enormous risk even if half the scientific research concluded that we are causing dangerous climate disruptions.  This is like someone being told by half the medical community says that a person’s behavior will lead to extreme suffering and the other half said it wouldn’t.  An individual might be foolish not to change his behavior and ignore the 50-50 odds.  His actions will only harm himself.  But the disruptions of global warming will cause more suffering for everyone and the odds are 99-1.    

 

A Dismal Future

Obviously, we shouldn’t continue to ignore growing problems.  Climate change is only one of the many problems associated with the production and consumption of more and more of everything by our increasing populations.  We must recognize the limits to growth.  Otherwise, our children and theirs will be confronted with even-increasing consequences.  At first and as usual, those who will be harmed most severely will be the poorest, which is already happening.  Next, problems expand to encompass all people.  The pending climate disruptions, increasing populations and environmental destructions could easily lead to more world wars as conflicts and fighting increases for diminishing resources. 

Millions of concerned people, including well-informed scientists, sociologists and historians have concluded that the world we leave to our children will be much more threatening than the one we inherited from ours.  Many foresee a deteriorating quality of life for most, it not all of the world’s population.  Some suggest that the horrible consequences of our shortsighted actions are now inevitable regardless of how diligent our efforts in correcting past mistakes. 

Although the reasons for coming to such dismal conclusions may be understood by millions, this leaves billions of people who are unaware.  A few billion are too busy just trying to survive.  They don’t have the time to conceder future consequences.  Others occupy their time with frivolous personal matters and have no desire to be concerned with anything else.  Others are unable to consider the evidence because they can’t read or don’t have access to information.  Others are somewhat aware of the problems we face but retreat to comfortable state of denial.  Finally, many just hope, believe or pray that these problems will eventually be resolved somehow by someone. 

While no absolute proof can be given for what the future holds, there are countless reasons to be extremely concerned.  We have already passed sustainable limits for many of our planet’s resources.  Complicating the problems is that alternatives sources are not be available for much of what we will need to survive.  While we would like to believe that new technologies would be developed, there are too many examples where this is very unlikely to happen.  We have not found cures for many fatal diseases identified 50 years ago that many were certain would be found my now. 

The demands of a world population of over 7,000 million should be everyone’s concern.  Today there will be about 385,000 births and 154,000 deaths.  The result is another 84 million people will be joining us this year.  What can we expect in 30 years when the population is expected to be more than 9,000 million?  If population growth doesn’t continue to slow as much as anticipated, there could be 11,000 million people by 2050. 

A significant improvement in living conditions for the majority of the world’s people during the next 30 years is unlikely.  Much like today, too many people lack real necessities like food, water and safe shelter.  Add to this the humongous desires and demands of the 1,000 million of so who are very affluent, people like you and I.  Significant improvements for those at the bottom would require major reductions in consumption by those at the top.  Arguments suggesting that our earth can continue to bear even more resource depletions and pollutions are deceptive.  They give false hope to the impoverished while justifying excessive consumption of the affluent.  

A common argument given by people who want nothing to change is that fossil fuel use is much less harmful than the scientists think, plenty remains and alternatives will be discovered long before it runs out.  Average oil consumption for the wealthy OECD nations is now about 17 barrels per person each year.  In the US, the average is about 24 barrels.  This is a huge amount when compared to the average 2 to 3 barrels consumed by the rest of the world’s people.  Making this more unjust is that a lot of the oil consumed in less developed countries is used to produce products for the most developed countries.  Similar consumption patterns exist for common resources like coal, metals, lumber, water gas and foodstuffs.

Reallocating much more of the natural resources consumed by the affluent towards the elimination of miserable poverty would certainly help people while reducing conflicts.  But even if people were willing, it will not be enough.  Sustaining current consumption into the near future is already doubtful.  The miraculous new technologies we envisioned will likely add to problems.  This also means that increasing consumption significantly for the billions of people in need will cause intolerable damage to natural life support structures that our earth provides.  For a short time, meager improvements may be feasible, but even that will have to end if current policies and practices continually encourage economic growth for already wealthy people and nations. 

Population growth is certainly a large part of the problems we face as well.  A U.S. Census Bureau report projects that by 2050 the world population will increase 37%, growing from 6.87 billion in 2010 to 9.44 billion in 2050.  It also projects a U.S. population increase of 41%, growing from 310 million in 2010 to 439 million by 2050.  Much of U.S. population growth is due to immigration.  Without these newcomers and their children, the U.S. population would be decreasing. 

Comparable troubles were described hundreds of years ago but those most often quoted today were the predictions made by those dismissed as doomsayers.  Fifty years ago, someone predicting that by 2012 there would be more than a billion people living in slums and millions dying unnecessarily each year would be called a doomster too.  Fifty years ago, there were 3 billion of us now there are over 7 billion.  Then as now, improvements in technology are touted as solutions.  Seldom considered in these shortsighted ideologies are sensible policies, cautionary foresight, compassion, honesty and a sense of fairness.  Most important to consider are the world conditions that our children and grandchildren will inherit. 

While the powerful have always publicly supported more for everyone, privately they will not allow anything that might threaten their comforts.  Most benefits of technological advancements go toward creating luxuries for a relatively few people.  This exclusionary form of progress along with the increasing tensions between the affluent and destitute has led to fortifications much more costly than the moats surrounding castles of the past although the purpose is the same.  Of course, many of the comforts enjoyed by the affluent depend on cheap energy resources like oil.  As in the past, resources are often depleted in the lands of weaker peoples long before they are able to protect and use them for their own benefit.  New energy sources, such as solar or nuclear, that will come to replace oil will most likely be much more expensive.  This will only add to the difficulty for weaker peoples to improve their own conditions and will increase their dependency on those controlling the process. 

Deceptive Promises  

Improving living conditions and ending poverty is a goal eagerly declared by governments, religious groups, social organizations, charities and many others.  The promises made and implied include education, jobs, plentiful food and security for all.  These are certainly very good intentions but putting this into practice will have consequences for those at the top.  This is well understood by many but seldom publicly acknowledged. 

It would be quite impossible for the entire world’s people to enjoy lifestyles like those of average North Americans or Western Europeans.  The consequences would be enormous with severe degradations and unsustainable activates.  Even a reasonable goal like an income of $15 a day, would require enormous economic and infrastructure growth.  By the way, a $15 a day income is considered impoverished in wealthy nations.  But even that minimal amount would bring tragic resource depletions, pollutions and environmental destructions.  It would require an immense amount of new constructions that would deplete vast quantities of fuel, water, metals, minerals and hundreds of other natural resources.  Millions of people would have to be uprooted from areas where these natural recourses are found.  Thousands of new power plants, factories, schools, chemical plants, homes, hospitals, highways, ships and shopping centers would have to be built. 

It would be wonderful to increase income to a minimum of $15 a day for the 7 billion people now on the planet.  It would eventually make it possible for many to purchase things like a decent home, basic appliances and many other comforts.  Although $15 a day is the equivalence to the poverty level in the U.S. citizens, it would be an enormous improvement.

