Truths or Consequences

The Age of Consequences of Systematic Failure: Our existing situations are not problems. They are Consequences

By Chuck Woolery, Former Chair, United Nations Assn., Council of Organizations (not the TV host!) and Steven Jay, Creative Director, Mobilized

“At the root cause of our problems is the failure to recognize that Independence is a man-made concept. The truth of our reality is that everything is connected to everything and therefore, everything impacts everything.  Every action impacts the whole. Mobilized is firmly rooted in this natural law.” –Chuck Woolery

Every day is a new story of systematic breakdown, of tragedy, a shooting, a broken system, the election of an incompetent sociopath, a social media fiasco, or media companies at war with each other.  It’s a constant struggle to keep up with it all.

We feel like screaming from the roof “What the F%&K is going on here?”   Or,   we can go down the rabbit hole and discover the root cause–the epicenter of most of our inherent, continual, and seemingly unsolvable problems.

What follows is a blog Mobilized released a few years earlier.  It is even more relevant now.  Some edits have been made and a few recently relevant events added.  Please share it with others if you find it useful


The most important natural resource is a well-informed public.


The Age of Consequences of Systematic Failure: Our existing situations are not problems. They are Consequences

By Chuck Woolery, Former Chair, United Nations Assn., Council of Organizations (not the TV host!) and Steven Jay, Creative Director, Mobilized

Summary:  After the Great Depression and the end of WWII the general sense of the common good generated by these global calamities gradually disappeared from public discussion.  With the exception of some civil rights activities that did yield important civil progress things have gotten worse. And most agree, things are going to worsen more, before they get better.  This is an examination into why things have gotten worse. And how we must change to change things for the better.

America’s success in the world and our fear of Communism helped fuel individualism, greed, and selfishness (the illusion of individual separation from the whole). This largely un-examined mindset eclipsed the ‘united we stand’ American character. It was an aberration of logic, compassion, and empathy that basically steamrolled American politics into the train wreck we have today. Recently, technology greatly accelerated this dysfunctional trend.  A trend that had been well established by a largely unregulated capitalism system that had spread the dangerous meme of independence globally for the past few decades.

The tragic and lethal consequences are now around us everywhere in the US and abroad.  And instead of recognizing our collective mental flaw that got us here, and confronting it, many people have doubled down on their narratives.  They want to make American Great Again or finance a Green New Deal to bring back the comforts, prosperous conditions, and selfish culture that tragically nurtured our disconnect from reality. The fundamental truth that “United We Stand” – still stands. And divided we are going to fall.   This time it will be a hard fall. One we may not recover from.

  • Trump is not the problem. He’s a consequence. …
  • Climate change isn’t the problem. It’s a consequence.
  • Unprecedented obesity rates, opioid deaths, mass shootings, and suicides rates are not health emergencies. They are consequences.
  • Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water, Honeybees’ Colony Collapse Disorder, Florida’s red tide… these are not environmental problems. They’re consequences.
  • The continuing violence in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria are all consequences.
  • The Russian/Ukraine dilemma threatening nuclear Armageddon or the use of biological/chemical weapons with the potential to spark a hot World War III.
  • Radical extremism, WMD proliferation, and China/Russian cyber hacks are now top national security threats.  Again, consequences a poorly engineered global governance system.
  • Growing economic inequality, fake news, and loss of privacy are not dilemmas.

They are all consequences.

  • These, and most of the other problems we are now encountering at a breakneck pace in newspapers and in our lives are the inevitable consequences of our thinking and actions.  They were not however inevitable.

They are the result of our collective failure to do what we know is needed to prevent such problems.

“Human behavior is the greatest threat to human existence”  Dr. Monty G. Marshall

All Americans have solemnly pledged dozens, if not hundreds of times, “Liberty and Justice for all”. But our desire for comfort, wealth, distractions, popularity, and freedom comes with all too real life and death consequences.

Americans love freedom. It is all we really have.  But freedom also comes with consequences.   Some freedoms have arguably been worth the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives and trillions of our tax dollars. But it has been our overindulgence with freedom without the responsibility that is the fundamental cause of our (and the world’s) growing list of profoundly dangerous, destructive, unhealthy, increasingly lethal, and persistent consequences. Unsustainable consequences that were predictable and often warned about.  Costly consequences that were, and remain, related to a simple conceptual flaw within our mental calculations.

We believe and then act out of that belief that we are independent.  We are not.  Yet, as Americans, we reinforce that sentiment every 4th of July.   In reality, it is only a concept that doesn’t exist anywhere in the known universe.  And it has zero accurate applications here on earth.  Our Declaration of Independence should have been titled the Declaration of Political Separation.  Not as catchy!  But powerfully accurate.

It has been and remains our unyielding faith in, allegiance to, and reflexive defense of this flawed human principle that has mentally disconnected us from much of our personal, civil, environmental, social, health, and economic responsibilities. Like Neo in the Matrix, we all sense something isn’t right… but can’t see the truth;

Every aspect of our lives is dependent on other people, the environment, our nation’s laws, other nation’s laws, and most importantly, the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” which is expressed in the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.

“Everything is connected, everything is interdependent, so everything is vulnerable”… “this has to be a more than whole of government, a more than whole of nation [action]. It really has to be a global effort.”   CISA (the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) Director Jen Easterly  (Oct. 29, 2021)

The growing mass of undesirable consequences that threaten our freedom, security, and prosperity were as inevitable as they were unintentional. But they are only self-evident when we are honest with ourselves about reality.

Our Founding Fathers understood reality as “Truths to be Self-Evident” based on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”. Their catastrophic error was failing to codify this wisdom into their new government blueprint — the U.S. Constitution. The consequence was a civil war that killed more Americans than all the wars our nation has fought in since then, combined. And some of those consequences remain with us today.

Far more Americans will die from preventable causes in the years ahead related to global factors SUCH AS terrorism, pandemics, climate change, wars, and poverty because the systems and structures that our Constitution protects today on both the national and international level still fail to codify the wisdom of “liberty and justice for all” in a world of irrefutable and irreversible interdependence.

Interdependence is accelerating due to the advances in technology that are accelerating exponentially.  During the same time, our government’s capacity for change (or adaptation to change) has virtually stopped.  And in some areas, it has actually reversed.

Even before Trump was elected a survey of US national security experts put our own nation’s “government dysfunction” as the second greatest threat to our national security.  Just behind terrorism.  It was higher than, China, Russia, Iran, N. Korea, and Climate Change.  Pandemics were not on the list.

The illusion of Independence underlies most of our short-term thinking, long-term planning, slow policymaking, and reactive actions.

We assume without question our personal, budgetary, institutional, and national independence. The endless war against terrorism (a tactic that cannot be defeated) has only accelerated our loss of freedoms (including privacy) and security. Our modern world of unprecedented and increasingly powerful, affordable, and ubiquitous technological capacity for WMD creation – and the increasing difficulty in accurately attributing the identity of the attacker, put everything increasingly at risk.

Imagine the loss of lives, freedom, and prosperity from a bioterrorist attack or global pandemic far worse than Covid19 or the 1918 Flu epidemic.  Unlike nuclear war, such a biosecurity threat is inevitable. Yet we remain lethally unprepared for a catastrophe that will NEGATIVELY affect every system and structure in our bodies, our homes, our economies, and the world.
We have based our policies on our illusion of independence – instead of obeying nature’s fundamental principles that are used in science and technology to engineering things that work like magic.  Medicine, instant global communications, electrical appliances, and tools that work to save and protect life, while making our lives more comfortable, profitable, and secure.

It is our flawed human assumption of independence that leads us to abuse or misuse many of these amazing science and technology tools — that results in the creation and exacerbation of many of our current health and environmental problems.  Sometimes with catastrophic results.  But easily preventable problems if we had followed the laws of nature and nature’s God.

If you doubt this read the preamble of the U.S. Constitution.  As you do, offer a school grade to each of the five clearly stated intentions to form “a more perfect Union.”

Then consider the fact that Abraham Lincoln wrote that our “Declaration of Independence” is our “Apple of Gold” and our “Constitution” is its ‘frame of silver’.  Yet our elected officials swear an oath to protect the Constitution believing without reservation that it will protect our freedoms and security.  How’s that working out?

Now imagine a government that is engineered on the fundamental principles offered in the Declaration of Independence. A government that … soundly embraces and promotes the responsibility of inclusion with ‘liberty and justice for all’, globally.


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Some have asserted that the primary fundamental principle in both the laws of nature and nature’s God is justice. Note that the foundation of every major religion is the Golden Rule.  To do unto others as you would have them do to you.   Anyone experiencing an injustice doesn’t need to be a religious believer to understand the supreme value of this.  Our US Justice Department offers two quotes engraved in its exterior’s stone.

“Justice is found in the rights bestowed by nature upon man. Liberty is maintained in security of justice.”    And,

“Justice is the great interest of man on earth. Wherever her temple stands, there is a foundation for social security, general happiness and the improvement and progress of our race.”

Yet our federal (and lower) systems and structures of justice are profoundly unjust. They are in fact “legal” systems in which it is better to be guilty and rich than innocent and poor. Many of our laws are simply unjust.   And unacceptable injustices can also be found in our nation’s economic, electoral, education, healthcare, agriculture, military, foreign policy, and intelligence systems.

Is it really any wonder that things don’t work, that Trump has so many followers, wars persist, the environment is trashed, and our society is ailing?

Every time I witness another failing in our nation, a phrase I heard last year comes to mind;  “How healthy can we be if we are well adjusted to a profoundly sick society?” We are afflicted with a societal mental illness;  Before Covid, the Surgeon General rated ‘loneliness” as our nation’s greatest health risk.   Our mind has the capacity to believe anything! Literally, anything. We don’t even do what we know we should.  The spread of fake news and conspiracy theories are just consequences of a flawed and sometimes corrupt government system.   This should all be stunningly clear…as with our inappropriate worship of independence and freedom without responsibility or virtue.

Again.  Every system and structure in our body, our house, our environment, and our world is interconnected and interdependent.  And all depend on the health and sustainable functioning of a just world order.   Our mind’s illusion of independence … disconnects us from our vital needs of love, a safe community, healthy food, and functional relationships.   These vital things we have largely taken for granted.  Thus we have insufficient respect for the natural systems that maintain our planet’s capacity for sustaining all life, human health, future prosperity, and ultimately our species survival.

There is no guarantee … our nation will last.

The Federalists worried that hostile nations could exploit any domestic divisions. George Washington warned in his farewell address that partisan “factions” could rip the country apart. James Madison feared that liberty could be lost by the “gradual and silent encroachments of those in power.” John Adams said, “There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide”. But, many in our Republic praise democracy, and rightfully blame both parties that are dominating our flawed two-party system that persistently delivers the consequences we are suffering today.

Some are proposing the creation of a “People’s Party”.  This puts too much promise in the will of the masses.   It offers a platform based on creative progressive or conservative ideas that are often devoid of fundamental principles. In other words – they would be engineering a political party that relies on creative and popular proposals that could win a majority.  Yet completely incapable of transforming the profound flaws in our current system and structures at either the national or international levels.

FACT:  Earth has an expiration date. And we the American people (and probably most of humanity) still reflect the opinion offered in the second paragraph of their Declaration of Independence.   It states “accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.” That’s bad!

But the tragic news is that the suffering that’s coming in our age of Consequences may be so great that our species may expire long, long before Earth. Given the acceleration of technology (WMD proliferation and AI) already knocking on our door, the majority of Americans or others in the world may not even get the chance to suffer the full effects of climate change. Due to a multiplicity of factors, time is NOT on our side.

If you are seeking the most practical action to take, a ‘justice for all’ system it is obvious that it would not be welcomed immediately by most policymakers or political parties.  Such a goal would require the legal protection of inalienable human rights for all and our environment with the force of law (ie the Rule of Law:  laws made and enforced by a democratic process, applied equally to all, and only used to protect human rights and the environment.    The only other option is what we have now.  The law of force.   This is where the protection of national sovereignty is more important than protecting human rights or the environment.  The working definition of ‘national sovereignty (another human-created concept using international law as it exists today with the UN) is the right of any nation to do anything it wants, to anyone it wants, anytime it wants within its own borders.  And, if it has nuclear weapons, it can do these things anywhere it believes it can get away with it.  Again, this is what we have now.  An irresponsible and unaccountable use of force prioritizing national interests which tends to accelerate chaos.  Chaos that often leads to refugees, the loss of freedoms, lives, prosperity, and our planet’s vital life support system.

There is a third option.  It would require the funding of those rights by the force of political will.   President Roosevelt offered the basics in his four freedoms speech; freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and … fear.”  Eleanor Roosevelt led the passage of a detailed list known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Like our nation’s Bill of Rights on steroids- but with no means of government enforcement.   Seven decades ago (December 10, 1948) this Declaration was offered in the context of world security. Those who had experienced World War II, the holocaust, and a new weapon that could vaporize 100,000 people in a second understood the essentials of ‘justice for all’ and these fundamental human rights.  But the UN’s lack of democratic power left it useless in this context leaving states’ rights above human rights.  This structural flaw in the UN resembles the original flaw in the US Constitution that led to our catastrophic Civil War.

What are some of UDHRs rights intended as a foundation for peace?  Universal access to clean water, safe sanitation, adequate food, access to basic health services, basic education, and an equal opportunity to earn a living wage are good starters.

Fortuitously, the fastest, most affordable, practical, and effective means of maximizing this movement of ‘Liberty and Justice for all” (both here and abroad thus laying the foundation for maximizing humanity’s freedom and security globally) is the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These have already been agreed on by every nation in 2015 to be achieved by the year 2030.

It’s obvious that we will not get an enforceable Global Bill of Rights any time soon. But we could virtually enforce most essential human rights by funding the SDGs. The growing array of global threats to our freedom and security demands that we do this as rapidly as possible.

WARNING!   We have been repeatedly warned of the consequences of failing in prioritizing this human security approach.

In 1980 a bipartisan Presidential Commission concluded  “In the final analysis, unless Americans — as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world — place far higher priority on overcoming world hunger, its effects will no longer remain remote or unfamiliar. Nor can we wait until we reach the brink of the precipice; the major actions required do not lend themselves to crisis planning, patchwork management, or emergency financing… The hour is late. Age-old forces of poverty, disease, inequity, and hunger continue to challenge the world. Our humanity demands that we act upon these challenges now…” Presidential Commission on World Hunger, 1980.

