What makes a country great?

IMG_1010While “Make America Great Again” is a political slogan in the U.S. right now, the fact is, every country wants to be great.  Every country, every person, wants to be prosperous, safe, healthy.  Who wouldn’t?  So how can it be done?

In the U.S. the de facto message being sent out by those currently in charge of our country’s government and industries is that having a very wealthy upper class is what makes America great.  That and having lots of exorbitantly priced weapons to attempt to instill fear in everyone else in the world.  In the U.S. we have heard and still hear that are enemies hate us because of our freedom.  Honestly, I can’t think of anything more ridiculous.

It is a fact that has been learned from the study of human behavior that primarily we try to kill what we fear, not what we hate.  Therefore, the goal of instilling fear in one’s neighbors is not a good foreign policy.

But back to the original question, what makes a country great?  Is it having a wealthy upper class whose wealth is comparable to the wealth of other countries’ upper classes?  Does it all work like a game of Monopoly?  The country with the richest upper class wins?  (Wins what?)

Almost every country in the world (every country?), has within it the edifices, or the ruins, of the temples and mansions/palaces built in the past by a very wealthy ruling class.  If having some few very, very wealthy people in it (with everyone else serving those few) is what makes a country great, then there have been, a lot of really great cultures in the world.  Which leaves us with the question:  If these cultures were so great, why did they all disappear?  Were they too good to be true?  I highly doubt that.

A widely ignored piece of truth in the world is that each country, like every person, has a spirit.  A healthy spirit goes a long, long way to maintaining a healthy body.  An unhealthy spirit portends the decline of the body it inhabits.  The health of the spirit of a country is determined by the health of entirety of the population who live within that country.  The entirety of the population making up the ambient spiritual/energy system.  There is a great spirit present when a group of happy, healthy people are singing “America the Beautiful”.  It doesn’t quite ring the same when those people are hungry, depressed, fearful, sick, homeless.  Honestly, does that reality surprise anyone?  The same holds true for any country’s anthem.

What makes a country great?  The simple answer is that it is those thoughts, actions and conditions that contribute to making the spirit of a country healthy.  What fills a country with citizens who care about their communities, their country?  What makes them want to work, to want to invest their energies into the country?  The answer is, again, a simple one:  when they feel cared about and invested in by the culture, the country they live within.  Like so many other aspects of human relationships, it’s a two-way street.

When the inhabitants, the citizens of a country feel ignored, abandoned, or even betrayed by the government, the industries (the dominant cultural powers) of the country they live within, how much love do you think they’re feeling for that government, those industries?  And if that government and those industries have been promoting the thinking that they themselves, and their actions, define the country, that country is in serious trouble.

In all cases it was the indispensable contributions, the blood, sweat and tears of those very citizens, their parents and their grandparents without which the government and those industries would not, could not, exist.  They invested their minds, bodies and spirits, their lives, into building something they hoped, they expected, would be there to help sustain their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  Their hope was that the institutions; the government and industries they helped make possible, paid taxes to, and quite possibly fought for, would contribute to improving their lives and their descendants’ lives.  That reality exists deep and pervasively within the spirit of America and every other country on the face of the Earth.

The fact is, there is no industry, no wealth that exists in America today that doesn’t have it’s foundation in the work and industriousness of previous generations.  The farmers, scientists, cooks, factory workers, shoemakers, janitors, clothing manufacturers, doctors, waitresses, musicians, nurses, teachers, store clerks, street cleaners, artists, loyal dissidents, police officers, construction workers, miners, dish washers, fire fighters, soldiers, railroad workers and those who have built the roads.  It has taken every contribution by every person who has contributed for any greatness that exists in America, or any other country, to come into being.

If the top of a pyramid decides it no longer requires the health, the good regard, of the base of the pyramid, what is going to happen?

Indeed, the wealth that was built by many has been captured by a few.  It may have been done legally.  After all, legality is subject to those who control the making of the laws.  It may have happened because too many common people weren’t paying attention.  It may be that very many of the common people lust for the opportunity to do likewise.  All those things may be true.  However, is that what is going to make America, or any country, great?  The unequivocal answer is “no”.

A necessary, indispensable, key component to making America, or any country, great is to recognition of and care for the spiritual reality that underlies the ongoing reality of the common people.

 

A view on our past, present…and future(?).

Oliver and the fishIf you were young and watching television in the U.S. in the 1950’s and into the 1960’s, “westerns” were a staple of Saturday morning programming.  The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, and more.  In these shows it was not unusual to see a moral, rather than a legal problem, being resolved.  Sometimes the problem at hand involved extortion.  Somebody, through force or underhanded legal maneuvering,  got “the upper hand” on somebody else and was threatening their home, livelihood, and/or possibly their life itself.  Whatever the situation there was a clear right and wrong about what was going on.  Viewers knew it instinctively, viscerally.  Legality may or may not have entered the scenario and may not always have been on the side of “right”.

