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101. Worldwide Chaos?

26 Apr

Is there “worldwide chaos” or is it normal to have a certain amount of danger, struggle and warfare. I feel that recently, chaos has taken a step upward,
and there is more to be concerned with now — particularly in the USA — than in the last several years.

Here is a list of factors that currently are particularly disturbing:
1. Endless war in Syria and the resulting massive migrations.
2. Our current leader, Trump, is unprepared for high office, and lacks “ideals.”
3. Brexit: Britain leaving the European Union.
4. Russian attack of Ukraine.
5. Israel and Palestinian endless conflict.
6. Worldwide terrorism, including the dangers of ISIS, Taliban, others.
7. Failure of many leaders to recognize climate-change danger.
8. In some countries there is assassination of reporters and dissidents.
9. Greedy leaders scam the citizens, promoting personal wealth for a few.
10. Significant interference in USA elections by a foreign power (Russia).
11. Christianity and Islam sometimes are compatible, but often clash.

The search for chaos “causes” can take many forms, and for most important events, there are many factors that can be causal. There are many places to start the search. I believe a good point is the industrial revolution, usually dated from about 1760 to 1830.

As governments and technology developed, there was a parallel evolution of greed and corruption. The basic principle is that in any society or nation, a few aggressive and intelligent citizens will become leaders. As they improve their political skills, they learn how to communicate with citizens to achieve power, and to make use of rich donors. Congressmen are “bribed to help the wealthy with tax breaks and loopholes, and subsidies, creating a financial cycle: rich donors support desirable legislation and in turn, get even richer.

Once in office for a few years, they also can become adept at increasing their personal wealth. It is a matter of “learning” and of the eventual irresistible temptation to become richer. Those in office gradually separate from the people and form what could be called a “royalty” class. In many cases, a leader that starts out with good intentions will eventually fall into corruption.

The end result of this process of corruption is often violent or non-violent revolution. Excessive greed at the top will produce more poverty and more poor people. This has taken place for centuries, but recent improvement in communication, like the Internet, focused on this oppression, and helped with the organization of protest. One result was the “Arab Spring”, which began in Tunisia around 2010. Revolutions in Egypt and several other countries followed. Syria was the worst case, resulting in a disastrous deadlock between rebels and its President.

So a basic cause for much of the current world crisis is the rise of a greedy “Royalty Class” in many countries (even in the USA). The Syrian disaster became a basic cause to many other international problems. War in Syria resulted in a massive migration to other countries. This refugee problem I see as the major cause of BREXIT, the rise of Pres. Trump, and perhaps the rise of ISIS and other terrorist activity. In the US, the fear of refugees was recognized by Donald Trump, and promoted by him.

Here is a summary of some major (not all) causal links:

The rise of technology was accompanied by gradual governmental corruption.
Greedy and corrupt leaders exploit the citizens and increase poverty.
Citizens, helped mostly by the Internet, discover the corruption.
They are able to organize and revolt in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc.
The revolution in Syria caused massive migration and associated fears.
Migration fears caused Brexit, the rise of Trump, terrorism, ISIS?, etc.

Final thought. I have condensed what could be a whole book, into a brief blog.
My purpose here, is to promote thought and analysis. As ordinary citizens better understand the world, it can become a better place.

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85. We Need Change ?

17 Jan

Trump is the man who will make “change” and deliver us from big, bad government. He is not a politician, he needs no donors, ignore what he says because there is goodness in his heart, he is smarter than the generals (and just about everyone else), all past negotiations are pathetic, and he will rid us of ISIS in a month. He is never wrong and will make you suffer for any criticism. He almost never addresses the criticism itself, but instead attacks the person who made it (even the Pope).

He paints a picture of a failing nation with incompetent leaders and government workers, rampant crime, poor negotiation, widespread poverty, etc. — “things could not be worse.” Black people have not made any progress — an insult to the millions that are doing well and have even achieved the presidency. His motto is “make American great again” without any explanation of when, how, and the meaning of “great.”

