Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

Dr. King remembered

January 18, 2019

I was a white boy growing up in the deep south.

In my life, 1951 . . .  a vivid memory stands out: the remembrance of this brave man:

MLKing

. . . his life, his work, his service to mankind, his leadership in the perilous project of fulfilling our Creator’s call to

. . . bring good news to the afflicted, . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners . . . (Isaiah 61:1)

In my lifetime, I can think of no other American who demonstrated greater courage than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He persisted tirelessly in the sacred call to blaze a trail of opportunity for oppressed people. He persevered in the face of certain death, as he fully understood the vengeful opposition of other men–white and black–who  ultimately took him down.

The name assigned to him at birth, King, was appropriate, as he went on to conduct the life of a true leader, a born leader, an orator, an organizer who truly fulfilled  the declaration of our nation’s founding principles:

 We find these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,  that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In my lifetime, I can recall no other person who more deserves annual remembrance during a national holiday. Although he had his faults, his own sins as we all do,  he was a man of whom this world was not worthy.  In this world, he helped God and fellowman to “make a way where there is no way.” He blazed a trail toward that “equal” status mentioned by Mr. Jefferson and the Continental Congress when they composed our Declaration back in 1776.

I looking forward to meeting Dr. King in heaven, or whatever you call it. Many years ago, I wrote this song about him and an ancient leader named Moses:

Mountaintop

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Where to now, Homo Developus?

January 16, 2019

Everybody knows that a few years ago we had a big economic breakdown. There were many reasons to explain  what happened in 2008.

Let’s step back in time a little and consider what has taken place on Planet Earth.

During the 1800’s and 1900’s our developed nations undertook a vast, worldwide surge of industrial development, which was accompanied by a universal expansion of business and corporate prosperity. This hyper-expansive phase of human development required very large-scale extractions of natural resources, which were then transformed into mega-stocks of consumer goods.

An abundance of consumer goods brought forth an abundance of consumers.

Consuming.

Consuming the goods, consuming the planet.

The end of the 20th century brought a vast slowdown. It happened in the fall of 2008, and regardless of what the bullish analysts and stimulus-chasers declare, we are still mired in that big slowdown of ’08.

And will continue to be. This is going to morph into a vast leveling out. The industrial age is over. Our planet will not tolerate another 200-year extraction expansion.

Now we have entered into the Age of Sustainable Technology and Appropriate Industry.

And herein a question arises.

Who will run the world?

Is there a cartel of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Edison and JPMorgan-types out there who will forge a new system to transform the old Industrial Infrastructure into the new Sustainable Society?

As the next surge—the post-industrial phase— is being initiated by a new breed of Industrialist . . . the Gates, the Jobs, the Bezos and Buffets . . . the industrialized Civilization stumbles into a new Electronified Zone.

A digitized twilight zone, as it were.

In the wake of the great ’08 Slowdown, we encounter a host of questions that define the logistical problem of where to go from here.

During the Investment Segment’s breakdown of ’08, a lot of very complicated financial engineering became unwound.

One financial analyst, John M. Mason, recently offered an explanation that includes this analysis of what happened in the financial world during the decline of our industrializing phase:

But, in the developed world, the presence of lots and lots of liquidity means very little in the way of corporate capital investment. The environment of credit inflation, built up over the last fifty years of so, has created a culture of financial engineering in the business community and, consequently, corporations act differently now than they did when most of the current economic models were constructed. Government stimulus gets built into greater risk taking, greater financial leverage, and financial investment, like stock buybacks.

   (https://seekingalpha.com/article/4233178-supply-side-world-europe-well-united-states?ifp=0&app=1.)

So it seems to me that the financial guys—the wallstreet wheelers and dealers, etc—having running out of real new industrial infrastructure to invest in, turned to MBS schemes and CDO games in order to keep their game going. Instead of their oversized financial whirligig running on old Industrial Growth stimulants, they rigged it to run on the fumes thereof.

Now in a post-industrial age, we find ourselves as a species, Homo Developus, scratching our heads and wondering where do we go from here?

It just so happens that, in the wake of the Great Industrial Expansion of Planet Earth, there emerges a vast bureaucracy of Smart People—number crunchers, economic theorizers, technocrats, academics, programmers, bureaucrats, not to mention the mysterious ghosts of AI —who propose to reconstruct the detritus of the industrial age into a systemic quasi-social Union that will make sure everybody is taken care of.

And so I’m wondering, what’s the best way to administrate such a civilization?

What’s the best system for governing a federation of post-industrial nations?

What’s the the most effective strategy for managing a cushy, highly-developed Society?

What’s the most humane political structure to assure income and health for all citizens?

Should Europeans, for instance, appoint multiple layers of bureaucracy to enforce labor laws so that every person has a guaranteed income?

Should the State take control of business so that everybody gets a minimal piece of the pie?

And these philosophical, or sociological questions arise:

What motivation compels some individuals to seek opportunity and then develop that opportunity into abundance and prosperity?

What drives the go-getters to excel in economic pursuits? What motivates them to acquire work, money, property, resources, and then manipulate those assets into an overflow of wealth?