The children who watched these dramas were the generation that recognized the wrong in the Vietnam war and took to the streets.  After the war ended a new generation came on the scene, new TV shows, new movies showed up.  The messages were not at all the same.  But somehow, I would say proving it’s innate place in our lives, the desire for morality in our world has been increasingly showing itself.  Right now, even though rarely reported in the U.S., the “Yellow Vest” movement is sweeping a lot of the world.

Back to extortion.  Merriam-Webster online defines “extort” as:  “… to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power…”  As this definition clearly implies, the power, the process, used in extortion may or may not be “legal”.  And that whether the process in place is “legal” or not does not define whether or not extortion is taking place.

A lot of us have experienced extortion at some time in our lives.  Whether it was a sibling somehow extorting our dessert, a bully on the playground demanding lunch money, being robbed (yes, robbery is extortion), or possibly having “protection” money extorted, a lot of us have experienced extortion.  Incidentally, blackmail is just another form of extortion.

Most of the time I think we see extortion in terms of someone threatening to do something harmful to someone else unless that person gives them money not to.  Sometimes it’s phrased as a service, such as “I will protect your business and you give me money each week.”  The unspoken reality is that the “protection” the victim is buying is, in fact, from the seller.  It is the seller of the “protection” themself that will smash or burn the business if they aren’t paid.  That is what makes the difference between a “protection” racket and the tax money we pay to have police services in a community.

However, what about the cases in which someone is going to withhold something essential to another person’s life unless that person pays them an extremely large, inordinate, sum of money?  Is that extortion?  

One form of extortion I can remember from the old westerns was the case where someone dammed up a river or stream which ran through their property and withheld essential water from ranchers or farmers downstream.  Unless, of course, they “paid up”.  As I recall there wasn’t necessarily a law allowing or disallowing the action, it’s just that it was clearly wrong.  It involved bullying and cruelty and the audience instinctively and viscerally knew that.

Let’s say we’re on a road trip and we’re going through a desert and we need gasoline.  There is a gas station but the price of the gasoline is X times what the gas stations outside the desert are charging.   If it’s one and a half or even twice what the stations outside the desert charge, we may just pay it and feel glad the station was there.  One thing is that the delivery of the product to the station in the desert was possibly more expensive than to the other stations.  But what if it’s 300, 500, or 1,000 times as much as anywhere else?  What if we have to sign over our house to pay for the gasoline?  Isn’t that extortion?

There are at least two methods which jump to my mind that can be used to determine the price of any product.  The first I’ll call the barter or trade value system.  If there is a value system which has become internalized through repetition through the centuries, this is it.  A product or object had the value of it’s natural material worth combined with whatever time and craftsmanship went into turning the raw material into the finished product.  A piece of wood carved into a bear was worth more than just a piece of wood.  In the market place others could see the product, had some idea of the time and craftsmanship, and knew the reality of what went into whatever they had for trade.  Maybe a jar of pickles would bring a carved bear home.  Fair trade was honored and recognized around the world.

Of course scarcity of a product could also dramatically affect it’s value.  Along with the reality of how essential the produce is to sustaining life.  A quart of water from a rare well in the desert could undoubtedly fetch much more than the same quart of water at a lakeside in most places.  People understood this and generally accepted it.  Some undoubtedly tried to exploit this reality and attempted to manufacture a shortage, produce scarcity.  Such is the case with diamonds today.  People might fall for it initially, but over time the truth would become known and, historically anyway, the perpetrator could well face some harsh consequences.

Poisoning a well might be one method of making water from another well more valuable.  In the “old west” of the United States I think doing so may have resulted in the offender being hung if and when the truth became known.  Producing scarcity, poisoning a well in order to increase the market value of the water from another well, is one more form of extortion.

The other method of determining the value of a product is simply one in which a product’s value is whatever a seller can get a buyer to pay for it.  This means the more scarce, and/or essential, or simply desirable a product is the more valuable it is.  This reality exists even when there is a level playing field and “fair trade” is going on.  But today the reality is that fair trade has been replaced with marketplace manipulation.  Scarcity can be manufactured, and too often is.  Need can be manufactured.  A common example of this is providing salty snacks at a bar to sell more beer.   However, an even more common example, one that affects our lives and our planet much more seriously, is the auto manufacturers creating a need for oil products by only manufacturing vehicles which require them.  An accompanying aspect of a culture in which a higher complexity of technology and skills are required to produce the products needed to negotiate the cultural reality is that the opportunities for extortionate business practices are more plentiful.  Finally, desire for a product can be manipulated via marketing.

In summary, manipulating scarcity, inflating prices and thereby, in fact, utilizing extortion have increasingly become business strategies.

