What should we be talking about?
|Let us know what you think we really
should be talking about. Any and all suggestions are welcome. If the
idea seems good, we'll post it for another chapter of debate.
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NG Allen, China
A really successful single market necessitates more than
an absence of tariff barriers; it surely needs to operate in a single
language as well. The USA does this advantage, as does China (for the
written language, at least), but the EU seems intent on putting itself
at a deliberate disadvantage. That Portuguese needs to be translated into
Latvian at EU meetings or the draft Constitution has to be issued in Maltese
makes the EU appear ridiculous in the eyes of the outside world. Isn't
it time for the EU to adopt a single language both for its internal business
and for its cross border communications?
Kenneth Perry, Natural Born Englishman
The Singe Currency or adopting the Euro.
A common currency has nothing to do with political affiliations.
I remember my Grandfather showing me Golden Sovereigns in 1923. The Gold
Standard was a global common currency for centuries. When it was abandoned
the value of all currencies, including the Pound simply depended &
depends on their acceptability as a tool of barter. My Pound as a pensioner
goes much further here in Somerset than in London where I was born. But
it is the same Pound.
Steve Garcia, Illinois, US
What we really need to be talking about are the following
points about the Arab world:
1. What IS it that so infuriates Arab men that they would
blow themselves up in order to get our attention?
2. WHY do they think they need to get our attention?
3. What IS it that they don't think we are hearing?
4. Is there any Win-Win scenario available at all in the Middle East?
(I think there is, believe it or not.)
5. Why is it that the U.S. uses miitary options as a first option against
6. Why is it that the U.S. uses negotiation as the first option with other
7. Is there ANYTHING that can be done in Iraq in particular to heal the
8. If the U.S. reasons for invading Iraq have been found to be erroneous,
what shall the world DO about the illegality, in terms of holding the
U.S. leadership accountable?
9. If the U.S. reasons for invading Iraq have been found to be erroneous,
what shall the world DO about the illegality, in terms of reparations
There are more, but those I think can be a starting set
Mathew Cameron, Scotland
One question that has bothered me right from the very start
of our so called war on terrorism is simply this.
What are the reasons why people such as Bin Laden and his ilk wish to
harm western democracies especially the U.S.
No one has yet given a convincing argument to that question. After all
it was not that long ago that many of these terrorists were our allies
and considered freedom fighters by us and so we supported them financially,
gave them training and supplied them with intelligence from our various
security agencies. What changed? One thing I do know is that they have
not just turned on us on a whim. What are the motivations behind these
attacks? Perhaps it is time that we in the West especially America stop
meddling in the affairs of The Middle East and let them sort out they're
own problems. In the end it is only then that they can find the solution.
Josh Rugumire, Rwanda
Since the political game showdown of Sept 11, Britain has
become a political punch bag of USA's blood thirsty foreign policy. Labour
party has forgotten its agenda and what it does now is implimenting the
whitehouse policies. Today's topic should be why Britain has turned from
its acclaimed confident nation to a drug addict like paranoid nation.
Why should Labour party keep on drawing policies of which
to my own opinions does not suit the citizens who work so hard to keep
their image as " We are British" the great. Should ther norm
change to " We are British " the paranoid political underwears
Stephen Irving, Ontario, Canada
Steve Garcia and Mathew Cameron might begin to find the
answers they're looking for by surveying some of the many alternative
And there are probably countless others... These websites
are of course rife with rhetoric of their own much like mainstream media,
but they might enable those unclear on the motives of anti-Western terrorists
to develop a more informed and balanced perspective. Just a quick suggestion.
Mathew Cameron, Aberdeen, Scotland
Thank you to Stephen Irving for directing me to those
different sites, however my statement was more rhetorical in nature.I
was merely decrying society's total ignorance and complete acceptance
of what our governments tell us and the unwillingness of people to discover
for themselves the true nature of this "war on terror".
Firstly, Al-Qa'ida never existed as an entity, it was merely an invention
of the U.S. Justice department. Doing this helped to prove the existance
of an organised international "terror network". The sad truth
is there never was one. In the U.K. 1600 people have been arrested in
connection to terrorist activities post 9/11.Not a single person has been
tried or convicted.
Osama Bin Laden's group in Afghanistan has all but been destroyed,mostly
by the Afghans themselves.
Why would a government invent such fiction. The answer is two fold. One,
focus the public's attention.Make them scared and fearful.Secondly, divert
people's attention away from the true reasons behind the lie.
Some years ago an American right-wing think tank wrote an open letter
to Bill Clinton urging him to get tough on Iraq. In 2000 George Bush won
a dubious election. 7 out of 9 of Bush's inner circle were signatories
in that in that letter. Nearly all have financial and business connections
to arms companies or oil companies or both. Coincedence? Unlikely. So
the war in Iraq was born. Bourne out of the fear of terror, even when
Iraq had nothing to do with Bin Laden. Ironic is'nt it.
To keep up the fear level we are fed a daily dose of information in the
media about imminent terrorist attacks. Threats which do not hold up to
scrutiny. Take the dirty bomb for example. Sounds pretty scary dosen't
it. Garbage. The truth is ,as any phyiscist worth his salt would tell
you, this is the possibly the most ineffectual delivery system of radioactive
is. Simply the blast itself would disperse the material so far and wide
that the effect is almost nil. As long as the area was properly cleaned
there would be no risk to anyone. You would have to stand a FULL YEAR
in the blast site and maybe then it might have an effect and a negligable
one at that. Same go's for the biological agents to.
Creating a climate of fear suits the politicians who stand to gain from
this "war on terror". Shamefully we swallow every word, accept
our goverment's decicions and watch as we kill thousands upon thousands
of innocents in a phony war. What a world we live in.
George the taxidriver, Australia
The problems of the world are very simple to state but
very difficult to solve. For example; the dominant power in the world,
the US, is committed to making eternal war on some enemy or other, or
even, in the case of the so-called war on terror, on an imaginary enemy.
The reason for this, as has been pointed out by such wise and experienced
America watchers as Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal, is to move vast amounts
of money from the public coffers to private hands by means of "defence"
Since the US is unassailable militarily, the only hope the world has to
free itself from this scourge is to motivate internal opposition to this
process within the US. Vote out the right wing extremists for a start
and then try to clean up the political system to break the network known
as the military industrial complex.
BUT, the US is characterised by an education system designed specifically
to produce stupid and compliant people who are easily governed by despots.
In addition, the mechanisms of mass propaganda used to sway the inclinations
of this stupid and compliant populace are very advanced.
What to do? Well I think flying planes into the world trade centre was
a good start.(1) it gets their attention and causes them to ask themselves
why people hate them. (2) it gives them a taste of their own medicine.Perhaps,
they may think, killing large numbers of innocent civilians for no good
reason is not a good thing? Perhaps we should entreat our governments
to stop doing it to various civilians around the world? Perhaps we should
try being apologetic for doing so much of it in the past?
Sometimes the extreme solution is the right solution.
Juliet Wittman, USA
There are a lot of us here in the U.S. who are not at all
convinced that this was a fair election. Votes cast on the Diebold machines
and other black box computers--widely used in both Florida and Ohio--are
impossible to verify. I seem to remember a columnist, possibly Paul Krugman,
saying that the only way we'd know if someone had jiggered the numbers
was if the exit poll numbers failed to line up with the final results.
