Thursday, November 24, 2011

Domino Theory

Something to ponder as you gather with your families for your Thanksgiving feast:

In the November 28th issue of Time magazine, Dheepthi Namasivayam writes: “With debt ballooning and investors in panic, policymakers may need to make tougher choices than ever before in allocating tax receipts. Will they fund health care benefits for old ladies, buy more tanks or hire more teachers?

This started me thinking. In 1971, the Soviet Union proposed a conference of the five nuclear powers (the USSR, the USA, France, Great Britain, and China) to discuss nuclear disarmament. In 1973, the UN adopted a resolution to reduce military budgets. The two superpowers, the Soviets and the Americans, signed a number of treaties (like the SALT and START treaties) to reduce the number of weapons in the world.

We are in the midst of an unparalleled worldwide economic crisis. Greece and Italy may default. The Euro may collapse. The United States has lost its Triple A credit rating and is mired in a depression. China’s housing bubble is cresting. The global economy is more interlinked and interdependent than at any time in history – which means we can expect to see a domino effect when large nations’ economies fall. No country is safe. And no single country can ride to our rescue this time. We are all in the same boat… and it is sinking fast.

Maybe it’s time we (the citizens of the world) all started cooperating with each other to solve this mutual problem. Do we (all nations) need health care for our citizens? The answer is yes. Do we (all nations) need teachers to educate our younger citizens? The answer is yes. Do we (all nations) need to buy more tanks and weapons of mass destruction? What if, instead of spending our scarce resources (money) on funding newer and better ways to kill each other, we cut or eliminated our military spending for the next five years? We keep the weapons we have (which could blow up the planet 100 times over) but simply stop buying new ones; bring home the troops; close bases in lands where we’re not at war; and end those wars we’re in. And when I say “we”, I don’t just mean the United States… I mean every nation on Earth.

What I’m proposing is the radical idea that we place a five-year moratorium on trying to kill each other, and use the trillions of dollars in savings to restore the global economy. Every nation could divert its military budget to rebuilding infrastructure, educating its populace for the 21st century, and waging wars on diseases like cancer and diabetes instead of on other humans.

Whether we, the citizens of the world, tumble as individual nations like dominos off the precipice or collectively cooperate toward a common goal of global peace and a return to fiscal stability, if not prosperity, through mutual, multilateral reduction or moratorium on military spending is a decision we must make now. Across the would, beginning with the Arab Spring and continuing with the Occupy movement, citizens are demanding their governments stop behaving like bickering children and assume responsibility for the citizens they govern. With the world economy teetering on the brink of collapse, let us all stare into the abyss and ask – and answer –  the question: “Will we fund health care for the sick and elderly, hire more teachers, or buy more tanks?”


  1. Beautiful suggestions, but I fear our world governments would never prioritize funds in the order you suggest.

    There is simply too much money to be gained via war-time/weapon contracts - e.g. Halliburton. :P

    I cannot foresee common sense trumping greed any time soon.

    *sigh*. Honestly, I don't believe the average individual has any real inkling as to the precariousness of the world's financial situation. Worse yet, either through ignorance or sheer disinterest, people seem to have some insular delusion that somehow *they* will not be *affected*.

    It's always the guy over THERE. In Greece, France, Italy, etc.

    Until the Dow drops below 11K, it's business as usual. Until the talking heads say to worry, no one worries.

    I'd love to see the kind of level-headed cooperation you've outlined. Choosing life over death - wouldn't that be a refreshing change ;)

  2. What I propose is naive because those who benefit from the status quo will never change it. But my proposal is also sensible, rational, and pragmatic. It is a sad commentary when common sense and pragmatism are on one side and reality is on the opposite side. As a writer of fantasy, I'm used to being on the wrong side of reality, but one need only examine the world we live in and the only possible conclusion is we exist in a looking glass version of reality.

    You may notice in my post, I accept the fact the leaders of the world's nations will not do as I suggest, but I leave open the possibility individual citizens of the world might. We live in a world where the leaders (in government, in multinational corporations, and through exercise of immense private fortunes) act from self-interest, not in the interest of those they presume to represent or lead. In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen ordinary citizens upset and disillusioned with the their leaders have risen up and deposed them, taking matters of state into their own hands. Individuals are protesting right now in Jordan, Bahrain, and Syria (where 3,500 people have been killed protesting the government). Individual citizens have forced concessions from their governments through protests in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Morocco. Rioters left London in flames. And Occupy Wall Street has spread from New York City to all 50 states. It is naive to believe those who benefit from the status quo will change it. But the other 99 percent might.

    Imagine how much we could accomplish if we spent the money and effort expended on trying to exterminate humans through warfare instead on attempting to help humanity - end hunger and disease, ameliorate global living conditions, improve education. Yes, it is naive, but why should it be? Bobby Kennedy said. "Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'" John Lennon sang:

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do.
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too.
    Imagine all the people living life in peace.

    You, you may say
    I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
    I hope some day you'll join us
    And the world will be as one.


  3. Keith, I share your naivete completely.

    Funny thing, whether it's my own prediliction for fiction or too much quantum physics floating around the ol' synapses - I think you may be more *spot on* than you realize when you make mention of the looking glass version of reality.

    Beyond sheer metaphor, there may be some basic truth to that - reality being a mirror, or the *mirror* effect, as I like to call it. As above, so below kinda thing.

    Regardless, if one can find a plus-side to all the flagrant self-interest and ego-gratification running rampant throughout our world system - that plus side could be said to be the gradual awakening and maturation as expressed by such grass roots movements as OWS, on a person by person level.

    Perhaps, in some horrible yet precise fashion, our leaders and the resultant fubar created serves as a painful mirror in which we do NOT wish to see ourselves reflected.

    I dunno.

    Maybe you and I and many, many others are too idealistic for our own peace of mind, whatever that is.

    However, I suspect at this point in our evolution, only two options remain open to our species: change for the better [and do it mighty fast], or go the way of the dinosaurs.

    This current paradigm of unwaivering self-interest is the harbinger of the demise of a rather promising creature - man. Change is something we each must do for ourselves. No God, no devil nor angel or POTUS or Galactic Brotherhood et al can do it for us.

    Love & Light Always :)