.                 False, rigid beliefs interfere with common sense

The Trump movement shows how many people are prisoners of their false and rigid beliefs, and cannot see the obvious and exercise common sense. Sad to say, there are many who voted for Trump just as a protest or just to do something based on frustration. Those persons may be responsible for a new direction leading to our country’s decline. Impulsive superficial voting may be the end of our world leadership and all of the good things developed to date. Trump will make change, but change for the better is unlikely. Here are some possible changes that have been mentioned at least once (but may have been retracted and/or restored at some time):

1. Changed healthcare legislation will cause millions to lose their insurance and many will die.

2. NATO is obsolete. Our long-standing, beneficial, and powerful pact with many nations is under threat.

3. Instead of sanctioning Russia, we will support their authoritarianism, attacks on the press, and take- over of countries like Ukraine. We will ignore their meddling in our elections and their efforts to undermine many nations.

4. We will pull out of the multi-nation “Iran Nuclear Deal”, allowing Iran to go back to making the bombs and delivery systems — prevented by the Deal. We will also pull out of climate-change treaties, which could prevent massive flooding (Florida, NY, etc) and catastrophic human migrations due to massive droughts.

5. Taxes for the very wealthy will be lowered by decreasing the tax rate and by allowing more loopholes. The rich will celebrate while the rest of us will either pay more tax or have reduced benefits — and/or our national debt will surge.

6. We will change trade policies and tariffs so that trade-wars will arise and prices for goods, everywhere, will increase. The chaos will affect our valuable relationships with long-standing allies.

7. Pres. Obama has at times been criticized for inaction, but Trump may impulsively engage us in wars, costing lives and greater national debt.

8. He may generate more terrorists by his abuse of Muslims, various other insults, and dangerous policies.

9. Our valuable press, which is required to keep our democracy honest, may be thrown out of the White House and attacked so viciously that it is ineffective. If Trump’s ideas are so laudable and clearly beneficial, why all the press criticism?

10. Is anyone suspicious of the fact that Trump’s cabinet is filled with extremely rich people and/or persons with questionable histories.

11. Trump would restore vicious torture and wants to keep Guantanamo prison. He also admires the strength of tyrants around the world. Are we setting a good example (under Trump) for the rest of the world? Traditionally the USA has been known for its might, and also its moral authority. Is Trump leading us in the right direction?

After Trump is in office for a while, the appreciation for the positive change that Pres. Obama caused will grow even more.  And the candidate, Hilary Clinton, that Obama so enthusiastically endorsed and was attacked so unmercifully by the GOP will be much more appreciated.  Ironically, she won the national vote count by almost three million.

Just added: I have been working on this blog for several days and at times almost scrapped it, because it may have been too negative. But after hearing Trump’s unnecessary and incorrect abuse of the civil-rights hero and self-sacrificing activist, Congressman John Lewis … well, here it is.

78. Science Forges Ahead of Citizens

2 Dec

Scientific knowledge and achievement is moving so fast that it is leaving the average citizen behind and a little confused.  Most ordinary people have a poor understanding of scientific principles.  So when important functions like voting arise, the lack of understanding can lead to serious consequences.  Here are three relevant issues, and there are many more:
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1.  Clean Coal.  Some dangerous toxins can be removed while burning coal, but coal-burning is NOT free from producing dangerous levels of CO2  (carbon dioxide).  CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere reflect heat back to the surface of the earth and cause a general heating effect (climate change).  The key factor is that the history of burning fossil fuels is closely related to CO2 levels and to a small degree (so far) of general warming.  It is clearly man-made because the changes are much too fast to be a natural earth cycle.
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2. Understanding Climate Change.  Please see above, and also my blog-34 that gives more detail on this topic.
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3.  Nuclear Power.  This is a valuable source of clean energy that is under-used because people really do not understand it.  It does take a certain amount of scientific knowledge to assess safeguards and other progress in this field.  Industrial use of nuclear reactors has been around for at least 50 years and has developed into a very safe system.  It is only scary because humans cannot detect dangerous radiation.
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Understanding science also plays a major role in such areas as: abortion legislation, stem cell research questions, different types of pollution, and funding for research projects.  The world could function better if government leaders (such as congressmen) and citizens were better educated.  I would venture to guess that education will gradually improve and reach a good level at about the same time that Florida is submerged by warm and rising oceans.
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And even if people were not required to learn a lot of science, at least there could be more emphasis on learning to evaluate and use reliable sources of scientific facts and other information.  A good start in this endeavor is to consult scientists about science and not politicians.