Its commissioners specifically warned …“The most potentially explosive force in the world today is the frustrated desire of poor people to attain a decent standard of living. The anger, despair, and often hatred that result represent real and persistent threats to international order… Neither the cost to national security of allowing malnutrition to spread nor the gain to be derived by a genuine effort to resolve the problem can be predicted or measured in any precise, mathematical way. Nor can monetary value be placed on avoiding the chaos that will ensue unless the United States and the rest of the world begin to develop a common institutional framework for meeting such other critical global threats… Calculable or not, however, this combination of problems now threatens the national security of all countries just as surely as advancing armies or nuclear arsenals.”

They also stated “that promoting economic development in general, and overcoming hunger in particular, are tasks far more critical to the U.S. national security than most policymakers acknowledge or even believe. Since the advent of nuclear weapons, most Americans have been conditioned to equate national security with the strength of strategic military forces. The Commission considers this prevailing belief to be a simplistic illusion. Armed might represents merely the physical aspect of national security. Military force is ultimately useless in the absence of the global security that only coordinated international progress toward social justice can bring.”

In 1990 the nations of the world (including the US) agreed on funding a less ambitious but measurable, achievable, and affordable goals for the year 2000.  This was World Summit for Children.  Even though all governments at the time signed a pledge to “make the resources available” to meet these goals, few were fully funded or achieved.

In 2000 another more ambitious set of “Millennium Development Goals” was set for the year 2015.  These were also shorted.  Contributing to the wars, terrorism, climate change, refugees, famines, revolutions, state failures, infectious diseases, international crime, and genocides we’ve seen around the world and hounding us today.  Not as separate issues!  But as interdependent consequence.

If we fail this time in achieving the SDGs the deteriorating global conditions may overwhelm any chance of us or our children setting things right.

The discouraging news would appear to be that achieving these 17 goals would cost trillions.  And especially after Covid’s systemic costs, most governments have no money to spare.

The exciting news is that they don’t need to.  Governments just need the political will to freeze and seize a good portion of the estimated $32 trillion dollars that has been stashed in offshore bank accounts for years.  Thousands of accounts obtained by kleptocrats (dictators), oligarchs (their cronies), criminal cartels (drugs, guns, sex, hackers), violent extremist groups (terrorists, white supremacists…), and the extreme wealthy (avoiding taxes).   Most of these ill-gotten gains…should have been going to basic government services.  Now they can be devoted to basic human rights and environmental protection.

The political will could be generated if the general public is aware that their nation’s security and cherished freedoms depend as much on meeting the SDGs as they do on more military spending or a new “Space Force”.

This level of political will in the US could be achieved by progressives working together. With their millions of members personally petitioning their own Members of Congress with loving persistence.  This strategy and daily tactic is infinitely more powerful than voting every 2 or 4 years, protesting, or counter-protesting. If the peace, environment, and economic/social justice movements and their thousands of organizations came together to focus on one piece of legislation on all 435 House members, 100 Senators, and anyone running for these offices, our currently dysfunctional Congress could finally prove useful.  And Americans would finally have a government of “We the people” “by the people, for the people” with “a new birth of freedom” with “liberty and justice for all” that “shall not perish from this earth.” 

In the long run (if we have one) it truly doesn’t matter who is in office or what party they represent.  If fundamental principles are codified into laws, budgets, and all government action we could have the world we know is possible.  On earth, as it is in heaven.  A sustainable global garden of eating.

Given the multiple threats we face as individuals, nations, and a species it must be clear that few threats can be stopped with military power.  And, many are exacerbated by its unprincipled use.

Our primary goal as voters and citizens must be to recognize our global interdependence as the human race and the profound value of ensuring “liberty and justice for all”.  Make it your personal goal to educate your policymakers on this fundamental reality and act as though your life and your children’s future freedoms and security depend on it.

Connect the dots (everything is connected). See the web of life (all systems and structures are interdependent). Work for justice (always and for all) …or prepare for the consequences (which will inevitably happen and be increasingly catastrophic).

Chuck Woolery, Former Chair, United Nations Association, Council of Organizations
Steven Jay, Founder and Creative Director, Mobilized.news

 


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CHUCK W.: How to create the future when the world is upside down?

It has been well over 70 years since the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Created by Eleanor Roosevelt and colleagues after the atrocities of WW2, it shows how we can govern through the Rule of Law instead of War.

Combined with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, It provides a roadmap of what we can do to enable a peaceful and healthier co-Existence.
But it takes more than just words. It takes action.

After ongoing failures at U.N. symposiums, this public health leader discusses ways to prevent continual crises from famine and climate catastrophe to violence and safeguarding public health and human rights.

How can we go from thinking about our own Nations to realizing that all decisions we make in one location affect and impact those living in another nation?

This lively discussion features Mobilized News’ Jeff Van Treese and The Other Chuck Woolery (not the TV guy) discussing what we as a society can, could, and must do to prevent ongoing crises.

Chuck Woolery (not the Game show host)

Chuck’s professional grassroots organizing and advocacy successes on global health issues led to his elected position on the respected Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals). Later he was then elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans). His focus has been connecting local and global issues to US national security interests and using non-partisan fundamental principles to advance public thinking and US policy on vital systems and structures essential to forming a more perfect union and sustainable environment.


Chuck credits much of his successes to his mother’s love, father’s violence, the study of Biology and wrestling (having qualified for the 1972 Olympic Trials only to find out he was seriously not qualified – but was honored to make it that far after a childhood of obesity and sloth.) “We are all”, he says “always wrestling with issues and concerns our entire life. Or we should be — given the persistent changes in our bodies and the world.” “Loving persistence” and “ruthless compassion” are two qualities his mentors offered him. Admittedly to his detriment he usually offers people what they need to know instead of what they want to hear. Chuck is an avid quote collector… one of his many favorites — “Science is my passion, politics my duty.” Thomas Jefferson

The United Nations system: What’s Gone Wrong? What’s Gone Right?

To better understand the inner workings and problems with the U.N. system, we asked a few poignant questions of “The Other” Chuck Woolery. The one who was elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans) and the Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals).  He had spent three decades working with non-profits and other NGO’s advocating for a stronger United Nations for addressing global issues.
 

Many people have put hope on the U.N. systems to solve our ongoing crises. Why is this not a good idea, and how and why is the U.N. platform ineffective?

Ideas can be hopeful. The U.N. was a good idea. The prevention of problems is something everyone knows needs to happen. But that requires long-term thinking and effective action. Unfortunately, the U.N. was never given any power other than providing a peaceful gathering of nationals to work on problems they agreed on.  Any UN solution depended on the voluntary action and funding of those nations. The UN can help coordinate practical efforts but then takes the blame when things go wrong.

 

The UN lead the global campaign that eradicated Smallpox. It succeeded because of truly universal cooperation, coordination, and adequate volunteer funding.  I believe the most recent UN success story was in 2015.  Back then stakeholders on many issues at every government level from every nation came together and worked out a plan to maximize preventive efforts that could get humanity to the year 2030 with minimum difficulties/crisis. The bad news on these 17 Sustainable Development Goals is that few people in the U.S. have ever heard of them. If they have, they fall into four basic categories.

  1. Those who favor their particular goal believing it is the most important of the 17.  Unfortunately, each of these 17 goals requires equal, sustained, and urgent efforts.  And each is underfunded.
  2. Those who don’t believe they are sufficient.
  3. Those who don’t believe they will ever happen.
  4. And some who are suggesting the only rational means of achieving them.  These rapidly hit mental constructs in other’s minds that make effective action unlikely if not impossible.

 

Year after year progressive advocates focus on one sector or another.  Climate, water, peace, human rights, democracy, health, etc.

Why are these ineffective? What would you do to create an effective system that could detect problems before they start and invest in efforts that prevent it from occurring? 

From a U.S. perspective…Events are ineffective even if they are large. Ultimately, they are competing for limited resources with other movements for media attention, donations, access to policymakers or other influential people.

This strategy cannot effectively generate sufficient political within a majority of U.S. Congressional Districts and states.

 

Do egos get in the way of effective coordinated actions? I think it’s more a paycheck or cognitive dissonance issue. Leaders are hired to produce results in a particular arena. They can make a big splash.  But what is urgently needed is a movement that brings other movements together into one. A movement of all movements.  Otherwise singularly grand impacts by one movement (like Climate Change) will continue to distract from the importance and urgency of other vital movements.  Note how quickly the emergence of COVID19 muted every other movement (pro-democracy, regional wars, the evolution of weaponry, US debt…) or quickly exposed our failures in others (health care, infrastructure, pay gaps, supply chains).    Now the increasing urgency on vital action to address increasing climate emergencies are muting those.

We need a comprehensive, holistic, and global approach to human, environmental, economic, and political health. And sustainability.

 

What is the U.N. good at accomplishing?  Bringing together interested parties focused on global concerns/issues.

 

What is your greatest dissatisfaction through what you have experienced in organizing? Your biggest satisfactions?

The greatest dissatisfaction is knowing that all of the comprehensive studies that have been done by bi-partisan Presidential/congressional commissions, prestige entities like the National Academy of Sciences, and intellectual think tanks from multiple nations have always given us wise recommendations. Humanity knows what to do. But we don’t do it.  Short term thinking, national interests, political partisanship, and flawed political systems won’t allow it.

My personal awakening and satisfaction came from discovering how open our political system actually is.  Citizens simply don’t grasp the fact that a well-organized, informed, and lovingly persistent movement can create political will to achieve specific ends. My hopes are that Mobilized can spark such a movement.  That enough progressives, moderates, libertarians, and even conservatives will finally grasp the reality that things are going to get much worse…unless we unite under the realization that everything is interconnected!  Everything is interdependent!  And everything, including all of us, are vulnerable.

 

How would you title the editorial we are creating here with your words in a way that would lead people into concerted actions?

  • “Connecting the Dots. See the web of life. Doing what’s needed.  Or prepare for catastrophic consequences.”
  • Disobeying he Laws of Nature and Nature’s God will not end well.
  • We face a Trilemma:  Freedom, Security, and Independence. Which two do you want?
  • Human Rights and the environment vs national sovereignty.
  • Government openness and accountability. Or oblivion.

“We hold” this truth “to be Self-evident.”

Our U.S. Constitution has not formed a perfect union.

Instead, it has created an increasingly dysfunctional and stubbornly divided people within a collection of 50 unique and troubled states. With the continued contempt on Capitol Hill, it would be hard to find any U.S. citizen with the opinion that our government is doing what’s needed to “insure domestic tranquility.” Covid19 crushed the intent to “provide for the common defense.” And our cognitive divisions make it impossible to “promote” our “general welfare.” Our Constitution has allowed our military to enter into endless wars because we have valued the law of force instead of the force of law to end violent extremism. These efforts to preempt attacks instead of preventing them are at the core of our Constitution’s failure to secure the “Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” The absence of justice in our laws combined with our 4th Amendment (our unyielding desire for privacy) makes our Constitution a virtual suicide pact.

By  “The Other” Chuck Woolery

How will we stop corruption from undermining our economic system, a white supremist engineering a bioweapon targeting Blacks or Jews, a cyberattack on our nation’s critical infrastructure, or a spy from exposing any other vulnerable aspects of any system vital to our nation’s security? Can we drone strike suspects? We do this in other countries.
Do we really believe that will make us sustainably safe?

Trust is the glue that holds any relationship, civilization, or democracy together. It depends on truths we can all agree on. Today, however, we believe firmly in different realities. Facts about our political party, religion, economic philosophy…that we are willing to kill and die for. And there appears to be no means of reversing this polarization. It may even be growing as gun sales have skyrocketed and bullets are now hard to find.

“We the people” have never been more divided since our civil war. The consequences already include a drop in life expectancy approaching that of World War II. This was mainly due to an elected President that could have prevented it. And he still believes (along with millions of followers) that the election was rigged, and he should still be President.

But it’s worse than that. Even before Trump’s presidency, our nation’s top national security experts ranked our own government’s dysfunction as our nation’s second most significant security threat (terrorism was #1). And before Trump, the U.S. Surgeon General stated that our nation’s most significant health risk was “loneliness.” This suggests there is something even more dysfunctional than our Constitution.

Understanding the fundamental cause of each of these problems (and others) is now more valuable than winning any partisan debate, tweaking any budget lines, or changing any particular law among the thousands that our Constitutional process has codified in the last 70 years.

Something needs to change fast, given the escalation of domestic and international threats. We need systemic change. A comprehensive change. A transformational change in the very fundamental operating principles of our Constitution and what we believe in.

This question keeps coming to mind. How free, secure, or healthy can we be if we are well adjusted to a profoundly dysfunctional political system and nationalist culture?

No sane individual would now wager we will make the needed changes anytime soon. Buckle up, buttercup! Things are going to continue to get worse. Much worse before we fix it.

A catastrophic collapse of our economy or our 245-year-old political system is no longer unthinkable. It is as predictable as a pandemic had been. Both, inevitable. Given both the structural and systemic flaws in our Constitution and its persistent failure to abide by the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” – another pandemic and our systems collapse are both inevitable.
How many people would ride on an airplane that they knew was engineered by a committee that understood the forces of gravity yet failed to abide by it during the aircraft’s construction? Our founding fathers understood the forces of nature and nature’s God. They all signed the document based on such self-evident truths found in the Declaration of Independence. Then they engineered a government that ignored them.

According to most former U.S. Presidents, Abraham Lincoln is the most popular U.S. President. This is because he presided over the correction of a fundamental flaw in our Constitution’s original design. A design flaw resulted in more dead Americans than all the wars our nation has fought in since then—Combined! Now a virus has killed even more than that in less than two years. Why? Because “we the people’ believed our powerful military, our economic system, our wealth would keep us safe. And we ignored history, science, the fundamentals of the faith (do unto others), and the flag pledge…” liberty and justice for all” that every American has said out loud hundreds of times with their hand over their heart.

Abraham Lincoln once wrote, our ‘Declaration of Independence is our “Apple of Gold.” Our Constitution is its “frame of Silver.”

