Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Global Population

All politics aside, I think the world population is a bottom line that can't be ignored. It affects everything. The U.S. Census Bureau says that the world population is declining.



For me the magnitude of the population issue generates the power to bend my morals-based reasoning. (At least within context of passive consideration.)

For example, consider the AIDS issue in Africa, which is nothing smaller than the Black Plague that haunts our Eurocentric history books. Today, large percentages of populations are being slaughtered by hunger and disease. According to what I remember from the Economist's 2002 Annual Issue, there is a correlation between population growth and education. I tend to think of it more in terms of specific poplulations, for instance, North America and Europe having been industrialized the longest and generating enough wealth to send a waves of prosperity and elevated life styles under the feet of a middle class, but... when the middle class gets too wise, growing smaller families and larger estates, population growth declines and the population itself, get's older and more expensive.

Wouldn't this explain the hunger for money to consume the developing world? On a scale of one continent to one American mid-west city, the effect can already be predicted. Just look at the way the first wave of American industrialism sparked off fires of energy and wealth creating cities like Detriot and Chicago. The fires burn white hot in the centers of these cities, until new fuel is found in the developing areas outside, and the money vacated, leaving behind the 'hoods of a burned-out inner-city.

Anyway, getting back to world population, the plague that is ravaging Africa and many other regions, is causing a reversal in population growth. This kind of balances things out, doesn't it? And since it's the developing nations that have been inflating the world population, their hunger and disease should slow global population down. Overall, from a pure logical stand point, this sounds like a good thing for those of us in the exhaust population, doesn't it? At least, giving us time to attempt a controlled crash, rather than a psychotic one.

This is why I'm ultimatley disconnected. I can't always resolve the conflict between what makes logical sense and my deeper sense of morals. Source: BBC
 

American Future Looks Dim To Me

So, according to a report recently released by the trustees who monitor the fiscal health of Medicare and Social Security, the fund that pays hospital bills in the health insurance program will run out of money by 2019, seven years sooner than they predicted a year ago. The report indicates that the new Medicare law pushed by Republicans is largely to blame, because it will steer more money into private health plans and increase payments for health care in rural areas. Other sources are saying that the soaring cost of health care is to blame, in which case it would seem the government is doing too little. IN any case, the trustees are suggesting that this will lead to higher Medicare insurance premiums in the near future. I don't see this as a matter of choices either. Options managed by private industry are less likely to be regulated and premiums will increase for private insurance based on supply and demand. Raising premiums for Medicare will only raise the bottom level, making it easier for private firms to increase their own premiums.
source = Washington Post

Meanwhile, the job market is also suseptable to this type of across-the-board effect. We all know that Americans are loosing jobs to overseas labor markets, but what I think many people don't realize is that even for those of us that can find new jobs, the overseas labor market will still have an impact on salary levels as industrial competition will force American salaries down, as it moves toward an equalibrium with the per capita of developing nations.


So here's these two runaway trains, falling wages and escalating costs. I'm one of those Americans at the trailing behind the baby boomers. If I don't get killed before my time, I should be reaching that age where medical care becomes very important at around the time the fund runs out of money and I don't expect their will be any social security to help mne out either. I get a bad feeling that the Bush administration is insuring a miserable winter for my life. In any case it's going to be interesting to see what happens in 10 years when the average American falls into financial slavery and the basic inability to pay to live.
 

Monday, March 22, 2004

No Excuse for Guantanamo

At least 100 detainees have been released from Guantanamo. Some of them have since reported examples of severe mistreatment that U.S. officials have promptly denied. So there appears to be some conflicting stories. Aside from treatment of prisoners, there is also some dispute about the whether or not all the prisoners are indeed terroristst. Steve Rodriquez, vetran intelligence officer who oversees the interrogation team, says "If I were to believe the stories they tell me at first, then 90 percent of them are innocent rug merchants."

Well, of course the terrorists are going to deny the charges and of course the man in charge of the interrogation team is going to deny any possibility of making a mistake. Rodriguez also claims that the detainees have provided a stream of intelligence to interrogators during the past two years. That sounds like an excuse to me. Is he trying to make an excuse for the unjustified mistreatment of people that have not actually been proven guilty in any court?