Today, someone who is producing a product and simply and fairly selling it in the marketplace may easily be bankrupted by organized industries that manipulate the scarcity of and artificially inflate the prices of their products.  And just as with the water from the well in the desert, if someone needs a certain product, such as extensive medicine and/or medical care, in order to save their life or the life of a loved one, too often they’re facing an extortionate reality which, on it’s own, too often threatens to destroy the very life the consumer is seeking to save.  While the scarcity of wells in the desert is not manipulated by human beings, and, interestingly it is my understanding that often (but not always) such wells were kept freely available to all, that is not the case with many products today.

Our current reality is that far too often, products are controlled to produce scarcity and dire need has become a lever for extortionists to exploit.    

But the discriminatory imbalance has roots far deeper than these aforementioned practices.  Technology and an increased understanding of how human beings function offer means of manipulating the general public that were unavailable, if not entirely unheard of, a century ago.  Today many methods of undermining the physical and intellectual functioning of a large population are both understood and at work in the U.S. and elsewhere.  This means that any chance at “fairness” in the marketplace and life a person might have is often under attack before that person is even born.

Too often we see people, young and old, who are demoralized, filled with hopelessness.  Increasingly widespread, this debilitating state of mind is often resulting from the following realities:

  • Malnutrition and chronic illness:   These go hand in hand.  When food high in fat, sugar/high fructose corn syrup and carbohydrates are readily available while it becomes harder to access natural, vitamin rich nutritious foods, both malnutrition and chronic illness are promoted.  There is a correlated diminishing of physical and mental functioning.  In this condition, hopelessness and demoralization have fertile ground.
  • A limited educational reality:  Simply attending a school in no way guarantees the availability of a quality education that prepares one to face the reality of the world around them.  The manipulation of information in textbooks (as well as media at large) often disseminates misinformation, self-defeating thought constructs and loyalties.  People are often taught to embrace a value system which ignores basic realities about human existence and leads to, again, self-defeating behaviors.
  • Poisoning:  The ongoing exposure to toxins in the air, water, food and medicines which impair either or both physical and mental health and functioning.  Small doses of bio-accumulating poisons any of which alone can be said to be insignificant and not a problem, when occurring repetitively become a significant impairment to the consumer ever having the opportunity of being a whole, healthy person.
  • Chronic stress:   Chronic trauma/stress (as well as severe enough acute trauma/stress) causes our brain to shut down.  Roughly from the frontal regions, back and down, over time leaving us reacting from the “reptilian” area of the brain:  fight or flight.  It’s hard to process complex, abstract concepts, take advantage of opportunities that require complex behaviors, when we’re stuck in survival mode.  Of course, being in a war zone inflicts both acute and, over time, chronic stress.  Most people are aware that military personnel who have been in a war zone often experience stress/trauma related problems when they return home.  However, it by no means requires being a war zone to experience sufficient stress/fear to have the same effects upon a person.  What is there to fear when we’re not in an active, military, war zone?  Mugging, rape, hunger, eviction, losing a job, not making enough money, disease, homelessness, shootings all these fears are seriously affecting many people; children, women and men, everyday in the U.S. and around the world.  The question is not why don’t these folks pick themselves up by their bootstraps.  The reality is more precisely that these folks are too shell-shocked (to use a WWII term) to even recognize that they have “bootstraps”.

All of these four items increase the probability of the need for medical care and therefore render the individual more susceptible to extortionate practices in the medical marketplace.  By design or default we have succeeded in producing a cultural environment which too often impairs both the physical and psychological ability of individuals to recognize, develop and/or access opportunity.  In fact, our culture is presently producing a caste system of “haves” and “have-nots”.  A system in which being born into one or the other caste carries with it advantages or obstacles which, by design or default, work to maintain the status quo.

Those who were fortunate enough to be relatively whole human beings when they became young adults, who were able to recognize and utilize opportunities that existed to them at that time, who went on to have jobs that pay a living wage (or that when combined for a couple pay a living wage) often still find themselves trapped by debt.  Living in a world in which costs rise much faster than wages.  Many are working to pay the bills on a month to month basis.  Again, we find people experiencing the effects of the relentless erosion of stress upon their being.

So here we are.

It can be hard, maybe impossible, for those who were born after 1980 to fully grasp the concept that life wasn’t always like this in the U.S.  There used to be more jobs that paid a living wage.  The ruthless, extortionate thinking that pervades the housing, health insurance and medical related industries wasn’t always there.  Really.  There used to be a very prevalent realization that WE are in this together.  How many people who were born in the early 1950’s really kind of thought that “U.S.” meant “us”.  Maybe the attitude of solidarity was to some greater or lesser extent an artifact of the mindset which supported the Allied effort during WWII?  I tend to think so.

It’s not that the culture in the U.S. was perfect at that time.  There were problems, some serious ones:  racism, economic disparity.  But the attitude was different, it was “yes we can”.  The primary focus was on solving the problems to have a whole, prosperous nation.  There was a widely held, underlying assumption that everyone should have a truly honest opportunity to obtain a living wage, live “the good life”.

