News Roundup, December 2014
Editor’s note: The world is never as hopeless and gloomy as world headlines. The media focus on savage behavior because it stirs hormones and attracts readership…
… so the news explored in this end-of-year digest is mostly just a glance at the savage edge of humanity today. Even so, I’ve tried to put it all into perspective with our planet’s rich, raw, noble-savage heritage.
I believe the principles introduced here apply everywhere, and while I try to glean news from around the world, I have to confess that the issues in this digest are very heavily weighted on the USA… which is currently being transformed by fear and greed into something… well… you’ll see.
Human society has had a troubled past, judging from archaeological digs and history books… lots of competing and fighting and killing are woven into our ancestral efforts to get along as tribes, villages, city-states, and nations.
We humans are noble-savage creatures…
- Spiritual and carnal…
- Angelic deep within but animalistic on the surface…
- Moved by conscience while driven by hormones…
- Detached from life’s dramas at times, then later consumed by them…
- Cooperative at times, then disagreeable…
- Wishing others good will or ill will, depending largely on their beliefs and behavior.
I believe that a future of peace, love, knowledge, and wisdom is the human destiny. Peace and order are the rule, conflict and chaos are the exception, and it’s just a matter of time before peace and order prevail… on Earth as it is in Heaven, so to speak. It may take a long time, but it’ll happen.
Meanwhile, we all struggle to get by in a noble-savage world… and not just us humans, but all Earth life. We all struggle to carve a life of peace and order in a hostile environment.
Of all the varied life forms on Earth, human society has an especially tough time of it…
… and I think we could learn a few things from the experts: biosystems like the human body. How do they manage to keep things so peaceful and orderly inside… among the cells and organs of the body?
Principles of Peace in Perspective: 2014
Let’s explore some of those principles of biological peace and then see, judging by current events, if they could be adopted by humanity to make our lives in society a little better.
- Government. Human governments have been evolving to resemble the nervous system, in the way decisions are made and how communication takes place among various levels. How does government decision-making work lately?
- The greater good. There’s a strong sense of allegiance among all the body parts… cells, tissues, and organs. Inside our bodies, everyone’s dedicated to our greater good. How do humans in society measure up against that?
- Energy. Most of the energy production in the body takes place at the grassroots level… in the mitochondria within the cells. Can nations learn anything from that?
- Cleanliness. About 90 percent of all the water inside us flows through our lymph system, the body’s waste disposal network, gathering up toxins and delivering them to the liver, colon, skin, and other waste disposal sites. Toxic awareness runs deep in the body. How about in society?
- Protection. The body’s immune system is like society’s military branches and law-enforcement agencies all rolled into one. The great thing about the immune system is that it uses memory cells to lie dormant until a familiar invader is detected, then they mobilize. Until then, a healthy immune system is usually quiet and unassuming as it works in the background; if it gets overactive without good reason, it becomes an autoimmune disease that starts to destroy the body. Maybe society can learn from that.
Let’s see how societies stack up against these principles of peace… judging from the headlines.
Wise, Distributed Decision-Making
Decisions used to be made by tribal elders around a campfire. Today they’re made in lots of places…
- over the dinner table…
- at neighborhood association meetings…
- in city council chambers…
- in state and provincial legislatures, and…
- in national congresses.
As society gets more complex (more like a biosystem), so does the decision-making process… what we generally call “government.” One thing has always been true about government: The general well-being of the people rests to a large extent on good decisions and good communication. Communication has to flow smoothly throughout the government hierarchy… like communication in the nervous system.
Despite these similarities, we have to admit that society has a couple of big strikes against it right off the bat… one at the lowest level of society, the other at the highest level:
- While neurons in the body are usually predictable and reliable in their work, human decision-makers in society are usually prone to fear and greed.
- Humanity has not yet been able to create a viable government at the global level, effectively leaving humanity “brainless.” (The United Nations organization has never been empowered as a world government; it’s more of a global advisory panel and international mediator with limited powers.)