As stated in the article, there is no way to prove the claims of either side. The U.S. government has closed the doors to any kind of investigation or monitoring. So are we supposed to just believe the government? The same government that said that they had proof that Iraq had WMD and posed an imminent threat?

I still don't understand the closed door policy. Why can't they be taken to court, proven guilty and then interrogated? If they are in fact guilty then wouldn't the stream of intelligence be the same? As far as I can see, the only advantage this sort of closed door policy can provide to the government is to allow them to hide their brutality and injustice.

It doesn't matter what Rodriguez says. Even if we are gaining intelligence to help us counter terrorism to some degree, no matter how rich or limited it may be, it still pales, in my mind, when compared to the loss of trust and respect for our government. I don't care of it's Osama bin Laden himself.. If a man is guilty then a fair trial should not only confirm his guilt but it would enforce our nation's position as fair and just. Also, a fair trial would not limit our ability to punish a terrorist or gain information from a person proven guilty.

So, if the government isn't hiding their own inhuman behaivor, then why are they closing the doors? Why don't they even bother trying to exlain it?

 

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Taking Credit for the Fall of Communism

I hear these talking heads like Sean Hannity constantly bring up the idea that Reagan won the war against communism and brought the Soviet Union crashing down. I'm not so sure that's anything more than rhetorical fantasy. I think the collapse of the Soviet Union would have eventually happened no matter who the president was. If you really take a look at the way Soviet communism was set up, which I doubt Hannity has ever done, you can see that it was a flawed system, right from the beginning. During the entire Soviet history, the confused and incapable failure of communism was propped up by state enforcements, it was only a matter of time before those enforcements would snap and the system would collapse under it's massive dead weight. I think Reagan just happened to be the one in the Whitehouse when it happened.

In fact, I tend to suspect that the Soviet collapse was likely last thing Reagan wanted. Our military-industrial complex that Reagan loved so much was extremely dependant on some kind of public enemy and the cold-war with it's "Red-Dawn" fantasy was the perfect mass-emotional catalyst. After the fall of the Soviet "threat" we were left with no boogeyman to scare our citizens with. Bush Sr. tried the war on drugs, which just didn't have the same impact. Finally, a later Bush administration found the answer in terrorism, the new best friend of the military-industrial complex.

No wonder I see dubya smiling so much these days. Don't forget George, keep a straight face when talking to us about terrorists. It's important to keep up the act.
 

Monday, March 15, 2004

Spain: Case Study in Bush-Blair Backfiring

Two recent events in Spain look to me like symptoms of the ill-effects of the Bush-Blair assault on the world. First, came the terrorist attacks in Madrid, then came the elections in which the Spanish people tossed the right-wing government that joined the Bush-led belligerence in the trash and replaced it with a socialist-leaning government that has expressed the intent to bring the Spanish troops home. This type of thing is disasterous for any war on terrorism. Even if the elections were not in anyway influenced by the attacks, terrorists will likely view the troop withdrawl and loss of one of Bushes game peices as a success factor for the attacks which will most likely encourage them even further.

ITC: The rebuke to Madridis felt in Washington
ITC: Socialist victor in Spain reproaches Bush and Blair
 

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

High Prices at the Pump for California

All these people I see pulling into the station with their F-250 trucks (F-150's just aren't enough to inflate the ego's anymore) and their RV's with trailers full of dirt bikes and gas cans bitching and moaning about having to pay over $2 per gallon at the pump. Why so much for a gallon of gas? Where's the
This article seems to explain it pretty well. Bottom line, Californians are once again paying the price for better health. I'm one of those wackos that would rather pay a little more for gas, especially if it's a transitional hike, than breathe formaldehyde. Screw MTBD, cheers for ethanol.
 


