Using the wonderful Lennon-McCartney title from The Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” album, let me offer a few miscellaneous musings on various events around the globe. As with anything I write, please view these as opinions from an Old Fart who hopes to spawn a little conversation in our non-black and white world.
Egypt is a powder keg that is exploding
Democracy is hard work. It took the United States a long time to make it work reasonably well with slavery taking four-score and seven years to be abolished, almost 150 years for women to get the right to vote and almost 190 years for true civil rights to take hold for African-Americans. Expecting a fledgling democracy to be immediately successful is a pretty high bar to achieve. So, Egypt’s first elected President was less than inclusive than he should have been and did not tend to some basics – the economy, making sure services ran smoothly, etc. Mohamed Morsi did not do what Nelson Mandela did, but few leaders have. Morsi was not perfect, but to me it was a not reason enough to overthrow him in a coup d’etat (yes, President Obama it was a coup d’etat). From today’s news reports, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Egyptian military wants to squash the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, normal Egyptians will see bloodshed and violence when more reasonable approaches could have been deployed. Things will get far worse before they get better.
A few glimmers of hope in Congress, but it probably won’t last
From reaction to what has been transpiring in Egypt, to dealing with the NSA security versus liberty debate, to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s efforts to get better governance in the military over rape cases, to finally passing something – the interest rate on student loans bill, there have been some positive signs of bi-partisan behavior and a mix of some interesting bedfellows (sorry, I could not think of a better word). Yet, I am not hopeful it will last as we face the next debt limit crisis and a budget showdown. If Congress lets the government shut down, every one of them should be showed the door especially the Republican leaders in the House. And, why we cannot pass immigration reform is beyond amazing. If Boehner called for a vote right now on something close to the Senate bill, it would pass with enough Republicans joining the Democrats. That would be bi-partisan and would help the economy per the Congressional Budget Office.
Can we address some real problems for a change, like poverty?
In the absence of constructive debate with real information, our country is not addressing the problems we face collectively. I must give the President credit for trying in some areas, but we need an active and open-minded Congress to listen to people other than their lobbyists. We have a poverty problem in our country (and around the globe). Few of the missing middle class moved up in ranks, with most moving into a paycheck-to-paycheck world beneath or just above the poverty line. The answers are not blindly cutting programs to help those in need, although we must test the Return On Investment (ROI) on each or trying to forestall the expansion of healthcare to more people. The largest reason for personal bankruptcy in the US is lack of (or poor) healthcare insurance. And, poverty is an equal opportunity offender impacting people of all races, genders, ethnicities, urban and rural locations. And, as the Florida experiment showed with real data, drug testing welfare recipients does not enhance the ROI as the drug tests showed welfare recipients had about 25% of the drug usage than that of mainstream society.
Global warming is here and man-influenced, so let’s do something
This is one key reason why it is good Mitt Romney did not win the Presidential election as we would continue to wear blinders as a country on one the greatest perils facing us. Today, it was reported in The New York Times that 200 global scientists have concluded there is a 95% certainty global warming is man-influenced. The GOP and fossil fuel industry public relations campaign against the need to act has put the US behind by about ten years of where it needs to be. To the President’s credit, the push a few years ago for better fuel efficiency in cars has helped. Also, the continuation of energy development tax credits and the statements he made a few months ago are critical. To his detriment, the embrace of more fracking gives many pause, as the end result of burning more natural gas, comes at a dear price of using significant amounts of water in areas where it is extremely dear and the air and water is contaminated by the process. A Duke University Environmental Science study just confirmed ground water contamination from fracking, but the industry already knows this and is not shooting straight with the American people. The industry is actually using the same public relations firm to disinform people on fracking that was used on a similar global warming disinformation campaign. Solar and wind energy continue to grow at rapid paces and there are technologies with other renewables that show promise. This is where we should invest more.
More guns is not a path forward
Let’s close your eyes and repeat the next phrase a few times. “The solution to reducing the number of wildfires is more matches.” Why is the solution to reducing the number of gun deaths in America, more guns? The US leads the civilized world by far in gun deaths and children gun deaths. In a representative poll by Elon University, 93% of North Carolina citizens want better background checks. A similar number want more elongated waiting periods. Even NC Republicans with over 70% tallies want the same. And, yet our NC General Assembly decided concealed weapons in bars and playgrounds was OK and that hunters could use silencers on hunting rifles. Pick up a paper any day of the week and count the number of gun death stories. I am not surprised when a four-year old kills another child anymore. I grieve for those parents, but they contributed to those deaths. The influence of the NRA must decline, as we are making ludicrous changes that will not improve on the number of gun deaths.
China sure does have influence on the Boy Dictator
On a positive note, I read this past week that North and South Korea are reopening the closed manufacturing facility were both sets of Koreans worked together toward a common purpose. It had been closed earlier this year when the Boy Dictator was making waves. I also read today that Korean families separated due to the Korean War Armistice back in 1953 may be able to visit each other in the near future. It is pretty obvious China told the Boy Dictator (and his military leaders) he needed to share his sand toys with the other children in the sand box. That is a very positive sign, especially given his posturing earlier this year.
Thanks for reading my little potpourri of musings. Please feel free to comment on or debate my opinions. They are welcome.