Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Brexit Club: A short term solution to a global failure.

The Brexit Club:  A short term solution to a global failure.  Now a global wakeup call. 

Most progressives believe the UK should stay within the EU.  As a political ideal of a greater union between progressive nations working for greater long term economic and national security interests -- it is a very good idea.  In the short run?  Leaving the EU is the right move.    
For decades the EU confederation of states has improved security and prosperity for nearly all Europeans.  But now multiple caustic global forces are surging against the numerous and largely unguarded exterior EU borders.  Borders that were never designed to cope with the threat of desperate and needy refugees, infectious diseases, cyber threats or climate change. 
The increasing flow of refugees is the crisis at hand.   Millions of refugees created by the growing instability in the Middle East and Africa are displaced.  Many are slowly but surely percolating through some of the EU’s unprotected boarders and even though some that are protected.  
Once inside the EU these refugees have essentially earned a free pass to any other EU nation.  It’s like a Mexican crossing the Texas border gaining virtually unlimited access to any other continental US state.  There should be no doubt that the vast majority of refugees will in the long run contribute to both the prosperity and the security of the US and EU nations.  But, if just one in a thousand refugees turns out to be a violent extremist the destruction they can cause will horrendous.  And the physical destruction the yield will pale in comparison to the fear and the political backlash each additional attack will generate.   
Worse yet, we cannot count on all violent extremists limiting their means of mass murder to assault rifles and small bombs.  Eventually they will use truck bombs, IEDs, and drones combined with chemical and/or biological weapons.  Security is an illusion for soft targets. And all civilized nations are mostly soft targets.  Just two moderately trained assailants with hand guns in a moving train car could kill 50 to 60 EU citizens before the next stop, and perhaps more after the doors open.   In 1995 a domestic cult in Japan killed 12 people, severely injured 50 and caused temporary vision problems for nearly 5,000 others with a relatively simple chemical attack in a Tokyo subway.    At least the UK can effectively close its borders now to some of this coming chaos.  And it is coming.
This security failure was not in the creation of the EU as a confederation.  A primary failure was limiting that union to so few states.  And,  the greater failure was of every other federation of states, including  the US, to adequately invest in a world where all nation states put the protection of human rights above the rights of nation states. 
In essence we can blame the nation states that created the UN as a confederation of states instead of a full-fledged federation.  A federation where ‘we the people’ in a constitutional preamble would be ensured in a bill of rights.   The persistent ideal of putting the protection of all human rights superior to that of states rights.  But instead, the powerful nations after World War II rejected every proposal that could have empowered the UN in this direction.  And the world is as it is today because the deceptively destructive concept of national sovereignty still reigns supreme.
Six years ago when a three year long drought started in Syria and the farmers came into the capital seeking jobs and food for their families, what would have happened if the UN had had the capacity to assist in feeding them?  Or, intervened earlier and assisted them in thriving on their farm land?
The UN and the rest of the world didn’t respond to their most fundamental basic human needs.  And now the UK must vote to move backward in order to protect its own people.  And terrorists disguised as refugees won’t be the only threat.    Pandemics, climate change, cyber intrusions or a natural disaster that could bring hunger back to Ireland are not entirely unlikely. 
The idea that each of us (and our nation) is somehow independent of the events and destructive conditions anywhere in the world is a lethal illusion.  It always has been.  Yet our government and global institutions are based on this flawed mental construct.
The greatest of all human achievements is likely the global eradication of smallpox.  All the world’s wars, revolutions, murders, genocides and natural disasters in the last century killed fewer people that Smallpox alone.   And, if just one nation, city or family had effectively rejected the global vaccination campaign to eradicate it, Smallpox would still be with us today.  The horrifying news is that if just one nation, rogue group or lunatic scientist biologically engineered a weaponized small pox virus, something the Soviets had already achieved in the 1980s, every human on this planet would be in danger. 
That is possible but not inevitable.  What is inevitable is the loss of our world’s antibiotic arsenal.  A woman in the US and some US farm animals were recently confirmed to be infected with a new strain of bacteria that is immune to the world’s last and most powerful antibiotic.   Without a major scientific breakthrough infectious disease experts now estimate that by 2040 minor infections could be killing more Americans than cancer (which is now the second greatest cause of death in America).  Another inevitable mass killer is a new strain of the flu.   In 1918 the Spanish flu in 18 months killed more people than all the combat deaths from both World Wars.  And, these are only two examples of the thousands of microbial threats we face.   Threats that constantly evolve and are exacerbated by climate change, war, poverty, crime, malnutrition and lack of clean water – all the lethal conditions that a world federation could prevent or better respond to if the protection of human rights were superior to the rights of nation states, corporations and/or religious extremists.
So should the UK leave the EU?  Yes.  In the short run it is a wise move.   But if the world continues to reject the reality of our irreversible global interdependence, there’s not a border or military in the world that will stop the catastrophic effects that our children or grandchildren will inevitably experience.  Things change.  Can we?

Friday, June 03, 2016

Governments violate more human rights than ISIS.

Your Washington Times editorial “Human rights and wrongs” (June 2, 2016) missed the single greatest source of human rights violations and the United Nations persistent failure to end them.   It is world leaders worship of national sovereignty instead of human rights…and their insistence that the United Nations maintain its current system and structures - which can do nothing to effectively stop the suffering.  
Islamic extremists have accelerated human rights abuses but extreme violations have always existed.  And, they will continue to exist even without Islamic extremists  for one simple reason.   Most national governments, especially the US, thwart any effort to empower the UN to effectively stop or prosecute anyone who commits them.  Nation states, especially the US government, confine the UN to “lofty rhetoric” instead of allowing structures that can effectively prevent, prosecute and deter genocide, torture, slavery, and wars.  Wars that any nation can start at any time without being held accountable if they possess nuclear weapons.
The US Constitution and Bill of Rights usually puts the inalienable rights of our own citizens above state’s rights and even the rights of our federal government, but it persistently fails to hold this ideal standard for any nation beyond our shore. 
The humanitarian suffering sourced by ISIS pales in comparison to the suffering caused by this unbridled freedom of nation states.  It is increasingly self-evident that each nation’s so called sovereignty will do nothing to prevent the future suffering of its own citizens from war, terrorism, climate change, pandemics, cyber-attacks, WMD proliferation, or the mass migrations of refugees as these unchecked drivers of global chaos continue.   Thomas Jefferson once said, "A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse."   Trump wants to build a wall to protect us but we what we need to build is a system of global justice.