Archives:




Noteworthy:

* Current Post
* Inside the Patriot Act
* Luminosity of a Future City
* Arctic Drilling
* Human Decline
* Wealth Inequality
* Bush Sells Our Forests
* Healthcare and Terrorism
* Chemical Assault
* The Cuban Medical Industry
* The Endless War
* Do the Rich Need Tax Breaks?
* A Collapse of Some Kind
* Guantanimo Bay

* About the Picture
* More Stuff...
* About Metaspective



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Books That I am Reading:


The World Is Flat
A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

Thomas Friedman

In this book Thomas Friedman continues his exploration of globalization and how the playing feild is leveling out.

War on the Middle Class
How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back

Lou Dobbs

This book is pretty much a print version of his TV program. This is what I call good investigative journalism


Books That I've Read Lately:


Catcher in the Rye


J.D.Salinger

My daughter is an avid J.D.Salinger fan and turned me on to this book. I'm glad she did. I read the first half on one airplane trip and finished the next half on the return flight. Salinger's naration is wonderful, his vivid style reminds me of Steinbeck.

Crash Proof
How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse

Peter D. Schiff

I've been reading the writing on the wall for some time now about the comming economic collapse and this book is one of those messages. I highly recomend this book for anyone interested in an easy to understand explanation of what is causing the crises and basic strategy for how to weather the storm.

A Peoples History of the United States: 1492 - Present


Howard Zinn

This book seems to draw a lot of criticism from people who point out that Zinn fails to present the complete picture, but I think that's the point. Zinn is simply filling in the gaps intentionally left by "politically correct" historians and in so doing, he sheds light on some of the real American heros who continue the "politically incorrect" American Revolution to this day. These heros are not the celebrated leaders and soldiers of the American Establishment who took the reins of exploitation from the British Establishment but the working class people who continued to stand up to exploitation regardless of what banner they wave. It's these working class people who continue to fight for liberty and justice and it's these unsung heros that we need to thank for our way of life and we can thank Howard Zinn for pointing them out, especially now that patriotism has somehow come to mean loyalty to a flag rather than to a principal.

Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less


Barry Schwartz

An interesting counter-view to the ever-so-popular notion that our vast array of options improves our culture.

Why I Am A Reagan Conservative


Edited By: Michael K. Deaver

I'm reading this book because I don't consider myself to be conservative. I suppose this is because I've been focused for so long on issues around which conservatives hold positions that I disagree with. But recently I've been looking beyond these issues in search of what I might agree are valid conservative positions and it seems the more I look the less I find, which is alarming to me considering the influence that conservatives have over the policies that effect our lives. Hopefully this book will provide me with some insight.

The Ayn Rand Reader


Ayn Rand: Edited by Gary Hull

I know, I know... what is Ayn Rand doing on this booklist? Answer: I read from as many perspectives as possible. Being a free thinker, I refuse to submit myself to a reading diet. Besides, I want to understand what it is that Ayn Rand fans are raving about and what institutes like ARI are pushing into our education systems.

A Thousand Barrels a Second
The Coming Oil Breakpoint and the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependant World

Peter Tertzakian

I've been trying to understand as much as I can about the coming oil crises. The author is Chief Energy Economist of ARC Financial, one of the world's leading private equity firms focused on energy. As far as I can tell so far, his book isn't a crack on politics or doom and gloom but a straightforward analysis of the realities of energy that so many people are ignoring.

TechGnosis
Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Age of Information

Erik Davis

I've actually been reading the hardback version of this book, on and off, for long time now. The problem I have with this book is it's depth. Davis presents so many interesting ideas and references that I wind up placing a book mark and taking excursions into related materials. It can take me days to digest what Davis is saying in one sentence. Eventually, I always come back to the book, drawn in my Davis' poetic language of intellect. This book represents a true frontier for my mind.

The Moon Is Down


John Steinbeck

Steinbeck is always an easy read for me. His characters and scenes are so vivid. But this book in particular has the added significance of having had an extraordinary impact as Allied propoganda in Nazi-occupied Europe. Despite Axis efforts to supress it (in Fascist Italy, mere possession of a copy of the book was punishable by death) hundreds of thousands of copies were secretly translated into numerous languages, printed on unnaccounted paper and smuggled across borders. This story, a triumph of ideas in the face of cold steel and brute force, offered hope for the "unconquered" people under foreign occupation and celebrated the unbreakable spirit of free people. I feel like I should be sending copies to Iraqis currently under US occupation, but that could easily be construed as an act of terrorism.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman


John Perkins

I've been able to put two and two together for some time, so nothing in this book astounds me but it does bring the workings of the international banks and corporations as well as the US government out of the speculations of so-called conspiracy theories and into the matter-of-fact narration of one man's career path as an economic hitman.