Yet our elected officials, public servants, and military personal swear an oath to protect the Constitution. Not us. Not the environment on which we all depend. But on a fundamentally flawed document. A document that frames the codification of unjust laws and the protection of God-given inalienable rights. But only for U.S. citizens. And we wonder why tens of thousands if not millions of people in the world hate us enough to want to kill us. Murder us in large numbers.

Our only way forward as a united nation in this troubled world is to accept the pain and suffering our country has caused. We are asking forgiveness for our crimes against humanity. Slavery. We are not keeping our word “40 acres and a mule”. Stealing the land of ‘first Americans,’ breaking our treaties with them, then systematically destroying their cultures and heritage. Our interventionist wars are intended to protect our interests or preempt other nations without sufficient evidence, resulting in millions of civilian deaths in dozens of countries. Then, we re-engineered our Constitution to codify new laws. Laws and codes that effectively mirror those laws based on the “Truths” that ‘we hold to be self-evident.

Erase a few words from our political vocabulary. Words like independence, terrorism, and happiness. Replace them with “separation, mass murder, health. Imagine how different our culture and nation would be today if our Declaration of Independence had been called our Declaration of Separation. The concept of independence is so ingrained into our brains we believe it’s real. Yet, it exists nowhere in the known universe. Yet our Constitution considers our 50 states some level of ‘independence’ on some issues. And every nation in the world has a right to their ‘national sovereignty’ (independence) unless our Constitution is used to justify our nation violating it.

Then imagine what things would be like if Thomas Jefferson had listened to his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush (also a signer of the Declaration). Rush suggested that he change “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to the pursuit of “Health.”
We have thoroughly abused the word ‘happiness’ as it was meant in previous times. Those alive at this nation’s creation believed ‘happiness’ to be ‘finding one’s purpose in serving the community as ‘finding one’s bliss.

And what if the founders had followed Thomas Paine’s assertion that the only legitimate use of government is protecting human “freedom and security.” Our Constitution would have never allowed the slaughter of innocent people anywhere.

And the word we have worshipped yet butchered most is ‘freedom.’ We persist in ignoring the dozens of quotes that the founders and those before them they had thoroughly studied, that stress the importance of being responsible with one’s freedom – or it would be lost. Surprisingly, another word mentioned in their archived documents (over 120,000) said ‘virtue’ 6000 times. More times than freedom! Then, it implied that good men were needed to maintain God’s given freedoms.

Here’s another self-evident truth. We cannot stop the accelerating global forces that now penetrate our national borders effortlessly without breaking ourselves economically. No amount of money in the world can prevent the consequences of biological, cyber, environmental, criminal, or economic contagion from crossing our borders as if they were not there. In reality, our borders are political lines drawn on maps. But, unfortunately, the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God do not recognize map lines.
The exponential growth of technology – combined with its increasing affordability, availability, power, multi-use capacity, dependence building, norm busting, and unavoidable globally disrupting influences cannot be stopped militarily or with walls. And most are an inevitable and unstoppable assault on human privacy.

Our mind’s illusion that globalization on steroids can be stopped with hyper-nationalism will fail. And fail catastrophically. No nation can effectively address the escalating battery of globalized threats humanity now faces.

Our current global governance system ensures failure. And the costs in blood and treasure are nearly unimaginable. If we fail to reduce these risks, they will continue to relieve us. Instead, it will vastly increase us as refugees.

It is possible that our so-called ‘independent nations’ could rally and address the most popular environmental threat these days, global warming. But it’s not possible to stop pandemics, the evolution of weapons, and war – without every nation, village, and individual in the world being held accountable for any injustices or overt violations of inalienable human rights.

Since we have ignored or refused to codify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, our only reliable path is to work as diligently as possible to fund and comprehensively achieve the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

This is quite possible if most progressive groups in the U.S. and around joined into one single movement. For example, a movement of movements as Naomi Klein called for in 2014 during the Climate March in N.Y. city and hundreds of cities worldwide. Together such a movement could convince most of the world’s governments to freeze and then seize much of the illicit funds stashed in offshore accounts exposed by the Pandora papers.

 

A 2014 study estimated that as much as $32 trillion had been stashed there by kleptocrats, oligarchs, crime cartels, extremist groups, and ultra-rich capitalists avoiding taxes. Corruption and privacy in those – and now in cryptocurrencies – undermine every aspect of humanity’s freedom, security, prosperity, and sustainability.

Connect the dots. See the web of life. Work for justice for all. Or prepare for the consequences. Know that no matter how much we invest in resilience – it will not be enough.

It is past time we shed the 400-year-old dysfunctional global governance system of national sovereignty. And put in place an international rule of law where the protection of human rights (freedom and security) and the environment is above the rights of nations and corporations to do as they please.

Mission impossible…yes. What else are you going to do? Build a bunker?

“The Other” Chuck Woolery (not the Game show host)

Chuck’s professional grassroots organizing and advocacy successes on global health issues led to his elected position on the respected Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals). Later he was then elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans). His focus has been connecting local and global issues to US national security interests and using non-partisan fundamental principles to advance public thinking and US policy on vital systems and structures essential to forming a more perfect union and sustainable environment.


Chuck credits much of his successes to his mother’s love, father’s violence, the study of Biology and wrestling (having qualified for the 1972 Olympic Trials only to find out he was seriously not qualified – but was honored to make it that far after a childhood of obesity and sloth.) “We are all”, he says “always wrestling with issues and concerns our entire life. Or we should be — given the persistent changes in our bodies and the world.” “Loving persistence” and “ruthless compassion” are two qualities his mentors offered him. Admittedly to his detriment he usually offers people what they need to know instead of what they want to hear. Chuck is an avid quote collector… one of his many favorites — “Science is my passion, politics my duty.” Thomas Jefferson

The Interconnected structure of reality

Post 9/11: Truth or Continued Consequences?

What did 9-11, Covid19, the Covid variants, the end of our 20-year war in Afghanistan, recent extreme weather events globally, and a decline in democracy in many nations all have in common?  First, they were all predictable, predicted, and preventable. Second, more costly blood and treasure consequences are yet to come – unless we understand the root cause and urgently act on it.

By “The Other” Chuck Woolery

Everyone who was conscious on September 11, 2001, recalls the events of that day. But understanding both the origins and the results of 9/11 is far more important than any acts of remembrance that we might perform. If we truly care to honor those who died and suffered on that unforgettable day, we must use our powers of understanding to develop sustainable strategies for preventing the next terrorizing event that might occur. Understanding must matter more than body counts.

The Post’s lead editorial of 9/11 cites Abraham Lincoln’s statement that, when combating danger “the best defense (against the dangers of his time) …lay in cultivating robust ‘reverence for the Constitution and laws,’ ” as well as his hopes that doing so “would inspire and sustain the people’s commitment to liberty and equality.”

In his writings, Lincoln also described the Declaration of Independence as “our apple of gold” and the Constitution as its “frame of silver.” To my mind, these analogies reflect our foundational goal of equality for all people, as invoked in the Declaration.   But our “rule of law, as detailed in the Constitution ignores both the concept of justice and humanities inalienable rights.  The Constitution’s reliance on the proposition of independence — a deeply flawed concept rooted deeply in our minds has not delivered justice or consistently protected human rights since its creation.  From the start it was engineered into every level of our nation’s government.

Many Americans today proclaim their allegiance to individual liberty at the freedom to infect others in their communities.  For a significant portion US citizens “independence” has come to denote the license to act irresponsibly without regard for the medical, environmental, or economic consequences their actions on others (rejecting masks, refusing vaccinations, or denying climate change).

This prevalent fusion of “freedom” with “self-gratification” has long consequences for rest of the world too. For many decades our foreign and military policies have disparaged other cultures as unworthy of the respect and privilege that we ourselves take for granted; we’ve dismissed foreign casualties as “collateral damage”, communist or terrorist sympathizers, or humans irrelevant to our nation’s interests.

My studies as a biologist and student of the natural world have made the fundamental flaws in our Constitution to be “self-evident”.  They consistently ignore the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” expressed in the first paragraph of our “Apple of Gold” the Declaration of Independence.   Interdependence is at the heart of nature’s laws. Chief Seattle (1780-1866), the head of the Duwamish and Suquamish nations, saw this clearly: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”   Yet most of us ignore our irreversible global interdependence environmentally, economically, militarily, and health wise.   Without being responsible with our freedoms abroad we cannot expect to sustainably preserve our freedom, security, or prosperity here.

Until we grasp the wisdom and survival value of putting the global protection of human rights and the environment above the protection of national sovereignty and corporate power, our vulnerability to the kind of dangers inflicted on 9/11 will grow.  Sustaining what quality of life that remains and improving it for ourselves and our children we must abandon the illusion of independence.

 

Our interdependence within this nation and on this planet is accelerating and irreversible. Nearly every troubling trend we are experiencing today is a symptom of our delusion of separation. There is a medical term for this mental condition – anosognosia.  It is when someone is unaware of their own mental health condition.  In a world with the accelerating evolution of weapons, pathogens, failing democracies, and civil strife It’s time for a wake-up call.

Our human-created construct of independence is responsible for our persistent failure to understand and respond effectively to nearly every danger we face (pandemics, pollution, terrorism, cyber security, economic stability, drug trade, refugee flows, food insecurity, extreme weather events…), each with lethal and unfavorable consequences for all — both here and abroad.

We can no longer simply react when disaster strikes. We can no longer build back to what we had before. It’s imperative now that we build forward in ways that prevent dangers and conserve limited resources.  It is our only means of maximizing any sustainable prospects of freedom, security, and prosperity for ourselves and our posterity.  Most nations have agreed to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030.  It is the only comprehensive set of solutions we have, and humanity is not on track to meet them.  Time is not on our side…and e may not get another chance.

The truth of our interdependence can set us free.  Ignoring it will only have more unfavorable consequences.

 

Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half of the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”   -Albert Einstein.  As quoted in Quantum Reality, Beyond the New Physics, p. 250.

We have a failure to communicate: Why this could have been prevented

Twenty four years before the words “Corona Virus” entered the public consciousness, we were warned.

Yes, we have been here before. Many times before. For years and years, decades and even for centuries, we have been educated and warned, informed and indoctrinated with the truth that, in the words of Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. Mankind is going to need an entirely new way of thinking if it is to survive.”

About 24 years ago, on April 25, 1996 infact, Mobilized contributor, Chuck Woolery of Rockville, Maryland gave his Testimony on behalf of Communication for Health Campaign before Congressman Sonny Callahan, Chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of Appropriations , U.S. House of Representatives.

The result of his testimony? His words would fall on deaf ears. Over and over again, those of us in-the-know, have advised, counseled and warned leaders and the public-at-large of the failure to honour Natures Law of systems, structures and principles.

The result of failing to listen? Just open you eyes, you will see it everywhere.

Thank you for allowing me as the Director of the Communication for Health Campaign to testify today regarding the prioritization of US foreign aid appropriations.

The World is in great change. Within the context of this change, the appropriations made by this Subcommittee now constitute the basis for maintaining the security of the American people. In the past, this Constitutional mandate was carried out by military strength. Today, military strength alone can no longer protect Americans from the foreign threats now approaching and breaching our shores.

 

The disturbing trend of new and re-emerging infectious diseases puts public and global health squarely in the realm of national security interests. Numerous reports document the threat infectious diseases pose to American lives and prosperity, and identify them as a threat that will only grow in the coming years. The rate and magnitude of that growth has been determined by our past neglect of poverty, environment and public health concerns. Our continuing failure to address a host of critical international problems within this specific context promises us almost certain catastrophe.

 

For some, the catastrophe is already here in the form of HIV/AIDS or multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis. These two diseases already consume a large portion of our nation’s health expenses.

 

AIDS was first recognized as a US problem in the early 1980s. If we had been more interested in international health threats earlier, we could have started research to combat the AIDS virus as early as 1962 when it was first recognized by African physicians as the “slims” disease.

 

After three decades of decline, TB in the US re-emerged as a major public health problem in the late 1980s. Targeted federal funding brought it back under control but still, in 1995, TB outbreaks were investigated in churches, schools, dental offices, court rooms, trains, subways, neighborhood bars, racetracks and even on a river boat casino. Until we control TB globally, we will continue to pay the expensive price for outbreaks here. One outbreak in New York City in 1993-1994 cost the city over $90 million. The world devotes less than half of that annually for the global control of TB.

 

Infectious diseases spreading in US hospitals kill more Americans each year than all the American troops lost throughout the entire Vietnam conflict. A significant number of these ‘domestic’ infectious diseases were imported from the harsh conditions of poverty abroad. As these conditions worsen, the number and variations of microbes will continue to grow and move with the aid of modern transportation. The actions of this Subcommittee, in regard to development and humanitarian assistance will have the greatest impact on the future security of the American people and control of these impending threats.

 

The cost of stopping microbial threats at the gates of our cities or at our water’s edge is no longer a practical option. A handful of microbes can be stopped at the border but the vast majority cannot. It would be prohibitively expensive to stop, test and quarantine every human or foreign product that crosses our borders or air space every day. Reducing infectious diseases, terrorism, pollution, or even unemployment in America now requires our pro-active efforts to extend beyond US boarders. Prevention there is far cheaper than dealing with these problems at our borders or in our cities. That is the new profound opportunity of this Subcommittee – to impact the conditions of global poverty and chaos, that are the primary fuel feeding the health, economic, environmental and security threats now facing this nation.

 

The Communication for Health Campaign and NCIH represent over 120 member organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, American Dental Association, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, 9 Schools of Public Health and dozens of other international medical and health related organizations. These organizations and thousands of individual health care professionals urge this Subcommittee to re-examine its fundamental priorities in this new ‘national security’ context.

 

This Subcommittee took two steps forward last year by establishing the “Child Survival and Disease Account”. Unfortunately, it took a large step backward when it failed to appropriate sufficient funds to achieve its own recommendations. The ‘Child Survival and Disease’ earmark of $484 million falls $127 million short of the levels it recommended for Child Survival ($254 million), UNICEF ($100 million), Polio ($25 million), AIDS ($129 million), and Basic Education ($108 million). If we consider the absence of other expenditures needed to cure or prevent tuberculosis, provide clean water and sanitation, slow the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases, and support other vital health related programs, the total appropriated will be stretched even further. USAID could divert other aid resources to meet these specific health needs but cannot do so without taking away from other vital programs; that in the long run, bring health, security and stability in the Third World, and ultimately to our shores. Family planning and microenterprise programs are also important contributors to the health of individuals and communities. Support for democracy and human rights also have an impact in reducing the chance of conflict that so often halts and even destroys health services.