If there’s one thing that fouls up decision-making in any living system, it’s stress.
Stress on the Body Can Cause Metabolic Imbalance and Nervous Disorders
When the body-mind is stressed, the metabolism becomes unstable. The nervous system causes the stomach to churn. Enzyme secretions to the digestive system disrupt nutrient absorption in the bloodstream. (Read more about that….)
As stress continues, cortisol, epinephrine, neoepinephrine, and other hormones cause the heart to pound, the palms to sweat, and the body to suffer lots of disorders that might include inflammation, cancer, and mental illness. (Read more here… and here….)
So, stress causes decision-making and other processes to destabilize in the body. It does the same thing in society. National and international affairs begin to fall apart in similar fashion when society is subject to stress. Government is to society what the nervous system is to the body… and the economy is to society what metabolism is to the body.
Stress on Society Can Cause Economic Imbalance and Regulatory Insanity
When things get stressful in national and international affairs, governments get a little nuts and economies get shaky.
Let’s look at the news, to see if there’s evidence to back that up.
Governments Driven Crazy by Fear and Greed in a Stressful World
As we explored in my last news digest, we’ve come to the end of the Oil Age. Dwindling oil is probably the biggest stressor on world society today, and the USA, with its oil-based economy, seems to be suffering a lot… and in the process making the rest of the world suffer. As one visionary (Jess Worth) wrote last month:
“Big Oil may be on its way out, but left to its own devices it will take us all with it.”
Crazy government in America today can be summed up in two words: Koch Industries, America’s modern-day Mr Potter.
If you’ve ever watched the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, you’re familiar with Mr Potter, the poster boy of fear and greed… a predatory banker and slumlord who’s trying to buy up and totally control the town of Bedford Falls. Mr Potter fears the “rabble,” the town’s poor families who get help from the warm-hearted Bailey family. The Bailey Building and Loan provides affordable housing to lift the poor out of the slums… so Mr Potter also hates the Baileys. Mr Potter is on the board of the Building and Loan and wants to destroy it so that he can wield complete control over the town and keep the rabble under his thumb.)
With annual revenue of $115 billion, which is larger than the annual revenues of 80 percent of nations today…
… Koch Industries is a world-class Mr Potter… and it’s said that the company goal is to control the world economy for self-enrichment, and to destroy government public service everywhere, starting here in the States.
The Koch brothers, David and Charles, are often referred to as oil barons, and their Potter-like politics is sometimes called “conservatarian”… a blend of radical conservative and libertarian politics.
From what I’ve been able to glean about conservatarian politics, it seems to provide a façade of reason as a gathering place for malcontent. Its manifestos and creeds and bullet points, though often vague, seem to emerge from a place of fear, self-interest, and contempt for authority. There’s a lot of grumbling going on among conservatarians.
One conservatarian blogger writes:
The welfare state, warrantless seizure, world government, crony corporatism, nationalized industry, nanny-statism, vote-rigging, corruption, excessive regulation, sovereign debt, central banking, “nation-building”, bailouts, TSA, and forced unionization – conservatarians are united in opposition to these things.
In any case, here’s how the Koch brothers have been wielding their dollars in recent months:
- Preparing to buy the US Presidency for a groomed, conservatarian candidate. (Read more…)
- Converting US courts by installing conservatarian judges. (Read more…)
- Donating to schools with the condition that students are taught conservatarian economic theory… with the long-term goal of brainwashing the young generation. (Read more here.. and here… and here…)
- Donating millions to liberal groups and faltering liberal newspapers and radio stations and TV networks to weaken or destroy them or to convert them to conservatarian ideals… essentially stripping them of their sense of good will and social responsibility. (Read more here.. and here…)
- Donating to political campaigns to hand-pick future leaders with conservatarian values (Read more here.. and here…)
- Confusing voters with mass mailings of registration forms filled with misinformation. (Read more…)
- Stealing elections with big money, misinformation, and cheat-easy voting machines. (Read more here.. and here… and here… and here… and here… and here… and here…)
(For the last link above, bear in mind that voting machine makers “Diebold” Election Systems (DES), and to a lesser degree “ES&S,” became synonymous with fraud and high-tech vote manipulation in the 2000 and 2004 US elections. DES was renamed Premier Election Systems in 2007, which was then acquired by Dominion Voting Systems in 2010. Today, after consulting with Koch Industries, New York state uses only Dominion and ES&S voting machines.)