Collapse:
How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed
Jared Diamond

Facinating book. Jared Diamond's name is what caught my attention as I was killing time at the bookstore at the airport. I was very impressed with his documentary "Guns, Germs and Steel" and figured he would make this study of societal destinies equally interesting. I was 100% correct. I especially enjoyed the chapters on the collapse of the Polynesian societies, realizing the scale-relativity with the evolution of our global society.

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Of course... the third book in my dystopian trilogy.

The United States of Europe:
The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy
T.R.Reid

An excellent perspective on the power that's rising in Europe as we Americans continue to sleep with visions of our own glory in our heads.

Imperial Ambitions:
Conversations with Noam Chomsky on the Post-9/11 World
Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian

As always, Professor Chomsky presents that calm and collected voice of logic that cuts through all the noisy rhetoric, half-truths, corporate funded media hype and emotionally driven spin sessions. Barsamian's interviews with Chomsky are clear, crisp and sober conversations.

Farenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Figured I'd continue my journey through "negative-utopia" that I started with 1984. It does seem appropriate given the current state of America from which I found much more connection with Bradbury's vision than I did with Orwell's, especially the way in which the real source of oppression is not the government but the people themselves.

Cuba
A New History

Richard Gott

Just a straight forward history book, but Cuba has a facinating history that reaches back to the days of Columbus and offers everything from pirates to revolutions.

1984
George Orwell

It seemed like a good idea to refresh my memory of a mid-century perspective on where the world is headed. Although I found some relief in knowing that we have not followed the Stalinesque course to the letter, I nevertheless found much of Orwell's larger concepts ringing ever so true in 21st Century America, especially Orwell's concept of continuous war and Big Brother.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
Greg Palast

Easy read... Palast is a circus ring master showing us unbelievable things. Penetrating investigation with a sense of humor.

One Market Under God
Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy

Thomas Frank

After reading the Lexus and the Olive Tree, I felt I needed a counter-balance view of globalization and how the liberated capitalism that I see everywhere around me, breaking the chains of regulation, is riding the globalization wave.

20:21 Vision
Twentieth-Century Lessons for the Twenty-First Century

Bill Emmott

The author, Economist cheif editor, tends to present very objective and slightly outside views of American economics/politics. I think this renders a more accurate assesment of how we fit in with the rest of the world. The book is a tour of the major forces of the 20th century with emphasis on how they are currently shaping the 21st century.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree


Thomas Freidman

Damned good book! Really opened up my eyes to what globalization is all about. Freidman's style of writing is engaging and his explainations are straightforward. I can see why people regard this book as the essential primer on the subject. I can also see why people think he is "pro-globalization" but I tend to think he's not so much promoting it as just pointing out the inevitability of it. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding globalization.

The Gnostic Gospels


Elain Pagles

I thought it was good. Explains a lot about the gnostic strain of Christain faith.

Consilience


Edward O. Wilson

Facinating. From the moment he starts decribing the Ionian enchantment on the first pages. This book describes the interrelation of seperate bodies of knowledge and how it all comes together.

The History of Money


Jack Weatherford

Human culture is possessed and these are some involving stories about the demon we call money.

Other material of interest:

Origins of the Federal Reserve (PDF) - Murray N. Rothbard

Excellent account of the monetary imperialism that led to the creation of the Federal Reserve.

The Elkhorn Manifesto
R. William Davis

This is an open letter to Americans that provides a historical perspective on the U.S. government's prohibition of Marijuana. Without stating any position on that particular issue, I have nevertheless saved a copy of the letter here because of what I think are some valueable and verifiable references to to what I call the "corporate priority over the better interests of the nation".