However, the increase spending would probably lead to a doubling or tripling of the 800 million cars on the road today The 90 million barrels of oil we now consume each day might increase to 200 million barrels.  The 20 million tons of coal might swell to 60 million tons a day.  Other repercussions would include many more animal and plant exterminations, increased toxic pollutions, greater agricultural soil degradations and depleted fresh water supplies.  Hundreds of other unknown problems would certainly follow along with those already identified.

Another way to look at the problem of ending poverty is by considering the amount of financial growth needed.  Using the purchasing power equivalent of US dollars, the World Bank estimates that about 5 billion people have an income under $15 a day and the average is about $2.50 a day.  The combined income of these 5 billion people is about 4 trillion dollars a year.  If all their incomes could be raised to $15 a day, it would require an additional $30,000,000,000,000 ($30 trillion) a year.  Although the economic growth needed to produce such incomes is imaginable, the great increase in consumption would be devastating to world resources and natural environments. 

Again, providing more opportunities with greater incomes to the impoverished would be wonderful goal and should be pursued.  But under current economic systems, much of money would go to those who already have more than they need.  These well-established owners, operators and producers are already positioned to increase production to meet any additional demand.  They will not settle for a minimal amount of the new spending nor would they welcome new competitors.   

A $15 a day income level would support additional services and infrastructure.  Farms, factories, highways, railroads, hospitals, construction companies, colleges, parks, shopping areas and more would be both needed.  With these additional demands, the $30 trillion needed to bring 5 billion people up to an income of $15 a day would then require a great economic growth.  Altogether, it is likely that an additional $100 trillion in economic activity would be required to facilitate the trickling down of $30 trillion to the now impoverished.  The additional $100 trillion is an enormous amount even when compared to the entire world’s economic activity, which is now about $80 trillion a year for an average of $30 a day per person.  Many consider this average meaningless when 5 billion of the 7 billion people on our planet now live on $2.50 or less per day.

Many suggestions are made toward ending poverty.  For instance, ending the world’s enormous military expenditures and reapplying it toward ending poverty.  But sadly, that would be insignificant since the world’s total military expenditures are less than $3 trillion a year, which is a small amount compared to the $100 trillion that would likely be required.  In addition, it would be next to impossible to convince nations to eliminate military expenditures.  The first objection would be that many millions of people would be put out of work and this would increase rather than decreases poverty.  Creating new jobs that would replace military personnel and weapons manufacturing would also be a very slow process. 

Today, well over a billion people are already very anxious to find work but they are simply not needed.  Automated production systems for foods and goods have made additional workers much less necessary, which is one reason that so much poverty now exists.  Certainly, a much greater number of people would benefit from automation and mass production systems if they were implemented for equalitarian goals rather than motivated by profits. 

Conflicts of Interests  

Obviously, all people have overwhelming desires to improve their living conditions.  Many billions of people are insisting that it’s only fair that they and their children have ample food, clean water and a place to live without threats of violence and disease.  On the other end of the scale, about billion people are insisting that it’s only fair that they and their children have a home, car, good healthcare and comfortable retirement options.  Both seem to have reasonable expectations but their desires have always led to conflicts. 

One reason for these conflicts is that as more of the impoverished obtain an education and gain competitive skills, it often causes wages to fall for those who have always had those advantages.  Since the affluent want to continue increasing their comfortable lifestyles and wealth, billions of more competitors are not welcome.  Another reason for conflict is that the affluent want to preserve natural environments, reduce pollutions and protect valuable resources.  Therefore, any significant development for billions of more consumers will not be welcomed either.  Obviously, development for the impoverished depletes natural resources and drive prices higher.  Simply stated, the "have-nots" are trapped in poverty because the "haves" are more powerful and equipped to pursue and protect their interests.

Under current economic systems, people are much like any commodity.  A greater supply of a resource lowers its price in competitive markets.  An increasing population results in a surplus of labor.  The result, unemployment goes up and wages go down.  The earnings of both skilled and unskilled workers often goes down as there are more people competing for the same jobs.  Many must accept lower wages to avoid going hungry.  The only way to avoid this is to stimulate demand for what’s produced.  A problem then arises since increase in production from a larger population causes the same unwelcome stresses on natural resources as development for the billions of impoverished. 

Automation also results in a surplus of workers as people are replaced by machines.  In turn, affluent factory workers who set-up, operate and maintain these machines are replaced by a surplus of workers in developing nations who easily learn the required skills when given the opportunity.  They will work for much less money, which is why jobs are lost in affluent nations.  This creates a “race to the bottom” as automation replaces more people while a growing population reduces earning. 

Automation efficiencies and the cheap energy for the agricultural industries have also added to a surplus of workers.  Today a single well-equipped farmer with modern tractors and synthetic fertilizers can replace a hundred farmers.  This process began over a century ago in wealthy nations where displaced farmers and their children could find jobs in city factories making the tractors and all the other products of new “industrial revolution”.  This lower cost of foods also helped enable the world population to explode during the 1900’s.  The surpluses of labor were useful since it enabled empires to form and expand. 

The profitable productions in industry and agriculture enabled great wealth to accumulate by business owners.  They would profit even more by supplying the rest of world with relatively inexpensive goods.  Back then, more workers were in demand for the new industries that also enjoyed relatively higher earning.  While eventually the automation used in factories required fewer workers but the brunt of this displacement is felt in developing countries that didn’t have a century head start.  Nor does a system that encourages and rewards the great accumulation of wealth give the others a chance to catch up. 

Reforms to our now global economic structures that create fairer systems for everyone are good intentions but only words, although some attempts have been made.  Thousands of private and government organizations have created highly publicized programs demonstrating that it is possible to alleviate hunger, disease and violence.  While this dampens problems a little, the causes of these problems are seldom acknowledged.  Again, the conflicting desires between the "haves" and "have-nots" are a root cause of poverty and the suffering that results.  While everyone is being encouraged to get ahead and demand more of everything, the great number of losers in this race is actually the main support for the winners.

While many citizens of wealthy nations say they are in favor of development for the impoverished, this also shows that people can be moved to support both sides of these conflicts of interests at the same time.  Perhaps, people pursue both selfish and altruistic goals simultaneously because they lack a clear understanding of the duplicity.  In any case, the efforts expended in support of cooperative activities to alleviate poverty are insignificant when compared to efforts in pursuing competitive advantages that widen the gap and increase tensions. 

Good Intentions

Impressive programs that help eliminate poverty and reduce suffering are splendid humanitarian accomplishments.  However, most all of these programs are necessary only to counteract the problems we have created or alleviate some of the suffering we have inflected on one another.  For example, we tolerate multinational agribusinesses practices and government policies that exploit and disrupt local economies.  These practices make it impossible for local farmers to sell the food they produce because they can’t compete with large and efficient businesses who sell produce at lower prices.  Humanitarian programs are then necessary to support farmers who can't sell their produce.  Obviously, these programs help but don’t offset the harms to farmers who are put out of work.   Multinationals undercut local producers and make substantial profits doing so.  People in undeveloped countries who would have been working producing food and farming are now unable to purchase food even at the lower costs.  