- Doing all this from a rich history of defiling laws to pollute the world… (Read more…)
There’s obviously a lot more going on in US politics and world politics than the Koch brothers… but they certainly do seem to be among the most aggressive forces lately. Wherever the US military and oil are involved in regional conflicts, from the Middle East to Russia and Ukraine, (think Druzhba oil pipeline), you can bet the Koch brothers have a big ladle in the stir pot.
The human body has one, big, centralized processing plant—the stomach—where the food we eat is broken down by acids and enzymes, and the fuel (sugar) is delivered along with all the other nutrients by the blood to all of the cells. (Read more…)
Nearly all of the actual energy production and energy storage take place at the grassroots level… within the 37 trillion body cells… specifically, within the mitochondria of each cell.
In a nation, energy production isn’t quite that slick. If a nation were patterned after the body, national energy production would look like this:
There would be one massive processing plant located in the central part of the nation. All of the nation’s natural resources would be shipped to that processing plant and broken down into products. The products would then be shipped to all the homes and schools and factories and hospitals throughout the nation to be put to use. Among those products would be the various fuels used for heat and electricity in all of the buildings. The people in each building would be responsible for using and storing the energy it needs.
Nations are obviously too complicated to follow that elegant design… but I believe most of our energy problems could easily and quickly be solved if we (humans living in nations) accepted biosystem energy production as the ideal toward which to strive.
Here are some of the basic principles of energy production that might help transform society today:
Decentralize energy use and energy storage as much as possible… as much as feasible. Provide solar panels on all buildings wherever sunlight is prevalent. Provide wind turbines near communities where there’s open space. Provide tidal turbines near coastal cities. Provide geothermal pumping systems and power stations near most towns and cities… maybe even in most neighborhoods… maybe even in some back yards… since heat from inside the Earth can be found and accessed almost anywhere. Put solar chargers on everyone’s cell phones, charge everyone’s electric cars in their garages….
Use burning fuels (oil, gas, nuclear materials…) minimally, when other techniques and technologies fall short.
Phase out large, centralized, expensive energy generating plants, especially those built around fossil fuels and hydroelectric dams.
Invent energy-saving technologies for all segments of society.
Many of these changes are already underway in various parts of the world.
- Super-efficient refrigerators were invented this year here in the States, in which water circulating around the fridge compartment keeps things cold without electricity for 10 days. (Read more…)
- Spray-on solar panels developed in England can turn any surface into a high-efficiency solar cell. (Read more…)
- Solar power, high-efficiency batteries, and electric cars are quickly moving Europe toward the elimination of traditional coal- and gas-fired power-generating plants. (Read more…)
- This year the Netherlands became the first country to open a solar roadway for public use… that is, a roadway for bikes that doubles as a long, narrow solar panel. (Read more…)
- Södertälje, Sweden, will soon use hybrid-electric buses that burn little fuel and recharge wirelessly in about seven minutes. (Read more…)
- Suburban families in America have been abandoning the suburbs and moving back to the city as it has become too expensive to heat large homes and to commute to work in the city. New breakthroughs in solar power and electric cars could reverse the trend and revitalize the suburbs. (Read more…)
All of these innovations are coming together to make energy independence possible at the neighborhood, city, and national levels… in what is called “zero-net energy” and “carbon neutrality.”