49. Is Cruz Better Than Trump?

10 Mar

Clearly,  Trump does not have the thoughtfulness and the temperament to function as an effective President. But is Ted Cruz better? To answer this question, in addition to what I have heard and remember, I carefully examined what he presented on his web-site.  Here is a point-by-point examination of the most important issues.

The Cruz plan for personal income tax is a single 10% flat rate for all, total simplification of tax code, and “abolish the IRS as we know it”. This absurd plan is deceptive and impossible. First, the top rate for very rich people is reduced from 39.6% to 10%. So rich people, who don’t need it, will get a big break.  Currently, most poor people don’t pay any income tax.  Some middle class people will also benefit. Who do you think will pay for the staggering loss of tax income under this plan?  All social programs, infrastructure repairs, energy innovations, medical research, veteran benefits, etc., etc, — everything that is so important to our citizens is at risk.  Tax simplification only benefits the rich because their income is complicated and it will be easier for them to avoid tax liability. It is not clear what “abolish the IRS as we know it” means, but it will always take a lot of personnel to carefully collect the tax and enforce the rules.  Just defining “income” is extremely complicated because there are many types of ways to earn money, invest, receive grants, get tips, define expenses, have a home office, lease somethig, pay a maid, etc.  Tax is already very simple for ordinary workers, “simple tax” for the wealthy makes “cheating” simpler.

Like all Republicans, Cruz wants to abolish ObamaCare, and replace it with something better. Since Republicans already dominate Congress, if they are serious, they could already have a detailed and definite health-care plan for replacement, so that there would be no gap in coverage. But they have not done this because their main goal is not the health of the people, but is the destruction of the Democrats. and particularly Pres. Obama. Cruz is not the friend of the people, but is a loyal subject of the wealthy campaign donors, and the traditional (climate disrupting) oil industry. If ObamaCare is abolished without replacement, many millions of people will lose their newly gained insurance coverage and many millions more will lose reimbursement for “pre-existing conditions”, “over life-time limits”, and many other features.

Cruz would abolish all climate-change agencies, bureaus, and programs designed to provide safety for most of the world’s citizens. Almost all major countries take (man-made) climate change seriously and have committed to greenhouse gas reduction programs. I just watched on TV an interview of Pres. Obama and P.M. Trudeau of Canada. Both are firmly committed to climate change programs. If we compare the high level of discussion between them, with the juvenile discourse of Republican Candidates, the contrast is so stark as to be frightening. The danger of climate-change effects is supported by the National Academy of Sciences, almost all reputable scientists, national leaders throughout the world, and most other educated people.  Sorry to state the obvious, but the GOP is against efforts to control climate-change, because some very rich donors, such as the Koch brothers, would lose some money in making industrial adjustments.  But all of us would lose out due to the resulting major droughts, flooding, and storms.  The disrupted populations would produce overwhelming immigrations and possible wars.

On the Cruz site, he promotes the “solution to lift people out of hardship…. by promoting the dignity of work” and “reforming programs such as Section 8 housing” (with no detail). Telling poor people that they should improve their lives by believing in the “dignity of work” is beyond ridiculous. How many major social goals have every been achieved by a simple pep talk. “Just say no” to drugs is a great example of an ineffective and pathetic way to improve lives.

Cruz wants to eliminate the IRS (mostly), and Departments of Energy, Education, Commerce, and Housing.  Understanding the elimination of educational help by the government is easy, because he and the other Republicans cannot deceive well-educated people.  But it appears that Cruz is a little better than his rivals at the covert sabotage of other primary candidates by spreading rumors.