And, as I understand it, so they haven't. Krugman also said that the worst
result he could imagine was that the Democrats would win the election,
but never know it.
I hate to seem paranoid, but in the light of the dedicated attempts at
voter disenfranchisement by the Republicans, it's hard not to be.
And even if I'm completely wrong, I'd like to see this possibility get
a serious airing.
Michael Remler, United States
Why is an economically advanced economy appear to be closely
correlated with a female fertility of less than two; that is less than
replacement. Is one cause and the othere effect? and which is which? What
does this mean about the future of European culture with large scale Islamic
immigration? When Rome became ethnically Visagoth the name was changed
to Italy. Will we need to change the name of France when it is ethnically
Algerian? Whither Japan?
James Howard, UK
Without doubt we should be talking about the social and
economic consequences of oil depletion. Many senior oil geologists are
coming out and saying that there is not as much oil as was previously
thought - indeed, the peak of production is looking increasingly likely
to be within the next decade.
Are we utterly dependent on oil? Yes, to an extent most people wouldn't
Are oil prices going to rise? Yes, as demand increases and reserves decrease.
Can we guarentee long term supply of oil? With nearly two/thirds of oil
coming from the middle east, as long as we continue to aggravate the area,
it cannot be guarenteed.
Are there alternatives? For some things yes, for other things no, but
none as cheap as oil and none that do not require monumental investment
that just isn't happening.For more information:
or google 'Peak Oil'.
Issues that need to be dicussed include:
Why are the links between large corporations and politicians not scrutinized
for their effect on governmental policy?
Why is the Third World an afterthought until genocide occurs or people
start asking where terrorism came from?
How can you declare a world war on a word? Terrorism has never been used
to describe the political motive behind violence but the violence itself
Who decides the difference between a terrorist and a freeom fighter?
Can there never be a revolution again, given that all any sovreign government
has to do is accuse the revolutionaries of being terrorists?
Why does the issue of abortion help decide the US election when more children
die daily from poverty and malnutrition than will from abortion in any
Michel Bastian, France
Well, the obvious question at the moment is: Quo vadis,
Palestine? What is going to happen now, after the death of Arafat, and
what should the parties involved (i.e. Israel, the Palestinian government,
the US and the EU) do next?
Herb Kimiatek, USA
The Arab world makes the false claim that their major reason
for having this hostility towards the western world is the Palistinian
Israeli conflict. Since they do not feel the palistinians are at fault
,then it is just the Israelis which is really just the Jews. This is tha
age old problem that the Jews are the cause of conflict in the world.
I guess we have to go along and try to fix this conflict and when it is
fixed wait for the excuse the Arab world gives for the continuing unrest.
An idea I would like to express is that Israel and palistine come to a
final territory resolution of what is Isael and what is Palistine. Then
the settlements do not have to be disbanded, those Jews become palistinians,
and Israeles if is Israel wants them. Why should Palistine be Jew free.
we need to talk about the major differences in wealth accumulation
between those countries like the USA and those countries that are extremely
poor. We need to know that poor folk have a right to organize to improve
their standards of living, without having some right-wing *freedom* gangsters,
calling them terrorist or communist, or socialist. Mostly when people
organize its does out of the need for self determination or nationalism
. We need to see this. Also the injustice of the Palistianin question
needs to be resolved and we need to look at the state terror of the Israelis,
backed in full by the United states.
If we want a peaceful world we have to act like peacemakers not jinogist.
Its always easier to strike out, calling others terrorist so then we can
use force on them. In America, my home, we have failed in our education
of our citizens, since, we fail to understand that violence begets violence.We
also fail to appreciate that democracy can't be brough to others it has
to arise from the needs of the people, the people have to determine how
they are going to living and which form of goverment they desire.
I think the right is basically flawed, since if we live with the market
there will always be groups of people who are hurt by it, who can't prosper
by it, so we need government to be responsible for all of its citizens
not just the powerful who write the tax and civil laws. Capitalism always
needs to be regulated, if not outright changed to a democratic socialism.
THe problem is that the people who could benefit from a democratic socialism,
act as if they were from the ruling elite and see it as a dictatorship
which it is not at all, dispite the name sake of the soicalism in the
soviet union which was not democratic.
In reality we are in for a long stuggle because those in power are only
concerned with their own political advantage and not with the greater
good for all. They have the world, what more do they want?
Henry James, UK
For me the most exciting thing about my recent discovery
of this web site is contained, microcosmically, in this debate on its
own- simply that, on this page are enumerated the most important issues
facing our planet's immediate and long-term future: described succinctly,
objectively, dispassionately, but with caring. While being conscious of
the fact that the people writing here for the most part share my position
in the political spectrum (centre-left, liberal), I could assert (therefore
not unbiasedly) that people writing here are reasonable, intelligent,
thoughtful, and are careful to take as broad and unbiased a view as they
can (and it is with the same qualities that Timothy Garton Ash wrote his
My point, leading to my suggestion for a subject for further debate, is,
are they ways we can process the implications of this, take it forward?
Are there ways we can crystallise, systematise, relativise viewpoints
on these issues, position them in a scale of objectivity and fairness?
So that regardless of overly-fetishised religious and other stances on
certain 'flag-bearing' issues (gay marriage), are they ways of viewing
aspects that affect all of us (the environment, Kyoto), viewing particular
opinions and suggestions about them in order of 'enlightened-ness', for
example so that if a particular stance or response concerns only one country's
best interest, and another takes into account all relevant parties' interests,
the latter can objectively be stated to be more 'enlightened', more globally
valid? Or if one stance concerns itself only with an immediate future,
and the other with both immediate and long-term future, again the latter
is objectively and dispassionately described as 'better'?
I'm sure you will see what I am getting at here; if there were a way to
move the 'conversation of ideas' in politics on, so that people who espouse
narrow national interests can at least see that this is what they are
doing, and understand that this is on a fundamentally 'lower level' (or
less globally appropriate) than concern with universal interest.
I realise this is pie-in-the-sky. I've just been excited to see so much
reasonable comment on this page.
Another point to consider perhaps is how these memes spread? How does
a person become an 'enlightened' (that word used unhistorically again,
apologies), objective person? And equally important, how can those people
then go on to work usefully and productively together?
I would posit, in answer to the first question (what makes a person enlightened),
rather controversially, that the answer lies in a reasonable level of
intelligence and curiosity, allied with removal from identification with
any particular interest, whether national or commercial etc. A head of
a country is simply not free to act or speak in the interests of all the
parties to a situation ahead of his/her own nation, but must protect his/her
own military, commercial or political power base. Other people, while
not having these particular constraints as a result of their function,
nevertheless choose to identify with them, and become similarly affected
Therefore, almost tautologically: people who think intelligently, compassionately
and globally-objectively come to the conclusion that the best must be
done for all the world, all the parties to a situation - although of course
there may be disagreement on how to do this. All people's views can be
adjusted for distortions inherent in their particular strong identification
with any one nation, religion, economic sector, social class, ethnic group,
In our freedom of being able to choose our perspective (assuming no-one
reading this is a head of state!), I suggest (perhaps unoriginally) we
must act as the conscience of the world, of our leaders, perhaps as its
impartial 'consultants'. Therefore how best to do this? How best to move
the battleground of debate and the locus of consensus away from narrow
interest to human objectivity?