Most profits of multinationals go to wealthy investors and well-paid workers in foreign countries like ours.  We benefit from the multinationals that undermine and disrupt local economies in underdeveloped nations.  Few of us are aware of any harm caused to people in foreign lands.  Current redevelopment programs and aid would be unnecessary if profit seeking multinational corporations did not exploit local economies. 

It’s difficult for humanitarians to understand these harmful practices because it is obvious that in the short term more food is available.  They can see the results of their efforts of feeding hungry jobless people.  In the long term however, the dependence on foreign agribusinesses can perpetuate rather than solve many of the problems faced by underdeveloped countries.

A century or so ago, displaced agricultural workers migrated to the cities and found work in new industries.  Today, they migrate to slums and shantytowns.  Our capabilities of automated mass production are now so efficient that few unskilled workers are needed.  The industrial revolution was first begun within the most powerful countries, which gave them a head start and allowed a vast accumulation of wealth and technological advancements.  This further increased their dominance of world markets and now businesses in undeveloped countries find it virtually impossible to compete.      

While progress has been made toward alleviating some the problems in the examples above, many new abhorrent practices that exploit the poor and degrade natural environments are devised, especially when huge profits are involved.  Perpetrators can afford publicity that highlight the benefits and obscures the harms.  In addition, international organizations led by business interests rather than institutions accountable to common citizens are implementing new policies.  If not closed to the public scrutiny, talks that lead to the agreements made by profit-seeking associations are much less open to oversight.  The decisions made often have grave impacts on people unaware or ignorant of the frisks. 

Well-intentioned projects can also change traditional routines, which cause new problems.  For instance, donating to charities that build new clean water wells may displace the young women who were once kept busy fetching water from distant sources.  Now the idle young women remain home and more available to men and in many cultures, this leads to an increase in pregnancies.  In turn, that adds to overpopulation pressures that likely depleted or contaminated the original water supplies in the first place. 

Many aid projects require than a large portion of funds dedicated go toward paying wealthy manufacturers who supply materials and oversee the work.  Often, projects won’t be implemented without approval from greedy leaders who siphon off desperately needed funds for themselves.  Often a large portion of funds goes to people who already have much more than they need.  If such practices were mentioned by the organizations that promote these projects, then funding would stop because nobody wants to be seen as supporting graft, greed or waste.  When detected, such problems often go unmentioned because small benefits for those in need are better than no benefits at all. 

One more of many examples of good intentions gone badly are the donations of used cloths to charity.  Typically, much more is collected than they can be sold in affluent countries so the cloths are given to developing countries.  But even these used garments are of higher quality than the local manufactures can make in their fledgling industries.  The donated clothing is also less expensive than garments produced locally.  This puts the local producers out of work, stifles self-development and increases the dependency of poor people on the charity of the wealthy.

Charity

Those of great wealth won’t listen to anyone who questions or criticizes how their power and influence was obtained.  They don’t have to account to anyone unless they were caught breaking laws and existing laws enable the accumulation of great wealth and power.  Most of today’s cultures and legal systems actually encourage people to become rich and with that comes the ability to control the destiny of many others.  Wealth brings power, which is much the same as brute force allows one to have their desires fulfilled by command.  The difference is minor because ultimately the accumulation and maintenance of great wealth relies on the physical force wielded by government as sanctioned by law. 

The wealthiest people in world history were often the most ruthless, brutal and deceitful.  Today many of these same people are renowned for their great contributions to society as if their malevolence were erased by their good deeds.  Andrew Carnegie and Cecil Rhodes are prime examples.  The philanthropy of Rhodes and Carnegie is celebrated by most Americans and British but this also sends the message that oppression is justifiable when a portion of his wealth is gifted to benefit the downtrodden. 

The portion of Rhode’s or Carnegie’s excessive wealth went towards benefiting the world is minor compared to the mindset they created as people imitated their greedy behaviors.  Perhaps they gave away some of their wealth out of guilt but it was probably an egotistical motive.  They gained a lot of misplaced admiration for giving something back. 

This only encourages others to excuse greedy practices that lead to oppression.  The stressful, dangerous and low paying working conditions of Carnegie’s businesses and others during the industrial revolution were quite acceptable to most observers, especially the privileged. 

He justified low-wages because workers would squander any additional money on alcohol or other egregious behaviors. Carnegie portrayed himself as more responsible to the public than the community or government. 

Today’s philanthropists like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros and many others are also encouraging greed and oppression.  People are seldom aware of similarities between the rich robber barrens of the industrial revolution and those of today.  Back-breaking work has now been significantly reduced here although it has also been replaced with other less atrocious conditions.  Back-breaking work and horrible working conditions exist in foreign counties where today’s philanthropists a earning much of their profits.  

A philanthropic logic suggests that billionaires  know what’s best for humanity.  While there a little truth to this, philanthropic foundations invest their money in businesses that are often found to be supporting repressive conditions around the world.  The Gates foundation has invested in companies that dump toxic pollution that’s injuring the same people that the Gates foundation is trying to assist.  

The public has little to say about how private foundations operate although the public provides the profits that private enterprises use to create philanthropic foundations.  We have also enacted laws to make such unquestioned activities possible and financially attractive to their wealthy founders.  Federal or state oversight and regulation may not help.  Disallowing the tax advantages given to foundations and increasing regular taxes to support agencies to do what they believe to be best for humanity may not be any better although our government allow the public to challenge government activates.

A compromise between big government and big business is not a solution we should be considering either.  Each of us should make some sacrifices and take the time to investigate and determine what is best.  We should attempt to create better systems and a culture that would allow this to happen more easily.  This would be an improvement to either the usual complaining or having a blind faith in what is being done with our taxes and profits from our labor.  Trying to encourage individuals to consider social concerns and take some responsibility might be inconvenient but it would definitely help create a less threatening future. 

Foreign Interventions  

From the beginning of history, powerful groups have dominated and interfered in the affairs of weaker people.  Most notable were the thirty to eighty million indigenous people of the Americas who were killed in attempting to defend themselves from European conquerors.  Certainly, the diseases carried by the invaders caused the death of many defenders.  However, the spread of disease is mentioned to imply that the defenders would not have been killed in battle, driven to barren lands, forced into starvation or incinerated when their villages were surrounded and set on fire. 

Before the Europeans arrived, recent archeological studies have estimated that 10,000,000 to 20,000,000 Native Americans lived north of the present Mexican border.  By 1900, the native population was estimated by censuses to be around 300,000.  During the four centuries of conquests, natives throughout North, South and Central America were enslaved and worked to death in mines and farms.  Much of what they were forced to produce was sent to enrich the people in Europe.  Gold and silver were the prime plunder although the Native Americans’ agricultural creations, like corn and potatoes, were also taken and sent to Europe.  As the indigenous Americans were exterminated, they were replaced by slaves abducted from Africa and Asia. 