 

The 52 words of the Preamble to our own Constitution now provide the perfect and most urgent rationale to solve this dilemma.

 

“We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 

Nearly every American would agree that the primary role of any legitimate government is to provide for the defense of its citizens. Reductions in development assistance over the last few years however, have reduced our health defenses, and dramatically increased our risks.

 

Article 1. Section 8. of the Constitution says that “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States…”

 

It does not suggest that the common defense and general welfare of the American people should be sacrificed to balance the budget. That is indeed the scenario now being played out.

 

It is not hard to imagine a health crisis in this country where even Article 1. Section 9 of the Constitution “…The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus” would need to be “suspended”, when “the public safety may require it.”

 

Article IV. Section 4 of our Constitution states that “The United States shall guarantee to every State

in this Union a Republic Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; …” The Constitution does not specify invasion from what. I believe it is not a stretch of the imagination to claim that the framers of our Constitution had the protection of American citizens in mind when they agreed to this wording. This Article has now been violated by the entry of AIDS, malaria, dengue fever, ebola, tuberculosis, cholera and perhaps a dozen other pathogens; and unfortunately, this is only the beginning. Legal and illegal immigration certainly plays a role in the transportation of disease, but the greatest source of cross-border transport of pathogens is the result of legal domestic travelers dressed in business suits, army uniforms, and tourist or holiday attire. More than 50 million people cross the US border each year. Nearly half of the food we purchase and place on our kitchen table each evening has been imported from nations where the cheapest labor is hired for harvesting and processing the crops.

 

Stopping the flow of people and goods would be prohibitively expensive if not impossible. Yet at any given time approximately one-half of the world’s population is ill. The heaviest concentration of pathogens is found in the developing world where fewer than half the world’s people try to make a living on less than $400 a year. It is in these parts of the globe that we must implement comprehensive, preventive measures if we want to provide the greatest safety for American citizens.

 

Article VI says “…This Constitution and the laws of the United States…shall be the supreme law of the land.” We are hopeful that the next law this body passes will reflect its solemn duty to provide for the defense and welfare of the American people.

 

Over the last 50 years, the US Government has devoted trillions of dollars to a cold war to protect us from the possible threat of a communist aggressor. While that threat remains a remote possibility today, we are guaranteed an onslaught of infectious diseases in the near and not too distant future. This is not my opinion. It is the findings of a National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine report published 3 years ago. Since then the world has suffered an outbreak of bubonic plague in India, Ebola virus in Africa and new variations of tuberculosis within the US that are resistant to every antibiotic we now have in our health arsenal. Perhaps this Subcommittee could provide the bold leadership needed to commit the US to a “hot war” to ensure our freedom from fever. How easily we forget that the largest killer and disabler of men, women, children and even the unborn in the world is simple malnutrition and infection. Our reliance on the progress of science to protect us has betrayed us. The progress of pathogens to adapt to our arsenal of medicines promises to be the fight of our species. It is truly an “us against them” war that needs to be waged. We can destroy the majority of them at their base camp by ridding the world of the poverty related conditions in which they multiply, thrive, and strengthen.

 

For the cost of a pair of B-2 bombers (bombers the Pentagon says it doesn’t want or need) we could launch such an offensive. This minor investment could eradicate many diseases and greatly reduce our risk to a host of others. No number of additional B-2 bombers can do that.

 

In the closing paragraphs of The Coming Plague, aptly entitled “Searching for Solutions”, Laurie Garrett writes:

“The human world was a very optimistic place on September 12, 1978, when the nations’ representatives signed the Declaration of Alma Ata. By the year 2000 all of humanity was supposed to be immunized against most infectious diseases, basic health care was to be available to every man, woman, and child regardless of their economic class, race, religion, or place of birth.

But as the world approaches the millennium, it seems, from the microbes’ point of view, as if the entire planet, occupied by nearly 6 billion mostly impoverished Homo sapiens, is like the city of Rome in 5 B.C. “The world really is just one village. Our tolerance of disease in any place in the world is at our own peril,” Lederberg [Nobel laureate for discovery of DNA] said. “Are we better off today than we were a century ago? In most respects, we’re worse off. We have been neglectful of the microbes, and that is a recurring theme that is coming back to haunt us.”

In the end, it seems that American Journalist I.F. Stone was right when he said, “Either we will learn to live together or we will die together.”

While the human race battles itself… the advantage moves to the microbes’ court. They are our predators and they will be victorious if we, Homo sapiens, do not learn to live in a rational global village that affords the microbes few opportunities. It’s either that or we brace ourselves for the coming plague.”

 

This new reality requires a radical shift in the way Americans relate to each other and to the rest of the world. More weapons will not bring us more security. In fact just the opposite may now be true.

 

More Might! More Fright! More Plight!

In the modern world of disorder and dissolving nation states, the more US Military superiority we have, the less US national security we actually gain. Maintaining or increasing US military strength has at least 4 negative consequences on the health of US citizens. First, military spending usually distracts scarce financial resources from meeting basic human needs. Every billion dollars spent today beefing up our military against a possible human aggressor means a billion dollars less for the programs essential to protecting Americans from the aggression of infectious diseases. It is true that a small portion of military spending is spent in combating infectious diseases and more spent here could certainly be helpful. However, more B-2 bombers or a new space based anti-missile defense system is just plain wasteful, in the face of this new threat.

 

Second, military units stationed abroad always return home bringing whatever health problems they have with them. There may be as many as a quarter million troops stationed overseas at any given time. Their interactions with foreign populations, combined with their rapid and regular travel habits contribute to globalizing health problems. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, AIDS, anti-biotic resistance and a host of other communicable diseases are now in the pipeline.

 

Another increasingly important effect of ‘military might’ affecting public health falls in the category of terrorism. As our military gains an undisputed level of superiority, we squelch the possibility of any overt enemy attack on our shores. This squelching of overt aggression however, only increases our risks to covert aggression by any hostile individual, group or nation. The bad news: The ultimate weapon of affordability, ease of delivery, and effective human destruction is microbial in nature. In the Conference report on the Anti-Terrorism bill passed last week, a Senator suggested that if this bill passed, it would help protect the American people. This is a dangerous myth. We are all entirely vulnerable to the misuse of lethal or crippling pathogens in nearly every aspect of our lives. Any moderately intelligent person can find at least a dozen ways to infect hundreds if not thousands of people. A 98 cent plastic misting bottle from any drug store, a dose of salmonella from any blend of raw eggs and a 20 second pass around any popular salad bar is just one example. The Tokyo subway nerve gas attack last year killing 12 and injuring over 5,000 wasn’t particularly creative (nerve gas in a paper bag). The fact that members from this same sect went to Zaire posing as relief workers responding to the 1995 outbreak of ebola is, however, truly terrorizing. Imagine the consequences in America if the unibomber, the Oklahoma City bomber or the Trade tower bombers had any training in basic microbiology.

 

Senator Hatch reminds us that the “possession of dangerous human pathogens, such as bubonic plague, anthrax…are…readily available to just about anyone…” The December 30, 1995, Washington Post has a story with a headline that leaps off the page: `Man Gets Hands on Bubonic Plague Germ, but That’s No Crime.’ The story is more chilling than the headline. In Ohio, a white supremacist purchased three vials of

the bubonic plague pathogen through the mail. This was the same pathogen that wiped out about one-third of Europe in the Middle Ages. When the purchaser called the seller to complain about slow delivery, the sales representative got concerned about whether the caller was someone who really should have the bubonic plague in his possession. According to the story, the Ohio authorities were contacted. When police, public health officials, the FBI, and emergency workers in space suits scoured the purchaser’s house, they found nearly a dozen M-1 rifles, smoke grenades, blasting caps, and white separatist literature, but no bubonic plague. The deadly microorganisms were found in the glove compartment of his automobile, still packed as shipped…”

 

Investments in research on pathogens and the development of targeted treatments is a viable responsibility of government involvement. We cannot wait for the market place to catch up with the mortality rate of Americans.

 

With the current level of global poverty, rapid means of global transportation and general lack of resources directed at improving the human condition, terrorists really don’t have to do much of anything. Our own lack of basic human services here for the US homeless and below-poverty populations means the spread of disease by normal factors is already a disaster waiting to happen.

 

The fourth military factor is related to ‘peace keeping’ and ‘nation building’. These traditionally non-military roles carry a certain element of risk by increasing American troop exposure to foreign populations. Keeping peace and increasing a nation’s capacity to meet the immediate needs of its people is however, the best way to prevent or eliminate the chaotic conditions that give favor to pathogens in the first place. International involvement carries a risk but it is a far greater risk to allow war and chaos to disrupt the health and well-being of any population. US military capacity is still needed to protect us from an array of the traditional military threats but they can no longer alone protect American lives. Even the Military recognizes this fact.

 

CISET Report:

Perhaps the most alarming, comprehensive and credible warning related to this issue, came last summer from the Committee on International Science, Engineering, and Technology (CISET) Working Group. A report, co-authored by the Department of Defense, the National Security Council and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and a dozen other federal agencies, documented the emergence since 1973 of at least 30 new pathogen types and the re-emergence of dozens of previously controlled infectious diseases. The report places infectious disease issues in the realm of national security.

 

“…any city in the world is only a plane ride away from any other. Infectious microbes can easily travel across borders with their human or animal hosts. In fact, diseases that arise in other parts of the world are repeatedly introduced into the United States, where they may threaten our national health and security. Thus, controlling disease outbreaks in other countries is important not only for humanitarian reasons. It also prevents those diseases from entering the United States, at great savings of US lives and dollars.”

 

(CISET report is available: http://www2.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/OSTP/html/cisetsum.html

For a copy of the report call CDC, 404-639-2603 or fax your request to 404-639-3039.)

[Updated 10-10-14 http://clinton1.nara.gov/White_House/EOP/OSTP/CISET/html/toc-plain.html]

 

Other Sources:

A Washington Post article last June also pointed out that among all the infectious threats, the problem of increasing drug resistance may be the most serious, and America is no safe haven.

 

Antibiotic resistance is on the rise…A few pay in illness and death. The bill is going up every year… Once emerged, resistant bacteria spread quickly, sometimes via a single infected person traveling between countries. Similarly rapid diffusion occurs in the microbial world [when] resistance…can pass from bacterium to bacterium, evolving in one enterprise, such as agriculture, and soon showing up in an unrelated one, such as medicine. In the United States, resistance is everywhere – in childhood ear

infections, in venereal diseases, in TB, in surgical wounds and among the 60,000 deaths each year from hospital acquired infections. In the developing world, antibiotics are the most common pharmaceuticals, and they often can be bought without a prescription. Many people take them when they’re not needed or don’t take them long enough to cure an infectious completely. Such practices, combined with high rates of infectious disease, make developing countries especially fertile breeding grounds for drug resistance.

 

In one high-profile example, the outbreak of dysentery that killed up to 15,000 Rwanda refugees last summer might have been less deadly if the strain of Shigella dysenteriae hadn’t been resistant to five common antibiotics…

 

Epidemics, however, are not what experts fear from drug resistance. Instead, they fear the slow erosion of history’s most useful medicines…They fear that treating simple illnesses will become onerous and expensive, and that the number of mild illnesses taking complicated turns will rise.

 

“The old people in the nursing homes are going to die, and the young kids with ear infections are going to progress to mastoiditis, sinusitis, meningitis,” said Calvin M. Kunin, a professor at Ohio State University School of Medicine and past president of the Infectious Disease Society of America. “I think there ought to be a new organization called MAMA, Mothers Against the Misuse of Antibiotics. Because it’s the mothers’ children who are going to die.”

 

…About 150 million courses of oral antibiotics are prescribed each year in the US. Childhood ear infections are the single leading reason…Some experts estimate that as many as half the prescriptions written for antibiotics in the US are not needed or warranted on diagnostic grounds…

 

Whatever their source, drug-resistant germs are now such an unavoidable part of the environment that children get them as birthright. In a study published five years ago, researchers analyzed the intestinal bacteria of infants and toddlers in three separated locales. They found that 42% of sample from children in Qin Pu, China, were resistant to three or more antibiotics. Multiple-drug resistance was found in 30% of children sampled in Caracas, Venezuela, and in 6% of children in Boston. None of the children had recent exposure to antibiotics.

 

…For reasons that are quite mysterious, some microbes develop resistance to many antibiotics simultaneously…

 

One of the more important disease-causing bacteria in human beings is called Streptococcus pneumoniae. Its resistance to penicillin is a huge problem in Europe and a growing one in the US. Penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae, however, was originally found in Papua New Guinea. In the late 1960s, the Australian army gave New Guinean villagers monthly penicillin shots in order to prevent yaws, an infection resembling syphilis that is spread by casual, not sexual, contact. Over time, the campaign created a large human population in which penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae could flourish. …

 

… The best documented example involves the spread of penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae in Iceland. The bug surfaced in Iceland in December 1988, at a hospital in Reykjavik. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it was similar to a strain found in Spain, a popular winter vacation spot. Within 3 years, 20% of the S. pneumoniae in Iceland was resistant…apparently all descended from the single Spanish import…

 

As a threat to public health, S. pneumoniae is currently the greatest object of concern. The bacterium is the leading cause of illness and death from infection in the US. It is responsible for roughly 7 million cases of ear infection, 500,000 cases of pneumonia; 50,000 cases of bloodstream infection; and 3,000 cases of meningitis each year…Inevitably, though, a greater number of cases will become “complicated”…

 

Each year in this country, about 2 million cases of infection are contracted by people while they are in the hospital. The problem is far more common than in the past, as critically ill patients are kept alive, many connected to tubes and ventilators that give microbes easy portals of entry.

 

A common cause of these infections is a family of bacteria known as the enterococci, which infect surgical wounds, the urinary tract, the heart and bloodstream. …these germs have developed resistance to a half-dozen antibiotics. However, they remain susceptible to vancomycin, an expensive and occasionally toxic intravenous antibiotic…

 

The biggest cause of hospital acquired infections – the family of Staphylococcus bacteria — is currently resistant to everything but vancomycin in 40% of cases in large teaching hospitals. Experts fear the day that drug becomes useless in staph infections — though few doubt it will arrive.

