Friday, September 26, 2014

Global Messes and Our Inattention

Listened to Bill Clinton talk about his global initiative on The Daily Show the other night. It was enlightening, listening to an intelligent person speak about the world’s events, instead of the babble-speak that masquerades as political discourse across the land.  It made me think about all the conflicts and that we never seem to have the patience to try to understand the root causes. We seem to want the world to operate on autopilot, and everyone to act as though they understand that we are the greatest people on Earth.  So, when someone “misbehaves” and interrupts our beer and football, we get testy. Our first instinct seems to be—bomb’m. If that doesn’t work or is simply inapplicable, our next big idea is, build a bigger wall.  We never seem to have the time or the interest to attempt to actually understand root causes, so that we might devise solutions that stand a chance of producing the desired outcomes.
For example, on our southern border, we have flocks of folks, including a bunch of little kids, hurrying across the border, seeking safe haven. That makes us grumpy. How can we drink our beer and watch the NFL with all these little kids scurrying across and around our fences? So, build an even bigger, more impenetrable wall, one with guards and electronic devices, and guns, and all kinds of nasty things. If that wall fails, build an even bigger one.  But stop for a moment, folks. Why do these people keep coming when they know we despise them?  Well, clearly, their lives suck in their home countries, and they are so desperate that they are willing to run huge risks to cross that border. Partly, they are running to escape organized crime gangs—you know, those gangs with whom our global banks work closely so as to launder their drug monies, and set them up with offshore bank accounts outside the reach of international laws.  They are also running here to escape lives of desperate poverty, caused by the inaction of the governments and cartels running their countries. They can’t get jobs to support their families, so they leave.  You know . . . the same reason many of our own forefathers left their countries and came here 100+ years ago from Europe (I know it’s why my grandparents left Scotland in the late 1800's to come to the US of A).
So do we do anything about the root causes? No. What could we do? Well, maybe we could begin working with the countries from which these folks are leaving.  Arguably, it might be less expensive to provide stimulus funding to the countries to encourage economic development, than to continue erecting fences and arming our borders with bigger and more guns. I do not suggest that there are simple solutions, like throwing a few billion at them. But when economics is the problem, we might try economics as a possible solution. Yes, there are large political problems and corruption in such places, but those factors exist here and we seem to be able to cope.
And then there’s the Middle East, or rather all those countries with Muslim tendencies.  Yes, George W. Bush created a hell storm when he fabricated reasons to invade Iraq, thereby destabilizing the entire region and firing up (literally) a host of groups who all wanted political power. Invade, kill off the extant power structure, and then leave—that was the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld strategy.  We are now paying the price—or rather millions of folks living there are paying the price. Idiots like Krauthammer are blaming Obama for pulling out, but we managed that a long time ago on Bush’s watch.  ISIS is the fairly direct result of our idiocy in 2003.
But what can we do now? I understand that there is great reluctance on the part of many people, Americans, Brits, and many Europeans, to begin re-invading, or even to bombing. But, we really need to defeat ISIS. They are a 12th century group of barbarians, pretending to hold a religious perspective.  So, we need to hope that our military, working with the UN and with the Middle Eastern regional countries, can figure out how to rally rational people and how to militarily defeat ISIS.  They simply cannot be allowed to succeed.  But we also need to return to the days just after 9/11. Then, we had a moment when we might have been able to rally the regional governments and the world governments to the cause of justice. Many folks were actually on our side at that point, unlike now. But, with ISIS, perhaps we get a “Do-Over”.  Maybe, by enlisting the world’s governments, including some who don’t like us much (Iran comes to mind) we can actually move the world a bit closer to a more rational state.
Maybe . . . only maybe.
And here on exoplanet Carolina, we also need to think really hard about whether or how fast we wish to move our state to the bottom of the nation’s fifty. We have an election coming up.  From examination of our local sample ballot, it is difficult to discern the fact there we have a two party system in this country. Most of the ballot slots have only one party running. The Dems have simply given up, especially at the state and county levels.  But there are a few races still contested. The US House has both a Dem and a GOP’er running—Antonio Blue vs. Robin Hudson. And the Senate has Kay Hagan vs. Tom Tillis (oops, I forgot, we also have a Libertarian running).  Much of the future of our fair land, both locally and nationally may hinge on this election.  Nationally, giving the GOP the upper hand in the Senate is a knockout blow to rational government policy, ceding control of our country to the Koch’s, and others of that ilk.  The GOP has been purchased, lock, stock, and barrel by the 0.1%.  Tom Tillis wants to be one of the Barons of the land, doing the bidding of his Kochmasters. We would then see a rapid slide for our state, down to below Alabama.
From what I can see, the GOP has a policy platform that is simply the opposite of whatever Obama wants to do.  I commented on this “what would Obama do?” approach before, but it seems to be their actual platform.
·         Obamacare is bad – folks without health care? Rum go.  
       Poor folks can't buy bread? Let'm eat cake.
·         Climate change – climate changes every day . . . check your weather forecast folks. Ain’t nothing need be done there.
·         Fracking?? Never met a Frack we didn’t love.
·         Public education – bad, bad. We need more private and more religious schools.  Actually, maybe we need to just give up on funding education. Educated folks tend to think, and we can’t have that, can we?
·         Social Security?? Turn it over to our beloved hedge fund managers. Let the old folks move in with their kids.
·         Gun control?? Second Amendment, Second Amendment, etc. We all have a God-given right to a full armamentarium.  
·         Equal rights for women, minorities, LGBT communities? Hmmm, I don’t think so . . .
·         But you can recite the rest yourselves.

So, get out and vote folks (well some of you . . . wouldn’t want to have everyone vote would we?). We are in a race to the bottom with Alabama. Start your engines people. We are off to the races . . .
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