As a Canadian living in America, I suggest we begin talking
about (on the international stage), America's treatment of its Native
or Aboriginal Peoples. Native Americans have become the most insidious
example of American imperialism and just how "forgotten" a people
will become once American Manifest Destiny is done with them. The tradition
of falsely negotiating peace terms; waging brutal and over-powering war;
marketing the upside of atrocities to the electorate; and then distracting
dumbed-down consumers with promises of a rich life while post-war reservation
life suffering goes on unabatted for decades and centuries is what requires
open and honest dialogue. For once, the tough questions need to be asked
and asked again until and actual answer bubbles through the marketing
(what used to be rhetoric). The rest of the free world could help America
by pointing it in upon itself for awhile.
We have little in the way of a truly successful "Free" America
to offer the world.
Let's keep America honest on the world stage by challenging Americans
to clean up their own backyard.
Phil Harris, England, GB
Timothy Garton Ash mentions 'enlightenment values' in today's
Guardian, 18th November. Jefferson, Voltaire. I guess the best we can
do is to continue to try to get our thinking straight - as on this page.
Even now we continue to hope we can improve things.
For most of us our contribution is likely to be limited. I have an ex
aerospace engineer friend who spent the early years of his retirement
promoting high quality performers of music at a local venue. He had no
money of his own to speak of, but was successful. Public recognition of
his role was not a big thing for him. As he lost physical mobility he
moved over to promoting local 'green' housing and encouraging a number
of young people in plying ideas and skills to produce high value outcomes.
Considering the large scale, I quote some recent material I came across
recently while researching for a piece of writing, which suggested the
importance of non-economic societal forces. Gender parity is a critical
matter as we look for an honest approach.
In 1984, quote - „A systems dynamics simulation study of the interaction
of various social subsystems in the People's Republic of Bangladesh ∑
[can] address integrated planning concerns. It is concluded that one should
not underestimate the potential of ∑ [Study results indicated that
the following could decrease the population growth rate to year 2002.]
1) Reducing the school dropout rate for females. 2) Expanding the educational
infrastructure. 3) Increasing adult educational opportunities for females,
4) raising the legal marriage age. 5) Increasing family planning and health
services. 6) Expanding job opportunities for women. 7) Promoting the development
of labour intensive production, and 8) increasing food production.‰
Behav Sci 1984 Jul; 29(3): 145-61.
Twenty years on in 2004, quote - Bangladesh has one of the higher population
densities in the world and higher agricultural to urban employment ratios
than the regional average, but crude birth rate and births per woman have
reduced markedly and are lower than the regional average. Female participation
in education has increased markedly and is close to the regional average.
Maternal and infant mortality remain high. Sustainable Development Networking
Programme (SDNP) E-17 Agargaon, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.
Further focus on women‚s empowerment and reproductive health, aims
to stabilise population by 2060 at 216 million (currently around 130 million).
www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-19 12:58:37
I keep remembering in the corner of TV shots, people in old jeans moving
fast in the background of the peaceful transition in Central and Eastern
Europe at the end of the Soviet era. I guess Europe owes them a lot. It
could have been a lot worse. They never took any kind of power - not surprisingly,
even counting Havel. Has anybody ever assessed fully their role or story?
Enlightenment values in action?
Let's not forget the Earth we all stand on!
Susan Murray, USA
"No one has yet given a convincing argument to that
question. After all it was not that long ago that many of these terrorists
were our allies and considered freedom fighters by us and so we supported
them financially, gave them training and supplied them with intelligence
from our various security agencies. What changed? One thing I do know
is that they have not just turned on us on a whim. What are the motivations
behind these attacks? Perhaps it is time that we in the West especially
America stop meddling in the affairs of The Middle East and let them sort
out they're own problems. In the end it is only then that they can find
I don't believe they were ever our allies, more like enemies of our enemy.
Bin Laden and the fundamental Wahbits were outraged that the American
military touched the sacred soil of Saudia Arabia. It was the most egregious
sin (in their eyes) and had to be punished. Read the writings of Osama
bin Laden. We also support Israel, probably a more egregious sin. Osama
"God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers. But after
the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny
of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon,
I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that
of 1982 and the events that followed -- when America allowed the Israelis
to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. 6th Fleet.
In those difficult moments, many emotions came over me that are hard to
describe, but that produced an overwhelming feeling to reject injustice
and a strong determination to punish the unjust.
As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish
the unjust the same way [and] to destroy towers in America so it could
taste some of what we are tasting and stop killing our children and women.
We had agreed with the [the Sept. 11] overall commander Mohamed Atta,
may God rest his soul, to carry out all operations in 20 minutes -- before
Bush and his administration could take notice.
It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American forces
would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone
at a time when they most needed him because he thought listening to a
child discussing her goat and its ramming was more important than the
planes and their ramming of the skyscrapers. This gave us three times
the time needed to carry out the operations, thanks be to God. . . . "
Obviously, we're not dealing with rational people, in the European sense
of the term. This is an ideological struggle and can't be resolved by
any attempt to enlighten.
Bill George, Germany
Last year I puchased a book called "The Dollar Crisis"
which predicted in some detail what is now happening to the dollar and
consequently to the American economy. While I too am shocked by the apparent
ignorance and stupidity of those who can re-elect a man like George Bush,
I am also concerned at the prospect of the imminent collapse of the world's
most powerful nation (what happens if the next auction of US Bonds fails
to attract enough buyers - something which has happened to other countries
often enough?) The fact that the USA also depends so heavily on a greedy
consumption of energy resources only reinforces the gravity of the threat.
As I am NOT writing a book, I will not continue ...
What we should be talking about: are we justified in spreading
liberal values through force? Leaving aside our assesment of the Bush
administration and the neocons, should liberals be willing to use force
to end tyranny and oppression in the world?
Should Europe choose USA&Canada or Brazil&Argentina?
Luca Cittadini, Italy
Are the so called red americans hating the so called blue
americans for the same and opposite reasons why the blue americans are
hating the reds? in other terms: is your country falling in an ideoligical
war of different stereotypes? do you think that tha actual situation drives
to build stereotypes of each other? including french, germans, arabs,
italians, and excetera? Who is in the right? the stereotype of the red
think the blue are omosexuals who want to have children in a strange chemical
way i don't understand and the blue think those ignorants should not have
the right to vote. and the stereotype of the arabs ( who are they?) think
all the western people are close to the devil. I am sorry if i sound naiv
but i am writing from italy (sounds funny, doesn't it?). My opinion is
anyway that we should talk to each other with the target of understanding
other people's thoughts and questions and needs, and the best people of
this era should start any conversation with the wish, the hope and the
target of understanding each other, because the world is babylon at the
moment, and we have to find the language of mutual comprehension to restart
to call ourself human beings. with devotion.