 

Nearly every multidrug-resistant TB organism evolved in patients who stopped taking their medications early or took them sporadically. Changing both patients and doctors habits would slow the emergence of resistant strains and might even turn back the clock in some cases…

“The Abuse of Antibiotic: Bacterial resistance evolves”. Washington Post, June 26, 1995

 

Last year, about 25,000 people between the ages of 3 and 49 died of unexplained causes in the US — but with symptoms that suggested microbial infections…

“Budget Cuts Slow Agencies Fighting New Bacteria Strains” Washington Post, June 27, 1995

 

Cost effectiveness of Development dollars:

Development is far cheaper than defense. Even the strategic planners in the military now figure that preventing and resolving conflict is far cheaper, in both lives and dollars, than waging war. Healthy populations also tend to be better consumers of American goods and services. Thus the importance of public health and prevention of disease. Global disease eradication efforts also have a significant domestic return on international investments. For each of these reasons, increases for development assistance can be justified on economic grounds alone. But the security rational is far more important. Cuts to development assistance have troubling side effects. One of our members, upon return from the refugee camps in Bosnia noticed a decrease in cooperation among private voluntary organizations. She made me aware of the fact that cuts to development assistance decrease the overall effectiveness of our relief efforts. Shrinking moral is one small factor. Another consequence is the increased competition between PVOs and NGO’s for scarce donor dollars. Competition may be increasing the effectiveness of individual PVOs, but it is detrimental to the larger scale cooperative efforts needed to effectively deal with development and relief problems. Making sufficient government money available, and strengthening the mechanism for delivering US aid abroad could reduce this competitive problem.

 

USAID plays an important role here and continues to work closely in collaboration with WHO, PAHO, PHS/CDC, NIH and others in a number of areas, and is producing cost-effective health improvements. CDC, WHO and USAID bring collaborative partners to the table, thus sharing the benefits of worldwide and local expertise and reducing the cost borne by any one partner.

 

It is vital to keep overall funding for development activities at a level that will allow AID to continue to support internationally-coordinated efforts. Since 1993, such funds, though a relatively small amount of the AID budget, have been in decline. Cooperative funding activities, including work on HIV/AIDS through WHO, the Global Program on AIDS, and the new independent UNAIDS program, is estimated to decline by one-third between FY94 and FY96, from a level of $40 million to about $27 million, of which HIV/AIDS funding still accounts for at least two-thirds of the total.

 

The latest in infectious diseases:

Last month the British beef industry was crippled (almost eliminated) because of a pathogen ‘scare’. The economic cost alone could be as high as $2 billion dollars. Last week, Ebola related primate deaths in Alice, Texas resulted in the need to kill hundreds of other primates. Aside from this loss of life, this incident cost both business and government, a few hundred thousand dollars. The media will probably spend more than that covering this particular isolated and relatively insignificant health threat, yet the real story is not being told. These are not ‘isolated’ incidents. They are an increasing trend in the global spread of infectious diseases that requires our utmost attention and response. It is a trend that holds the capacity to bring life as we know it to a grinding halt.

 

The bright side: If we respond to the trend appropriately and adequately it could propel all of humanity into a long, healthy and prosperous future.

 

Benjamin Franklin long ago reminded all of us that preservation of our form of government depended on our constant vigilance. The trend of new and re-emerging diseases is a threat to our people, and our way of life. These global warning signs require more than constant vigilance.

 

The choice is yours and the time is now. We urge this Subcommittee to recognize this growing threat for what it is; a threat worthy of top priority concern. Any less would be a form of negligence in protecting the national security of this nation and the lives of the American people.

 

For this Subcommittee to protect the American people, there are at least four basic areas requiring adequate and immediate action.

 

  1. The need for surveillance is quite clear. A global network of adequately supplied, staffed and trained health posts capable of monitoring and reporting health conditions of even remote populations.

 

  1. The capacity to response quickly and adequately to any and every outbreak of infectious disease.

 

  1. Research and development to ensure our capacity to respond to any outbreak be it accidental or intentional.

 

  1. Elimination and prevention of the conditions that breed and foster infectious diseases. Poverty is perhaps the greatest culprit. Unlike other attempts to address poverty from a humanitarian perspective, any new effort must be comprehensive and eternally supported.

 

Because this subcommittee determines appropriations that will impact each of these areas, you have the greatest capacity to defend this nation’s security. You can advance our most basic values and provide for our most basic security by focusing your fullest attention on last area mentioned. Ensuring that every man, woman and child on earth has at least the basic necessities (nutrition, clean water, sanitation,

education and basic health services) for a healthy existence will not ensure total safety from infectious diseases. It would, however, greatly reduce this growing threat.

 

Last year:

Despite the most restrictive budget limitations, last year this Subcommittee found the resources to increase funding for at least 3 foreign aid programs, in the context of ‘national security’.

 

This House Subcommittee on Appropriations passed its FY’96 bill with increases for:

 

Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF) increased by $13 million.

Int’l Military Education & Training (IMET) increased by $13.5 million.

Economic Support Fund (ESF) increased by $42 million

OPIC increased by $35 million

 

TOTAL non development aid increases: $103.5 million

 

Last years cuts to development assistance programs averaged over 25%. A 25% reduction to FY’95 levels of the favored programs listed above could yield $1.408 billion — more than enough to meet the development goals that most of this nation’s citizens are aligned on; nutrition, primary health care, water and sanitation, family planning, basic education, microenterprise lending…

 

Last year the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee attempted to shift Department of Defense dollars into the foreign aid budget to increase funding for IMET. The time for this funding source to be considered in the context of infectious national security threats has arrived.

 

The economic benefits alone that will result from improving the quality of life for people internationally cannot be overemphasized. The cost savings to this government and the American people from the global eradication of smallpox has been well documented. Our cost savings from the global eradication of polio and measles will be even more bountiful. Combine this with the increase in US jobs as result of increased US exports to a healthier, more prosperous international markets and we could balance our federal budget well within a safe time line.

 

These decisions are always difficult, and we have a history of ignoring warning signs prior to crisis. An example was the reduction of defense appropriations prior to the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. But I can tell you that the cost of that negligence will be insignificant compared to the cost if these microbial trends are also ignored.

 

In conclusion, the effectiveness of pathogens can be attributed to one simple trait. They are basically non-discriminatory. Most pathogens are blind to their victim’s nationality, income level, political party, skin color, age or sex. Until we Americans, as humans reach the same level of indiscrimination regarding who benefits from our foreign assistance, we may soon find ourselves on the bottom of the food chain. As Nobel Laureate, Dr. Joshua Lederberg says, to pathogens we’re all just “another piece of meat”. This Subcommittee is our best defense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 25, 1996

 

Testimony by

Chuck Woolery, Director

Communication for Health Campaign

 

Before

Congressman Sonny Callahan

Chairman of the

Foreign Operations Subcommittee of Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives

 

Regarding Funding for International Health and Development Programs for Preventing the Spread of Infectious Diseases.

 

 

Thank you for allowing me as the Director of the Communication for Health Campaign to testify today regarding the prioritization of US foreign aid appropriations.

 

The World is in great change. Within the context of this change, the appropriations made by this Subcommittee now constitute the basis for maintaining the security of the American people. In the past, this Constitutional mandate was carried out by military strength. Today, military strength alone can no longer protect Americans from the foreign threats now approaching and breaching our shores.

 

The disturbing trend of new and re-emerging infectious diseases puts public and global health squarely in the realm of national security interests. Numerous reports document the threat infectious diseases pose to American lives and prosperity, and identify them as a threat that will only grow in the coming years. The rate and magnitude of that growth has been determined by our past neglect of poverty, environment and public health concerns. Our continuing failure to address a host of critical international problems within this specific context promises us almost certain catastrophe.

 

For some, the catastrophe is already here in the form of HIV/AIDS or multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis. These two diseases already consume a large portion of our nation’s health expenses.

 

AIDS was first recognized as a US problem in the early 1980s. If we had been more interested in international health threats earlier, we could have started research to combat the AIDS virus as early as 1962 when it was first recognized by African physicians as the “slims” disease.

 

After three decades of decline, TB in the US re-emerged as a major public health problem in the late 1980s. Targeted federal funding brought it back under control but still, in 1995, TB outbreaks were investigated in churches, schools, dental offices, court rooms, trains, subways, neighborhood bars, racetracks and even on a river boat casino. Until we control TB globally, we will continue to pay the expensive price for outbreaks here. One outbreak in New York City in 1993-1994 cost the city over $90 million. The world devotes less than half of that annually for the global control of TB.

 

Infectious diseases spreading in US hospitals kill more Americans each year than all the American troops lost throughout the entire Vietnam conflict. A significant number of these ‘domestic’ infectious diseases were imported from the harsh conditions of poverty abroad. As these conditions worsen, the number and variations of microbes will continue to grow and move with the aid of modern transportation. The actions of this Subcommittee, in regard to development and humanitarian assistance will have the greatest impact on the future security of the American people and control of these impending threats.

 

The cost of stopping microbial threats at the gates of our cities or at our water’s edge is no longer a practical option. A handful of microbes can be stopped at the border but the vast majority cannot. It would be prohibitively expensive to stop, test and quarantine every human or foreign product that crosses our borders or air space every day. Reducing infectious diseases, terrorism, pollution, or even unemployment in America now requires our pro-active efforts to extend beyond US boarders. Prevention there is far cheaper than dealing with these problems at our borders or in our cities. That is the new profound opportunity of this Subcommittee – to impact the conditions of global poverty and chaos, that are the primary fuel feeding the health, economic, environmental and security threats now facing this nation.

 

The Communication for Health Campaign and NCIH represent over 120 member organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, American Dental Association, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, 9 Schools of Public Health and dozens of other international medical and health related organizations. These organizations and thousands of individual health care professionals urge this Subcommittee to re-examine its fundamental priorities in this new ‘national security’ context.

 

This Subcommittee took two steps forward last year by establishing the “Child Survival and Disease Account”. Unfortunately, it took a large step backward when it failed to appropriate sufficient funds to achieve its own recommendations. The ‘Child Survival and Disease’ earmark of $484 million falls $127 million short of the levels it recommended for Child Survival ($254 million), UNICEF ($100 million), Polio ($25 million), AIDS ($129 million), and Basic Education ($108 million). If we consider the absence of other expenditures needed to cure or prevent tuberculosis, provide clean water and sanitation, slow the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases, and support other vital health related programs, the total appropriated will be stretched even further. USAID could divert other aid resources to meet these specific health needs but cannot do so without taking away from other vital programs; that in the long run, bring health, security and stability in the Third World, and ultimately to our shores. Family planning and microenterprise programs are also important contributors to the health of individuals and communities. Support for democracy and human rights also have an impact in reducing the chance of conflict that so often halts and even destroys health services.

 

The 52 words of the Preamble to our own Constitution now provide the perfect and most urgent rationale to solve this dilemma.

 

“We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 

Nearly every American would agree that the primary role of any legitimate government is to provide for the defense of its citizens. Reductions in development assistance over the last few years however, have reduced our health defenses, and dramatically increased our risks.

 

Article 1. Section 8. of the Constitution says that “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States…”

 

It does not suggest that the common defense and general welfare of the American people should be sacrificed to balance the budget. That is indeed the scenario now being played out.

 

It is not hard to imagine a health crisis in this country where even Article 1. Section 9 of the Constitution “…The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus” would need to be “suspended”, when “the public safety may require it.”

 

Article IV. Section 4 of our Constitution states that “The United States shall guarantee to every State

in this Union a Republic Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; …” The Constitution does not specify invasion from what. I believe it is not a stretch of the imagination to claim that the framers of our Constitution had the protection of American citizens in mind when they agreed to this wording. This Article has now been violated by the entry of AIDS, malaria, dengue fever, ebola, tuberculosis, cholera and perhaps a dozen other pathogens; and unfortunately, this is only the beginning. Legal and illegal immigration certainly plays a role in the transportation of disease, but the greatest source of cross-border transport of pathogens is the result of legal domestic travelers dressed in business suits, army uniforms, and tourist or holiday attire. More than 50 million people cross the US border each year. Nearly half of the food we purchase and place on our kitchen table each evening has been imported from nations where the cheapest labor is hired for harvesting and processing the crops.

 

Stopping the flow of people and goods would be prohibitively expensive if not impossible. Yet at any given time approximately one-half of the world’s population is ill. The heaviest concentration of pathogens is found in the developing world where fewer than half the world’s people try to make a living on less than $400 a year. It is in these parts of the globe that we must implement comprehensive, preventive measures if we want to provide the greatest safety for American citizens.

 

Article VI says “…This Constitution and the laws of the United States…shall be the supreme law of the land.” We are hopeful that the next law this body passes will reflect its solemn duty to provide for the defense and welfare of the American people.

 

Over the last 50 years, the US Government has devoted trillions of dollars to a cold war to protect us from the possible threat of a communist aggressor. While that threat remains a remote possibility today, we are guaranteed an onslaught of infectious diseases in the near and not too distant future. This is not my opinion. It is the findings of a National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine report published 3 years ago. Since then the world has suffered an outbreak of bubonic plague in India, Ebola virus in Africa and new variations of tuberculosis within the US that are resistant to every antibiotic we now have in our health arsenal. Perhaps this Subcommittee could provide the bold leadership needed to commit the US to a “hot war” to ensure our freedom from fever. How easily we forget that the largest killer and disabler of men, women, children and even the unborn in the world is simple malnutrition and infection. Our reliance on the progress of science to protect us has betrayed us. The progress of pathogens to adapt to our arsenal of medicines promises to be the fight of our species. It is truly an “us against them” war that needs to be waged. We can destroy the majority of them at their base camp by ridding the world of the poverty related conditions in which they multiply, thrive, and strengthen.

 

For the cost of a pair of B-2 bombers (bombers the Pentagon says it doesn’t want or need) we could launch such an offensive. This minor investment could eradicate many diseases and greatly reduce our risk to a host of others. No number of additional B-2 bombers can do that.