- Zero-net buildings are a rapidly growing trend in China and Europe. It involves the construction of office buildings and housing complexes that have solar panels and other built-in sustainable energy sources so that they generate as much energy as they use each year. They don’t need to pull energy from the centralized grid of a city or region. (Read more…)
- Zero-net communities. Entire villages and towns in Europe, Asia, and Australia are moving toward zero-net energy status and energy independence. (Read more here… and here… and here….)
Zero-net energy consumption is a means of reducing carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. It’s closely related to “carbon neutrality,” which, in effect, eliminates carbon emissions altogether.
- Carbon-neutral nations. Entire nations are trying to eliminate carbon emissions in the coming years… including Costa Rica, Iceland, Maldives, New Zealand, Norway, Tuvalu, Vatican City, and Bhutan (as well as Canadian province British Columbia, which is actually larger than all of those countries, including Norway). The United Nations is encouraging all nations to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century. (Read more here… and here… and here….)
If the United Nations were a world government, it could simply pass a Carbon-Neutrality Law. Global resources would be mobilized and the world would go green within a century. As it is, the UN can’t make laws; it can only recommend that carbon-addicted nations give up carbon fuels, which is not very effective. It’s like suggesting that a heavy smoker quit smoking. Addicts tend to roll their eyes at such suggestions… as America is doing lately toward the World Court, the UN’s judicial branch. (Read more…)
Many nations today, especially those with oil addictions, compete with each other on the world stage and are more interested in their own survival and vitality than in the greater good of humanity.
Toward the Greater Good
Inside a healthy person, all of the body parts are dedicated to our greater good, working nonstop to preserve the integrity of the system against illness, toxins, and invaders. (Read more…)
It’s a good principle to keep in mind if you’re looking for a simple, effective formula for writing a popular drama… a book or movie that’ll capture people’s hearts. Just create a hero who struggles to protect the greater good (poor families, struggling communities…) against powerful individuals or groups driven by fear and greed, who would harm or destroy them.
This formula has always worked in popular literature because it resonates with something deep within us… a need for empathy, fairness, and good will… the qualities of our finest self… our soul… our noble side. When those noble qualities bubble up to the surface, into the conscious mind, to undo the troubles stirred up by our savage side (or carnal self), they often warm our hearts and stimulate our tear ducts in a most enjoyable way.
How does that noble-savage drama play out today, based on recent news stories?
Most governments in Europe and Asia make concerted efforts to protect the poor against the destructive forces of the rich.
By contrast, the USA has a bloated reverence for personal initiative and personal gain that has led to protection of the rich and gross inequities in society… a massive divide between rich and poor.
- Most people in the world consider a CEO-to-worker salary ratio of 7-to-1 to be fair and equitable. A CEO wouldn’t earn more than seven times the salary of his or her lowest-paid workers. In the USA, the ratio gets as high as 354-to-1. Some American CEOs earn 354 times more than their workers. (Read more….)
- This year (2014), food stamps provided food to 20 percent of American households… up from 7 percent two years ago. Lately, the richest 14 Americans have been making more money than the value of all poor people’s food stamps. (Read more here… and here….)
- Billion-heirs (inheritors of vast wealth) tend to have no concept of equality and fairness for the greater good. (Read more…)
- Wall street has been celebrating this year, as millions of kids go hungry. (Read more…)
- Worldwide, the 85 richest people now have more money than the 3.5 billion poorest. (Read more…)
- In the USA today, justice is only for those who can afford it. (Read more…)
- Government legislation is being shaped to improve the lots of the rich. (Read more…)
- Often to the chagrin of police and homeless alike, city leaders in the USA are starting to crack down on the homeless. Cities are making it a crime to feed the poor. (Read more here… and here….)
Privatization vs. Socialization
In this noble-savage world, the healthiest societies seem to be those that find a balance between public service (making sure everyone’s needs are met, in terms of health, education, welfare….) and free enterprise (encouraging individuals and groups to strive for personal achievement and gain).