So, is Cruz better than Trump?  For a while I thought that Trump would be better because he has more liberal ideas, but when I heard his latest Muslim bashing: “they all hate us” I really cannot decide which presidency would be more of a disaster.

 

34. Climate Change: Simplified

6 Jan

I was inspired to write this after watching a political discussion program in which an otherwise intelligent participant stated in effect: “whats all this fuss about carbon dioxide, it isn’t a poison, we breathe it in and out all the time.”  I  would guess that half the population in the USA would agree with this.

Of course carbon dioxide is not a poison, it affects the global temperture of the earth by blocking heat energy radiating upward; the more carbon dioxide  (and other gases, such as methane)  in the atmosphere, the greater the blocking affect.

CARBON DIOXIDE IS LIKE A BLANKET HOLDING IN ESCAPING HEAT

Energy from the sun in the form of light passes through the atmosphere (about 50%) and warms the earth and waters of our planet.  Just like a greenhouse, light goes though the glass, but the same glass, (like certain gases) tends to hold in the heat energy, which is in a different form — light energy comes in, heat energy goes out.

LIGHT COMES IN, BUT RESULTING HEAT ENERGY IS ABSORBED.

Without humans, these energy transfers tend to be stable processes, which only change over long periods of time – like thousands of years. Humans affect this process by industrial and transportation factors that release large amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, mostly by burning fuels.  Here is the key factor: Climate changes over the last century or so are HIGHLY CORRELATED with the increased amounts of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, etc) in the atmosphere and is also correlated with the development of industrial activities.  The changes are happening TOO FAST  to be a part of any natural cycle.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS HIGHLY CORRELATED WITH INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENTS THAT RELEASE GASES INTO THE AIR.

The science of heat and light trasmission and absorption is  well-established.  Global temperatures are easily recorded and averaged. All of the scientific principles that govern the above processes are firmly established and reliable.  If this were a hoax, thousands of scientists all over the world would have to be involved, and that is not possible.  I have personally known hundreds of scientists,  and I can testify that the vast majority are obsessed with finding truth, and many will attack fellow scientists that they think are wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. Energy, Food, Water and Our Survival

25 Apr

An intelligent alien from another planet might see the great surge in human population in the last couple of centuries as similar to an infestation of locusts. Evolution of life on Earth has resulted in a species with an ability to survive and reproduce so effective that it is now straining the resources of the entire planet. We are gobbling up all the fish in the seas, we are creating huge heards of cows that consume massive amounts of energy and give off climate-affecting gases, and in many places we are running out of water and resources for electricity.

Although I have been aware of all these problems for a long time, an excellent article in Scientific American by Michael E. Webber (Feb. 2015) clarifies these issues and points out often neglected interactions. He states that:
ENERGY <> WATER <> FOOD
are the three most important factors for our survival, and that the interaction between these factors is of critical importance.

Here are some examples. To increase necessary food production, overuse of water pumps has often used up electrical energy resources causing massive black-outs. Producing drinkable water by desalination of sea-water consumes too much of available energy. Planting more crops for food uses up water and energy resources. Using oil for increased energy produces atmospheric gases that lead to droughts in some areas and floods in other places. Nuclear power-plants, great for energy, squander available water required for cooling processes.Food production and distribution can consume massive amounts of energy.

There are solutions to all of our energy, water, and food problems, but we must carefully consider how each factor affects the other. Times have changed. 50 years ago, all three were plentiful, but now we must make unbiased adaptations. “Deciders”, such as congressmen, need to be well-educated (particularly in science) in order to make the best decisions. Special interests can support short-sited legislation that will make our survival even more hazardous.

A final thought: terrorism, ISIS threats, and wars in general, are all stimulated by large populations of poor people. Desperate people are easy recruits for anti-social acts. Inefficient handling of the three factors clearly promotes these desperate situations and poverty.