Luca Cittadini, Italy
i have been reading many many opinions, and you can understand
it is like travelling in a foreign country, with all the excitment that
is guaranteed to the foreigner. my naiv thought is that the right side
of america, which could be the left side but not the wrong side, has all
the arguments and the seeds of a culture able to come out in a positive
way from your crisis and keep your role, but you all should become more
open to the others. generally speaking. Because what i see inbetween the
lines is that the politically correct people overpassed a deadline, the
hercules columns, where you start to hate the people who does not think
like you, which sounds to my ears that you hate them because they don't
love human beings like you do. which is an obvious contradiction. and
ulysses, who goes forward, finds his death. but he does it for the knowledge
of the world. Mr gandhi was so powerful in india not because he had media,
but because he was going in every single village asking what they needed
and what they thought. he knew not every single man or question or need
was right, but he was asking, instead of saying. and by the time he started
to ask to poor people to follow him in his refusal of food against english
occupation of a sovereign country, the news were going from village to
village on the feet of somebody, faster than trains. because he was a
listener. the people who want a more peaceful world should start from
understing the people of their own country who are bigot, negative and
think they know the truth. it's too simple and unacronistic to understand
only the people who think like you, red or blue you are. the world is
on fire. only a real dialogue will put a shade of red on liers faces.
liers are guiilty, not the humans of goodwill, wherever they live, whatever
they think. it's simple. if we as citizens want to have a role we have
to follow the road of comprehension, which does not mean indulgence. Means
who are you and how are you living your life in this world? what do you
need, what do you have? what do you know about my problem? could we live
in peace if power had less poower? honestly yours
Bob Powelson, A Canadian in Korea
There are a lot of lefties on this one.
Someone spoke of the Dollar crisis. If the low value of the US dollar
is such a crisis why is everyone in Europe and Asia complaining so loud
about the "unfairness" of the low dollar?
It is simple really, it make the thing they sell to the US too expensive
and the US goes elsewhere and the Japanese and European economies suffer
more than the US.
Does anyone remember the two oild pricing crises? Oil got expensive the
US borrowed trillions. The money came from Europe, Japan and the Middle
East to the US.
What happened then? The owners of the money invested in the US. The Saudis
bought real estate which dropped in price and the US essentially got it
back for about 24 cent on the dollar.
Japanese manufacturers set up factories (Sony, Toyota, Honda and etc.)
Their concern for those factories made them become nearly American - in
some case the ownership actually shifted. Again the US got their money
back at about 40 cents on the dollar after a couple of recessions.
Never, never sell the Yankee trader short. He will whip you every time.
Latest episode. Mercedes buys Chrysler. The German Economy tanks and the
guaranteed job system has hurt Mercedes very badly. Part of their problem
is the low dollar.
Next step Merceded divests itself of the American Chrysler holding for
about 25 cents on the dollar.
Europe is a spent force and Social Democracy is a failing system.
Johanna Moren, Sweden
I think we need to ask ourselves a simple question.
Why is it alright for us to have Nuclear weapons?
Who is it that has used them? Who has used biological weapons?The very
country that has used them is going around the world telling people if
they try to get them they will put sanctions on them. Why don't we put
sanctions on the U.S.A. They not only have them but they have used them
and I have no doubt they would use them again. If this makes sense to
you, it doesn't to me.I was out on the street in 1946 against the bomb.
for that they called me a Communist. I joined the environmental movement...I
was a communist. Peace movement a communist. Now I guess they would call
me a terrorist. Stangely enough I was born a Catholic.
I think you young people have got to ask the right questions. I have seen
the wrecks of soldiers that have come back from too many wars.This one
I imagine will have a devastating effect on them.
Susan Starke, USA
Canadian columnist Mark Steyn has said that for many countries,
the "free world" is a "free ride" on the military
might of the United States. True or false? What should the role of the
Francisco J Aguilar, Chicago, Illinois,
One Earth, too many people!
Bruce the Canuck, Canada
"the "free world" is a "free ride"
on the military might of the United States. True or false? What should
the role of the military be?"
False. Remember that Europe has its own nuclear weapons. Not as many as
the US, but it only really takes a few dozen, and they have a lot more
than that. As much as I hate to admit it as a "leftie", is why
the "developed world" has by and large been at peace internally
for two generations.
The USA's conventional-arms military might exists to maintain its oil
supply. Conventional arms are next to useless except for "sparring",
messing around in smaller countries, and shooting your own citizens if
they get uppity. Nukes are the cheapest defensive security around, which
is why small countries with dangerous neighbours want them. Iran doesn't
want nukes so it can bomb Israel, or hand them to terrorists - it wants
them to keep the US from invading them (by threatening to bomb Israel).
Europe, etc, have less oil-intensive economies, and so can be energy-secure
through market-based means alone. This is also why the EU embraced Kyoto;
their perception of the risk to climate change isn't necc higher. It's
that the costs are lower to the EU, and they'd like to further reduce
reliance on oil anyways, to avoid the trap they see the USA is in now.
If the white house were really concerned about promoting freedom and quality
of life, they'd be messing around in Africa, not the middle east.
There are other contributing reasons, such as smaller families, which
in a democratic country leads to a strong reluctance to risk your only
child to invade a neighbour.
So if you want peace, promote democracy, nukes, and birth control, in
about that order. Unfortunately, while nukes reduce the frequency of large-scale
war, they vastly increase its cost.
I think a useful topic might actually be, "Why isn't anyone afraid
of the large nuclear arsenals any longer, especially when China is so
ambitious and undemocratic, and Russia is near-totalitarian and a failing
Nukes terrify me. But until Russia and China are true democracies, it'll
be hard to get rid of them.
It is so terribly depressing travelling through the bloggosphere
and visiting places on the Internet. So many ideas, so many discussions,
so much talk! Yet everything sooner or later disappears as if through
a black hole or gets drowned in the babel of voices struggling to be heard
(including this one!). There is nothing left. No light! Most of us remain
if not as ignorant, at least as impotent in the face of the challenges
and threats we face today and those we will be facing tomorrow, as when
we first embarked on this "electronic" search for a better world.
Blogging, as it is presently, is indeed a very passive activity but it
has a dark side to it also in that it lulls us into a false sense of comfort
and satisfaction. I am thinking that perhaps there is a need for more
"active" blogging. Not that discussion and pondering and ranting
are no longer useful and should be thrown on the scrap heap. What if along
with all that there was also sharing of the concrete actions that one
is taking in one's own particular life for the advancement of a better
world. For example, along with ranting against the big bad US invading
Iraq for oil, why not also add what one is doing PERSONALLY to reduce
one's own oil consumption - SUV or hybrid? What group have we joined and
what concrete steps is it taking for a better world? How can others join?
I fear that unless we learn of creative ways - or share them if we already
have them - to transform today's "echo chambers" (which is what
the Internet and the bloggosphere for the most part have become) into
some kind of "launching pads" towards real activism in the real
world, we will remain trapped with each other, albeit in a "wonderful
world of intelligent discourse", talking to each other, across each
other, about what we should be doing or what we should be thinking, instead
of going out there and really tackling the problems. It would be interesting,
for example, to have on this site maybe a listing (or links to listings)
of TRUE activism (community, grassroots) instead of COUNTERFEIT activism
(corporate-backed or government-backed activism disguised as the former
!). In other words, action (and ideas always of course!) but not just
talk. Talk is cheap! We can't afford it anymore!
