Three important issues to be reminded of in a single day! Luckily they’re all connected.
Starting with World Pollution Prevention Day. There’s that un-American word ‘prevention’ again.
By Chuck Woolery, Activist, Not TV Host
Our US Constitution somewhat held to this principle with the objective of preventing the abuse of government power. It initially codified multiple means of limiting the abuse of government power but those who remained fearful of it insisted on a list of Amendments as a fail-safe. The 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms, was a good idea at the time, but to hold it to its original intent, it didn’t’ go far enough. The puny weapons defended by the NRA today are woefully insufficient to curb the power of the US military should some orange haired megalomania decide our Constitution doesn’t allow him to do what he wants, and the military does as it’s ordered. Even fully automatic AR-15s won’t stop M1 tanks or laser guided munitions from drones invisible until it’s too late. Not to mention squadrons of the most sophisticated fighter planes, billion-dollar stealth bombers, and space-based weaponry soon to be approved. The 13th Amendment was eventually included in the Constitution because it initially failed to abide by the wisdom of its own architects. More amendments are still needed but ‘We the People’ and those we have elected are more committed to infighting, resisting change, and defending party and ideological tribalism. Focusing on urgently important investments in preventing global forces that are now threatening our long-cherished freedoms and vital security, from a multitude of chaotic global factors? That’s simply not on their to-do list.
Preventing pollution? We can’t even clean up anonymous campaign finances. Forget the messes created by rigged capitalism, heavily polluting non-renewable energy sources, wasteful military spending, and filthy untruthful rhetoric. Preserving and restoring God’s creation? That would require the wisdom offered in our Declaration of Independence that praised the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”.
What does “World Computer Literacy Day” have to offer us? Computerized social media is ripping our nation apart. Americans know how to read and tweet. They just don’t know how to tell the difference between an opinion and a fact. Or the difference between a fundamental principle and some good idea they invented from their limited science literacy or ‘cut and pasted’ from some conspiracy-theory website. Having an educated citizenry? That doesn’t appear to be important.
“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” – James Madison
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people” – John Adams
Is it any wonder Trump is our President? Even before Trump was elected a survey of our government’s own national security experts saw our own “dysfunctional government” as the second greatest threat to our national security. Terrorism remained their top choice.
“There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all.” Booker T. Washington
The website InternetWorldStats.com estimates that nearly 2.5 billion people, or about 33 percent of the world’s population, have access to the Internet using a computer or mobile phone. Given the profound value of education and the unprecedented capacity to cheaply provide a basic education to all the world’s children — it seems wise to make it happen regardless of the economic costs. It is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that every nation has already approved. https://en.unesco.org/education2030-sdg4/targets
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Given the inevitable unaffordable cost in lives, dollars, freedom, and security — of failing this goal – this investment in the future would seem to be a no-brainer. But given the narrowly focused election-oriented Congress we elected it is a safe wager that they will not make this investment a priority. Prevention of problems? That’s just un-American.
And that brings us to the need to conveying awareness of the “International Day for the Abolition of Slavery”. Yes. Slavery still exists. An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriage. There are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world (1 in 4 are children).
December 2nd marks the date of the UN’s General Assembly’s adoption of the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949). You can more here.
Contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, forced child labor, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict also seems like a no-brainer. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. People’s greed and selfish economic interest still rules the day in most nations.
The world’s most widespread form of modern-day slavery is debt bondage — when people borrow money and cannot repay, they are required to work to pay it off, losing control over the conditions of both their employment and the debt.
Human trafficking- involves transporting, recruiting or concealing people using violence, threats or coercion. Descent-based slavery is when people are born into slavery because their ancestors were captured and enslaved. Their descendants remain in slavery.
Child slavery, not to be confused with child labor (which is often harmful to children hindering their education and development) is adults exploiting children for someone else’s gain. It includes child trafficking, child soldiers, child marriage and child domestic slavery. Forcing a child into an early marriage against their will is often considered slavery.
Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, over half are exploited in the private sector (domestic work, construction or agriculture) with 4 million imposed by state authorities. An estimated 4.8 million are forced sexual exploitation. Women and girls are disproportionately affected accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry. They represent nearly 60% in other sectors.
While the International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted a new legally binding Protocol intended to strengthen global efforts to eliminate forced labor (it entered into force in November 2016) there remains virtually no means of enforcement unless the government where this forced labor is found, is committed to holding those responsible for it, accountable. Government corruption too often fails this requirement and there remains no means of holding governments accountable in our existing global system where the protection of national sovereignty ranks several layers above the protection of human rights.
I’m hoping that if you have made it this far in reading the last 22 days of blogs you are starting to see a persistent theme regarding the reality of the world we live in. It is our government that refuses to acknowledge and then act on the reality that these persistent injustices (global violations in human rights) are increasingly a threat to our nation’s freedoms, security, and prosperity (i.e. our children’s future).
The increasing populism we see rising in our nation and other progressive nations around the world is the result of undeterred global forces that cannot be stopped by military power, border walls, President Trump, our Constitution, international law, the UN, or the firmest national sovereignty.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals remain the only viable option. They have already been approved by all the world’s governments, just like previous global goals were set in 1990 for the year 2000, and in 2000 for the year 2015. All were achievable, affordable and agreed upon goals — that were never met for lack of funding. Some progress was made, but with the evolution of war, weaponry, infectious diseases and government resistance to dealing with the source of these threats, urgency is needed. Time is not on our side. What’s missing is the political will to sufficiently fund them. And, then ‘we the people’ holding our governments accountable for meeting each of these goals once the money is seized. Yes! Seized. Again, at least 34 trillion dollars is locked in offshore accounts, stashed there by kleptocrats, global crime cartels (think illegal drugs and human slavery) and obscenely rich tax avoiding capitalists. Freezing and then seizing some or all of this illicit money would be more than enough to do what’s right for all the world’s children and our own children’s future. It won’t happen just reading or writing blogs. It will take getting organized and demanding of those representing us in this potentially great nation, that we live up to our pledge of ‘liberty and justice for all’. The power we have as citizens in this nation is infinitely greater than the power we have as voters.
On December 8th this 30-day blog series will document this power. It has been demonstrated repeatedly by small citizen groups on both the right and the left political spectrum – between elections.
December 10 will document more specific links between the global protection of human rights and our own national security, freedom and prosperity. There is no shortage of warnings by others far smarter, more articulate, and published than I. But there is a shortage of those willing to take action before global conditions result in global catastrophic consequences. Our brains don’t want to hear this. But our bodies and our children will not be able to avoid them.
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.
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