Public service appeals to our noble side (our spiritual core that thrives on love, trust, and good will).
Free enterprise appeals to our savage side (our carnal shell that’s stimulated by desires and fears that get stirred up during competition).
A society can adjust the balance of free enterprise and public service in either of two ways…
- By putting services and industry under the umbrella of government to help ensure equity and fairness, which is called socialization… or…
- By putting services and industry under the control of private, profit-motivated businesses and industries to help stimulate innovation and growth, which is called privatization.
While most countries in Europe and Asia today try to sustain a healthy balance between the two, the USA has been leaning heavily toward privatization, which is causing a lot of problems… judging from the news.
- Conservative states face horrors as they privatize education, health care, criminal justice, and other services that have been run well by government… but now begin to fall apart. (Read more…)
- As more prisons go under private management, prisoners are subject to greater suffering, malnourishment, and mistreatment. That’s especially true of mentally ill prisoners. (Read more…)
- Mississippi recently reduced its aid to schools by $1.3 billion… and then gave $1.3 billion of incentives to the Nissan car manufacturer. (Read more…)
- In the spirit of privatization, corporations are recruiting political leaders in secret meetings to push fossil fuels and to obstruct solar energy development. (Read more…)
- Much of the services provided by government-run military and national security are being delegated to private corporations, resulting in greater brutality and barbarism. (Read more…)
- Agricultural safety watchdog USDA has been taken over by one of its biggest trespassers, the Monsanto corporation, which has been infecting the planet with genetically modified (GMO) crops and with poisons such as Roundup. (Read more here… and here… and here…)
- US Telecom giants have been trying to block high-speed internet because it would cut into their profits… even though high-speed internet would dramatically improve the online experience of Americans. Again, the greater good takes a back-seat to American profit. (Read more…)
- When profit is in the driver’s seat, the environment often falls victim to widespread death and destruction. Read more here.. and here…)
If things are looking bleak now for the greater good, remember the age-old, popular drama. When the time is ripe, noble heroes rise up to right the wrongs imposed on society by savage forces. Empathy, fairness, and decency ultimately shine through the darkness to restore equilibrium. We’ll see what 2015 has in store….
Keeping Society Safe and Sound
The body’s immune system and lymph system work together to vanquish invading germs, gather up toxins and eliminate unwanted materials from the body.
Society has similar ways to stay safe and sound… time-proven techniques for disposing of toxins and for dealing with criminals and enemies of the system. It’s a massive effort that includes the work of waste collection and disposal services, sewage treatment plants, law enforcement, and military.
Keeping Society Clean
There’s always a lot of good news and bad news about toxicity in the world and our efforts to keep it at bay. Here’s what’s been happening this past year.
- A chemistry professor in India is building roads out of plastic waste. (Read more…)
- GMO corn developed by Monsanto aggressively spreads its strengths and innate perils onto all surrounding farms… whether the farmers want it or not. Now, one American farmer has developed an “organic-ready” corn that blocks cross-pollination and contamination by GMO corn. (Read more…)
- Amish farms are going chemical-free. (Read more…)
- Biking has become big business in Europe, helping to eliminate air pollution and the use of fossil fuels. (Read more…)
- Disease-causing germs are developing a resistance to antibiotics, which could be leading to a plague of Biblical proportions. (Read more…)
- Pharmaceutical companies add coal tar, ceramic pigment, sunscreen, and other toxins to kids’ vitamins. (Read more…)
- Pesticides are causing depression and suicide among farmers. (Read more…)
- Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide causes kidney disease and chronic digestive problems, as well as depression. (Read more here.. and here…)
- Harvard researchers found 10 toxins that cause ADHD and Autism: Lead, methylmercury, PCBs, arsenic, toluene, manganese, fluoride, pesticides, perc, and PBDEs. (Read more…)
- One MIT researcher suggested that half of all children 10 years from now could be autistic, because of exposure to glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup. (Read more…)
- Fracking is poisoning California while destroying lives throughout the USA. (Read more here.. and here…)
- Agribusinesses dump 200,000,000 pounds of toxic waste into US waters each year and don’t concern themselves with the clean-up. (Read more…)
- Wild boars in Germany are radioactive three decades after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. (Read more…)
- Warmer temperatures of a changing climate have created harmful algae blooms in the Great Lakes that choke the ecosystem and poison the water. (Read more…)
Judging by the news, keeping the system clean is as much of a never-ending battle for society as it is for a biosystem like the body.