Bob Powelson, A Canadian in Korea
text: Steve Garcia asks a few questions that I will try to answer from
my, admittedly personal perspective.
1. Why do Arab men blow themselves up? The only thing I can think of is
sheer stupidity. It gets our attention in a totally negative way.
2. Why do they try to get out attention? I have the same answer a 1. above.
We generally haven't listened to them because we have already chosen sides.
We prefer Israel. To those that haven't chosen side they appear to have
noothing rational to say.
3. Why don't they thin we are hearing? We hear, we just don't agree.
4. Is there any "Win - Win" solution in the midddle east? Other
than Armageddon I doubt it.
5. The US uses military options because after 50 years of discussing things
between Israel and the Palestinians it has clearly been a waste of time
6. Sometimes the US negotiates sometimes it doesn't. Diplomacy is the
art of saying "nice doggie" until you find a big rock.
7. The Arab/Western rift in Iraq is more a Sunni and everyone else rift.
The Kurds are happy and the Shiites fairly content.
8. The US invasion of Iraq was not erroneous. Weapons of mass destruction
or not, Saddam needed to be removed. Next he needs to be convicted and
executed. How do you propose to hold the US leadership accountable? As
the Alpha male of the world wolf pack armed with nukes there is no way
to hold the US accountable and the leaders have just won an election.
Enforcable international law in relation to the only superpower is and
idea that comes from smoking funny cigarettes.
9. Iraq is getting a lot of reparations it is called rebuilding. Should
the former system in Iraq be brought back? Not in my lifetime.
The world really is in a clash of civilizations and the sooner we accept
that reality the better off we are. Bush and the US have chosen sides
and my repsponse makes it clear that I have also chosen. Osama bin Laden
opened the bottle and let the genie out> I want the western system
John, American living in the UK
What Europe,America and the rest of the 'free
world' should be taking about is that the free world cannot survive with
the US the way it is today.The government of the world's only superpower
is completely controlled by those whose ideology is an unprecedented and
dangerous mixture of fascism and fundamentalism.There are however two
different countries,geographically and culturally,in America today and
they are increasingly incompatible.Thanks to the election,we at least
know what their borders are.One(Blue State America) is similar to Canada
and Europe in attitude and outlook.The other(Red State America)is more
like Saudi Arabia or Iran in its character.At some point both Americas
need to reach the conclusion that they must agree to a partition,as in
the case of India/Pakistan,or Czech Rep/Slovakia,just to name two instances.
Robert B Elliot, USA
text: Dear Friends,
I've just found your site and the hour is too late for the sort of commentary
I would normally offer. For now, let me just state that there will never
be a free world in the absence of free children, who are able to learn
and develop optimally. Freedom, liberty, autonomy, and responsibility
are learned and they are only possible if one's mind is free. As long
as schooling is substituted for authentic educational opportunity and
as long as schooling is mandated by laws, children will be, in effect,
"brainwashed" or indoctrinated by the state and rendered inept
by the school bureaucracy. I will attach a list that I wrote months ago.
It spells out my specific objections in some detail.
The ancient premises and promises on which compulsory school attendance
is predicated are ALL patently false. No one can come up with a single
justification past or present for this travesty against children that
will fly for a single second. The following briefly summarizes a number
of specific issues or arguments relative to these questions, each of which
will be more thoroughly discussed in separate articles of this series.
1. To function adequately as responsible and mature adult citizens in
a free democratic system, people must necessarily first experience real
personal choices, real freedom and liberty in their purest form, and extensive
real opportunities to practice and experiment with their own decision-making
skills and discretionary abilities throughout their childhood. Having
freedom for the first time at graduation is like being given a 747 to
fly, without ever having been near one.
2. Schooling that is forced upon students cannot possibly be seen by them
as a privilege and an honor, nor can it ever result in authentic education.
A privilege by any sane or logical definition involves initiative, free
will, self-determination, personal goals and objectives, and independence
from mass conformity and manipulation. The same is true in spades for
an „education‰. No credible definition of education includes
subjugation, dependence, confinement, the memorization of trite and trivial
factual material (for the sole purpose of passing tests), massive standardization,
bureaucratic gridlock, and the endless confusion of behavioral demands
and discipline with academic discipline and excellence.
3. Values, morals, principles and ethics cannot ever be integrated in
whole or in part into an official institutional curriculum or transmitted
from a public school teacher to a diverse and variegated group of children,
without stepping into the territory forbidden by the church-state separation
requirement of the US Constitution. To try to create a middle ground or
a watered down version of values and morals satisfactory for mass consumption
is to render them meaningless and impotent. A choice has to be made between
education and indoctrination. It is impossible to contribute significantly
to positive character formation, without super-imposing essentially philosophical
or religious viewpoints or without purposefully exercising undue bias
in social or political influence. An institution of this nature must be
totally free of any state or other external domination or control of any
4. The popular and controlling conception of knowledge as information,
data or subject matter, that can exist in some tangible form external
to a human being, and that can be somehow transplanted, transferred or
injected into a student‚s brain or mind through an „educational‰
process is in direct contradiction to any credible contemporary psychological
theory. This view of knowledge and learning is anachronistic and misanthropic
in the extreme. Knowledge (knowing) can only exist when it is part of
an integrated whole within a living person‚s brain and nervous system.
Knowledge must be methodically and voluntarily extracted and extrapolated
from accessible sources by a living, breathing, and fully engaged student.
This misguided mass and indiscriminate immersion in and exposure to information,
presented arbitrarily and in uniformity is by definition something other
than education. Education originates with the intrinsic desire of the
individual to expand upon and incorporate what only that individual can
perceive and recognize (re-cognize) in her or his personal phenomenological
field. This is not Pollyanna theory. It is demonstrable fact.
5. A state government invariably wields overwhelming power with respect
to private individuals. When school authorities usurp the responsibility
of parents to educate their children, those authorities are automatically
obliged to define both legally and practically the parameters of education
in the process as an agent of government. They also automatically establish
a need at all levels to assure compliance, loyalty, tacit acceptance,
legitimacy, surrender and servility on the part of children and parents.
They must sell what they offer and it must continually justify their use
of power and its ineffectiveness. This effort then necessarily becomes
nothing more than naked propaganda, pandering, mind-control, rationalization,
PR, indoctrination, subtle and not-so-subtle persuasion, intimidation
of parent and child, Blaming The Victim, nostalgia baiting, outright lying
and everything else, but education.
6. The belief that it is possible to pre-ordain a set curriculum that
applies uniformly to large numbers of succeeding classes of students is
absolute folly. Curriculum is the list of wonderful and specific intentions,
emanating from pretentious or presumptuous scholars, with which the road
to hell is paved. A curriculum sets in concrete things that are never,
ever the same for two students or teachers; things that are fluid and
changing by definition, and things that are always contingent on exponentially
varying experience and perception. Curriculum, beyond the level of a single
teacher on a single day, is a stone that weighs around the necks of teachers
and students alike, sinking all of them into a non-navigable sea of slime.
