Using the same analytical criteria as below (the DA) on the probable longevity of the American War on Drugs, which for simplicity's sake I will peg at the same age as the space program (The Harrison Act, passed in 1914, was meant to take drugs off the free market, but it was enforced only loosely. In fact, drug prohibition was barely enforced at all by the federal government until the 1960s.), we have a figure that ranges between 10 months and 1248 years.
Now, the WoD (actually a War on OurSelves) is not a concrete entity like the Berlin wall, so is really not amenable to actuarial collation. This is a good thing as it means that how we act and believe will have a real effect on the final outcome, as well as the intensity of grey repressive shades. We must all vote, make sure that our vote counts, and clearly speak our minds on the subject.
Repression is unfortunately in many ways a self re-enforcing order. Those who practice control get a taste for it and those who tolerate being controlled develop maintenance coping strategies. This double-bind is difficult to trance-end, and made more so by the very laws that are in themselves repressive.
How likely is it that the human species will survive into any kind of distant future? The current risks, from nuclear to biotechnical self-extinction, are well documented as are some possible near future scenarios such as nanotech or strong A.I. gone wild.
There are many approaches to analyzing the probabilities. A gut feeling, such as "if George Bush wins the next U.S. election the odds diminish significantly", does not add anything to actual understanding because during the period 2004 - 2008 the variables verge on infinite and the certainties edge nil.
One way to get a more accurate appraisal is to apply the idea that "I" am nothing special. In other words, my position within the total past and future history of people is not unique. J. Richard Gott III comes to A Grim Reckoning and gives us a great reason to move with all haste in colonizing the vast reaches of space..
Nick Bostrom reviews the Doomsday Argument as presented by Gott and John Leslie (independantly discovered btw). An argument requires objections as tests of its validity, and Dr. Bostrom performs an admirable job of positing many of them. Absolutely recommended reading for those of Faith and those Without.
|"One would hope peak oil is a hand-wringing fantasy on a par with the survivalist craze that accompanied Y2K. But there are some facts in favor of the peak oil agitators: a recent, stubborn rise in gas prices, with little relief in sight; the ominous fact that the world's total oil production declined in 2001 and 2002, and rose in 2003 by only .5 percent , while demand rose by nearly 2 percent; and the otherwise inexplicable war in Iraq - which, though a political liability in the short run, is likely in the long haul to yield the U.S. virtually unending supplies of oil just when the peak oil theorists claim it's going to start getting quite scarce."|
|"What do we have here? Apparently a campaign highly reminiscent of the many anti-communist horror stories -- torture and otherwise -- that during the Cold War were passed around the anti-communist circuit, each person quoting from the same initial source, sometimes adding or subtracting a bit."|
|"The beast will eat anything that becomes visible to its multitudes of heads and feed it back in the form of intensive images to we who live in its belly. Yet the signposts to the escape routes remain, however tenuous, and in this lies our hope for the slow mutation of the whole entity."|
|"The ancient Egyptians used to take a torpedo fish and slap it on the forehead of people who were possessed, and the fish would discharge an electric current, and that's the earliest record of electroshock treatment."|
|"Society is no longer the mode of production, it is the mode of remote correlation of human systems, which includes bioinformational processing and related phenomena. It is obvious now that bioecological and bioinformational catastrophes can not be predicted without this type of knowledge. In this framework, nanotechnology research, which eliminates the thermodynamical barrier between a synoptical molecule and a computer chip, seems to be a reflection of the mirror type of bioinformational organization."|
|"A survey of historians conducted at my suggestion (Dr. Robert S. McElvaine) by George Mason University's History News Network found that eight in ten historians responding rate the current presidency an overall failure."|
|"A propaganda model does not entail a grandiose conspiracy theory. Rather, it is based on analysing the politico-economic influences on the mass media, and the extent to which those influences condition the media's reporting tendencies in accord with the interests of power. The model can be described as a 'guided free market' model, arguing that the media's reporting is dominated by the same factors that guide corporate activity: the maximisation of profit."|
|"At the height of the Contra war, I was stationed in Central America for 5 years as the lead DEA agent in El Salvador. It was there that I came face to face with the contradictions of my assignments. I started to record intelligence on how known drug traffickers, with multiple DEA files, were utilizing hangars 4 and 5 at Illopango airbase in El Salvador, to transport monies and drugs. Those hangars were owned and operated by the CIA and NSC."|
