Media Type: News / Op - Ed
Date of Publication: March 2020
Author(s): Chuck Woolery
The Covid-19 blame game is as out of control as the virus. This was as inevitable as our human resistance to accountability. Liberals blame Trump. Conservatives blame Obama or illegal aliens. American conspiracy theorists blame China’s bioweapons lab in Wuhan. China and Russia hacks are blaming covert US military operations in China. The whole world is suffering economically. A few thousand dying. And a lot more will in some nations more than others. Why? Because of difference in their political systems, the level of their political dysfunction, their values, their economic standing, or their level of basic education. Religion doesn’t appear to have much to do with it. Unless one considers that most faith followers rarely practice the Golden Rule. With nearly 12 to 15 thousand children dying EVERY 24 hours from easily preventable infectious disease – even without wars, genocides, terrorism, global warming, or Covid-19…it’s interesting how activated most comfortable humans get when their own health is unexpectedly threatened.
In my relatively informed opinion (please read my 1996 Congressional testimony posted days earlier on this blog – or my ‘has-been’ credentials below) those who have renamed Covid 19 as the “boomer doomer disease” (BDD) are the closest to getting it right.
We boomers (liberal, conservative and independent) collectively ignored every expert warning offered us over the last 2000 years (see Golden Rule) and particularly over the last 40 years (see conclusion of the 1980 US bipartisan Presidential Commission on World Hunger in my 1996 testimony), and (for the last 30 years) the dozens of other unanimous non-controversial bipartisan Presidential commissions, scientific studies, UN reports, think tank summaries, and intelligence agency conclusions. Each detailed clear warnings to anyone with an open and rational mind. They are all dust collectors few have read, will read, or even seek for preventive solutions.
Meanwhile, thousands of non-profit organizations and their boomer leaders continue to ignore the fundamental principles that could prevent most pandemics. These highly intelligent and committed leaders maintain a focus on their boomer board’s controlled priority issues (nuclear disarmament, religious freedom, public education, universal health care, tree planting, species extinction, global warming, cutting the US military budget, counter-terrorism, human trafficking, protecting international law, mental illness, democracy, invasive species, corruption, racism, refugees, immigration, privacy, peace in the Middle East, gun control…). It’s a monster list of problems and threats that are all interconnected.
And virtually all organizations continue to their focused practice ignoring the obvious need for a collective “Movement of movements”. This was a plea made by Naomi Klein at the 2014 NY City Climate March. This global event was attended by millions of people in hundreds of cities around the world on the same day. She insisted that this progressive US and global gathering wasn’t just about climate change. It represented all environmental issues, world peace, as well as global social and economic justice for all. Each of these major movements address an array of issues that have zero respect for national borders, archaic human laws or popular public opinion. And all issues need to be addressed simultaneously through a comprehensive, holistic, whole of government, and whole of society approach. Unfortunately, nearly every nation is burdened by unsustainable debts perpetuated by reactionary policies instead of addressing root causes or systemic flaws. Short sighted popular polices continue to waste tax dollars addressing the expensive consequences of problems that could have been prevented.
Fortunately, there is no real shortage of money in the world if the political will is there. Even if there’s a global recession sparked by the perfect storm of Covid-19, oil price war and a US election. There remains one source of enormous wealth governments could tap without increasing taxes if they joined together to tap it. A 2014 report estimates there is approximately $32 trillion in offshore accounts stashed there by kleptocrats, oligarchs, terrorists, drug cartels, and wealthy capitalists avoiding taxes. Freezing and then ceasing some of these illicit assets could address each of the vital priorities that each of the major movements have always focused on. They would only have to do one thing. Cease competing with one another in this well-recognized unsustainable zero-sum game of seeking limited national tax dollars.
Coming together in the mother of all grassroots movements could spark a transformational change in world priorities. Instead they believe passing campaign finance laws will change things ignoring the fact that Hillary outspent Trump, Bernie outspent Biden, And Bloomberg outspent them all…and only won one remote Island primary. Hopefully millennials will learn elections don’t really change things as much as creating the political will between elections. Study the political power of liberal organization’s like RESULTS, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, or the conservative Tea Party successes.
Here are the closing sentences from Dan Rather recent letter to Americans. “We are being tested. In part, it is because we have let ourselves get to this point. That is where we are. We cannot change the past. But we can work our might on the present, and then resolve to fix our weaknesses going forward. It is easy to blame leadership. They deserve the blame they are getting. But the rot that led to this moment is more systemic. When we emerge from this crisis, and we surely will, we must follow a path of renewal and improvement of how we structure our society, its economy, its health, its social obligations, and its politics. We are seeing the cost of failure. We have no choice but to forge ahead. And forging into a better, more just future, has been the American way. I, for one, continue to believe with all my heart, it will be that way yet again.”
Mr. Rather is right about the systemic rot. But his optimism about our learning from this crisis is dangerous. Optimism is one reason we didn’t learn from other past crisis’. Studies of optimists show that they are less likely to achieve their goals because they tend to overlook the barriers to achieving them. Pessimists don’t bother looking. Realists, however, look carefully at the barriers and create tactics to overcome them.