 

In the closing paragraphs of The Coming Plague, aptly entitled “Searching for Solutions”, Laurie Garrett writes:

“The human world was a very optimistic place on September 12, 1978, when the nations’ representatives signed the Declaration of Alma Ata. By the year 2000 all of humanity was supposed to be immunized against most infectious diseases, basic health care was to be available to every man, woman, and child regardless of their economic class, race, religion, or place of birth.

But as the world approaches the millennium, it seems, from the microbes’ point of view, as if the entire planet, occupied by nearly 6 billion mostly impoverished Homo sapiens, is like the city of Rome in 5 B.C. “The world really is just one village. Our tolerance of disease in any place in the world is at our own peril,” Lederberg [Nobel laureate for discovery of DNA] said. “Are we better off today than we were a century ago? In most respects, we’re worse off. We have been neglectful of the microbes, and that is a recurring theme that is coming back to haunt us.”

In the end, it seems that American Journalist I.F. Stone was right when he said, “Either we will learn to live together or we will die together.”

While the human race battles itself… the advantage moves to the microbes’ court. They are our predators and they will be victorious if we, Homo sapiens, do not learn to live in a rational global village that affords the microbes few opportunities. It’s either that or we brace ourselves for the coming plague.”

 

This new reality requires a radical shift in the way Americans relate to each other and to the rest of the world. More weapons will not bring us more security. In fact just the opposite may now be true.

 

More Might! More Fright! More Plight!

In the modern world of disorder and dissolving nation states, the more US Military superiority we have, the less US national security we actually gain. Maintaining or increasing US military strength has at least 4 negative consequences on the health of US citizens. First, military spending usually distracts scarce financial resources from meeting basic human needs. Every billion dollars spent today beefing up our military against a possible human aggressor means a billion dollars less for the programs essential to protecting Americans from the aggression of infectious diseases. It is true that a small portion of military spending is spent in combating infectious diseases and more spent here could certainly be helpful. However, more B-2 bombers or a new space based anti-missile defense system is just plain wasteful, in the face of this new threat.

 

Second, military units stationed abroad always return home bringing whatever health problems they have with them. There may be as many as a quarter million troops stationed overseas at any given time. Their interactions with foreign populations, combined with their rapid and regular travel habits contribute to globalizing health problems. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, AIDS, anti-biotic resistance and a host of other communicable diseases are now in the pipeline.

 

Another increasingly important effect of ‘military might’ affecting public health falls in the category of terrorism. As our military gains an undisputed level of superiority, we squelch the possibility of any overt enemy attack on our shores. This squelching of overt aggression however, only increases our risks to covert aggression by any hostile individual, group or nation. The bad news: The ultimate weapon of affordability, ease of delivery, and effective human destruction is microbial in nature. In the Conference report on the Anti-Terrorism bill passed last week, a Senator suggested that if this bill passed, it would help protect the American people. This is a dangerous myth. We are all entirely vulnerable to the misuse of lethal or crippling pathogens in nearly every aspect of our lives. Any moderately intelligent person can find at least a dozen ways to infect hundreds if not thousands of people. A 98 cent plastic misting bottle from any drug store, a dose of salmonella from any blend of raw eggs and a 20 second pass around any popular salad bar is just one example. The Tokyo subway nerve gas attack last year killing 12 and injuring over 5,000 wasn’t particularly creative (nerve gas in a paper bag). The fact that members from this same sect went to Zaire posing as relief workers responding to the 1995 outbreak of ebola is, however, truly terrorizing. Imagine the consequences in America if the unibomber, the Oklahoma City bomber or the Trade tower bombers had any training in basic microbiology.

 

Senator Hatch reminds us that the “possession of dangerous human pathogens, such as bubonic plague, anthrax…are…readily available to just about anyone…” The December 30, 1995, Washington Post has a story with a headline that leaps off the page: `Man Gets Hands on Bubonic Plague Germ, but That’s No Crime.’ The story is more chilling than the headline. In Ohio, a white supremacist purchased three vials of

the bubonic plague pathogen through the mail. This was the same pathogen that wiped out about one-third of Europe in the Middle Ages. When the purchaser called the seller to complain about slow delivery, the sales representative got concerned about whether the caller was someone who really should have the bubonic plague in his possession. According to the story, the Ohio authorities were contacted. When police, public health officials, the FBI, and emergency workers in space suits scoured the purchaser’s house, they found nearly a dozen M-1 rifles, smoke grenades, blasting caps, and white separatist literature, but no bubonic plague. The deadly microorganisms were found in the glove compartment of his automobile, still packed as shipped…”

 

Investments in research on pathogens and the development of targeted treatments is a viable responsibility of government involvement. We cannot wait for the market place to catch up with the mortality rate of Americans.

 

With the current level of global poverty, rapid means of global transportation and general lack of resources directed at improving the human condition, terrorists really don’t have to do much of anything. Our own lack of basic human services here for the US homeless and below-poverty populations means the spread of disease by normal factors is already a disaster waiting to happen.

 

The fourth military factor is related to ‘peace keeping’ and ‘nation building’. These traditionally non-military roles carry a certain element of risk by increasing American troop exposure to foreign populations. Keeping peace and increasing a nation’s capacity to meet the immediate needs of its people is however, the best way to prevent or eliminate the chaotic conditions that give favor to pathogens in the first place. International involvement carries a risk but it is a far greater risk to allow war and chaos to disrupt the health and well-being of any population. US military capacity is still needed to protect us from an array of the traditional military threats but they can no longer alone protect American lives. Even the Military recognizes this fact.

 

CISET Report:

Perhaps the most alarming, comprehensive and credible warning related to this issue, came last summer from the Committee on International Science, Engineering, and Technology (CISET) Working Group. A report, co-authored by the Department of Defense, the National Security Council and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and a dozen other federal agencies, documented the emergence since 1973 of at least 30 new pathogen types and the re-emergence of dozens of previously controlled infectious diseases. The report places infectious disease issues in the realm of national security.

 

“…any city in the world is only a plane ride away from any other. Infectious microbes can easily travel across borders with their human or animal hosts. In fact, diseases that arise in other parts of the world are repeatedly introduced into the United States, where they may threaten our national health and security. Thus, controlling disease outbreaks in other countries is important not only for humanitarian reasons. It also prevents those diseases from entering the United States, at great savings of US lives and dollars.”

 

(CISET report is available: http://www2.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/OSTP/html/cisetsum.html

For a copy of the report call CDC, 404-639-2603 or fax your request to 404-639-3039.)

[Updated 10-10-14 http://clinton1.nara.gov/White_House/EOP/OSTP/CISET/html/toc-plain.html]

 

Other Sources:

A Washington Post article last June also pointed out that among all the infectious threats, the problem of increasing drug resistance may be the most serious, and America is no safe haven.

 

Antibiotic resistance is on the rise…A few pay in illness and death. The bill is going up every year… Once emerged, resistant bacteria spread quickly, sometimes via a single infected person traveling between countries. Similarly rapid diffusion occurs in the microbial world [when] resistance…can pass from bacterium to bacterium, evolving in one enterprise, such as agriculture, and soon showing up in an unrelated one, such as medicine. In the United States, resistance is everywhere – in childhood ear

infections, in venereal diseases, in TB, in surgical wounds and among the 60,000 deaths each year from hospital acquired infections. In the developing world, antibiotics are the most common pharmaceuticals, and they often can be bought without a prescription. Many people take them when they’re not needed or don’t take them long enough to cure an infectious completely. Such practices, combined with high rates of infectious disease, make developing countries especially fertile breeding grounds for drug resistance.

 

In one high-profile example, the outbreak of dysentery that killed up to 15,000 Rwanda refugees last summer might have been less deadly if the strain of Shigella dysenteriae hadn’t been resistant to five common antibiotics…

 

Epidemics, however, are not what experts fear from drug resistance. Instead, they fear the slow erosion of history’s most useful medicines…They fear that treating simple illnesses will become onerous and expensive, and that the number of mild illnesses taking complicated turns will rise.

 

“The old people in the nursing homes are going to die, and the young kids with ear infections are going to progress to mastoiditis, sinusitis, meningitis,” said Calvin M. Kunin, a professor at Ohio State University School of Medicine and past president of the Infectious Disease Society of America. “I think there ought to be a new organization called MAMA, Mothers Against the Misuse of Antibiotics. Because it’s the mothers’ children who are going to die.”

 

…About 150 million courses of oral antibiotics are prescribed each year in the US. Childhood ear infections are the single leading reason…Some experts estimate that as many as half the prescriptions written for antibiotics in the US are not needed or warranted on diagnostic grounds…

 

Whatever their source, drug-resistant germs are now such an unavoidable part of the environment that children get them as birthright. In a study published five years ago, researchers analyzed the intestinal bacteria of infants and toddlers in three separated locales. They found that 42% of sample from children in Qin Pu, China, were resistant to three or more antibiotics. Multiple-drug resistance was found in 30% of children sampled in Caracas, Venezuela, and in 6% of children in Boston. None of the children had recent exposure to antibiotics.

 

…For reasons that are quite mysterious, some microbes develop resistance to many antibiotics simultaneously…

 

One of the more important disease-causing bacteria in human beings is called Streptococcus pneumoniae. Its resistance to penicillin is a huge problem in Europe and a growing one in the US. Penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae, however, was originally found in Papua New Guinea. In the late 1960s, the Australian army gave New Guinean villagers monthly penicillin shots in order to prevent yaws, an infection resembling syphilis that is spread by casual, not sexual, contact. Over time, the campaign created a large human population in which penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae could flourish. …

 

… The best documented example involves the spread of penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae in Iceland. The bug surfaced in Iceland in December 1988, at a hospital in Reykjavik. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it was similar to a strain found in Spain, a popular winter vacation spot. Within 3 years, 20% of the S. pneumoniae in Iceland was resistant…apparently all descended from the single Spanish import…

 

As a threat to public health, S. pneumoniae is currently the greatest object of concern. The bacterium is the leading cause of illness and death from infection in the US. It is responsible for roughly 7 million cases of ear infection, 500,000 cases of pneumonia; 50,000 cases of bloodstream infection; and 3,000 cases of meningitis each year…Inevitably, though, a greater number of cases will become “complicated”…

 

Each year in this country, about 2 million cases of infection are contracted by people while they are in the hospital. The problem is far more common than in the past, as critically ill patients are kept alive, many connected to tubes and ventilators that give microbes easy portals of entry.

 

A common cause of these infections is a family of bacteria known as the enterococci, which infect surgical wounds, the urinary tract, the heart and bloodstream. …these germs have developed resistance to a half-dozen antibiotics. However, they remain susceptible to vancomycin, an expensive and occasionally toxic intravenous antibiotic…

 

The biggest cause of hospital acquired infections – the family of Staphylococcus bacteria — is currently resistant to everything but vancomycin in 40% of cases in large teaching hospitals. Experts fear the day that drug becomes useless in staph infections — though few doubt it will arrive.

 

Nearly every multidrug-resistant TB organism evolved in patients who stopped taking their medications early or took them sporadically. Changing both patients and doctors habits would slow the emergence of resistant strains and might even turn back the clock in some cases…

“The Abuse of Antibiotic: Bacterial resistance evolves”. Washington Post, June 26, 1995

 

Last year, about 25,000 people between the ages of 3 and 49 died of unexplained causes in the US — but with symptoms that suggested microbial infections…

“Budget Cuts Slow Agencies Fighting New Bacteria Strains” Washington Post, June 27, 1995

 

Cost effectiveness of Development dollars:

Development is far cheaper than defense. Even the strategic planners in the military now figure that preventing and resolving conflict is far cheaper, in both lives and dollars, than waging war. Healthy populations also tend to be better consumers of American goods and services. Thus the importance of public health and prevention of disease. Global disease eradication efforts also have a significant domestic return on international investments. For each of these reasons, increases for development assistance can be justified on economic grounds alone. But the security rational is far more important. Cuts to development assistance have troubling side effects. One of our members, upon return from the refugee camps in Bosnia noticed a decrease in cooperation among private voluntary organizations. She made me aware of the fact that cuts to development assistance decrease the overall effectiveness of our relief efforts. Shrinking moral is one small factor. Another consequence is the increased competition between PVOs and NGO’s for scarce donor dollars. Competition may be increasing the effectiveness of individual PVOs, but it is detrimental to the larger scale cooperative efforts needed to effectively deal with development and relief problems. Making sufficient government money available, and strengthening the mechanism for delivering US aid abroad could reduce this competitive problem.

 

USAID plays an important role here and continues to work closely in collaboration with WHO, PAHO, PHS/CDC, NIH and others in a number of areas, and is producing cost-effective health improvements. CDC, WHO and USAID bring collaborative partners to the table, thus sharing the benefits of worldwide and local expertise and reducing the cost borne by any one partner.

 

It is vital to keep overall funding for development activities at a level that will allow AID to continue to support internationally-coordinated efforts. Since 1993, such funds, though a relatively small amount of the AID budget, have been in decline. Cooperative funding activities, including work on HIV/AIDS through WHO, the Global Program on AIDS, and the new independent UNAIDS program, is estimated to decline by one-third between FY94 and FY96, from a level of $40 million to about $27 million, of which HIV/AIDS funding still accounts for at least two-thirds of the total.

 

The latest in infectious diseases:

Last month the British beef industry was crippled (almost eliminated) because of a pathogen ‘scare’. The economic cost alone could be as high as $2 billion dollars. Last week, Ebola related primate deaths in Alice, Texas resulted in the need to kill hundreds of other primates. Aside from this loss of life, this incident cost both business and government, a few hundred thousand dollars. The media will probably spend more than that covering this particular isolated and relatively insignificant health threat, yet the real story is not being told. These are not ‘isolated’ incidents. They are an increasing trend in the global spread of infectious diseases that requires our utmost attention and response. It is a trend that holds the capacity to bring life as we know it to a grinding halt.

 

The bright side: If we respond to the trend appropriately and adequately it could propel all of humanity into a long, healthy and prosperous future.

 

Benjamin Franklin long ago reminded all of us that preservation of our form of government depended on our constant vigilance. The trend of new and re-emerging diseases is a threat to our people, and our way of life. These global warning signs require more than constant vigilance.

 

The choice is yours and the time is now. We urge this Subcommittee to recognize this growing threat for what it is; a threat worthy of top priority concern. Any less would be a form of negligence in protecting the national security of this nation and the lives of the American people.