Then something happened.

Looking back, I think it was when the momentum toward greater peace and pervasive prosperity, more focus on building and less on destruction, became the target of assassination along with John F. Kennedy.  A cabal seeking inordinate power and wealth carried out a coup d’etat right here in the U.S. of A.  It was so unthinkable that, well, few people seemed to think it.  The “lone gunman” explanation was much more palatable.

Simultaneously, the evening news, again right here in the U.S., began, or increased, it’s role of indoctrinating a nation with the propaganda designed to promote the agenda of the new ruling cabal.  I think the felt realization of the profound loss that had taken place is the reason why so many around the world wept when J.F.K. was shot down.  And a fervent hope that the dream might not die with the man is why his picture continued to hang in so many homes around the world.  It is also why the effort to uncover the truth of that day persists even now.

But while John Kennedy died, the dream did not.  The dream wasn’t born with J.F.K. and it didn’t die with him.  He was a torchbearer of the flame for a brief while.  And he wasn’t the only one.  Martin Luther King, Jr. also carried the flame and also was shot down.  And there have been and are, other torch bearers.  The dream goes on.  The dream has existed for centuries, millenia.  Quite possibly it has been around longer than life on this planet.

What is the dream?  A culture which nurtures and brings out the best in those blessed to be a part of it.  A culture in which the abilities of thought and invention are given to realizing goals and dreams birthed in and organized by love and caring.  A culture which embraces inclusivity and recognizes the inter-relatedness of all.  A culture no longer occupied with manufacturing scarcity and which no longer engages in war and destruction organized around exclusivity, greed, hate, and fear.

I know there are those who consider this dream foolish, unrealistic.  Just as there were those who thought the dreams that man might one day build machines to fly through the air and dive to the depths of the oceans were foolish and unrealistic.

Think of it: even the ideas that the Earth is round, or that the Earth revolves around the sun were at one time considered foolish and unrealistic.

When we realize the strength that comes with our unity, when we finally make the decision to genuinely care for ourselves, we can achieve beauty and wonders for ourselves, our loved ones, our human family that exceed all but our most far-reaching imagination.

And maybe even exceeding that.

 

 

 

The relationship between freedom, tyranny and oppression.

All tyranny arises (2)We in the U.S., and elsewhere, hear and read a lot about “freedom”.  It seems everyone wants it, some want all they can get of it, the more the better.  It sounds alright at first blush, right?  What can possibly be wrong with lots of freedom?  And let’s throw liberty in there as well.

Actually, a lot can be wrong with too much freedom.  Perhaps it’s better to state that a lot can go wrong with too much freedom.  When I want the freedom to choose my own vocation, to pursue higher education, to access medical care, to travel where and when I want and am able to, to open my own business, live where I choose and am able to, to read what I want and to express my viewpoints freely, to marry or not marry, to choose my spouse, these freedoms are some of the more obvious ones most, if not all, of us want.  Maybe these are the freedoms that come to mind when we see or hear the word “freedom”.

But, unfortunately, this isn’t the case with everyone.

Some see freedom from a different perspective.  They interpret freedom as the freedom to engage in what are essentially predatory business practices.  The freedom to pollute the environment.  The freedom to misrepresent products and services.  The freedom to oppress others.  As absurd as it may seem to many of us, some interpret their freedom as the freedom to engage in tyranny; allowing them to take away freedoms from others.  Of course there is a difference between “freedom” and “power”.  Some would say that tyrants are exercising power, not freedom, when they oppress others.  Actually it’s some of both, but true, it’s mostly power.

However, at some point in their rise to power as a tyrant, that person was most likely doing so exercising the freedoms the people who were to become their victims, gave to them.  Freedoms like freedom of speech, the freedom to assemble, the freedom to acquire armament, and if not involved in it themselves, most tyrants seem to make alliances with those busily exercising their freedom to engage in predatory business practices.

Interestingly, some of the freedoms tyrants customarily take away from others are the very ones that allowed them to come to power.  They include:  freedom of speech, movement, assembly, to own armament, and various freedoms associated with financial/business dealings.  And we can be sure tyrants give little or no freedom for the public to view government meetings.  It seems freedom is great until a sociopath or psychopath discovers a way to exploit it.

So what’s the answer?  None of us want to give up our basic freedoms, at least no one I know.  

But neither do we want to keep “bumping into doors” like children playing hide and seek with blindfolds on…do we?

Somehow, there is a reality in which freedom is tempered with responsibility, compassion, and wisdom that is the answer.  Perhaps part of the key is to be found in the Buddhist “Middle Way”?  In the reality that within moderation we find a path to community harmony?

When we see our economic resources being drained from our lives and our communities; when we see our air, water and earth becoming polluted; when we see essential goods and services being priced out of reach of the average person; I feel safe in saying that we can be assured we have allowed somebody to take criminal advantage of the freedoms we desired for them.  

