Earthquakes and Cyclones are a small part of a much more tragic story


Some would say it’s cruel or inappropriate to suggest that the big tragedies are the daily death toll from disease and malnutritioon even more than the horrible scenes we’ve been seeing on TV from Burma/Myanmar and China as a result of the Cyclone and the earthquake that will take between 100,000 and 150,000 lives when all the reports are in.  

However I’m compelled to point that out because TV news and our own human inadequacies at processing math and information mean that the silent catastrophes of easily preventable diseases – which kill some 20,000-30,000 people per day – are the real catastrophes on this planet yet they go largely unreported and ignored because we focus our attention on the spectacular problems rather than the more pressing ones or interesting ones.     You don’t have to trivialiize the tragic loss of life in violent conflicts or natural disasters to recognize that there is a *far greater* loss of life in the day to day problems we largely ignore.   No, these do not “keep those populations in check” as some poorly informed folks suggest.  On the contrary rising the standard of living is one of the surest ways to reduce birth rates barring the draconian type of approach taken in China with the “one family one child” policy which has also worked.

What would work to a solution to the real tragedies?  First, we need to do a little math and recognize that the daily death tolls from preventable, solvable problems are huge compared to the death tolls from the things many people worry a lot about yet cannot influence much (Middle East Conflicts) if at all (Earthquakes).  

After recognizing we can save millions of people *monthly* from a shift in resources we need to view national security in broader terms, recognizing that a greater measure of global stability – the primary goal of our US military projection throughout the world – would be more easily attained with strategic spending on simple and preventable education and disease programs combined with a modest marketing program to make sure those assisted recognize who the good guys really are.     Currently the USA spends a subtantial amount (though it is tiny compared to our capacity) helping fight poverty the third world.  Yet we get little if any credit for this.   Unfortunate because this does not inspire more of the type of assistance that creates global win-win situation where people can thrive and the US can help maintain global stability at a fraction of the cost of military approaches.

Why aren’t others seeing this?    US politics have created a crisis of economic and military stupidity.   Liberals insist – naively and with little research to back them up – that globalized corporate capitalism hurts the poor more than it helps them.    There are regional exceptions, but if you look around you note that where there are multinational skyscrapers and multinational influence (New York, Hong Kong) there is … a lot more prosperity and a lot less poverty than where global business is banned (Myanmar, North Korea).

Meanwhile most conservatives remain sadly and stupidly hypocritical when it comes to funding our bloated military, which currently accounts for well over half of all global spending.  People who should know how to balance a checkbook abandon all fiscal reason in an ego and emotionally driven fervor to fund every weapon they can get their hands on, often leaving veterans to fend for themselves where this type of spending is clearly an essential obligation of the country to support those who have served.

COMMENTS are VERY WELCOME, even if you think I’m totally full of sh** on this!   

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About JoeDuck

Internet Travel Guy, Father of 2, small town Oregon life. BS Botany from UW Madison Wisconsin, MS Social Sciences from Southern Oregon. Top interests outside of my family's well being are: Internet Technology, Online Travel, Globalization, China, Table Tennis, Real Estate, The Singularity.
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3 Responses to Earthquakes and Cyclones are a small part of a much more tragic story

  1. horatiox says:

    Nice sentiments, but those in the defense biz–whether contractors, R n D, engineers, even assemblers– make a lot of dough, and most don’t really want to sacrifice their jobs. At least in socal, civilian aerospace never fared too well, alas.

    When Northrop, or Mc-D, Lockheed, etc. want to build Stealths, supercarriers, or Earth-Incineration-Beams, most Cali politicians and citizens approve, regardless if it’s a few billion or so. Even DiDi Feinstein approves. It feeds off some strange mass-paranoia perhaps, but it’s not like Russia and China are laying down their swords or satellites either.

  2. JoeDuck says:

    As Eisenhower noted one of the the greatest threats to the USA was the rise of the military industrial establishment. This is often misinterpreted to think he was worried about capitalism when he was preciently concerned that the shortsighted stupidity of bureaucrats and lack of accountability would be exploited by opportunistic contractors. I don’t think even he would believe how insane this mixture has become, and even most of us accept it because it has become familiar and is seen as politically necessary to support bloated military budgets.

  3. horatiox says:

    As Eisenhower noted one of the the greatest threats to the USA was the rise of the military industrial establishment. This is often misinterpreted to think he was worried about capitalism …..

    Isn’t the military-industrial complex usually tied to capitalism? They are at least related: Northrop-Grumman, for instance, is a corporation, has shareholders, operates in the private sector, etc. I understand your point (and Ike’s), yet the public cannot really take on corporate power, nor are they usually qualified to do so. The problems with the massive defense budgets are systemic; yes, it’s a massive bureaucracy, but at the same time tied to US corporate power. Galbraith discussed this issue in his discussions of “oligopoly”: a sort of melding of socialist (even stalinistic) state power and corporate, monopolies. That oligopolic structure includes not only defense contractors/corporations, but oil companies, automotive biz, finance etc. The US economy’s like a collusion between Northrop/Boeing/Lockheed, the Exxon/Chevron mob, Ford/Chevy execs, financiers, some Fed boys, and maybe Ho-wood moguls.

    There’s little citizens can do against that, unless rewrite the Constitution, or like wave a hammer and sickle (or perhaps swastika). However, I believe that the current USA economic structure would offend not only a Madison or Jefferson but Adam Smith himself: Smith was quite in favor of govt. regulations to prevent monopoly or hoarding situations (ie, the oil crisis), and his econ. ideas are more socialistic than some might imagine (as are Keynes). Alas, barring radical or revolutionary action, I doubt any substantial econ. reforms will occur in the USA: as Nietzsche said, “Menschliches, Allzumenschliches” (Human, all too human)

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