 

For this Subcommittee to protect the American people, there are at least four basic areas requiring adequate and immediate action.

 

  1. The need for surveillance is quite clear. A global network of adequately supplied, staffed and trained health posts capable of monitoring and reporting health conditions of even remote populations.

 

  1. The capacity to response quickly and adequately to any and every outbreak of infectious disease.

 

  1. Research and development to ensure our capacity to respond to any outbreak be it accidental or intentional.

 

  1. Elimination and prevention of the conditions that breed and foster infectious diseases. Poverty is perhaps the greatest culprit. Unlike other attempts to address poverty from a humanitarian perspective, any new effort must be comprehensive and eternally supported.

 

Because this subcommittee determines appropriations that will impact each of these areas, you have the greatest capacity to defend this nation’s security. You can advance our most basic values and provide for our most basic security by focusing your fullest attention on last area mentioned. Ensuring that every man, woman and child on earth has at least the basic necessities (nutrition, clean water, sanitation,

education and basic health services) for a healthy existence will not ensure total safety from infectious diseases. It would, however, greatly reduce this growing threat.

 

Last year:

Despite the most restrictive budget limitations, last year this Subcommittee found the resources to increase funding for at least 3 foreign aid programs, in the context of ‘national security’.

 

This House Subcommittee on Appropriations passed its FY’96 bill with increases for:

 

Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF) increased by $13 million.

Int’l Military Education & Training (IMET) increased by $13.5 million.

Economic Support Fund (ESF) increased by $42 million

OPIC increased by $35 million

 

TOTAL non development aid increases: $103.5 million

 

Last years cuts to development assistance programs averaged over 25%. A 25% reduction to FY’95 levels of the favored programs listed above could yield $1.408 billion — more than enough to meet the development goals that most of this nation’s citizens are aligned on; nutrition, primary health care, water and sanitation, family planning, basic education, microenterprise lending…

 

Last year the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee attempted to shift Department of Defense dollars into the foreign aid budget to increase funding for IMET. The time for this funding source to be considered in the context of infectious national security threats has arrived.

 

The economic benefits alone that will result from improving the quality of life for people internationally cannot be overemphasized. The cost savings to this government and the American people from the global eradication of smallpox has been well documented. Our cost savings from the global eradication of polio and measles will be even more bountiful. Combine this with the increase in US jobs as result of increased US exports to a healthier, more prosperous international markets and we could balance our federal budget well within a safe time line.

 

These decisions are always difficult, and we have a history of ignoring warning signs prior to crisis. An example was the reduction of defense appropriations prior to the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. But I can tell you that the cost of that negligence will be insignificant compared to the cost if these microbial trends are also ignored.

 

In conclusion, the effectiveness of pathogens can be attributed to one simple trait. They are basically non-discriminatory. Most pathogens are blind to their victim’s nationality, income level, political party, skin color, age or sex. Until we Americans, as humans reach the same level of indiscrimination regarding who benefits from our foreign assistance, we may soon find ourselves on the bottom of the food chain. As Nobel Laureate, Dr. Joshua Lederberg says, to pathogens we’re all just “another piece of meat”. This Subcommittee is our best defense.

 

For more information contact Chuck Woolery, 301-738-7121, email: chuck@igc.org

 

 

The EDUCATION and the 2020 elections: the missing links.

Can we put Education at the top of the agenda as we head into another Election season?

We know education is vital to understanding the likely inevitability of our species of either threat, but appropriate and sufficient preventive action must follow.  And education for action should be the top topic in the 2020 elections.

Every democratic presidential candidate is missing a vital fact capable of motivating any voter to lean in their direction. It’s the link between the education and our national security.

By Chuck Woolery, Rockville, Md.

National security can be viewed in many non-military-centric ways, but most voters value the levels of defense dollars, investments in new weapons systems, the protection of U.S. troops, and those who have served and suffered the most.  While rational minds can question if these investments actually improve U.S. security, no well-informed mind can say with certainty that our nation is safer today than after 9-11.  Or, that we can actually spend enough to ensure our security as the evolution of war and weapons evolve beyond any existing controls.

Before the 2000 presidential election,  President Clinton foresaw that the acceleration of technology was having multiple unpredictable consequences in all aspects of our lives — especially in our nation’s security.  This wisdom led to his creation of a bipartisan “Presidential Commission on National Security in the 21st Century”.

Its final report (third over two years) released March 2001, just months after Bush defeated Gore and nine months before Sept. 11, 2001, we were warned to prepare for a catastrophic attack.  A history chancing attack came just six months later.  (Please note: the reports are found embedded at the bottom of this post.)

And it, in hindsight, resulted in the most flawed US foreign policy decision only two years later – the invasion, occupation and destabilization of Iraq with national security implications still accelerating today.

In truth, neither political party really abides by expert findings in most prestigious reports.  Such reports are called “dust collectors” inside the beltway if they are not shredded.  Read any Presidential Commission, National Academy of Sciences report, or think tank policy paper — on any issue over the last four  decades if you doubt this.

In truth both ‘we the people’ and the government are responsible.  We have always known what to do.  We just don’t do it.   Who among us doesn’t know the value of the Golden Rule?

From the pulpit of Detroit’s Second Baptist Church on Feb. 28, 1954 Martin Luther King Jr. never once mentioned racism.  Instead he talked about lost values and our need to recover them.He said then that the problem we face is not that “we aren’t good enough.” It’s just that our scientific genius has outpaced ‘our moral genius”.  He noted that the greater danger facing us then, wasn’t “the atomic bomb that was created by physical science” intended to kill millions, but “that atomic bomb which lies in the hearts and souls of men, capable of exploding into the vilest of hate and into the most damaging selfishness”.

We could still destroy ourselves in a nuclear war, but our selfishness is damaging the most important thing on God’s earth, our environmental life support system as a result of our worshiped economic system devoid of any value except profit.

We know education is vital to understanding the likely inevitability of our species of either threat, but appropriate and sufficient preventive action must follow.  And education for action should be the top topic in the 2020 elections.

The fundamental value of education in clear to all Americans. Especially those who home school their children. It’s safe to assume the motive of any true educator is honest and honorable. Even if all they teach from the Bible, Torah, or the Quran. But we/they must also learn that technology will continue to have an unpredictable outcome when the hearts and minds of anyone is contaminated by real or perceived injustices.  And profoundly, controlling how technology is used will be impossible without learning and acting on the fundamental principle that our cherished freedoms and security can never be sustained unless responsibility and accountable are codified into all of our policies and actions.

And ignoring the findings and recommendations of the seven Democrats and seven Republicans in Clinton’s unanimous bi-partisan Commission was enormously irresponsible.  In a press conference on the public release of the final report (March 2001) policy makers were clearly warned that Americans should prepare to die in large numbers on American soil from terrorism — the greatest national security threat according to the report.

But the second greatest threat was stunning.

The bipartisan recognition that it was a lack of education in US schools and institutions of higher learning was a serious nation security threat.

Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich, who a decade earlier had proposed the elimination of the US Department of Education, publicly apologized for this foolish ‘Contract for America’ priority he created.  After the apology he admitted, not only should we be “paying teachers more”, but we should also be “paying students to learn”!  

Why?

Because there was irrefutable evidence that we didn’t have the number of students coming out of our educational institutions that had the engineering, science, math, and language skills our nation needed to maintain, fund, evolve and manage our traditional national security defense systems. We still don’t.

According to the most recent the US National Science Board “The State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2020 report “U.S. national assessments of mathematics show little to no growth in scores over the past decade. At the same time, for higher education, the United States remains the destination for the largest number of internationally mobile students. Foreign-born non-citizens make up a considerable proportion of Science and Engineering doctorate recipients, including half or more of the doctorate recipients in engineering, mathematics and computer sciences, and economics. Many of these students stay in the United States after graduation. As such, foreign-born individuals account for a sizeable share of U.S. S&E employment, particularly among workers with graduate degrees.

The Superintend of Schools of Montgomery County Maryland gave a talk to county parents in the 1990’s that is even more relevant today. He said ‘when my father applied for a job, he competed with everyone in his community for it.  When I applied for a job, I competed with everyone in the US.  When your children applies for a job, they will be competing with everyone in the world.’    Today’s youth have it harder.  They will be competing with everyone and every robot in the world, not to mention every algorithm and Artificial intelligence — if the world’s debt burdened economy hasn’t collapsed before then.

Our cherished freedoms, security, and prosperity depend not just on the education of our youth, but the education of our nation’s policy makers and their courage to look beyond party purity and the next election.  Somehow we must get them to understand that everything vital to these cherished factors is dependent upon irreversibly globalized economic, communication, information, dual use technology, and environmental forces.  And without US policies being responsible and accountable with these irreversible interconnections and our local/global interdependence on them, our freedom, security and prosperity will NOT be sustainable.

Our reactionary form of government will continue to be dysfunctional and debt burdened. Without a more responsible domestic and foreign policies in every arena…not just education…things will not end well.  What sustainability requires for any system and structure is fact-based policies based on fundamental principles.  Not the political party principles that both political parties persistently ignore.

Our best chance of maximizing our nation’s security is with policies that are just and based on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”   Our best chance of maintaining our freedoms is with responsible policies based on the “Laws” of “Nature’s God”.  That would be “Liberty and Justice for all” for those who confuse their view of God as being separate from the “Golden Rule”.

Only a fool would expect all the world’s nations to make such a fundamental shift in thinking and action, and put the protection of human rights above the protection of their national sovereignty and ‘national interests’.  But only a fool would expect to keep their nation secure, prosperous and sustainable without somehow raising the protection of inalienable human rights above the protection of their own government.

Fortunately, there is a comprehensive approach available that is capable of preventing much of injustices driving the accelerating global chaos – government and corporate abuse of money, technology and political power.  This one option has been approved by most of the world’s people who know of it.  The 17 Sustainable Development Goals approved in 2015 for the year 2030.  You may not have heard of them. Our governments, foreign policy institutions and even many public non-profit organizations have failed in educating the public regarding their functional value in preventing more crisis. And new taxes are not needed. The money exists that should have gone to basic human needs and services for decades.  But nations have continued to protect the free flow of currency to offshore accounts as well as protecting the privacy of those who moved it there.  The enormous wealth of kleptocrats, oligarchs, drug cartels, real estate moguls, wealthy capitalists avoiding taxes, and even violent extremist groups funded by wealth attached to oil profits, put their money (approximately $32 trillion according to 2014 stats) where government controls refuse to go.

Another bipartisan Presidential Commission summarized 40 years ago warned that unless we put “ending world hunger” by the year 2000 ‘in the context of national security’ it probably wouldn’t happen.  And, if we failed, what we would see after that is more wars, terrorism, pandemics, environment degradation, refugees, and genocides.  We obviously didn’t listen. And they were right.

It’s hard to imagine what the world will be like in 2030 given the growing list of unsustainable national and global trends now before us.  But without sufficient and urgent investments in their prevention its rational to say that catastrophic outcomes will occur.  From debt, to global warming, to the evolution of weaponry, war and WMD proliferation, and the continued emergence of nature’s biosecurity threats — none can be prevented independently of the rest. MLK would say “no justice, no peace’.  If he were alive today he might say, “Liberty and justice for all- or freedom, security and prosperity for none.”

Phase I report – New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century

New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century was the first report completed by the Commission. Released on 15 September 1999, it attempts to provide a picture of the international security environment within the first quarter of the 21st century and the anticipated role of the US in that environment. The Commission anticipates an increasingly technologically, economically, and socially integrated world, i.e. increasing globalization amidst social and political fragmentation.The report provides twelve basic assumptions of that environment and fourteen conclusions based on those assumptions.

Phase II report – Seeking a National Strategy: A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom
Released on 15 April 2000, Seeking a National Strategy: A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom proposes a new national security strategy based on the anticipated 21st century international security environment. The new strategy must consider how to minimize the potential destabilizing effects of the contradictory trends of globalization and political fragmentation while promoting US interests and values worldwide.

 

Phase III report – Roadmap for National Security: Imperative for Change
Released on 31 January 2001, Roadmap for National Security: Imperative for Change suggests “significant changes must be made in the structures and processes of the US national security apparatus”[15]. The Commission believes that without these reforms, “American power and influence cannot be sustained”[16]. Five key areas are highlighted for reform, followed by the Commissions specific recommendations for each area.

About the Author: Chuck Wooley (not the Game show host)

Chuck’s professional grassroots organizing and advocacy successes on global health issues led to his elected position on the respected Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals). Later he was then elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans). His focus has been connecting local and global issues to US national security interests and using non-partisan fundamental principles to advance public thinking and US policy on vital systems and structures essential to forming a more perfect union and sustainable environment.


Chuck credits much of his successes to his mother’s love, father’s violence, the study of Biology and wrestling (having qualified for the 1972 Olympic Trials only to find out he was seriously not qualified – but was honored to make it that far after a childhood of obesity and sloth.) “We are all”, he says “always wrestling with issues and concerns our entire life. Or we should be — given the persistent changes in our bodies and the world.” “Loving persistence” and “ruthless compassion” are two qualities his mentors offered him. Admittedly to his detriment he usually offers people what they need to know instead of what they want to hear. Chuck is an avid quote collector… one of his many favorites — “Science is my passion, politics my duty.” Thomas Jefferson

 

 

On the 160th Anniversary of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”

Nov. 24, 2019  National “Can we change? Day”  (160th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s publication of “The Origin of Species”)

Exactly one year ago my blog post suggested Nov. 24 could be “World Money Day”.  Humanity needs such a day to examine our assumptions about money and its powerful capacity to maximize human freedom and security on our increasingly troubled planet.

 

We know that money does not make the world go around.  That’s done by natural forces.  Money is only a human concept (perhaps the source of all evil when greed becomes more valued than human needs or the environment) and like most things it has evolved.  Originally it was a mean of exchanging goods and services.  Not it’s a measure of value that we put on things regardless of their importance.

For a humorous account of its evolution watch the first 4 minutes of the recent Netflix movie “The Laundromat” starring Meryl Streep.  It exposes money laundering and its ‘secrets’ linked to global economic and political corruption.   “Secret #1” is “The meek are all ‘screwed”.  If you are an individual unable to afford an offshore account (or one of the three US states where they legally exist) that legally values ‘privacy’ above ‘liberty and justice for all’ (and national security) you are one of the “meek”.  Welcome to the crowd.

