Sunday, January 10, 2010

What you should know right now

How ironic that with the spread of technology, and the ability to easily have information at our fingertips, I think more than ever, people avoid information and even more so, facts. Perhaps because there is just too much information and it’s too difficult for many people to filter through the noise, or maybe many people have the information, but lack the key ability to translate information to higher order ideas or see patterns. Maybe there're too many talking heads that are confusing everyone on what're facts and what's personal commentary. Maybe our society has become so complex that the average person is incapable of understanding most of what’s going on. Maybe we’ve all mostly just become so self absorbed with our own little worlds that so many have ceased to care about anyone else. Whatever the reason, I see people ignoring the big picture problems. Not the symptoms that so many are confused with, but the actual problems that’s plaguing society.

So to help you out, here are some for you to consider. Facing the new year and the upcoming new decade, these are the roots of all the major problems we will experience. It would be nice if you knew what they were.

Wealth Gap – Thanks to the global financial crisis, which funny enough, is caused by the greed of the very wealthy people on wall street to make more money on bad bets, has made the wealth gap around the world even worse than before. As is the case in most financial downturns, the rich will get exponentially richer because they have the resources to not only survive, but to take advantage of a financial crisis. They use their vast resources to take advantage of others while they are down. Basically, the rich gets rich when things are going well, and when things go bad, they get even richer.

This is not just a problem of having the top .01% of the population owning the majority of the wealth in the world. If you look at all the other issues in the world, most of it ties back to financials. As I’ll point out in the next few issues, it all ties back to this one. Next time a major problem pops up, don’t just look at the problem in isolation. Look at all the things that led to this problem. Looks at the ties it had. I bet the majority of times you’ll trace it back to financials.

In the US, so much emphasis has been put on Wall Street and how it has become this institution where you can make so much money without actual work. Sure, you talk with your fancy figures (that you make up, and deliberatly make confusing so no one understands), and your fancy words and acronomes, but in the end, you don't actually do anything productive. Wall Street is basically just a big casino where the rich always takes the house. Of course, I don't want to call Wall Street a big casino cause that would be an insult to casinos. In casino, there are actually rules that the house obides by.

I don't understand where this trust of Wall Street come from. Wall Street cares for one thing and that one thing is making money. It cares not for ethics, for doing the right thing, or for the greater good. It cares for making money however possible. It will do everything in its power, legally or not, to achieve their only goal, and that's to make money.

Human Trafficking – One excellent example of how the wealth gap is the root of so many other problems is in the case of human trafficking. Human trafficking is one of the most offensive and common problem that has arisen with the wealth gap issue. With the concentration of so much wealth lying in the hands of so few, everyone else is stuck with fighting for the scraps. When a situation like this appears, the scum of the earth will rise to take advantage of them.

Generating an estimated $32 billion dollars annually, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world today. It is also the most lucrative. According to a 2005 International Labor Office (ILO) report, just a single female held for sexual exploitation yields an average of $67,200 annually in Western Europe and North America.

Whether it is for manual labour, or at worse, in the sex trade, human trafficking is growing and will continue to grow. Human trafficking targets women and young children. Many times, they are lured and lied to about job opportunities, and sometimes, knowingly sold by their own families. This is how awful a wealth gap symptom can get. While there are hundreds getting multimillion dollar bonuses on wall street for gambling with the world’s money, others are stuck to live in a world they are bought and sold like animals in this ‘civilised’ world we live in. While a group of people thinks about what ridiculous mansion they should buy next, another lives in a hell every day of their lives.

The Military Industrial Complex – President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address that ‘we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.’

Sadly, just like so many things, we are doomed because we ignore and lack the ability to learn from history. Eisenhower’s warning is exactly what we’re experiencing today. It is the norm now, to hear from the president, that his foreign affair decisions will be made from advice from the military leadership on the ground. This is exactly what the founders of the country wanted to avoid when they set up the government. The head of state/chief would not be someone in the military, but would be a civilian for the sole purpose to protect the country from becoming a military runned state.

One thing that people seemed to have forgotten is that the military exists for conflict. They are in the business of war. Their survival and continual growth depends on there being a conflict. Like any other self preserving being/group, they will never say that there is no longer a conflict for that would essentially end their own existence. No general in the military will ever suggest not using the military for that’s what gives the military their life and it’s what gives them their purpose. The military will always say that there is a military solution to any problem. To ask and rely solely on the advise from the military about foreign affairs strategies is against everything the founders of the countries wanted.

Along those same lines and back to the wealth issue, there is a lot of money in continuing conflicts and the use of the military for the private sector. It is estimated that in 2010, the budget for the military will be between $880 billion and $1.03 trillion. The lobbyist for wall street and the private sector who caters to the military no doubt will do their best to ensure that this country stays at war for as long as possible. What do you think Wall Street will do to the stocks of these huge corporations if there were suddenly peace all over the world?

One thing people don’t seem to realise is that the people and organisations who have become obsessed with wealth cares for nothing but money. People and organisations who profits off conflicts and wars doesn’t care who they’re selling the guns to. Have you ever wondered who these 'terrorists' gets their weapons from? They don’t care that by perpetuating conflicts, more people will continue to suffer, and more people will die. This doesn’t matter to them. What matters is that they continue to have huge profits to show Wall Street. Wall street has become the all powerful that everything bows down to. If it takes continuing wars and for people to continue to suffer and die, so be it. All is well as long as Wall Street is happy.

This combination of the military and the private section is what we were warned about. Together, they can and will create propaganda to make sure we perpetuate wars and conflicts. They will sell fear, and sadly, with the citizens of the US becoming less knowledgeable in the world, we will buy this fear. These companies will profit while the rest of the world will suffer the consequences of war.

Pandemic – I don’t think I need to say too much about this. There will probably be a pandemic soon, and there will probably be no stopping it. With the world becoming smaller due to air travel, the hopes of stopping a pandemic is quite small. Also, with the current global financial crisis, governments would not have the resources to respond to a wide spread pandemic.

I thought this was interesting. During the Swine flu scare during 2009, there was a great shortage of vaccines to go around. Health professionals were busy trying to vaccinate the high risk populations (kids, pregnant women, etc.). With the demand so high, many high risk individuals didn’t get their vaccines. It was then reported that firms on Wall Street was able to get the vaccines before hospitals was able to. This is how bad things have become. Even in a case like a pandemic, as long as you’re rich, you’ll be fine.

Climate change – there’s probably enough talk of this that I won’t go into it. There’s a country that’s going to disappear in a few years because of the rising ocean levels. Go tell them there is no such thing as climate change.

In case you're feeling the cold this winter and doesn't think there is a global climate change happening, let me remind you of the difference between weather vs. climate change.

Weather is "the conditions in the atmosphere in a certain place during a certain time. Weather is always changing."

Climate is "what the weather is generally like over long periods of time, such as years or decades in a particular area. A place that has little rainfall has a dry climate, and a place that has high temperatures has a hot climate."

Your insanely short attention span is probably getting in the way of anything useful you may have to add to this conversation.

Let’s give this a try in 2010. Let’s not just take care of ourselves this year, take care of those around you and those that need help. It doesn't just have to be the people that you know. We’re all people and we’re all in this together. Only by working together will we be able to get through this.

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