(Add. 11/9/2018)  We need leaders, of industry and of government, who have genuine humility and who recognize that all the benefits and blessings of civilization and progress that we enjoy are the result of the work of millions throughout many centuries.  That all these millions had and have dreams and hopes for a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, for their descendants.  To ignore and negate these hopes and dreams is to ignore and negate the foundation upon which all progress has relied.

 

The last great extinction event on Earth?

Fotosearch_k22192444
(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com

(Significantly edited on 9/19/18.)

It’s happening all around the world.  Once thriving oceans, seas, lakes, rivers are dying.  People are experiencing various forms of cancer at unprecedented rates.  Also hypothyroidism, diabetes, and other diseases are increasing in prevalence.  Then there are the dis-eases often categorized as mental disorders:  anxiety, depression, anger, and more.  What do all these things have in common?  All of these maladies, environmental and human, are either caused or exacerbated by one or more of the various forms of pollution which are rampant in our world today.

These forms of pollution include pollution of our water, air, earth, bodies, minds, and spirits.  Many types of corporeal pollution are listed above.  Regarding our minds and spirits, we are currently experiencing widespread pollution of human kind by greed, fear, hate and anger.  It only takes picking up a newspaper to find instances of this pollution at work.

Who to blame, or is there anyone to blame?  Do we always have to look for someone to blame?  In this case, yes, there most definitely are people at the root of the problem.

One source; a company, a government, a religion, or other agency with financial or other special interests produces “X” amount of physical and/or mental/spiritual pollution, another company produces 2 times as much.  Another company maybe only produces 1/2 as much.  And all of them are saying that they do not produce enough pollution to be causing such problems.  And all of them are right.  And all of them are wrong.  If you aren’t familiar with Aesop’s fable of the “The Crow and the Pitcher”, I hope you’ll read it.  It explains a lot.

Regarding the environmental pollution, where is the E.P.A. in all of this?  They’ve been busy repeatedly firing Dr. William Marcus and then repeatedly trying to defend that action in court.  And I imagine other activities of similar ilk, all conducted behind closed doors.  Don’t ask, don’t tell.  Many believe that today, under the Trump administration, the fox has been put in charge of the henhouse at the E.P.A.  (Personally I think that has effectively been the case for at least a few decades.)

Regarding the mental/spiritual pollution, what human agency is watching out for the common person?  At this point, no one.  We are pretty much on our own to decide what ideas, beliefs, we incorporate into our lives.  Which, in order for us to retain our humanity, is as it should be. Free will is a wonderful thing.  Yet, why are so many so quick, so willing to incorporate ideas filled with greed, hate, fear and anger?  One reason, I believe, is because those are the ideas people are being repeatedly exposed to by, again, those with the reins of power around the world.

Around the world, we see people being led to embrace greed, hate, fear and anger en masse by those whom those people trust to tell them what’s happening in the world. Special interests have most definitely infected many of the media, schools, and religious institutions. I heard a proverb years ago that: “When interest enters in, truth flies out the window.” Again, it’s a matter of no one contributing source being the whole problem, and again, the fable of “The Crow and the Pitcher” tells the story.

Don’t we see what’s happening?  Don’t we understand the real and potential problems associated with pollution?  Don’t we, with all our technology, possess the means to prevent and correct such problems?  The answer to all these questions is the same:  “Yes we do”.  However, there is another question and an answer which, together, underlie all these problems:  Don’t those with the reins of power around the world possess the wisdom and will to value our planet’s ability to sustain life, and the myriad benefits of humankind cooperatively coexisting, more than the unbridled acquisition of power and material wealth?  Unfortunately at this time, the answer to that question which we are seeing repeatedly demonstrated is:  “No”.

Too many people want their stock dividends, too many CEO’s want their large bonuses, the power and influence of too many public offices are for sale.  Amongst the common folk, apparently too many people are contributing to the culture of pollution with the purchases we make.  To some extent we are at the mercy of those in control of production and marketing.  However we should all be mindful of the impact our purchases have upon the burden of waste in the world.  And, I would add, too many are too readily accepting the “reasoning” being put forward by those in power for why our natural resources and our treasuries are being managed in the way they are.  And too many people are accepting the special interest driven “reasoning” being offered for why we should embrace greed and hold hate, fear and anger toward others.

I think at some point in the future when archeologists, quite possibly from another planet because Earthlings will have become extinct, look for the “whys” to the last great extinction event on Earth, they will find a direct causative chain of:  human greed – pollution – willful ignoring and exacerbating of the problems – extinction.

Yet, around the world, little by little, people are waking up.  So the last question is;  will enough people be awake and taking corrective action before it is too late?  It truly is a case of “United we stand, divided we fall.”