7. When we try to do the impossible and especially the impossible on a
grand state or national scale, we cannot help but misallocate resources,
misdirect our time and energies, and make major mistakes in policy and
practice. This is nowhere more evident than in the profound neglect in
schools of the verified needs of students for constant physical movement
and exercise; for occasional peaceful tranquility; for diversion, variety
and stimulation; for artistic experience and exposure; for quiet solitude
and contemplation; for vigorous social interaction and identity formation,
and for the manipulation and exploration of objects and ideas involving
unlimited spatial and mental configurations. Schools must concentrate
on „academics‰ at the expense of everything else and at the
expense of the child‚s welfare, since academics are their alleged
over-arching purpose. Unfortunately, however, even academics are doomed
to failure under the conditions of coercion and exploitation in these
highly contrived, confusing and sterile environments.
8. The relationship of children to their parents and guardians is as close
to a sacred trust as anything gets in the estimation of most American
citizens. But the quickest way to undermine and compromise that precious
relationship is to arbitrarily make parents into tough truant officers
for the state or for one of its bureaucratic agencies. The same thing
can be said about making teachers the enforcers of anonymous authority,
which in this scheme of things is unavoidable. A child might well voluntarily
attend a school where the parent is intimately involved; where his or
her perceptions, experiences and feelings are taken into serious consideration
by the staff, and where the parent is able to articulate a sincere and
convincing rationale that corresponds to the actual events and potential
benefits that can be seen daily by the child. Given these state laws and
the total disconnect they create however; parents are thereby pitted against
their own children and alienated from them and their peers, often irreparably.
9. Children came to represent little more than a given number of dollars
to a given locality the second the first law was passed requiring attendance
in a school ˆ any school. Incredible pressure is applied on parents,
teachers and the children themselves to keep those seats occupied and
the money flowing to the institution, regardless of the inimical effects
on all concerned. Children have become chattel in such a system and are
treated more as resources to use and property to control, than as important
and fragile new members of the larger community.
10. If genuine educational opportunities were offered at no cost or at
an affordable cost to parents, there would be no need to force any parent
to enroll their children in such a beneficial and productive program,
nor are there likely to be children who would not embrace their chance
to receive the universally recognized benefits of such a splendid program,
except in the most rare instances. Those few instances and exceptions
that would occur in which parents are negligent are covered by existing
child welfare laws. Children of all ages would be fighting to gain access
to places where real learning was taking place and real opportunity for
becoming productive and competent was evident.
11. Let‚s ask ourselves, fifty years after the Civil Rights movement;
after The Brown „separate and unequal‰ decision and the Cole
Report and many Blue Ribbon studies; after major legislation aimed at
ending hate crimes and discrimination of all types; after innumerable
programs, both in schools and out, having to do with tolerance and „multi-culturalism‰
and justice and awareness, why are we seeing an increase in the terribly
nasty and petty things of this nature that we had hoped were behind us?
The clear answer is because we have been unable to do anything about the
institutionally caused insecurity; the inherent barriers to the formation
of a positive and affirmative identity; the incapacity for understanding
and tolerance resulting from school methods and structures, and the irresponsible
failure to properly inform and educate our youth with respect to our history,
our mistakes and our discoveries. Children who are pushed into long-term
schooling that they find degrading, demoralizing, frustrating, meaningless
or oppressive, where they must compete for favor and attention, do not
usually respond well to messages about tolerance or develop an appreciation
for diversity, charity, brotherhood, fairness and sharing the wealth.
12. The idea that there is no better way and no affordable alternative
is absurd. The idea that twelve years of formal schooling for 180 days
per year is necessary is even more absurd. For thousands of years, if
not generations, children learned what they needed to know in a fraction
of the time, without schooling, forced or otherwise. „Basic skills‰
are still basic and sophistication still relies on the love of learning.
Before forced or formal schooling the rate of literacy, even among the
rural and poor was higher than it is today and there was a much greater
respect and admiration for authentic learning and intellectual development.
13. Among the driving forces behind the establishment of laws requiring
school attendance were and are still religious concepts that have no place
in public policy. These disgraced and unsubstantiated „theories‰
conflict directly with many current religious beliefs and with solid scientific
research results. The idea that the child will do the wrong thing or act
in a selfish or „sinful‰ manner (the theory of original sin)
without being dragged into a school and reprogrammed by right-thinking
adults is the prime example of a terribly backward and ignorant notion,
in what is becoming a terribly backward and ignorant nation as a direct
consequence. Children compulsively seek knowledge, unless criminally discouraged
and they return respect in proportion to the respect they receive.
14. The unrealistic popular hope for salvation or for a social panacea
and a utopian future has historically been a prominent motivating factor
in equating schooling with education and has brought nothing but grief
and abject failure. If universal education is truly the means to a better
tomorrow for mankind, as it most surely is, then the sooner we relinquish
the foolish pipedream of fine-tuning this misanthropic misery machine
of schooling throughout the period of youth, the sooner we will see a
significant increase in authentic education. Society cannot be improved
by regarding children as sub-human conscripts in need of brainwashing.
15. One frequently hears the explanation that school is preparation for
life and that kids must experience the unpleasantries of work, study,
punching a clock, taking orders and boring drudgery, in order to be better
able to deal with these things later as adults. What hogwash this is!
If life were like school, we would all commit suicide long before we reached
adulthood. Young people are not better prepared by being made to feel
imposed upon; by feeling like victims of injustice and abuse; by comparing
themselves to workers in a dead-end and unproductive factory, by having
the sensations of worthless or insignificant prisoners of sadistic guards,
or being treated as uniform cogs in a square wheel. Human beings all deserve
better at all ages. One lives life; one doesn‚t prepare for it!
16. The „state of the art‰ psychological conceptions of basic
learning processes, multiple intelligences, moral and social development,
supervision and intervention needs, methods and materials for mental improvement,
etc., have all changed radically in recent decades with the advent of
various technologies, sciences, tools and techniques. Yet, corresponding
changes in how things are done in schools and in removing the shackles
from children and their teachers are not even on the drawing board. Why
is this? Because the law and the structures that it necessitates are all
that are needed to discourage and defeat anyone who might try to take
any substantial initiative in moving ideas and proposals from the temporary,
limited and experimental to the permanent, expanded and applied.
17. „Schooling‰ and „learning‰, and „system‰
and „education‰, are terms that are primarily antithetical
to each other ˆ people do not learn well in groups or institutions,
or with constant auditory input (lectures and speeches), unless the subject
matter pertains directly to the group or to the group process and unless
sessions are short, direct and highly stimulating. No system can accommodate
the unpredictable and variable needs of large numbers of individual learners
confined in space, mobility and scope of thought and vision. School, meaning
the clustering of sizable numbers of children into a classroom, is bad
for kids, except in extremely limited doses, with ample recovery time
in between. The brain is NOT a passive computer and the child is not just
an inert, disembodied brain.
