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Politics Now





09/26/01

Okay, before I go into the actual social/political topic that this article is going to deal with, I’d like to add a preface concerning a little disclaimer, along with some basic pan-political thought.

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time within the hardcore/punk-rock/indie subculture has heard countless political views expressed countless times. I am by no means a hardcore/punk-rock/indie kid. It’s been many years since I was an active part of that scene. I’ve also noticed that the section of the underground scene focusing on political issues tends to be caught up in the wheels of revolution. That is, they love ideas— not people. When someone gets caught up in counterculture activity to the point where actual humanity takes a backseat to idealism, that individual is having a problem with basic prioritizing. I’ve always been a political person. I’m a registered Socialist; not because it sounded cool or looked “punk,” but because after researching the basic tenets behind the majority of American political branches, it was the one with which I most agreed. However, this article is not dealing with Socialism or elected-collective ownership and profit sharing, I’m simply stating a bit of an example. I also have absolutely no background in political sciences or global economics. I am a literature geek. Therefore, I might not have the proper education to discuss what I am going to; if there are any major mistakes in what I say, someone please correct me. Anyway, I digress; the important thing to remember is that you can stand on your soapbox and scream for whatever social/political reform you support, but if you don’t actually go out and try to make a change, or try to improve life for whomever, then you’re nothing but an empty voice in love with ideas and yourself. What we all need to do is try to make a change, not attach a label to a cause and support it by reading a book on the subject and telling our friends and family how we’re now a supporter of whatever that guy in Boy Sets Fire sang about… (By the way, just so you know that I’m not a hypocrite or just blowing hot air, feel free to e-mail me and I’ll discuss all the volunteer and disaster-relief programs in which I have taken an active part.) Anyway, onto the topic on hand:

How Is Humankind Doing?

All right, I’ll begin. As much as we think that it’s only confined to America, basic worldwide lifestyle and how humans are doing developmentally is based on a look at individual economics. By looking at the United Nations’ chart called the Human Development Index, along with basic figures on global economics, we can see that something needs done. The division between low-income and high-income countries is devastatingly large. But first, some basic definitions are needed for further clarification.

A country is considered high-income if the average per-person income is greater than $10,000 per year.

A country is considered low-income if the average per-person income is less than $580 per year.

A country is considered middle-income if the average per-person income falls between those two figures per year.

All right, now for more negative news: 4/5 of the world live in either low or middle-income countries. Currently, there are more than 6-billion people living on earth. That means that at least 4,800,000,000 people earn less than $10,000 annually.

Well, the division keeps growing; look at the ten poorest countries in comparison to the ten richest: The ten richest countries in the world have an average income of greater than $29,000 per year, per person. The ten poorest countries have an average income of less than $170 per year, per person. That’s less than $170 a year! I made more than that in a month when I worked at McDonald’s five years ago.

The richest 200 people in the world control 1-trillion dollars. If we start from the other end of the spectrum, it would take the bottom 3-billion people in the world to control that same amount. 200 people in this world control more money than half of the entire worldwide population.

However, when comparing countries we can’t look solely at economics. There are countless other factors. Here, we will look at some basic percentages that will illustrate the differences between a high-income and a low-income country:

The average life expectancy in a high-income country is 77.9, in a low-income country, 47.4.

The infant mortality rate (per every thousand births) in a high-income country is 5.7, in a low-income country, 114.

For those born who actually make it past infancy, there is still the problem of child death. For every thousand children who make it past the initial birth stage in a high-income country, 7.5 will die. In a low-income country 194 children will die.

In a high-income country 100% of the population has access to safe drinking water; however, in a low-income country only 42% of the people have this necessity.

The birth rate is very important in determining standard-of-living. The number is looked at like this: per every thousand people, how many children will be born? In high-income countries the birth rate is 11.4, in low-income countries, 45.2.

In high-income countries the literacy rate is 97%, in low-income countries, 38%.

So why does this division between rich and poor grow so much, and so quickly? By considering the old label of “Third-World Countries” we can quickly see the reason behind this. During the Cold War, countries were aligned to either the Democratic or Communist blocks. These were considered to be the First-World and the Second-World. However, many of the poorer nations realized that they didn’t have the monetary support necessary to align, and would not gain anything from aligning to either faction. They therefore considered themselves unaligned. The term Third-World Country was coined. Because the majority of these countries were poor, poor became synonymous with Third-World. Well, how do you think more developed and high-income countries treat these countries that remained neutral while teams were being snatched up? That’s right, not very well at all.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that the United Sates, along with other major powers and the World Bank made massive loans to low-income countries in an effort to spark business and economic growth. However, the interest rates on these loans, along with the already slumped economy, have made it impossible for these countries to pay back the lent money. The World Trade Organization, along with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, has stepped in and begun dictating where new businesses will be located. But in any case, the costs of training, wages, safety standards, etc., have caused almost every single one of these businesses in low-income countries to fail. But, the primary cause behind the failing of these businesses is due to the massive loans and interest charges that must be repaid to high-income countries and the World Bank. The amount of money that must be paid back has left no room for profit. Actually, it has left room for only debt. Businesses lose more money than they can possibly earn because they are required to make these payments, or lose support of World Bank and other countries. These low-income countries started out bad; now they are getting worse as all possible profits are lost to massive loan repayment.

So what needs done? We need to support the debt-relief of these nations. That is just a kind and political way of saying: “Erase what they owe.” Until they don’t have to worry about paying back such large amounts of money, they will never grow as a nation. What can you do? – Return to grassroots campaigning with letters and petitions of concern to local political officials, discuss it with whomever is interested as long as you (and they) truly care, and write articles similar to this one for whomever will allow you. In any case, if you’re reading this right now and you’ve never heard this discussion before, I hope that you’ve at least thought about it enough to form an opinion. I don’t know anyone who truly doesn’t want peace in the world. We cannot have true peace and unification until we stop ignoring the horrible quality of life that is prevalent in the world. The easiest, and most-important task to sparking this growth of development within low-income families is to relieve them of their debts. Look around you, we’re all doing pretty well here; there’s no need for us to take another pound of flesh… Thank you for your time and interest.

Jeffrey Schrader
Lindeyhop@aol.com



09/11/01

Nothing much new since this morning. The casualties are reported to be at the least 10,000. Our nations leaders have stated that they will seek out those who did this and punish them along with any Country that is holding them. We could be on the verge of an incredible moment in our nations history. Everyone from the top down is pointing at the middle east to blame. It appears that 3 of the people involved with with the Hi-Jackings had personal dealing with Bin Laden. The American people are seeking for justice to be payed. The problem now besides dealing with the aftermath of these tradgedies on our lives is finding out exactly who is responsible and dealing appropriately with them.

Although it is quite probable that we will find who is responsible for this, (Those responsible had to buy tickets and there are a few examples of phone calls from the hi-jacked planes that went so far as to give the information on the exact seat that members of this group were in.) it is likely that we are not going to be satisfied with the results whatever they maybe. Because America has been free of this kind of magnitude in terrorism for so long, there has been such an extremely dramatic effect upon the American public as a whole. It is reported around 10,000 people are either dead or injured as a result. This has become just a huge shock to the citizens of this country, regardless if they have any personal contacts that were hurt or killed. In a lot smaller sense, this event has on the American people the dramatic affect dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had on the word. It was completely "unexpected" (Although I've heard a report that the C.I.A. reported a number of weeks a go that an attack like this was soon possible.) and unprepared for. Because of the dramatic nature of this event, Justice in the eyes of the American citizens will be hard to be met.

If those responsible are part of a group that is completely disconnected from any government then, It would be rediculous and completely irresponsible for us to bomb a nation whether they were citizens of it or not. So, does that mean that justice will be served if we are able to hunt these guys down and shoot them as they try and cross the border. I don't think so.

Now, if it is found that this group was sponsored, housed, or connected to any government of any nation then we have a whole other situation on our hands. This would undoubtedly result in war. A war of what magnitude I'm not sure, but I think it would be more than we'd want and that we've seen in a long time.

Looking away now from the potential results of this tragic event, I just want to say that I am for the most part very proud of the way this country has responded so far. My goodness... 265 firefighters and police officers have died trying to help those who may be trapped in the affected buildings. A long with that, this nation has responded by starting massive blood drives to provide for the areas where the blood supply has been depleted. Many areas of my state (PA) and I'm sure those around NY have developed volunteer programs to send those willing to D.C. and NY to help in whatever way they can.

One thing that does worry me is that we do not make the Arab world our scapegoat or even if an Arab group is responsible, we do not make middle east nations the object of a new accepted racism. The celebration of palestinians in the street is a grose and horrific reflection on how sad humanity can get. This I will not deny. But let us not stereotype everyone that has grey or brown skin, or for that matter is part of a particular nationality as a result of this horrible event. (NC)



09/11/01

The biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor has happened this morning. Both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were hit by two different aircrafts around 10:00 AM. In addition to this, another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.. The last reported incident is that a plane has wrecked in a field somewhere in Somerset County, PA. (I'm not sure of its intentional destination or how it came to wreck in a field. That is, whether it was shot down or if it was just an accidental wreck.)

It is apparant that this was a result of a massive coordinated terrorist attack on the United States. The American Government is unaware of who could possibly be responsible. This was completely unexpected and has put all government offices and agencies on the alert. Even though the FAA has grounded all its planes, the last I heard there were still almost 50 planes still unaccounted for.

In response to these events NY has called forth the National Gaurd and Emergency help has been brought in from surrounding cities. In both NY and Washington D.C. they are asking for blood donations because they are in a shortage. I am not aware at this time or just how how high the casualties are.

Some people (And media for the matter) are pointing at the terrorist group headed by Bin Laden(Sp?). Although his group has given reason for suspicion in the past, it would be to our disgrace if we make him (Or Arab nations) our scapegoat without truly knowing or looking into other possibilites.

I believe first our country must deal with the tradgedies at hand, and once we have done that to the best of our ability, then we can, as the President has stated, "hunt down and punish those who are resposible for these acts of cowardice." Let us be careful to not let knee-jerk reactions get in the way of dealing with this appropriately. Lives have been taken, families torn apart, and portions of our biggest cities in the North East United States put into a state of complete disaray. Let us deal with that first. (NC)




8/09/01

"Taxpayer funds should not underwrite research that involves the destruction of live human embryos."
Candidate George W. Bush

What is happening: President George W. Bush will announce tonight at 9:00 his position on using Federal money to support Embyonic Stem Cell Research. Previously, as candidate to be the President of the United States of America, he stated again and again that he was against the use of Taxpayer's dollars to fund this kind of research. What he is expected to state tonight is that he will support funding for "limited" embryonic stem cell research. This position was recently proposed by Pro-Life senator Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee. This position would limit research to the stem cells of embryos from fertility clinics that would be discarded anyway. In addition it would ban the use of embryo's that were created specifically for research purposes.

If President Bush does come out and state that he is in support of this position then he will probably lose a large base of those who supported him in his campain. Specifically Conservative Pro-Life organizations.

What are his options? There are two kinds of stem cells that are under research right now. Those of embryo's and those of adults. Some scientist feel that adult stem cells are just as effective as those from embryo's. Although there is much confusion in the scientific community over what is the most effective approach there are some main issues that each side have on their mind. The majority of those opposed to embyonic stem cells believe that since the embryo is a human life we should not take federal money to actively destroy it. Although there are some that say that it would be a stronger pro-life stance to actually use these discarded embryo's for the benefit of other people than to just discard them.

There are specific problems with only using adult stem cells though. They come in small quantities, are not found in all body tissue, and are hard to locate. The major problem with using embyo stem cell is the ethical problem of destroying a human embyro. (NC)


Politics Now Forum: This will have to do for now. Sorry!
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