|"The U. S. Courts have jurisdiction over the issues raised in this article. The American people and their excluded representatives should file an injunction against the faction controlling Congress to halt the illegal takeover and seek declaratory relief from the courts. As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.""|
|"It is understandable that Abu Ghraib has raised such an outcry. The abuses there will get more American soldiers killed. But there is something odd about a country that gets more exercised about the treatment of foreign prisoners than the treatment of its own."|
|"The Black voter purge story would have never seen the light of day in the USA, despite its front-page play over the globe, were it not for Moore opening his book, "Stupid White Men," with it."|
|"One of the most sinister of these outfits is venture capitalist Carlyle, a firm that went from nothing to $14 billion in assets over 15 years. All the while they offered shareholders returns of 36% per annum. How do they do it? They know what's going to happen because they hire the people who take the decisions."|
|"No one has yet grabbed the gauntlet he threw down. No one in the mainstream is doing what he did, not when observational humor will do. No one would have busted a topic like September 11 wide open like Hicks would have (with the possible exception of Jon Stewart). No one would have cried and thrashed and spit and kicked. No one yet has cared enough to scream like Bill Hicks screamed."|
|"Humor is always popular, and especially so with Americans. It is born in every American, and he can't help liking it."|
|"You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure-because he's got feathers on him, and don't belong to no church, perhaps; but otherwise he is just as human as you be. And I'll tell you for why. A jay's gifts, and instincts and feelings, and interests, cover the whole ground. A jay hasn't got any more principle than a Congressman."|
|"The hellholes I had inhabited with journalist John McCarthy, Terry Anderson, Tom Sutherland and Frank Reid were enough for several lifetimes. The fame that came with freedom was another kind of claustrophobia, and I flew from that with winged feet to a small cottage in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holiest mountain, on the west coast of Ireland."|
|"Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.|
And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on."
|"The U.S. government classified more than 14 million new national security secrets last year, up from 11 million in the previous year and 8 million the year before, according to the new annual report to President Bush from the oversight office for the national security secrecy system."|
|"It is hard to imagine an address closer to the heart of American power. The offices of the Carlyle Group are on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, midway between the White House and the Capitol building, and within a stone's throw of the headquarters of the FBI and numerous government departments."|
|"It does not appear that way. The planning for post-war operations was paltry. The U.S. Army is not good at counter-insurgency. In fact, the Weinberger-Powell doctrine stated that the Army would use overwhelming mass and power to ensure success, and would not get bogged down in another Vietnam style war of attrition."|
|"Goal: Provide safe, attractive, affordable housing for Afghans as they rebuild their nation after a generation of war.|
Proposal: Work with groups now building homes in Afghanistan to introduce a construction method based on Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS, commonly called styrofoam) walls and roof elements covered with a cementacious material."
The frameworks in Figure 2 are ideal types. Actual analyses commonly combine elements of two or more of the approaches, especially in looking at both epistemological and political dimensions of a controversy, namely both knowledge and actors/structures.
In the asymmetrical approaches, the assumption is that one side is "right" scientifically and/or politically, so that the main task of the social scientist is to explain deviation from the correct view. The positivist approach (box vi) typically involves the social scientist deciding what is scientifically correct, often by determining the view of establishment scientists. Adherence to this view, which is usually the orthodoxy, is not considered to require sociological explanation. The task then becomes to explain why some people support contrary views. Psychological and social factors can be used, such as ignorance, prejudice, fear, confusion or any number of other variables, which can be classified as forms of social dysfunction (box v). The essence of the typical asymmetrical approach is that social explanations are required only of those who deviate from orthodoxy. To use a medical analogy, explanations are sought for pathology but not good health. This can be illustrated in Figure 3.