Keeping the Peace
The body has to contend with invading germs (such as flu viruses) and with renegade body cells (cancer, for example) from time to time… and when that happens, but body’s immune system mobilizes.
Likewise, when society has to contend with criminals and foreign enemies, law enforcement and military organizations mobilize.
Sometimes the body’s immune system itself goes renegade. White cells (the body’s soldiers) start attacking body parts… and the resulting autoimmune disease is akin to a military overthrow… very hard for the body to know how to overcome.
The main focus here (as throughout most of this article) is the USA. Keeping the peace against crime and foreign invasion might look a lot different elsewhere in the world… for example, through the eyes of an Iranian or an Afghan.
Here in the States, a struggling economy is cause for growing discontent among the poor, which will most likely lead to growing crime in the coming years… though statistics don’t show it yet. (Read more…)
When a society becomes preoccupied with crime and terrorism, even when the sentiments are politically manipulated, it becomes a society of fear and resentment. More energy and resources are committed to law enforcement and military, and there is a growing inevitability of conflict and violence. That cycle was begun by the G.W. Bush presidency, and it has not yet been defused. It has been perpetuated, maybe even escalated a bit, under President Obama.
The military has been overactive since then, and today what’s happening in America is like an autoimmune disease in the body. Military weapons built to fight foreign enemies–no longer needed in the ridiculous and tragic Middle East conflicts–are now being brought home and put to use against US citizens.
In the meantime…
- Seeds of destruction proliferate in the USA. Billions of dollars worth of surplus military weapons from the failed Mideast wars are being given away to police forces of towns and college campuses throughout the US. (Read more…)
- The money that American taxpayers spent recently on a fighter jet that never worked, could have bought every homeless person a mansion. (Read more…)
- While the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans have been enjoying a feeling of strong economic recovery in recent years, the poorest 20 percent have felt no improvement whatsoever… and more and more of the middle class has been sinking below the poverty line. (Read more…)
- As the gap widens between America’s rich and poor, growing crime is met with stronger law enforcement. As things escalate, innocent people inevitably fall victim to police violence, including teenagers. (Read more here.. and here…)
- US police forces, armed with wish lists to determine which assets to seize from suspected criminals, have been basking in a shower of fancy cars, flat-screen TVs, cash, and other confiscated goods. (Read more…)
- Police in Tampa Bay recently told a small-time dope dealer, who was worried about break-ins, to protect his home with a gun, then sent a SWAT team with a search warrant, who broke into his home and killed the man as he tried to protect himself from a break-in. (Read more…)
In recent years, starting (again) with the Bush administration and not yet reversed, the US has become something of a renegade force in the world.
- The United Nations torture watchdog has urged the US to deal with torture and police brutality, which have become epidemic here in the States. (Read more…)
- The United Nations has taken a stand against torture since 1987. (Read more…)
- This year the United Nations warned the US that its policies of torture are giving other countries the wrong idea: If the USA can do it, we can do it too. US policies of torture have set the evolution of humanity back several decades. (Read more…)
One American soldier wrote an excellent essay this year on his military experience in the Middle East: Dead bodies and wasted money. (Read more…).
Finally, there’s at least one recent case in which the US military was put to noble use: