Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Topic of the Day: Freedom and the Future
FREEDOM AND THE FUTURE
If you listen to Bush rhetoric, two key concepts arise more than any other. Those two concepts are, as should be obvious by the title of the post, Freedom and the Future. Freedom is the overwhelming justification for the Iraq war, it seems. The Future is the overwhelming justification for Bush's Social Security plan, it seems.
I believe most Americans like both concepts overwhelmingly. Specifically, we want the world to be a peaceful and democratic place full of civil liberties, and we certainly don't want to place a much larger burden on our grandchildren than was placed on us. People can certainly make good arguments for why Iraq and Social Security are both poor priorities and solutions if one is concerned with bringing freedom to the world and working to build a better future for those who come after us. Unfortunately, that's an argument that doesn't permeate well with the American public.
Case in point. Tony Blair, a man for whom I have great admiration, is coming over to visit Bush with the two priorities of African Aide and Global Warming.
As an aside on Blair, I really believe he combines the better qualities of both Bush and Clinton. He's a smart, politically talented Clintonian that isn't quite as scandal-prone as Bill (though, the Downing Street Memo certainly looks ominous). Furthermore, he shares Bush's vision (to the point of engaging in the aforementioned scandal). It is also clear, as also evidenced by the Memo, that Blair highly values the age-old alliance between England and the United States. He's also willing to sit through an extremely tough town hall meeting (much unlike Bush) which always earns respect in my book.
But back to the topic at hand. If you could set the highest priority each for "freedom" and "the future", what would your priorities be?
Bar none, there is no place in the world where freedom is a irrelevant concept than Africa. As my favorite underground artist says, "democracy is just a word when the people are starving". Freedom, quite simply, doesn't exist when you live day to day off food scraps and handouts. Freedom mean choice, and when you don't have any other choices than spending your entire day trying to survive then things like possessing freedom of speech and religious freedoms don't matter. With all due respect to the highly oppressed Shi'a and Kurds, the plight of the Iraqis, while horrible, is nothing compared to what goes on in so many African countries. Just read a random Kristof column or look up the world's poorest nations. I found this list of the 5 poorest (unknown date, author): Mozambique, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, DNC Congo. All 5 are in Africa and run per-capital GDP's between $80 and $100. Most Americans spend that much on food in merely a week or two, and food is cheap here! The Iraq War Bill could run up to $400 Billion or more before its all over. Imagine if that money had been invested in these five poor African nations.
Under the current Bush Doctrine logic, the worst thing hopelessly poor African nations have going for them is that they're not a hot-bed of Anti-American sentiment. Cause then they'd get a new government, the attention of the world, and Billions in infrastructure investments.
Previous post on Freedom:
May 9, 2005
When looking to the future, there is no greater threat than global warming. Nuclear war looms a close second. Social Security looms around 9,324th, which means its certainly much more important than un-packing all my stuff from my latest move, but hasn't quite reached the level of life-or-death criticality.
I saw Senator Inhofe talking about how there hasn't ben a large change in global temperatures. Well, that's slightly true. One must consider two things: the rate at which temperatures are increasing and the difference that the slightest temperature increases can have. Here's a graph I pulled from Elmhurst College's website. (again, apologies for the hot-linking)
There are plenty of other graphs going back through the past 5000 years that show periods where the world was as warm or possibly warmer than it is right now. But really no time, barring perhaps an asteroid impact, shows such as fast a climb as is happening right now. Simply look at the two periods of increase. The 40's and 80's were eras of a huge industrial explosions.
All the science is in place that proves that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases do indeed increase the earth's temperature, the question is simply how much.
Ultimately the core of the Republican party that disputes global warming says that we should oppose stem cell research now because one day it might mean abortion factories and embryocide. Yet they refuse to accept the similar logic of stop-now-or-face-future-harm when it comes to global warming. Many suggest the hypocrisy comes from social conservative votes and corporate tax dollars. Right now I don't care where it comes from, the first step in solving the global warming issue is admitting that we have a problem.
I'm just ashamed that its a European that is coming to tell us the obvious facts about Freedom and the Future.