IV. No explanation required
I. Bias, paradigms, vested interests
III. Bias, paradigms, vested interests
II. No explanation required
In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.
Up to recently we have proceeded from a premise that poverty is a consequence of multiple evils: lack of education restricting job opportunities; poor housing which stultified home life and suppressed initiative; fragile family relationships which distorted personality development. The logic of this approach suggested that each of these causes be attacked one by one. Hence a housing program to transform living conditions, improved educational facilities to furnish tools for better job opportunities, and family counseling to create better personal adjustments were designed. In combination these measures were intended to remove the causes of poverty.
While none of these remedies in itself is unsound, all have a fatal disadvantage. The programs have never proceeded on a coordinated basis or at a similar rate of development. Housing measures have fluctuated at the whims of legislative bodies. They have been piecemeal and pygmy. Educational reforms have been even more sluggish and entangled in bureaucratic stalling and economy-dominated decisions. Family assistance stagnated in neglect and then suddenly was discovered to be the central issue on the basis of hasty and superficial studies. At no time has a total, coordinated and fully adequate program been conceived. As a consequence, fragmentary and spasmodic reforms have failed to reach down to the profoundest needs of the poor.
In addition to the absence of coordination and sufficiency, the programs of the past all have another common failing -- they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.
I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective -- the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.
Earlier in this century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual's abilities and talents. In the simplistic thinking of that day the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber.
We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are less often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands it does not eliminate all poverty.
We have come to the point where we must make the nonproducer a consumer or we will find ourselves drowning in a sea of consumer goods. We have so energetically mastered production that we now must give attention to distribution. Though there have been increases in purchasing power, they have lagged behind increases in production. Those at the lowest economic level, the poor white and Negro, the aged and chronically ill, are traditionally unorganized and therefore have little ability to force the necessary growth in their income. They stagnate or become even poorer in relation to the larger society.
The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available.
In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote, in Progress and Poverty:
We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished. The poor transformed into purchasers will do a great deal on their own to alter housing decay. Negroes, who have a double disability, will have a greater effect on discrimination when they have the additional weapon of cash to use in their struggle.
Beyond these advantages, a host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security. The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life and in his own hands, when he has the assurance that his income is stable and certain, and when he know that he has the means to seek self-improvement. Personal conflicts between husband, wife and children will diminish when the unjust measurement of human worth on a scale of dollars is eliminated.
Two conditions are indispensable if we are to ensure that the guaranteed income operates as a consistently progressive measure. First, it must be pegged to the median income of society, not the lowest levels of income. To guarantee an income at the floor would simply perpetuate welfare standards and freeze into the society poverty conditions. Second, the guaranteed income must be dynamic; it must automatically increase as the total social income grows. Were it permitted to remain static under growth conditions, the recipients would suffer a relative decline. If periodic reviews disclose that the whole national income has risen, then the guaranteed income would hgave to be adjusted upward by the same percentage. Without these safeguards a creeping retrogression would occur, nullifying the gains of security and stability.
This proposal is not a "civil rights" program, in the sense that that term is currently used. The program would benefit all the poor, including the two-thirds of them who are white. I hope that both Negro and white will act in coalition to effect this change, because their combined strength will be necessary to overcome the fierce opposition we must realistically anticipate.
Our nation's adjustment to a new mode of thinking will be facilitated if we realize that for nearly forty years two groups in our society have already been enjoying a guaranteed income. Indeed, it is a symptom of our confused social values that these two groups turn out to be the richest and the poorest. The wealthy who own securities have always had an assured income; and their polar opposite, the relief client, has been guaranteed an income, however miniscule, through welfare benefits.
John Kenneth Galbraith has estimated that $20 billion a year would effect a guaranteed income, which he describes as "not much more than we will spend the next fiscal year to rescue freedom and democracy and religious liberty as these are defined by 'experts' in Vietnam."
The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.
The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.
|"lay your body down |
beneath this blanket from the stars
remember who we are"