I assert that our nation’s greatest systemic flaw is our unexamined worship of independence and the concept of national sovereignty that comes with it. Independence was the founding principle referred to in our Declaration of Independence. But engineering our government’s systems and structures on this mental construct that exists nowhere in the known universe of interdependent systems and structures is at best crazy. At worst, suicide. Covid 19 has exposed this mental and structural flaw of independence in tragic terms. We are unimaginably dependent on every one around us as well as each of the nations in the world. Our steadfast independence at every level (individual, city, county, state, and national) is being ripped apart by the tiniest system and structure we call Covid-19. But don’t count on us learning from the coming chaos.
Not a single media source or policy maker that I’m aware of has even mentioned the simplest and most obvious actions needed to prevent most future pandemics. They all talk about the need for a holistic or whole of government approach. But none mention the obvious need for a whole world approach. Not a single presidential candidate has mentioned the increasingly urgent need to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. FYI they are not on track. And if humanity fails to achieve them soon future pandemics or bioterror events will persist with even greater lethality and global costs.
Human minds evolved to solve problems related to improving our chance of survival. Now, instead of working together to maximize human freedom and security they defend silly concepts like ‘peace through strength, ‘market forces will solve it’, ‘elections matter’, or ‘national sovereignty’ – none of which are useful in addressing our greatest threat – natural or human engineered infectious disease. The millions of deaths from World War II were in vien after the majority of boomer survivors rejected both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the goal of empowering the UN to enforce those inalienable rights. Our nation’s original Constitutional system erred in putting states’ rights above human rights. That led to a civil war that cost more American lives than all the wars our nation fought in since then…combined.
It’s instructive to know that the one time the entire world did come together was for the global eradication of another virus called Smallpox. In just 70 years of the last century Smallpox killed more people in the world than all the wars, revolutions, murders, and genocides combined during the entire century. Proudly, it was the boomer generation that made that happen, but has never sense applied that principle to any other global problem. And global chaos been growing ever sense.
For the last four decades the vast majority of voting age adults (many boomers) have elected policy makers who prioritized America’s self-interests. They often talked the talk of human rights, but rarely walked the walk. And America’s upper class, middleclass, and military defense priorities dominated or national budget fights. This left America’s lower class fighting over scraps. And the vital health needs of the bottom third of humanity relegated to licking boots and dirty bowls while 20% of humanity overindulged. It’s difficult for most Americans to grasp the fact that if they make more than $30,000 a year, they are in the top 1% of humanity. But their greatest error was the majority believing that elections would matter. Between elections while the majority enjoyed unprecedented comforts the wealthy rigged the system. They didn’t rig elections. Approximately half of all eligible voters stayed home. And the other half voted using gut instinct, a single issue, or their party line. Keeping their/our pledge of “liberty and justice for all” rarely entered their minds. Elections are about majorities. Majorities are not always right.
Before I became a ‘has-been’ I toured the US speaking on college campuses and at civic events educating young people and boomers about the growing array of national security threats our nation faced – largely as a result of four factors. First, the exponential growth of technology that could be used for unprecedented good or horrific harm. Second, our minds difficulty in grasping this fundamental fact or the impact of exponential changes. Third, the dysfunction of our government’s capacity to deal with any change. And last, the predictable consequences that were inevitable given our public and political unwillingness to address the deadly root causes of global poverty, hunger, infectious diseases, environmental problems, lack of clean water, sanitation, education, and government repression.
In the mid 1990s the World Health Organization stated that half of all the world’s infectious disease could be eliminated with just clean water and sanitation. I assert that 40-45 percent of the rest of the world’s infectious diseases could be eliminated by addressing the other factors listed above. And the 5% of the biosecurity threats that we cannot prevent – they would be that much easier to deal with and recovered from — if this comprehensive justice/human rights list were achieved. That’s what the 17 Sustainable Goals could give us by 2030…if its not too late. Gun sales this week went off the chart. If you saw the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo and the same city a year later — you will have an idea of how fast – and how far – things can change when our minds lose focus of our greatest threat.
Today’s youth is rightfully focused on global warming and other environmental threats to our freedom, security and prosperity. But if they fail to address the profound injustices (some diminished and others rapidly expanding) their beautiful and essential vision of a green future will never be achieved.
Few have heard of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Even fewer have talked to their elected officials or questioned Presidential candidates about them. But the SDGs remain the only holistic approach to maximizing human freedom, security and prosperity into the foreseeable future. This is the giant hole in the holistic and whole of government approach now being chanted by every US policy maker, pundit, and presidential candidate.
There are now at least 60 strains of the Covid-19 virus. Few average Americans remember that every pathogen undergoes constant mutations. Move killer viruses will emerge. One could be like the Spanish flu that killed the young and healthy within 48 hrs of infection. They drowned in their own body fluids as a result of an overreaction by their own immune systems. And, we still haven’t found the cure for the common cold.
Things change. Can we?
cw’s ‘has-been’ credentials: Former: Issues Director for the Global Health Council, Acton Board of the American Public Health Association, Issues Director for the World Federalist Association, and Chair of the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations…
435 Campaign: www.435globaljustice.blogspot.com (May 2017 through today)
Dothefreakinmath http://dothefreakinmath.blogspot.com (June 2006 to Nov 2016)
The Trilemma http://trilemma.blogspot.com/ (Oct 2011 to Nov 2013)
“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.” -Albert Einstein. As quoted in Quantum Reality, Beyond the New Physics, p. 250.The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.