The Bible suggests ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’.  Evidence suggest we’ve largely inherited both unprecedented wealth and comforts as well as increasing global chaos and potential for disaster.   And the meek helped create both.  Scientists, engineers, laborers, administrators, wise investors, and a relatively large legal system ensured the first.   A wealthy few and a majority of US policy makers (whom we have largely ignored) legally rigged the national and global economic system to their own greedy advantage, while ignoring or accelerating the global chaos.  Their advantage and the chaos continue to grow.  Meanwhile, the rest of us are so busy with other things (both meaningful and trivial) that we ignored this rigging.  We trusted our law makers to protect our best interests.  They didn’t.

I dare you to make a list of unsustainable trends that persist with virtually no chance of us stopping anyone of them without a serious crash happening first.    Laws could be passed to stop or prevent such crashes, but political party loyalty appears to be more powerful than sustainable public interests.  Advances in technology have only accelerated the globalization of money, environmental problems, health threats, a new arms race, the proliferation of WMD, mistrust in government, and the population of hateful/violent extremists.

Back to Darwin.  Most people without a science degree believe that the fundamental product of evolution is that ‘only the strong survive’.  This is a profound misrepresentation of the fundamentals of Darwin’s theory.  It’s likely that those wealthy enough to establish an offshore account – and stash their millions into it- believe that ‘only the rich survive’.  Or, at least have the most fun, freedom, and security before passing their mega wealth onto their offspring in hopes of enhancing their survival chances.  If these monstrously wealthy individuals really understood the acceleration of the wide range of threats to all humanity (including their own offspring) they might focus less on stashing additional wealth into the $32 trillion (2014 estimate) already stashed there.  Stashed by them, oligarchs, kleptocrats, drug cartels, and violent extremist groups, all protected by privacy laws.

In evolutionary terms physical strength or economic wealth will ultimately be useless for anyone’s health or survival.  In reality we are all irreversibly dependent on one another for the health and essential maintenance of the multiple layers of vital systems and structures in our bodies, governments, and environment.  Systems and structures we all rely on every minute of every day for our ultimate survival.

In almost any likely future our dependence on each other and smartly engineered technologies will be essential to responding to or recovering from any catastrophic event.  Understanding this, it makes economic sense to adequately invest now in preventive measures as well as adequate preparation measures to empower our resilience.

Given the pace of technological change and absence of any effective governance systems at the national or global level now, our local and state governments will likely be overwhelmed and unable to cope with most of the coming threats (pandemics, coronal mass ejections, debt sparked economic collapse, bioterrorism, AI, WMD proliferation, loss of our antibiotic arsenal, mass species extinctions, global warming, refugee flows, asteroids…) some of which are existential threats and some that are inevitable.

Our government rarely does what makes sense. It responds, if at all, to squeaky wheels.  Investments in prevention appear as un-American.  And ethics appears as something taught in places of worship and colleges but not government or business schools.

Most damaging may be our comparatively sick culture that we as a nation has adapted to over the last few decades.  Our lethal obesity rate, suicide rate, debt, declining longevity, mass shootings, opioid deaths, and loneliness epidemic are some of the more obvious symptoms.  Uncivil political discourse, mistrust in institutions (political, economic, religious, educational…) and the belief that either disarmament or a stronger military will keep us safe, misses the fundamental truths.

We were supposed to hold certain truths to be self-evident.  We have frequently pledged before our flag, “liberty and justice for all”.  But we largely expect things to get better without investing time, money, intellect, and the American spirit” into building a more perfect union or applying the Golden Rule.

The fundamental survival principle that Charles Darwin offered humanity in ‘The Origin of Species” is the survival enhancing protecting of genetic diversity –  and its prime benefit of adapting to changing conditions.  We put too much emphasis on monocropping our diversity and adapting our natural environments to support ‘our kind’ and our comforts to the extent of risking our future.   Our sciences and engineering capacity yielded unprecedent power to change things for the better – or for the worse — depending on our basic values and intentions.  Meanwhile, the world’s major religions offer us the most fundamental principle for cooperation and justice – the Golden Rule, another powerful (and I believe genetically coded) survival tool.

Unfortunately, our individual minds and bodies desire to defend flawed concepts, seek comfort and pleasure while ignoring the fundamental needs of others as well as the essential environmental processes that all of life depends on.   This mental tendency continues to divide us by nationality, ethnicity, sexual preference, religious beliefs, political ideology, and economic standing.

What is required is the understanding that if we don’t change, we will not survive the coming chaos.  Rapid change is essential to preventing inevitable chaos (see unsustainable trends list), and best preparing for the chaos we cannot prevent.

Rapid change will require a well informed and well-organized citizenry who understand that voting is essentially useless if we stand back between elections and allow well paid lawyers and lobbyists to continue rigging the legal system that ‘we the people’ are fundamentally responsible for.  Both political parties have allowed this rigging and appear gutless to stop it.  That leaves it up to us (from every political party), to change the system, or continue getting screwed.

We need a holistic approach to the enormous list of problems now before us.  None can be prioritized except making rapid and sufficient investments in the preventive measures the world agreed to at the UN for the year 2030.  Lacking trust or enthusiasm in the UN is understandable.   But the fact remains, that our global interdependence demands we invest in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals before 2030.   Globally protecting human rights instead of continuing to defend the flawed concept of national sovereignty can we dampen the chaotic foreign forces walls won’t stop.   Tapping the corrupt global economic system that allows trillions in profits to be stashed in offshore accounts is the place to start.

A movement of progressive movements could achieve a global ban on private ‘investment’ havens’ and then freeze and seize some of trillions stashed in them.   More than enough money there for creating a sustainable heaven on earth for all our planets inhabitants and their offspring.

Things change.  Can we?  Can we evolve?

 

 

 

Chuck Woolery   chuck@igc.org   240-997-2209

315 Dean Dr., Rockville, MD 20851

 

 

 

Walls do not keep us safe and secure:

November 9, 2019: The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

By Chuck Woolery

Contemplating this historical event, I’ve read some informed opinions regarding it’s significance. One rational view I’ve heard started with a question. Did we really win the Cold War? He answered, ‘not really’ and went on to document why. Essentially, it was not. Not if ‘the fall’ it was viewed as a turning point for a better world to come given the human aspiration for freedom.

Here’s my own twisted perspective. It was certainly evidence of an aspiration for freedom. Unfortunately, most of us in ‘free’ nations, squandered that jolt of reality. And after that we failed in our roll in building that better world of ‘liberty and justice for all’. I’ll assert that our primary reason was in believing democracy was the key to maximize humanities freedom and security. That democracy was more important than ‘justice for all” and the protection of human rights.


The recent historical outbreak in democracies of populism and protest should have quashed any such belief. Anyone studying and fully grasping the flaws in this human created principle we call ‘democracy’, would certainly recognize that the benefits of ‘democracy’ are far from any inevitable positive outcome without a transformational change in governing systems.

Over the ages many minds far wiser and smarter than most of ours have warned against such optimism of yielding power to the ignorant masses. It appears most of our ‘modern’ minds remain opposed (or ignorant) of the consistently reasoned wisdom of old. Popularity does not fix problems. Neither does optimism. Abiding by fundamental principles can. We should adopt those offered in our Declaration of Independence and codify them. They were known by those who drafted our U.S. Constitution. Then largely ignored (I’m guessing) for economic and populace reasons. They (our founding fathers) should have walked their talk.

Today I read a book review on “Paradise Lost”. A best seller about 400 years ago. The review suggested it contained the answer to most of the important questions humans have wanted asked. I was stymied by finding out it was poetry, in blank verse no less, and not easy to understand. So I read the cribbed notes version. And the first four line intro hit home. Essentially, the origins of all human suffering is because Adam and Eve didn’t listen. They ate from the “fruit of the forbidden tree”.

According to the crib version Paradise Lost is as much about hierarchy as obedience. And the “spatial hierarchy” of “the universe” puts “Heaven above, Hell below, and Earth in the middle” forming a “social hierarchy of angels, humans, animals and devils.” “To obey God is to respect this hierarchy.” And, “humankind’s disobedience is a corruption of God’s hierarchy.”
When thinking about the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” I can’t help but believe that the protection of human life and the environment (God’s creation) would be respectful to “God’s hierarchy.” Yet, it seems ‘self-evident’ that most voters of every religious denomination, most policy makers from every political party, and most leaders from every nation, persistently fail to abide by this hierarchy. And then we the governed, who elected them, wonder why things aren’t going so well. Or, that nearly every aspect of our comfortable civilized lives is simply unsustainable. Economic debt, global warming, extinction of species, income inequality, the evolution of weapons and war, and the persistently acceptance of corruption as part of both our economic (capitalism) and political (financed) systems. Systems that were rigged by the wealthy under our democratic masses noses because we were too comfortable to care.

In summary the majority of voters have simply allowed this corruption of God’s hierarchy. We were/are free to believe that democracy will cure this corruption. But as long as a majority of US voters (or humanity) remain ignorant of the survival value of the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” we will be as free as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And just as foolishly never be free of the consequences of using our freedom irresponsibly.

I’ve yet to grasp the conclusion offered by the crib notes author – that Milton (the poem’s author) wanted to show that the fall of humankind was part of God’s greater plan, and that God’s plan is justified. https://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/paradiselost/

But I do arrogantly suggest an alternative future (and value system) is possible. One that enables humanity to find the Paradise we lost. Science has provided us with the tools needed to create heaven on earth. Never has humanity had the comforts now afforded by such powerful and increasingly affordable technologies. Yet comfort is not what our creator (God or evolution) made us for. We were made for greatness. And unless we globally honor the Golden Rule and use our politics, science, technology, and economy to abide by the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” we will never engineer the capacity to survive beyond our earthly paradise. To physically reach the heavens, before the inevitable expansion of our Sun incinerates all God’s creation and wisdom multiple prophets have offered.

Our first step in a different direction would be to invest sufficiently in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goals that target the underlying causes of so much suffering, injustice, violence, and multiple environmental degradations. Anyone connecting the dots will see the web of life and the need for global justice. Failing this we can only expect further chaos and human suffering. Perhaps the end of human life on earth.

Note to Trump and his supporters on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Walls do not keep us free or secure.

Note to voters. Unless we change our current Constitution to codify the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” just voting for your favorite candidate simply won’t matter to your children or grandchildren. Given the evolution of technology’s exponential growth (fueling the evolution of weapons and war) time is not on our side.

 

I’ll end with one short poem I love with written by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays. The late Eliza Cummings read it his first day of Congress. And it was read recently at his eulogy.

 

I have only just a minute,

Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it.
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.
But it’s up to me
to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it.
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute,
but eternity is in it.

Chuck Wooley (not the Game show host)
Chuck’s professional grassroots organizing and advocacy successes on global health issues led to his elected position on the respected Action Board of the American Public Health Association (membership of 120,000 US Health Professionals). Later he was then elected by his peers to Chair the United Nation’s Association Council of Organizations (over 110 US based NGOs representing a collective membership of over 25 million Americans). His focus has been connecting local and global issues to US national security interests and using non-partisan fundamental principles to advance public thinking and US policy on vital systems and structures essential to forming a more perfect union.

Chuck credits much of his successes to his mother’s love and his background in Biology and wrestling. He qualified for the Olympic Trials only to find out he was seriously not qualified – but was honored to make it that far coming from a childhood of obesity and sloth. “We are all”, he says “always wrestling with issues and concerns our entire lives. Or we should be — given the persistent changes in our bodies and the world.” “Loving persistence” and “ruthless compassion” are two qualities his mentors offered him. Perhaps to his detriment he usually offers what people need to hear instead of what they want to hear. Chuck is an avid quote collector… one of his many favorites — “Science is my passion, politics my duty.” Thomas Jefferson

Science and Religion: A combination vital to US and global Security:

Science and Religion: A combination vital to US and global Security:
Rockville Science Center’s Science Café: Nov 12, 2019. 1 pm to 2 pm

Location: Rockville Senior Center
1150 Carnation Drive
Rockville, MD 20850

Abstract: The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states that “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” offers “Self-evident” “Truths”. If codified into public laws and enforced, these truths would maximize human freedom and security both here and abroad.

“Liberty and justice for all” could be sustained far into the future. Everything in the known universe is made up of systems and structures that are based on fundamental principles…except many of those created by the human mind. Our evolutionary mental advantage is now a weakness. It too often creates alternative laws — with none so damaging as those based on the concept of independence — a mental construct that exists nowhere in the known universe.

“Independent governments and their agencies only waste more time and money on siloed and unsustainable reactionary measures. It is up to us (we the people), advocating for the global codification of fundamental principles, to change this.”

These flawed human laws are accelerating global chaos, human injustices, and global insecurity. While the human brain and nervous systems may be the most complex and sophisticated systems and structures known to science, cognitive sciences suggest that our creativity to make anything — and our mind’s capacity to believe anything — will be our undoing. Science and the Golden Rule are both vital to our species survival.

Speaker’s Bio: As a HS biology teacher Mr. Woolery, then a focused environmentalist, was introduced to the linkages between all global issues after learning that 42,000 children were dying each day from easily preventable hunger and infectious disease – and that these were NOT due to overpopulation — but only a lack of political will.

In 1980 a bipartisan Presidential Commission reported that the prevention of those deaths and the human suffering and national security consequences associated with them, must become a top political priority – or the US would face inevitable and costly national security consequences.

His Capitol Hillsuccesses as Media Director for RESULTS, Director of the Alliance for Child Survival, then Issues and Advocacy Director for both the Global Health Council and Albert Einstein inspired World Federalist Association led to his colleagues electing him to Chair the United Nations Association Council of Organizations (collective membership of 25 million Americans), as well as the Action Board of the American Public Health Association (120,000 US health professionals).  He is now a ‘free’ agent documenting – and educating the public about – the multitude of unbreakable links between basic human rights, environmental protection, US national security, and humanities survival. He advocates that the prevention of most threats will require a comprehensive global effort – and only urgent and sufficient investments in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals before the year 2030, will achieve our shared goals.

“Independent governments and their agencies only waste more time and money on siloed and unsustainable reactionary measures. It is up to us (we the people), advocating for the global codification of fundamental principles, to change this.”

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