18. Despite the wishes of many well-meaning teachers and school personnel,
and despite the lip service paid by many official spokespersons, active
and consistent parental participation is not actually desired in school,
except in enforcing rules, affirming authority (including, or perhaps
especially, the authority of officials and others over the parents themselves)
supervising homework, and reinforcing the omnipresent messages of guilt,
shame, intimidation, inferiority and the like. This is one other direct
consequence of power and superiority invoked by the law. If school is
required, appointed „experts‰ must assert their superiority
19. Much, if not most of current „educational‰ practice, as
well as compulsory attendance in school itself, is founded on the highly
antiquated but pervasive perception of the child as a blank slate or an
empty container to be filled via teaching, by a master in a given subject
area or in pedantry. Recent studies, as well as settled and verified sciences
reveal, however, that the child builds on a surprisingly sophisticated
and complex cognitive foundation from birth. The active and exploratory
nature of the child demand that the child not be inhibited and frustrated
by an environment that is hostile to his or her enthusiasm, curiosity,
competence and independence.
20. Americans have a very long tradition of rejecting any plan or system
where the ends is alleged to justify the means. Yet, when it has come
to children, that prohibition has somehow been rendered unimportant. The
ends have never justified anything, let alone the mean means in schooling
by fiat. The reasons why this is glossed over and denied habitually are
several, primary of which is the facile ability of the schools to blame
their victims for their own failures and the tendency of the victims to
blame themselves. Resentment that has no logically explained cause and
no accessible means of expression or visible target is turned inward.
Compulsion in education (the means) is never justified by the ends, i.e.,
mis-education, indoctrination, programming, etc., since by definition,
education requires liberty and autonomy as well as leadership and voluntary
participation. This is not ivory tower theory. This is reality. Read the
statistics and weep.
21. Authoritarian structures derive their existence from metaphors that
are nearly universal within a culture. We have, for example the „strict
father metaphor‰ which originates in the construction of the traditional
family and which affects our institutions in a major way. While this metaphor
has its utility within the typical family and has been functional to some
extent historically in societies, it is not a sound basis for a state
and national educational policy framework in today‚s world. Authority
in education must be based on daily-demonstrated competence, on valid
and verifiable knowledge and on the ability to teach and inspire, without
resistance. Arbitrary authority, especially when anonymous, engenders
resistance, resentment, defiance, politicking, jealousy, favoritism, subversion,
etc., etc., etc. Authoritative relationships are far superior to authoritarian
22. Schools that owe their existence or survival to a captive and largely
unenthusiastic audience have a strong tendency to become progressively
anti-intellectual. There are dozens of factors that contribute to this
sorry result. One is the least common denominator effect, due to wide
variation in interests, aptitudes and ability. Another is the fear factor,
which inhibits teacher and student alike in their pursuit of knowledge
and truth. The most significant factor however is that schooling by legislative
decree is not about the intellect at all, since conduct, attitude, deportment
and attendance must always take priority to ensure absolute conformity
to the law.
23. Community is of extreme importance to the American way of life and
schools have always been regarded as central to community life. Yet, schools
which serve the state as factories to produce a quasi-human „product‰
for its own supposed purposes are inhospitable to the idea of community
in many respects. Children and parents find no comfort there and are too
often loathe to return there for any reason. Schools have found it necessary
to consolidate and expand, due to budgets strained by waste, bureaucracy,
corruption and excessive focus on accountability. The voracious and conscienceless
bureaucracy meanwhile has little or no affinity for or loyalty to the
local community. And, citizens leaving these schools are typically cynical
and bereft of any genuine interest in their community or of confidence
in their ability to speak on issues or to influence change. Twelve years
of disengagement and powerlessness leaves them alienated and cynical.
24. The futility with respect to change and with respect to the effective
application of proven scientific principles that characterizes „lower
education‰ has infected „higher education‰ to a shocking
degree. What we now see is merely „lower‰ schooling and „higher‰
schooling and mis-education at all levels. Teaching as a profession is
no longer held in high regard. We see students who have not grown and
who still find it extremely difficult to think or act independently, courageously
or conscientiously, even long after they have graduated or dropped out.
Even masters programs are more about being politically correct, spouting
the party line as it is pronounced in selected texts and materials and
conforming to the behavior and expectations of authority figures, than
about the pursuit of knowledge and performing with dignity and conscience.
Autonomy is a foreign concept in the typical university. Few college level
students have a true love for discovery and research. The research that
is performed is duly reported in thousands of journals, which are only
read by a small handful of professionals, if they are read at all. Litigation
is required to change the simplest things.
25. Attempting to force a child to learn is like trying to force a fish
to swim. Nevertheless, we blindly go on about trying not only to superimpose
our knowledge but also to measure and quantify how much we have force-fed
our wards in these windowless prisons called schools. Grading and evaluation
according to behavior and performance are absolutely indispensable, of
course, as are the typical proportions of successes and failures in any
competitive system. Likewise, all manner of other intrusions on the lives
and minds of children are required, such as endless testing; intrusive
homework; rushing about from class to class in rat-race fashion; rigidity
in teacher responses and routines; restrictions and parameters set on
everything, including discussion and debate, and bells, buzzers and whistles
marking the beginning and end of all the things that should rightfully
have continuity and connection. We have turned learning into drudgery
and discouraging work for children who learned automatically prior to
26. Swimming might be an apt metaphor for learning (to continue with the
aquatic metaphor). Once learned, aquatic activities can occur almost anywhere
there is water, just as the more intellectual and academic processes can
occur almost anywhere there is some source of information, with or without
a classroom or teacher. But creating a law that requires school attendance,
a curriculum, a particular set of standards and accountability rules,
etc., is like freezing the water to some depth and trapping the victims
in the ice or below the surface. Suddenly, there is a rigidified hierarchy
with political and economic interests to protect. Suddenly, there is an
adversarial relationship between the naturally hyperactive student and
the institution and a need to promote the status quo and the interests
and the perpetuation of the institution over the interests of the student.
The ice can only get thicker and deeper, while the less hardy or competitive
swimmers become frozen and die. And, even those with the most advantages
develop a jaded and unbalanced view of the world.
Ricardo Amon, California
All the subjects you are covering are relevant
and important to humanity. I would also like to see a discussion about
the plight of indigenous people around the world. Many of them, be it
in Colombia or Brazil are being persecuted or assasinated by land settlers,
paramilitary groups or armed bands to stop them from complaining or demanding
that their land be preserved, that their culture be respected, that their
rights to life be granted like it is meant to be to all people. Please
open a discussion group on this subject, before indigenous people become
Jan Paul, USA
John, American living in the UK
Your Red Blue assessement is in error since if you look at the Blue states
you find that with the exception of only a very few NE New England states,
the rest of blue states like New York and California, Pennsylvainia, Mich,
etc. only had major cities voting predominately for Kerry. Michigan for
example had Kerry win the state by 167,000 votes or so. Yet he won Detroit
by 300,000. Out of 83 counties only 16 voted for Kerry and the those 16
counties found all their votes lost to Bush votes in the other counties
plus almost half of the Detroit vote. New York? same deal. New York city
and and a few other counties carried the state for Kerry while most of
the counties went for Bush. All the west coast states were the same with
only the major cities carrying the state while most counties voted for
Bush. What we have occurring here and in Europe is a struggle between
socialism and capitalism.
On this site have been many comments about the government catering to
the business and oil people. Probably true since these are the things
that keep the economy going. Fair? Probably not, but the countries that
have tried to avoid this usually have problems with high unemployment.