What incentive impels them to take care of themselves and their families?

On the other hand, what compels some other people to, instead,  take charge of bureaucratic agencies in order to administrate a Society that assures everyone a minimum of economic assistance?

What drives some analytical people to write laws and devise policies for systematically managing governmental bureaus to assure that everyone is taken care of?

Who is in charge here?

Who is going to run the world?

Will it be the go-getters, the pioneers, movers and shakers, developers, entrepreneurs, rule-breakers, industrialists, business mavens?

Or will it be the wonks who manage the world—the academics, the specialists, bureaucrats, rule-makers, policy-crafters, the tweakers of governmental largesse?

EURomeHdq

Consider Esther Lynch’s observations:

The ETUC has watched the rise in precarious working conditions in Europe—platform working, zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment and so on—with deep concern. Research in the UK found that young people on zero-hours contracts, for example, were far more likely to report mental and physical health problems than their counterparts in stable jobs. A study by the University of Limerick in Ireland warned that people on non-guaranteed hours could become ‘trapped in a cycle of poverty which strengthens employers’ control’, generating a fear of being penalised if they raised grievances about working conditions. In response, the Irish government has taken steps to prohibit the use of zero-hours contracts, unless the employer can show a genuine business need. Guaranteeing transparent and predictable working conditions would have wide-ranging benefits, in terms of workers’ health, work-life balance and employee retention.

  (https://www.socialeurope.eu/tackling-insecure-work-in-europe)

What does the peaceful development of Civilization require? Management by one, or the other, of these two types? Or Both/and?

Is Civilization founded upon a principle of every man/woman for hmrself?

Or will it settle into BigBrotherSister administering a vast Guarantee for All?

Or something in between.

Keep your eyes open to watch what develops.

Smoke

Who Taught the Oceans?

October 21, 2017

Maybe four or five thousand years ago, some pondering poet raised these two profound questions:

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?

And

Who taught the ocean: You can only go this far?

In the modern world we know just how ridiculous it is to suppose that any one person could teach the sun anything, or that any person could establish the boundaries of the oceans.

So I hope you can accept that the words above, translated from the biblical “Job” represent a figurative, or allegorical, statement about creation.

In our modern, post-Copernican, post Galileo way of viewing the world, we understand that our evolving knowledge requires a different approach to answering such large queries.

Who has successfully explained to us where the sun stands in its solar system?

And

Who changed the ocean in a way that would cause sea levels to rise?

Having posed these ancient questions in a modern context, we could, in our vastly expanding database of knowledge perhaps answer them this way:

History shows that Copernicus and Galileo  figured out the centered position of the sun, and  concluded furthermore that the planets, including our earth, revolve around it.

And, as for the question of where and by what means the oceans terminate  their relentless wave action on our shores, I notice this: the question is currently up for debate.

Could it be that we ourselves are rearranging, by our consumptive habits, the boundaries of the oceans?

There are many studies now being done to determime  where the oceans’ coastlines are now shifting as a consequence of our Homo sapiens-generated emissions. Data-collecting scientists are finding that our Carbon emissions have a deeper impact on nature’s processes than any other elements.

This makes sense; it fits into a larger pattern.  Carbon, number 6 on the Periodic Table Table of Elements, is  the most essential and ubiquitous building block of life itself.

Therefore, the real question becomes . . .

What’s a human to do? Those danged Carbon atoms that float around like phantoms wherever they damn well please, like they own the place—you can’t live with ‘em, and can’t live without ‘em!

One ostensibly scientific scenario in particular—that one generally referred to as “climate change”— is moving, or appears to be evolving, toward a “scientific” consensus of some kind about the accuracy of our grim projections about what will happen to us in the future.

In the wake of a consensual international agreement to address this problem, we may work together to contrive a world-governmental  plan to minimize carbon (and other) emissions. We would begin thereby to arrest the human-generated heating up of our atmosphere,  and possibly prevent our polar ice from melting, and oppose the destabilization of our rising sea levels.

We do not want to see more flooding of coastal  cities. Otherwise,  in the wake of our global consequences . . . there could be trouble ahead.

   HawiSSet

Now when potentially cataclysmic trouble arises in human civilization, there are generally, among the inhabitants of earth,  three different ways of addressing such a huge conundrum.

One way is the way of positivism, which says: We can fix this damn thing if we’ll put our minds to it!

Another way is the way of fatalism, which says: This place is going to hell in a handbasket. We’ll never get around this!

The third way is simple to deny that there is a problem.

Now this writer’s perspective is located somewhere between these three viewpoint poles (or polls).

I have, since my youth, thought we should find ways to quit polluting our earth. Furthermore, I am not yet convinced that carbon emissions is the biggest challenge. There are other substances which are far more destructive and poisonous. I would like to think we can fix this thing, but on the other hand, human behavior, with its boundless abuses and thoughtless excesses, is so absolutely an irreversibly huge force of constructive destruction momentum.

We might have a snowball’s chance in hell, or

We might get it together as a species and solve the problem. Good luck with that!