I am using the same artwork for this article as the last one because, well, it is just so appropriate.  And I would rather think optimistically then post a picture of the pollution, and it’s effects, which we can all see without any great effort.

Re-humanizing our World

Fotosearch_k22192444
(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com

This is a “laundry list” of things which, if put into effect, would go a long way toward effectively stabilizing human culture, re-humanizing humanity, doing away with war,  decreasing the prevalence of many illnesses, and making life worth living!  None of these, except one (I won’t say which one), are my original ideas.  They are from people who have studied the issues and weighed the related factors.  As I have accumulated them over years I apologize that I do not cite the source.  In the interest of brevity I have sometimes combined what were originally separate ideas but which dovetail nicely together.

  • A three day work week with a living wage.
  • Abolish the stock market.  Keep companies in the hands of their founders and workers (employee ownership).  Let the consumers decide via their purchases, or lack thereof, when a company’s product is no longer desired.
  • New ideas for products/companies can be financed via bank loans, personal loans or the sale of bonds.  All at a reasonable rate of interest and able to be paid off.
  • Eliminate speculation in agricultural or any other products.  This only artificially raises prices thereby fueling inflation.  (Essentially do away with a “casino economy”.)
  • All industrial or other waste which poses a threat to the health of our environment must be discontinued or treated in such a fashion as to effectively neutralize any threat it may pose.
  • Legalize the production, sale and use of all natural substances which may be categorized as “drugs”.  These include marijuana, coca, poppies and their derivatives.  No prescription needed for these substances.  In order to purchase these substances a person must have a card indicating they have completed an introductory class of at least 3 hrs. in duration about the potential dangers and benefits of each substance they wish to be allowed to purchase.  Including tobacco and alcohol.
  • Re-institute regulations around the number of television stations, radio stations, newspapers and other media outlets that any one person or corporation may own.
  • Via regulations affecting banks, arms manufacturers and other government contractors, remove the the profit motive from war.
  • Make the dissemination of false and/or misleading information by elected and/or appointed government officials/employees a criminal offense (if it isn’t already) and enforce it.
  • Restrict election financing.  Cap the dollar amount any one candidate can spend during an election campaign.  Make it a felony with significant penalties for any person, corporation or foreign nation, or any agent thereof, to give donations, gifts, or make promises of future financial/material gain to any elected or appointed government official/employee.  Or for any elected or appointed government official and/or employee to receive such donations or gifts.
  • Maintain and adequately fund community based (not private) and regulated police forces, fire departments, schools, parks, hospitals, ambulance/EMT services (universal healthcare) and other services.  Such as concert and sports venues as a community desires and can support.
  •  Income from concerts, sporting events, etc, above and beyond that used to pay workers, performers, athletes, etc., should go to public coffers and to fund public services and infrastructure.
  • Establish and enforce both a minimum and maximum personal income.  The minimum income would insure basic housing, food and essentials for all.  There could be some work requirement (public service) upon those receiving it.  The maximum income would include income from all sources combined.  This would be in force for all people regardless of profession.  The maximum income should be no more than 7 times the minimum wage (not the minimum income which may be slightly less than the minimum wage).  

While in a rough draft format, as mentioned above this is at least a partial “laundry list” of actions which, if instituted, would serve to stabilize and re-humanize our cultures and our world.

What happens when good medicine is “bad for business”?

 

Med Symbol 2Last night I watched the movie “Me Before You”.  It’s about a man who is quadriplegic after an accident with a scooter.  Long story short, he decides he doesn’t want to live any longer with the limitations and pain he endures and …………….(spoiler alert) ……………………………ends his life.

The movie brings attention to the issues of assisted suicide, personal relationships and quality of life.  It also begs the question of why on Earth is anybody still having to endure, long term, the medical issues of paraplegia or quadriplegia?  By this I don’t mean why doesn’t everybody with paraplegia or quadriplegia kill themselves.  I do mean that in cases in which a person’s spinal cord is severed in an accident, why aren’t we using the therapies that are known to result in the body healing this damage?

Although I’ve heard of others, for example, one involving the use of white blood cells that must be performed within a short time frame after the injury, what I am mainly referring to is stem cell therapy to facilitate healing of the spinal cord.  Why isn’t this being performed regularly?

I have seen an excellent video of a mouse who had it’s spinal cord severed, and even after a period of time during which it experienced atrophy in the affected limbs, it was able to regain use of the affected limbs after a stem cell transplant.  I just checked online and I was unable to locate that video (??).  Where did it go?  But mice aren’t people, right?

Remember Christopher Reeve?  He played Superman in movies a couple decades or so ago.  He suffered a spinal cord injury and spent years as a quadriplegic.  During this time he became active as an advocate for issues relating to spinal cord injuries.  Stem cell therapy is one issue he was involved with.  I just looked at the Wikipedia article about him and it cites his work to get stem cell research funded.  Research is a necessary prerequisite to treatment, however, research is not treatment.  Why even mention this obvious truth?  More on that later.