Capitalism by its nature is a top down system while socialism tries to
be a bottom up system. Unfortunately the poor don't hire and create the
dynamics needed for economic success. Look all around the world and the
countries doing the best right now, and the U.S. isn't one of the top
ones, you will find corporate tax rates at half that of France, Germany
and the U.S. Look at real GDP growth rates and you will find these three
countries way down the list, even behind some just emerging from communism
and using tax cuts, privatized social security, flat taxes, and incentives
for wealthy to come and live or invest. South Korea in 1975 had high unemployement
and now have lower unemployment than these three countries and wages have
gone up 2,800% and their buying power even at current lower pay scales
is probably higher than ours becasue they can buy their goods at lower
prices than we can. Their positive business environment has done what
no amount of "aid" had done. China now since adopting many of
the Hong Kong business techniques, has a middle class population larger
than the entire population of the U.S. which of course is still a small
percent of their total population, but look at the direction they are
moving and how fast they are moving with their positive business environment
and catering to the wealthy. China also has a business tax rate of almost
half of France, Germany and the U.S.
Speaking of wealthy. Think catering to the rich is just a U.S. thing.
France, Germany, and many other countries like them have wealthy people.
And many of them get their wealth the same way some do in the U.S. - with
government contracts. It is like in Russia under communisim where everybody
was equal. Except, if you were an average citizen you waited hours in
bread lines and if you were high in the party you ate caviar, vacationed
in State Owned resorts, on State Owned yachts and drove State owned cars
and lived in nice State owned homes. They weren't yours, but so what you
still lived better than most. Even in the classless societies we find
classes and government catering to the upper class becasue that is where
jobs are created and business deals are cut that create the jobs, products
and services that in turn create GDP which in turn creates tax revenues.
In some respects all of these governments have some striking similarities
regarding the "wealthy." Since all taxes are paid by citizens
as business has to add all taxes into the cost of products and services,
all we do by creating tax system that try to tax these businesses is create
a more expensive way of colleting taxes from the working guy and gal buying
the products. This is true in communist and socialist countries too. However,
in communism the wealth is better hidden through State owned property
and thus the upper class don't even have to pay for living better.
has some interesting stats
For every government person we add to collect a new business tax, we have
to pay for their salary, benefits, office space, office equipment, office
supplies, Heat, A/C, phone, lights, custodians, maintenance and landscape
personnel. Since there are taxes on those bills and supplies, some obvious
as in phone and some hidden as in the cost of office supplies and we use
tax dollars for them, we are paying taxes for taxes. As little as 1 in
8 tax dollars go for actual funds used by some programs while the rest
goes for administration. On average about 1 in 4 tax dollars is for the
programs intended and the rest is the cost of government. 100,000 IRS
employees. 700,000 government employees that do nothing but , control,
check up on, or audit other federal employees
18.7 million government employees and only 18.1 million in all of manufacturing.
Amount of money spent by the government on the ''War on Poverty'' since
1965: $5 trillion
Percent of Americans below the poverty line in 1968: 13%
Percent of Americans below the poverty line in 1994: 13%
Number of jobs lost (including jobs that were not created) because of
1977-1981 increases in the minimum wage: 664,000
Daily Labor Report, March 26, 1987
Number of jobs lost by teenagers because of 1989 increase in the minimum
wage increase: 240,000
Texas A&M professor Finis Welch, Jobs and Capital, Summer 1993.
In other words a lot of government and government policies don't actually
help the poor and the workers. Higher wages don't mean much to the people
who lose their jobs becasue of higher wages.
Tax the wealthy. John Kerry's tax returns proved the futility of that.
He paid 12% because of tax free investments. The wealthy if taxed above
what THEY consider fair will simply move their investments from equities
in business to tax free investments, move their wealth to better tax countries,
or move themselves to better tax countries. History has shown this happening
in France, Germany and to some extent here in the U.S. although not as
much, YET. Fair? Of course not, but it is reality in world where other
countires are willing to compete for the wealthy and business. They get
the jobs and the tax revenues for their social programs and we get the
higher unemployment rates and increased welfare payments. Socialism works
in near utopian situations. Capitalisms caters to greed, power, and egos
in the rest of the world and tries to set limits on those "sins"
while at the same time creating strong economies that benefit all economic
levels like they have in So. Korea. Look at the number of Asians vacationing
all over the world now from places like So. Korea, China, and other economically
strong nations. Look at the rankings of countries on this web site
What should we be talking about. How about what works best for all people
at all income levels in a competitive world? How about talking about getting
rid of all these government programs that sound good and have good intentions
but don't work? How about talking about how to get parents to prioritize
education to the level that they won't tolerate their children coming
home with low grades. In the U.S. we find some minorities that can come
home with C's and not be in trouble. American kids on average can come
home with B's and not be in trouble, but heaven help the Asian kid that
comes home with less than and "A." Currently the best engineering
college is in India and 90% of U.S. students can't even pass the entrance
exam. However, the school is so well respected that the top 10% are guaranteed
jobs in the U.S. Industry is finding better educated, smarter working
employees in other countries and countries that often have better tax
policies to boot. What should we talk about? How about realities in the
business world? If you owned a business and had to make a profit where
would you go. A U.S., French or German company now has to make a 45% higher
profit to give shareholders the same return the same type of company in
Ireland has to because of their 12.5% corporate tax rate and the U.S.
rate of 40% and Germany and France's corproate taxes close to that rate.
You want to talk about "fair" in an ideal world and I want to
talk about what works in a real world. Someday your utopia may get here
but you can't operate on dreams and wishful thinking until it does. Instead
of making the world "fair" for the poor, we need to make it
possible for them to overcome the "unfairness with better education
and a "hand up" instead of a "hand out." If you dont'
believe it look at the countries that have put a priority on educating
the children of the poor and demanding high standards not just "get
by" standards. Yes, the suicide rates are higher in some of these
students who bring shame on their families for low grades, but the nations
are better off and their people are better off in the long run by having
highly educated people enter the work place, government, and leadership
positions. The downside is that they compete like "hell" with
nations that don't set these high standards and "win" business
and jobs away from them. They insource while the others outsource. The
U.S. is currently on the fence. Which way will it tip? Socialism or Capitalism?
Dear Mr. Garton-Ash,
I would like to hear your opinion on why the European constitution should
be submitted to a nation-based referendum? If it is a matter of being
all considered Europeans, why don't we carry out a Referendum according
to other permises, like for example, alphabetical order?
Can you imagine, next month, UE citizens whose last names start from A
to D vote yes or not. It would be great to reach some conculsions on Europeism
without enclosing them into nationalisms.
Please let me know what you think!
Giya, Australia, World Citizen for peace
We should be talking about the reality of
the situation in Iraq and the obscene situation there. Apparently there
are only a couple of independant journalists ib the country. A third is
donna Mulhearn who's reports are available almost daily at her website.
Type in "The Pilgrim Donna mulhearn" and join the yahoo groups
website. She is an aid worker and journalists. Get the real stories from
the lips of Iraqis. This occupation should not be tolerated and would
not be tolerated by the general public if the truth was broadly known.
Check it out. Giya. Australia
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