My problem with the positive approach is this: a true fix (reducing carbon emissions from a 2% rate of increase to a 0% rate of increase) would require an oppressively extreme rearrangement of our institutions and our collectively escalating consumption habits. For the sake of the holy grail of saving the planet, a control-freaking totalitarian government would surely overtake our best intentions and thus turn the required regulations into a tyranny of police-state restrictions. By this means we would sacrifice our freedom upon the altar of saving the planet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ycj-bQXWRrQ

 Malicious manipulations of human ideology have already spoiled our postmodern aspirations at least once or twice in history. Stalinism and Maoism overtook Marxist Socialism and turned it into a systematic monster of human oppression.

With such dystopian historica precedent as  evidence, my hope of  establishing a human/governmental solution to neutralize our climate change problem tops off at next to nothing.

Furthermore, the revelation of the “faith” camp into which I was born, and then born again, acknowledges that we are all sinners on this bus (planet).

We need, both individually and collectively, someone to save us from our own destructive tendencies. But who might that person or entity be? I say it is the one who conquered death itself by rising from the tomb.

Consequently, my leaning toward the fatalistic position on climate change convinces me to turn to divine faith to solve my own problem of what to do with the life that was given to me. My conclusion is: Rationalism and its positivistic proposals will never save us from ourselves and our consequently rising oceans.

So count me in the irrational camp, more appropriately referred to as the faith camp, although I will, every day, in every way possible, assist in our our recycling and solarizing efforts in any way I effectively can. 

Now I conclude this little trail of assessment and analytical adventure with a video of Sister Nicole’s rendition of our condition.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj-pZQ_XjyU  

Glass half-Full

The Rights of Humankind

February 20, 2017

Archives

Twelve score and one year ago Thomas Jefferson submitted an innovative set of political principles to a congress of delegates from thirteen American colonies. The gathered assembly, known as Continental Congress, debated the contents and the merits of Jefferson’s proposal. The document began with these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness–that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .

The world has changed a lot since those words were adopted  as the philosophical basis of a new experiment in civil government. Here are just a few of the ways our world has changed since those revolutionary days:

~ Our fledgling national legislature, known at that time as the “Continental” Congress, is now called the Congress of the United States.

~ We Americans now associate the world “Continental” with Europe.

~ On the “Continent” of Europe, citizen-groups are now struggling to form a workable political basis for a European Union.

~~ Whereas, In the year 1776, when our American Continental Congress adopted a plan for a United States of America, we had a nominal consensus for the basis of our Union; and That consensus was based, rhetorically, upon “certain unalienable Rights, . . . Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; which Rights that had been “endowed” by a “Creator,

~~ In the year 2000,   the European Parliament adopted a Charter of Fundamental Rights of European Union, by which the peoples of Europe are resolved to share a peaceful future based on common values. . . indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity. . . based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

We see, therefore, that the American Union was initiated during an historical period in which faith in a Creator God was still, at least rhetorically, allowed to be a basis for political consensus.

The European Union, however, is coalescing in a post-modern, humanistic age in which their unity can only be expressed in terms of human agreements and motivations, stated above as common values.

As we Americans ultimately divided ourselves into two primary political identities, Democrats and Republicans, with one side being generally associated with  progressivism programs while the other is  based in conservatism,

We notice that in Europe, in what is now a churning crucible of 21st-century economic constraints, the divisions seem to be congealing toward two uniquely Euro polarities. On the Right side, we find the  Austerians, whose values are based on fiscal responsibility and the austerity that is thought to be necessary for maintaining economic and political stability. On the Left side, we find the Socialists, whose values are based on equality that is assured and managed by the State, which should produce solidarity among the people.

As Thomas Jefferson had proposed a declaration based ostensibly on the zeitgeist of the so-called Age of Enlightenment, so has a spokesman stepped forth, in our age, to propose for the Europeans a document that aspires to manifest the zeitgeist of this (perhaps) Age of Equality.

Toward that end, Mr. Yanis Varoufakis, former Finance Minister of the Greek Syriza party, has proposed a five-point plan by which the Europeans would collectively assure the rights of persons as they are understood in this, the 21st-century.

  https://www.socialeurope.eu/2017/01/new-deal-save-europe/

Stated simplistically, those rights are:

~ a collective investment in green/sustainable technology

~ an employment guarantee for every citizen

~ an anti-poverty fund

~ a universal basic dividend (income)

~ an immediate anti-eviction protection.

So we see, now, that in the 200+ years since the inception of American Democratic-Republicanism, the zeitgeist that was then seen as inevitable has changed. In the so-called Age of Enlightenment (c.1776) we were demanding a Government that would Protect our Unalienable Rights, defined broadly as Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.

The modern zeitgeist, however, as it appears to be evolving in the Europe of Our Age, is demanding: a Government to Protect our Basic Life Necessities.

Instead of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, citizens of the World now appear to be demanding Life, Security, and the Pursuit of Equality.

EURomeHdq

And that’s the way it is, 2017. We shall see how this develops as the 21st-century unfolds.

Smoke