Shortly after his death I read an article in “Readers Digest” about a woman in South Korea that had suffered a spinal cord injury many years ago and who had recently received stem cell therapy.  She was, according to the article, recovering use of the affected limbs.  It was around 2004 when I read this article, it was a recent article at the time.  I thought it poignant that this article should appear so shortly after Christopher Reeve’s death.  It brought to mind the question of why didn’t he ever receive stem cell therapy?

What are the problems with stem cell therapy?  Why isn’t it being used?  When stem cell therapy first began receiving widespread coverage in the mainstream press, to my recollection, it was immediately coupled with the issue of having to use stem cells from aborted babies.  So, essentially, stem cell therapy was given a “black eye” right out of the gate.  Dead babies?  If we open the door to stem cell therapy we’re going to be up to our eyeballs in aborted fetuses, right?  Women will be selling their unborn babies so rich folks can have stem cell therapy, right?  Women might even be getting pregnant just to have a fetus to abort and sell.  Horrible, but not an unthinkable scenario.  And the media saw to it we were all thinking it.  Stem cell therapy was cast in the roll of the therapy from hell:  avoid it at all costs.

Stem cell therapy isn’t the only potential treatment to undergo this type of demonization.  How many decades did “Reefer Madness”, and other misinformation define the public perception of marijuana?  (And still does in some places.)

However, during the 1990’s there was another, infinitely less, publicized event taking place in the State of Washington, U.S.A.  A company named CellPro, in Bothell, Washington, was working on a method of extracting stem cells from an adult human body that could be used by the person they were extracted from for stem cell therapy.  Pretty anti-climatic in comparison to being led to believe stem cell therapy would lead to the gates of hell being greased with the bodies of dead fetuses.  From the point of view of selling news with sensationalism, I can see why the CellPro story might not be appealing to the marketing folk down at the press.  But is that the only reason most people in the world have never heard of CellPro nor their success?  That’s right, success.

During the 1990’s, CellPro successfully developed a method of extracting stem cells from an adult human being that can be used by that person for stem cell therapies.  No chance of rejection, no lifetime of anti-rejection medications, and maybe that touches on why it received so little publicity (?).  CellPro’s relatively inexpensive method was successfully used to save one life, one.  A case involving cancer.  Did I mention it was planned to be relatively inexpensive, around $10,000 at the time?  Again I find myself asking:  is that touching on why most people in the world have never heard of CellPro?  If you want to know what happened to this company and the blessing they were getting ready to unleash on the human race, there is a book about it.  The person who’s life was saved wrote a book.

He was the CEO of CellPro.  The book is:  “Patient Number One”, by Rick Murdock and David Fisher.  If you’re interested in learning more about the convoluted interrelationship between medicine, big business, government, and the people affected by it, I recommend this book.  It’s not an easy read, but it’s worth it.

Again, long story short, CellPro was, in effect, shut down by a U.S. District Court judge.  At the very least the judge’s ruling made sure the words “relatively inexpensive” would no longer be applicable.  The reality turned out to be that, in effect, CellPro’s fate was sealed.  That was a U.S. District Court protecting us…from what?  Good health care?

As I mentioned above, medical research is not medical treatment.  Obvious?  Should be, but the reality in the U.S. has to give one pause.  In an article updated in 2005 on NBC News.com, the amount spent on medical research, each year, in the U.S. was 95 billion (with a “B”) dollars.  What should we be expecting for 95 billion dollars a year?  Are we getting it?  There can be no doubt that there is BIG money in medical research.  How about cures?  Maybe not so much?  Look what happened to CellPro with their relatively inexpensive method of procuring transplantable stem cells.  What’s that about?  The fact is medical research is often touted as if it were treatment.  It’s not.

There are a significant number of people, and I would say an increasing number of people, in the U.S. and elsewhere that suspect treatments which would actually cure various diseases are, when discovered, buried, kept secret, in order not to jeopardize the multi-billion dollar medical research industry.  The case of CellPro definitely pushes this notion a step away from the realm of conspiracy theory and into the realm of conspiracy fact.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation has a website which gives estimated costs for individuals living with a spinal cord injury.  The least figure they give is for “Incomplete motor function (any level)”.  Those costs are given as:  $347,484 the first year and $42,206 every year thereafter.  The lifetime estimated costs for someone in this category who experiences the injury at 25 years of age, are given as:  $1,578,274.  From there, as they get into the costs of paraplegia and other more profound loss of ability, the costs, as one would expect, go up.  A lot.

Compare this with the costs of one time stem cell transplant with no ongoing anti-rejection medication needed.  Tripling what, in the 1990’s, CellPro estimated would be their costs in obtaining the needed stem cells, from your own body, would put that cost at around $30,000.  Then there would be the cost of the implant itself, an injection.  If we think extortionate costs for that procedure, that might be around $100.000.  Even at extortionate pricing it doesn’t come close to the estimated costs for a lifetime of medication, medical devices, ongoing medical evaluation, caregivers and whatever else would enter in.  But what does that have to do with anything?