The imported slaves were much less susceptible to diseases carried by Europeans.  But more important was that they were less likely to fight back since they lacked a common language and were disoriented, being afraid of unfamiliar lands that lay beyond their captivity. 

Historians have correlated evidence making obvious that the booty taken from America stimulated economic growth in Europe, which brought about rapid advancements in technology and improved living conditions for many commoners but especially the elite.  These advancements further enhanced the ability of Europeans to dominate and subdue resistance around the world.  It could be said that atrocities committed in the Americas ended the “dark ages” in Europe.

Justifications for these past atrocities are still repeated today by quite popular pundits such as Ann Coulter.  In a televised speech, she said that the indigenous people of the Americas were savages and doing nothing worthwhile with their vast lands and resources.  She was echoing a very typical attitude has been held by aggressors for thousands of years.  Her suggestion was that the invaders were doing indigenous people a favor by making improvements to the lands stolen and developing a superior culture.  Anyone implying that murder, plunder and enslavement are “civilized pursuits” for the “betterment of humanity” is obviously demented.  

Throughout the world today, indigenous, and weaker peoples in general, are virtually forced to accept military bases of the United States and a few other powerful nations.  Most provide fueling stations and arms stockpiles for army, navy and the air forces.  Other bases house hundreds of thousands of solders ready to fight, provide intelligence, logistic and maintenance services.  The number of U.S. foreign bases is estimated to be over 700 although this depends on the definition since many deployments are not classified as a base.

Many of these bases now have recreational facilities like tennis courts, swimming pools, golf courses.  They have the best medical facilities and services.  The US base in Cuba, like many others, even has a McDonald’s restaurant and many other amenities, which are often better than those in the hometowns of military personnel who are stationed at the base.  Lavish homes and other comforts are widespread throughout the world at these bases.  Since the U.S. is the only country able to impose such a dominating military presence around the globe, it is often considered the last survivor of the world’s great empires. 

As always but typically unstated, the actual purpose of a military presence or occupation is to protect, impose or enhance profitable business interests.  There are some economic benefits for citizens of hosting countries although most goes to government leaders and business owners.  Obviously, the lion share of benefits is for the country imposing its military base.

Historically, military threats and actions, such as naval gunboats firing on relatively defenseless towns, was to force the establishment of outlets for selling profitable goods made in the aggressor nation’s factories.  Cheap narcotics produced by Western companies with the support their military were exported to Asia, which led to the addiction, devastation or death of millions.  When the Asians tried to expel the Westerners, it began what is now called the Opium Wars and more people died.

At times, domination by a foreign power is welcomed.  Invaders most often collude with local elites who are made wealthy for their services.  Some countries, realizing they could no longer resist, reluctantly accepted servitude while planning for revenge.  For instance, Japan was the target of Western domination in the 1800’s.  But Japan was determined to learn the war-making technologies of the West.  By 1914 Japan was a formidable power and declared war on Germany entering WW I alongside Western Europeans.  When the US entered WWI in 1917 near the war’s end, it became an ally of Japan. 

Japan had been imitating the aggressions of the worst Western powers.  Its military and businesses had been brutally colonizing many areas of Asia, especially China, in the 1930’s.  This interfered with Western counties who also had plans for exploiting the Asian countries.  It entered WWII even stronger than WWI but this time it sided with Germany rather than Britain, the U.S. and the allied powers.  While most powerful countries had established their ambitions in the Asian areas threatened by the Japanese, the ideology of Germany better matched that of Japan and in 1936, they agreed to defend one another.  Before the U.S. entered WWII, it stopped supplying materials and then fuel to Japan which lead to the attack on the U.S. base in Hawaii (Pearl Harbor) thus causing the U.S. to declare war. 

Although Japan lost in the war, it soon became the second greatest economic power of the world.  Its prior colonies in China were liberated but remained impoverished even though they had supported the winning side of the war.  Win or lose the most aggressive nations maintain their wealth and advantages.  One could imagine an agreement among the elites of warring nations to keep their power even if on the side that lost.  There are other examples, like the wars of medieval kings and their supporting elites.  On both sides, noblemen often maintained their thiefdoms even after sending thousands of their commoners to fight and die.

Benefits of Conflict  

Why do we fight?  The root cause of war, injustice and conflict should always kept in mind could and are very easy to describe.  Someone or some group wants something that they don’t have.  If it exists, they take it and conflict erupts when they attempt to take it from another who has it.  Although this states the obvious, it is very typical to omit from the accounts given by those who benefit from aggressive actions. 

Perpetrators might even be so bold as to suggest an opposite cause for conflict by insisting that the trouble started when they tried giving something to those who didn’t have it.  For instance, a conflict resulted from an attempt to bring freedom and democracy to the oppressed.  Since many believe this motive, efforts are often made to bring about some benefits to victims when it’s not too much trouble for the victors.

Perhaps among the excuses given was to bring a more worthy religion or culture to those who have inferior beliefs.  In response, the false claims of the aggressors will cause the defenders to exaggerate their declarations of innocence.  In turn, those false exaggerations will be seized by the aggressors as more evidence to justify their offences.  All participants will escalate the deceits and disguise the motives while they omit or misrepresent the simple facts. 

Virtually all wars are fought to gain natural and/or the human resources desired for greater wealth, which is just another way to state the obvious.  Wars are the culmination of economic pursuits where the competitions turn to violence. 

Blaming wars on the collusion of wealthy elites and government may be accurate but making war without the willing support of citizens is nearly impossible.  To alleviate this dilemma, the purpose for making war must be stated in terms more commendable than greed.  Actual motives are masked by deceitful explanations that compel common citizens to pay the costs, fight, kill, die or otherwise give their support.  If deceit doesn’t work, rewards are offered that appeal to the immediate self-interest of those needed, such as higher military wages and benefits or lucrative contracts for weapons production.  In other words, waging wars and aggressive competitions provide more jobs and at high wages for the antagonists. 

Few exceptions are found in the correlation between aggressive competition and immense wealth.  The nations with the most violent history of wars are typically the richest and most dominant powers in the world today.  Both the winners and losers of World War II are examples.  Like most wars, it was not fought because of evil tyrants or extreme ideological differences as it is often portrayed.  It was a fight among the most powerful for access to the natural and human resources of Asia, Africa, South America, India and the Middle East.  Not by coincidence, these areas now encompassed some of the most impoverished countries of the world and often with the least violent histories.  Most of these exploited countries still have the natural and human resources that that must be controlled to maintain the wealth of the powerful and developed nations.    

The World Wars were not exceptional when motivations are considered.  Expanding a nation’s economic interests into foreign territories is always the incentive.  For instance, over many centuries invaders from Europe gained an astonishing amount of wealth by exploiting weaker peoples by stealing their resources and conscripting their labor. 

The wealth generated by military and economic conquests makes possible even greater advancements for aggressive nations.  Gains made in the past continue to accumulate and enrich their decedents today.  The advantages gained in military technology, economics and strategic planning are passed along to the next generations.  Inherited are completed infrastructure and well-established institutions like universities, think tanks and mainstream media outlets that continually inform common folks of how honorable their sacrifices in wars had been.  The results are that their citizens will be well versed in explaining their prosperity in terms other than the exploitation of the weak or a willingness to engage in murderous aggressions.

Like many other military conflicts, the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were supposedly fought to root out terrorism and promote freedom, democracy, nation building and development.  In Iraq, another deceit was added which was to uncover weapons of mass destruction.  Less publicized was that the aggressions would benefit the citizens in the wealthy nations of the world.  Businesses profit supplying military operations that keep many of us employed and our pension funds growing.  Obviously, there are no benefits for those being killed and mutilated.

Deaths directly and indirectly caused by these recent wars have been estimated at 40,000 for Afghanistan and 800,000 for Iraq.  Hundreds of thousands refugees, permanent injuries, orphans, destroyed water, sewage and electric generation facilities and all too many other hideous results came from the desire to control oil resources in the Middle East.  The obvious and primary reason for these wars is to keep the economies of wealthy nations like ours functioning with unhindered supplies of energy.   

Progress through Aggression   

Throughout history, we’ve lived in a world of ever-increasing technological advancements.  Violent conflicts are made more destructive by this merciless progress.  We now live in a world where our horrendous capabilities have become inseparably from our greatest accomplishments.  Determining the admirable and disentangling it from the menacing becomes evermore difficult as we become dependent on technologies that can be used for both peaceful and destructive purposes.

Everyone on earth now lives within range of thousands of armed nuclear warheads, although many want to believe they are safe and secure.  When Albert Einstein was asked about future wars his response was that he wasn’t certain about what weapons would be used to fight World War III, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  He was implying that we would blast ourselves into another Stone Age.  After realizing that his work contributed to the development of atom bombs, Einstein and many other respected scientists became advocates for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  Organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists have all failed to convince the world of the extreme dangers brought about by the immoral misuse of our ever-advancing technologies, many of which had their origins in military applications.

Prior wars that mutilated bodies and ended lives are much less noticed in the developed nations while the violent conflicts that persist today are in distant places.  Routinely, these atrocities are enabled by policies and business practices that originate in the wealthy nations.  For example, nearly all the weapons and military support systems are supplied from nations where their own populations live comfortably.  The natural resources required for those comforts are the strategic interests of wealthy nations.  Of course, the conflicts within areas that supply resources are denied to be the responsibility of the people demanding those resources.  If despotism and repression are the result then the corrupted despot is at fault rather than the corrupters. 

Scientific breakthroughs for even more destructive weapons are pursued with both government and private funding.  Continuing developments in chemical and biological weapons enhances our ability to destroy life.  Attempts to reduce harm to natural resources are now studied using directed energy armaments.  Denying that these advanced weapons exist may be half-truths.  The research, engineering, testing of components and delivery systems are completed but since the weapons are not being produced, they are claimed not to exist.  Weapons and systems that can’t be concealed are accepted and often displayed with national pride.  

Describing these most offensive activities as defensive may sound less hostile but it only encourages competitors to develop and purchase weapons to increase their capabilities.  No one can prove that profits are a greater motivation than defensive or offensive motivations, but the probability should be obvious.  It should be of no surprise that the wealthiest countries profit the most from the enormous sales of destructive systems.

Advanced systems and weapons for war are distributed throughout the world with few legal restrictions.  They are transferred with little hesitation to most any entity that can pay the price and often with little regard as to the corruption or sadistic history of the recipients. 

Immediate military expenditures for the world exceed a trillion dollars a year with the US spending 20 times more than the rest of the world on a per person basis.  This amounts to around $1,600 for every citizen annually.  Compare this to the average $80 spent per capita by all other countries combined and it becomes clear why the U.S. is sometime now called the world mega-power.  

When military expenditures include related costs like scientific research, dual-purpose technologies, assistance for disabled veterans, interest payments and military pensions then the world military expenditures are estimated to be at least 3 trillion dollars.  Many see this as an economic necessity since the 3 trillion dollars spent is also the income for perhaps 500 million people or more.  Certainly all the efforts and expenditures in the preparation, instigation and waging of wars could go toward more beneficial activities.  

Perhaps some leaders have calculated that military adventures are the cheapest way to gain and maintain wealth.  Obviously, an implied threat will make the legitimate owners of resources much more agreeable when access and lower prices are demanded.  It is very difficult to negotiate for the highest price for a resource when a gun is virtually held to your head.  The appalling tyrants Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were not the only ones who learned this through experience.

Most militant aggressions are the same.  Both sides will accuse the other of foul play and injustice.  Both will maintain the pretense of innocence to justify their violence is defensive.  Both will refer to the other as depraved terrorists, wicked regimes or evil empires.  The enemy will be described as being supported by a population that’s coerced by force, manipulated by hateful propaganda, co-opted by religious zealots or brainwashed.  Those at the top will convince those below that aggression is required for peace.  Through chains of influence and power, the fighters will be convinced that their lives will be sacrificed for the good purposes.  Innocent victims who survive will be told much the same.

Murder by Government  

The political scientist R. J. Rummel defines the word democide as meaning the murder of persons or people by a government.  He includes genocide, politicide and mass murder.  He excludes the killings during war battles and unintentional deaths caused by military actions although these are also forms of murder by government.

Rummel’s research shows that the death toll from democide is far greater than the death tolls typically sited in war statistics.  After studying thousands of reports of government-caused deaths, he found that there were 262 million victims of democide in the 20th century, which is six times the number of people who died in actual war battles.  When including these battles, the total number of deaths caused by governments is then well over 300 million during the 20th century.

In addition to these 300 million victims, perhaps another 200-300 million people died unintentionally.  This would bring the total number of victims to 500 million or more.  Included would be those who died some time afterwards from wounds and disease and therefore were not part of the usual counts.  The many who slowly suffered from malnutrition, debilitating mutilations, excruciating burns and other agonizing aliments would also be included among this 500 million if their demise came about earlier than would be normal. 

What should certainly be remembered are the hundreds of millions who lived through the government actions but did not parish.  They suffered greatly from injuries, shell shock, depression, loss of family, forced relocations and often driven into poverty.  Most of these survivors are innocent victims in that they had no part in making the decisions that led to their painful miseries.

After considerable time and close examination, few if any of the most publicized accounts of a current war are found to be unbiased truth.  Eventually the facts may be separated from politicized fictions by credible historians who work outside of political or cultural pressures.  But by that time, any truths uncovered are recorded in books that are typically gathering dust in some obscure locations.  These records reveal thousands of isolated yet antagonistic acts that proceed through every war. 

Any of the individual acts that lead to war might be considered relatively minor but eventually they combine until conflict is inevitable.  Attempts are made to conceal the actually animosities indefinitely.  At present, the antagonisms that will lead to the next eruption are the private affairs of aggressive businesses competing for profits.  Eventually, some of the records of deceitful practices become known.  But there remains the chance that even the most conscientious historians may be reluctant to reveal what really caused the war because the incriminating evidence points to close to the continuing practices of present day businesses.

The worst offenders now are the same now as in the past.  But even by a new name they are still equivalent to the multi-national corporations familiar to us today.  They still may be supplying materials to both sides of the brewing conflicts but such provoking activities are not publicized.  Only after many decades and as passions subside, the facts are eventually revealed.  The list of businesses found to have profited from aiding one side or both often continue to grow over the years.  In the meanwhile, these despicable acts will not be known by the young who will be led to the next war. 

We kill one another for land, gold, oil or anything else that will increase our wealth and comforts.  If we don’t participate directly, we support those who do and in more ways than any of us want to understand.  The majority of those who fight in wars desperately want to believe that they only did what was necessary or that they had to follow orders.  They don’t want to think that the deaths, mutilations and destruction they inflicted were unnecessary.  They don’t want to believe that they may have been manipulated by those who would profit greatly from their own debilitating sacrifices.  They don’t want to acknowledge that the loss of their loved ones may have been in vain.  They don’t want to hear that their own greed or ignorance may have contributed to the mayhem.  If or when they come to understand, some will become depressed, others enraged and a few will expose the lies they once believed.  The term Winter Soldier is often used to describe those who have such experiences. 

 

Excused and Forgotten  

To forgive and forget may seem a commendable ideal but most often, it is promoted by those guilty of atrocious behavior rather than the victims.  Those who have been caused to suffer from crime, injustice or mistreatment will seldom forget.  A preferable alternative is the discovery and disclosure of unjust actions followed by punishment of aggressors with compensation to the injured.  This remedy is seldom practiced to the extent necessary since those benefiting from atrocious and aggressive behaviors will interfere. For instance, after a war, the victors will obviously benefit most but the innocent victims harmed by the victors are seldom compensated. Of course, the losers of a war may be subjected to war crime trials and forced to make amends to their victims. 

Many forms of aggression are culturally acceptable, which makes it much easier to justify all forms including those that are more hostile than the norm.  This makes it difficult to set acceptable or legal limits on aggression.  Economic competition is considered aggression by losers when they are forced to compete since they must accept the terms of the winners.  One recent example is corn farmers in Mexico.  The 'North American Free Trade Agreement' allowed large U.S. corn producers to sell their corn in Mexico at prices much lower than could Mexican farmers.  The result is greater poverty and loss of work there and greater wealth here.   

Even if not considered violent aggression, capitalistic practices are unfair but justified and excused by the winners because they make the rules.  Unjust and discriminatory aspects of capitalism are given benign names by mainstream economists like comparative advantage for describing extremely low-wage work preformed for the wealthy in impoverished countries. This will only make sense to economists who want to continue business as usual.  It certainly will not convince any poor workers that they have an advantage since they typically receive $1.00 an hour for work that is harder and more dangerous than work done for $30.00 an hour in wealthy countries.  It is aggressive because low-wage workers are virtually forced to accept this unfairness if they want to survive.  Perhaps the unaware can be made to believe this fair or that it is simply because some people happened to be born in the wrong country.   

While the winners enjoy the advantages that often originated from stealing resources in aggressive competitions, the losers are forced to accept the terms of domination.  When one form of dominance falls from public acceptance, like slavery for instance, then a new form takes its place.  As new economic practices replace the old then they become the next cause of conflict. While those being exploited understand, those who benefit won't even try to comprehend.     

Without exception, resources and comforts accumulate to those at the top leaving the majority of the world’s people disempowered.  The wealthy continue to increase their military capabilities to counter any attempts of the oppressed to gain enough power to stop the exploitation of their labor, land and spirit.  As usual, these reoccurring facts of history will be conveniently forgotten by those who benefit from the capitalistic systems that now dominate the world economy. 

The Tipping Point

Many people will argue that current government, business and various civil institutions are not working.  These arguments are similar in both the poorest and wealthiest nations.  However, often implied is that these organizations are not working for me.  The criticism seldom expresses a desire for a sustainable and peaceful world.  In other words, most are demanding more comforts, higher incomes, lower prices and greater security but only for themselves while ignoring most everyone else’s interests.  The price of gasoline might be good example.  Although this is a humongous topic, gas prices are actually lower because powerful nations use often use military force to keep oil flowing at lower costs to their wealthy citizens.  In actuality, the demands for more of everything are mostly fulfilled for people in courtiers of North America and Western Europe.  Few would argue publicly against the idea that more of everything should be available for impoverished people.  However, augments for the impoverished are given far less enthusiasm compared to what the already comfortable argue about getting for themselves.  Unfortunately, neither ordinary citizens nor leaders acknowledge that demands for unlimited growth for our ever-increasing populations are impossible to sustain. 

The facts are that, one-way or another, continuous growth will end whether we like it or not.  The most distressing fact is that we are rapidly approaching a tipping point when it will be impossible to stop our slide toward worldwide chaos.  Our negative behaviors have overtaken the positive.  If we do not acknowledge the harms caused by our activities then change will be forced upon us.  It will be very unpleasant for some and extremely painful for others.  Billions rather than millions of people will suffer horribly to their deaths.  Unlike any era, we have reached the most dangerous point and it’s a global threat this time rather than local.  The risk is that our descendents will inherit a world where human survival becomes impossible.  Denials will only delay necessary changes and eventually it will be too late.

What will happen if nothing is done to prevent the unraveling of our already ineffective economic and governmental practices?  Soon there will no longer be time for thoughtful discussions or rational decisions about societal or environmental issues.  Local and international institutions that have provided some level of an organized effort to prevent or limit conflict will cease to function.  Laws and accepted practices will be abandoned and chaos will ensue.  It’s easy to imagine this or any one of many scenarios about what the future will hold.  Hollywood films have shown us plenty of possibilities but most people discard these as only fictions and continue with business as usual.

Many serious studies formulate likely nonfiction scenarios.  Some are using computers to keep track of the complex and countless details.  This research takes into account many factors like societal and historical trends, natural resource degradation, climate change, population growth and possible advancements in science and technology that are realistic.  A great many of these studies predict that a collapse of civilization is quite likely if patterns of behavior continue.  In an attempt at optimism, most studies express ideas with the hope that changes in behavior will take place in time to save us from ourselves. 

Our survivability into the future is dependent on major transformations in human activities that people who are now comfortable and affluent will resist.  Problems that are less important are often used to sidestep arguments about the need for major changes.  Perhaps the most ridiculous diversion is that we must advance space exploration so we will be prepared to leave earth in the event of some cataclysmic event. Notice that the reasons given for space exploration are never related to our self-destructive tendencies. Of course, space exploration is promoted as a quest for knowledge and discovery but it has been mainly funded with military applications and advancements in mind. 

Other examples that sidestep the self-extinction of humanity include a giant asteroid collision or a mega-volcanic eruption.  The probability that some natural catastrophe will destroy humanity in the next million years is virtually nonexistent when compared to our own destructive actions.  A significantly large portion of people would survive all but the most unlikely natural event, for instance, the one in a quadrillion chance of earth being pulled into a black hole.  

The most affluent people of this world seem to be too busy to look into the urgent issues facing humanity.  Their hectic routines involve the pursuit of greater comforts and entertainments.  At the same time, a billion extremely impoverished people are too busy just trying to survive.  It would be reasonable to expect a greater effort to be taken by the wealthy to avoid impending disaster since they have more choices.  However, it seems that the opposite is true.  Perhaps this is because the majority of world’s people live much closer to abject poverty than the affluent.  They are more compelled to investigate and discuss these important issues.  Obviously, their desires to create a better world are much greater than people who already live comfortably in rich and powerful countries.

 Insatiable Desires  

A century ago, less than 2 billion people inhabited our planet.  Today, 7 billion of us compete for as much of the earth’s resources as we can obtain.  These demands are placing an enormous and unsustainable strain on the natural world that we depend upon to sustain our lives.  As the competition escalates, it increases the tensions within civil society that we depend upon to sustain peace and security.  Although these demands and competitions are touted as necessary for both civil and material progress, they are in fact the primary cause of ongoing conflicts, injustices and the suffering.  These increasing deprivations now put the entire world’s population at risk. 

As mentioned above, an extreme amount of the world’s bounty is consumed by a relatively small portion of the world’s population.  Very few affluent people are attempting to reduce their consumption while virtually all are trying to get more.  Their economies grow while billions of people are left behind suffering from a lack of the most necessities.  While most affluent people will agree that the impoverished are entitled to more, they will deny that their desires for more has injurious effects on the others.  Also denied is that their aggressive competitions and wars have brought about the comfortable life-styles that they enjoy. 

While many of us ignore the deprivations of others, we allow ourselves to see and strive for the splendid lifestyles of those who have even more than we do.  We don’t want to understand that striving to get more also perpetuates the tensions, wars, lies and poverty throughout world.  Without acknowledging the interconnections, it is inevitable that of democides, wars and environmental degradations will continuation into the future along with the great miseries caused by poverty.

Few of us enjoying the benefits of wealth and power will live to regret the current economic and military structures that maintain our comforts.  But some of our children will begin to experience the consequences.  Our grandchildren will be even more likely to suffer from our reluctance to acknowledge the harms caused current structures.  Much like the fall of the Roman Empire, our military and economic offensiveness is becoming too difficult to maintain.  Those who see the coming collapse of domination may be able to change directions before it is too late.  Those harmed by existing structures will watch with pleasure as the collapse of wealth and power brings the hope for a level playing field.  The possibility of exterminating most if not all of humanity is another scenario typically ignored.  The prolonged suffering that would lead to the end will cause all of our decedents to curse us for our shortsightedness. 

Besides the collapse of the Roman Empire, many societies have fallen into chaos and disintegrated.  Different today are much greater global competitions and interdependencies among the entire world’s people.  For instance, at one time industrial pollutants caused localized harms.  Today many pollutants are causing harms to all people on our planet with global warming being one of the most noted threats.  As always, most of these terrible degradations are affecting weaker and impoverished people much greater than the affluent.  Also different today are our abilities for creating destruction on a global scale with technologies like nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. 

It is easy to ignore the horrid scenarios above just as other predictions that were put forward in the past were dismissed.  Throughout history, many scientists and scholars have warned of the risky conditions that did lead to the genocides, wars and abject poverty seen in recent times.  At the extreme, others have predicted total collapse of civilization but since an armageddon-like event hasn’t occurred, people prefer to believe it can’t happen.  Rather than acknowledge the horrible predictions that did come true, many people tend lump all predictions together and dismiss them all as impossible events.  These denials, distortions and omissions of facts may provide illusionary relief for some but not for long.

While the winners enjoy the advantages that originated from stealing resources, slavery or genocidal wars, the losers are forced to accept domination.  When one form of dominance falls from acceptance then a new form takes its place.  For one example, the aggressive economic competition the replaced slavery became the new form of aggression that causes conflicts and wars.   

Without exception, resources and comforts accumulate to those at the top leaving the majority of the world’s people disempowered.  The wealthy continue to increase their military capabilities to counter any attempts of people trying to gain enough power to stop the exploitation of their labor, land and spirit.  As usual, these reoccurring facts of history will be excused and forgotten by the aggressors. 

Control, Consent and Democracy  

The control of people’s activities is not accomplished through governments or plutocratic hierarchies.  It is ordinary citizens giving support to these and other organizations throughout society.  Leaders can’t lead without followers.  Ordinary people give their consent simply by going along and pursuing their individual desires.  Regardless of how good or bad the leaders, heads of state, or corporate owners may appear to be,  they all gain their wealth, power and influence from their supporters. 

Few individuals hold control over more than a handful of unwilling people.  An authoritarian dictator may appear to wield total control but a significant portion of the population must cooperate to enable him and his cohorts to succeed.  The most vicious tyrants need more consenting supporters to command power and influence then do less malevolent leaders.  With very few exceptions, tyrants require an enormous supporting hierarchy.  They accomplish this by appealing to the greed and desires of more ordinary people who are co-opted and fill the ranks of the power pyramid.

In modern times, it’s been more typical to emplace a leader at the top of a pyramid of power than for a person to fight their way to the top.  An individual is selected who can best portray a suitable image to the public.  The talents of a professional performer are the most important ability for an acceptable candidate.  Selected individuals must maintain the appearance of being in control without giving any hints of those who actually wield power.  Selected leaders must have proven their willingness to follow the directions of those who operate behind the scenes.  These figureheads must be able to create the appearance that the organization acts in the best interests of everyone involved.  Obviously, the best emplacement will have the ability to manipulate, motivate and convince people to cooperate with the organization’s plans. 

An effective leader may have the same aspirations and ideology of the elites wielding control but it is not essential.  Ambitious actors will the part of a character he or she would personally despise when appealing incentives are offered.  Selecting a leader with organizational ability and operational knowledge may be advantageous but also not essential.  Any tasks that require years of experience and practice are left to the organization’s technocrats.  Selected leaders must devote all their efforts to maintaining their image, honing political skills and developing good relations with those who are best able to serve the interests of the organization.

The great benefit of selecting an appropriate leader is that an organization found culpable of appalling acts can sacrifice the figurehead.  The scapegoat will then be replaced by another to provide a new image leaving intact those who control the process.  This tactic is deployed to replace a government actor in a representative form of democracy either by election or by impeachment when a faster change is required. 

The farce of representative government is it’s similarity to a personality contest.  Two or more suitable candidates are selected that will appeal to about half the voters.  Individual voters will typically have some desires that conflict with the position statements of one candidate and some desires that conflict with the other. 

In the U.S., examples of conflicting ideals within a political party are secular and religious issues.  Republicans now tend to appeal to people holding religious ideals.  Democrats tend to appeal to secular constituents.  Religious people typically prefer a Republican’s position on religious issues like anti-abortion or support of private schools.  By the way, it’s well known that private schools are typically religious rather than secular although that is still avoided in political discussions.  However, most religious people would like a representative that seems willing to support people in poverty and equal opportunities, which are ideals that all religions promote but those are more typical of a Democrat’s position. 

It wasn’t very long ago when Democrats were more popular with the religious and Republicans appealed to the more affluent secular voters.  This was not a coincidence.  Since a balance of power between the two political parties is required to give the appearance of a fair fight, one party will occasionally find it necessary to give up some of its base supporters to other party.  For a simple analogy, imagine the complaints if a major league team were to play against the high school all-stars.

Our system of representative democracy would appear as authoritarian as the single party governments we have been convinced to detest during the cold war.  The arguably anti-freedom regimes of the communist countries were less democratic but the differences were much less significant than they were made to appear.  The fact is that the fundamental ideologies of out two political parties are nearly identical.  Divisive issues like religious positions divert attention from powerful elites whose scondary concern are keeping their economic policies and practice a safe distance from public scrutiny.  As mentioned, their primary concern is trying not to appear connected to any leadership positions. 

Political appointments require great advertisement expenditures that result in humungous profits to mainstream media conglomerates.  Election campaign contributions are spent on   television, radio, newspapers and internet, which guarantee the income of journalists, pundits, public relations experts and many other highly paid wage earners.  They don’t need to be told that they will loose that income if they offer too many comments about how the political and economic system actually functions.  Very few writers are unfamiliar with the sideshows taking place alongside the witch-hunts of the McCarthy era or the current union busting efforts of big media conglomerates.

Potential and existing figureheads will make the usual speeches and promises of improvements for everyone in an attempt to pacify the discontented.  Underlying power pyramids with enormous research capabilities will find suitable justifications for any atrocity.  People under their influence are often the least aware and their greatest supporters.  At the extreme, supporters will sacrifice their lives for a power that they have been manipulated to endorse.  If this were not the case, then making war would be impossible, as the vast majority would refuse to participate or passively consent. 

Manufacturing consent takes an organized effort.  Perhaps the most dominant forms of control are now those that wield power over cultures that promote an individual’s self-interest.  Individualism may be a basic human trait but so is the opposite where the interests of the group are given priority.  Appealing to the individualistic traits is a more efficient in organizing power of control.  It is obviously easier to influence and control individuals then a group united for mutual benefit.  When mutualism rather than individualism is culturally accepted then it becomes more difficult to entice people to accept positions within power pyramids.  Either individualism or mutualism can be promoted from within a culture or by external influence.  Although manipulating consent relies on individualism, the manipulation most go further and make individualism appear as being opposed to the hierarchical powers that influences and control individuals.  Culture is then redirected under the influence and control of power to serve that power.

Where to Begin

Solutions to these pressing issues must begin with an awareness and acknowledgement of facts.  The most obvious facts are that the progression of humanity includes wonderful advancements along with many regressions.  For instance, both the total number and the percentage of people dying needlessly have been decreasing in recent years, although too slowly.  We have found solutions to some of the most serious existential problems facing humanity, at least for some people.  New cures for fatal diseases are found quicker than in previous years. However, billions of people are still living so close to the edge that some minor disruption could be realistically perceived as about to send them to their deaths.  With nothing to loose, a unifying ideal might cause them to resort to massive, extreme and asymmetric violence.

These advancements and contradictions make things seem to be getting better and worse at the same time.  The only solution to this dilemma is awareness and public acknowledgement of facts rather than beliefs, intuitions and opinions.  If we remain in a comfortable but opaque bubble we won’t see what’s coming until it’s too late.  This is because serious threats and potential solutions are not brought into everyday conversations.  It’s also because few people read books and articles are not entertaining or cleverly biased to reflect typical justifications and optimisms.  Once again, there’s no chance of a rational transformation if people do not make themselves aware of these serious problems and potential solutions. 

You may be unwilling to change your behaviors but, at the least, you can start thinking about the issues.  Find the time and motivate yourself to investigate rather than waiting for “whatever’s to be will be”.  Find sources of information to read and discuss with friends, family and at work.  Avoid the attitude of acceptance as nothing can change by accepting everything as people often normally do.

Pursuing a self-directed assessment of world problems and potential solutions can be rewarding but depressing at the same time.  You should consider your efforts a moral imperative, especially for the sake of the world’s children and future generations who will inherit the problems we have created.  It’s not an easy to change the world but the slightest effort is better than perpetuating the status quo by not thinking about or discussing anything that might help resolve the serious issues that threaten our existence.

Many books can be found that reflect the observations and research of scholars, institutions and consortiums who are recognized for there concerns about human conditions and the natural world.  Most are supported by evidence gained by careful and full-time studies over many years.  Some of the best articles and studies can still be found on the internet buried deeply between commercial and mainstream interests.  They may be difficult to find but that’s only a minor effort considering what’s at stake.

Reasonable first steps are typically found in books that are about creating a sustainable world.  Seldom mentioned in these types of books is the motivating idea of preventing the collapse or destruction of civilization simply because it is so distressing.   However, these books are usually accurate and compelling enough to cause people to start thinking and reflecting on the seriousness of these existential issues. 

Well worth reading are also some of the popular books on these subjects.  Although most these types of books include some arguments that run counter to some of the perspectives of those most concerned.  Popular books present ideas that affluent people may prefer to believe, which tend to omit many inconvenient details and facts.  In any case, it’s best to consider contradictory perspectives for such important issues.  Keep in mind that we tend to believe what we want to believe.  That can narrow our focus to a particular perspective that reinforces what we already believe rather than what is most reasonable and factual. 

Obviously, no single book can cover all the facts determined by scientific studies or all the various perspectives related to saving us from ourselves.  Perhaps a good place to start would be one of Lester Brown’s books.  His books and articles are for readers who prefer to ease into the cold rather than plunge.  They are available in print, e-books and most are free to download from the Earth Policy Institute’s web site.  Brown’s books are updated at times so look for the latest revision.  He is not considered a radical and issues such as the atrocities committed by wealth and power are avoided.  He also avoids topics that might be considered too disruptive of maintaining the status quo, which makes his ideas more acceptable.

Conclusions

Of course, the easiest thing to do is accept this world as it is.  After al, l acceptance allows for a comfortable serenity.  It is also recommended by some of the most influential and well-intentioned leaders on the planet who are happy to help you find that desirable comfort which will make it even easier to be unconcerned.  We can then continue to reduce some of the most horrible risks for some people so it appears as if we’re making progress while we ignore other tensions and problems as they grow.  Acceptance will guarantee that things will get worse until we can longer save ourselves from our ignorance of harmful behaviors.  

Resolving these critical issues will require extremely inconvenient, difficult and costly changes.  We must learn what are actually unfair, unethical and immoral behaviors and stop accepting justifications and self-deceits.  We must stop participating in these harmful behaviors even though we want to believe we are not doing anything wrong.  We must stop trusting those practicing and promoting such harms even though we may enjoy their company.  We must resist doing whatever seems to make our own life better rather than what will make everyone’s life better.  In other words, we must stop being so abjectly normal.  

Note: If you have comments please email me at abjectnormality.isnormal@gmail.com (Your email will only be used if you specifically ask for a response.)