Is the system of medical care in the U.S. and the treatments employed the best in the world?  Let’s hope not.  I’m sure most of the medical industry’s P.R. folks would use descriptors like:  excellent, stellar, state of the art, etc.  It seems some of these treatments might be more accurately portrayed as:  the costliest we have, obsolete, ineffective, barbaric.  I’m sure there are a lot of good doctors in the U.S., thank goodness.  However, when even good doctors are at the mercy of a larger, institutionalized, business oriented medical system, well, sometimes their hands are figuratively tied.  Extravagant malpractice suits are the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of each and every physician in the U.S.  Sometimes the malpractice suits even make the extortionate pricing too often used by hospitals, clinics and other providers look trivial.

By designing/allowing extravagant malpractice suits into the bigger picture of the healthcare system those controlling the system gave themselves a ” big stick” with which to threaten recalcitrant physicians. 

The stem cell issue is just one of many treatment issues which have plagued our medical system over the past few decades.  The healthcare system in the U.S. has developed a track record of giving highly preferential treatment to those treatments marketed by big, wealthy corporations.  Pharmaceuticals immediately come to mind.

Some of the treatments which are either hard to obtain, largely ignored or actively lobbied against, even made illegal at some point if they still aren’t, include:  marijuana, stem cell therapy, neurofeedback, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and various cancer treatments offered in other countries but banned in the U.S.  I’m sure there are more.

The point is this:   Our healthcare system needs to be primarily and uncompromisingly dedicated to supporting and sustaining good health for all people.  Right now it is severely compromised by individuals who are using the importance of health and healthcare to contaminate our healthcare system with, what amount to, various avenues and degrees of extortion in a sociopathic pursuit of inordinate wealth. 

 

 

 

 

The Problems with the Answers

Problem AnswersWe now know our world, our planet (or those who are paying attention know) is one single, large, system.  When we tweak the system, for better or for worse, there are systemic consequences.  For centuries we have had examples of the systemic effects altering a single component of a system can have.  If a person’s liver stops functioning: the person dies.  The whole person, not just the liver.  As human beings we are all sub-systems within, what we undeniably now know is, the larger, unified system which is the Earth.  The danger we face is in continuing to think and behave as if each seemingly separate free-standing entity, whether a person, cow, tree, continent or ocean is an independent entity unaffected by the other seemingly free-standing entities around it.

As a video which used to be shown before movies in the U.S. said:  “There is no non-peeing section of the pool”.  Our environment is like a large pool, it’s all connected and there is no “non-peeing” section.  What happens to the ocean off New Jersey affects Shanghai, and vice-versa.  With some events proximity makes some difference; the closer a place, a people, are to the event, the greater the impact.  Yet even small doses of a poison, continued over a long enough period of time, are going to affect the whole system.

Therein lies the problem with so many of the answers that industries and governments (and those controlling them) want to hand to the rest of us.  So many, if not all, of the answers are lacking in adequate consideration of the systemic consequences of what is being proposed.  Or, if the systemic consequences are being considered, there is a Machiavellian agenda afoot which gives little or no weight to the health and well-being of the majority of people on the planet.  It is the cognizance of this latter possibility that underlies many, if not all, of the “conspiracy theories” we encounter.

The “mainstream” culture in the U.S., the government, industry, media, seem to want us to view the systemic reality that is our planetary ecosystem only one component at a time.  We’re supposed to believe there is no critical interconnection between the components (seemingly independent entities).  We are supposed to ignore the system as a whole.  In actuality, each part, each component, of our planet is in constant energetic, chemical and/or physical interaction, communication if you will, with every other part.  Just as our body is a whole system with each part in constant communication, via energetic, chemical and physical affects, with every other part.  What happens if our planet’s “liver” fails?

This consequences of this interconnectedness has been referred to at times as the “butterfly effect”.  That is an extreme, but not unfounded, conceptualization of the systemic reality we live within.

It’s time we not only face this reality but alter our thinking and behavior to properly take it into account.  Air pollution in China affects us all.  The radioactive water leaking from the Fukushima reactor in Japan is poisoning the whole ocean.  The inordinate materialism being promoted in advertisements, movies and other media from the U.S. is affecting the collective psyche around the world.  You see, it’s not just about air, water, or soil pollution, it’s about everything.  Including the physicality, mentality and spirituality of all people, everywhere. 

Some want to see our Earth as a being named “Gaia”.  I have no problem with that.  Whether our planet, our home is a sentient being or not really should make no difference in how we treat it (her).  Our undeniable reality is that the Earth is our home, our only life-support system, and we need to give much, much greater respect and consideration to that reality than is being shown at this time.