How can it be otherwise when we are constructed of trillions of controlled-and-trapped electrons that circle, almost forever, nuclei of protons and neutrons that make up our bacterial and human cells, each confined to specific tasks within a short-lived body that we have no recollection of choosing?
As all living things are innocent inmates of this prison should we not all exude empathy and care for each other? Well, many have, resulting in millions of enjoyable paradises, short-lived as they might be yet proving we have the ability, know-how, and Free Will to do so.
So, it is more than exasperating to find that what-could-be is ruined by those of us who seek gain at the expense of others. This essay will be confined to relating a few of these crimes that I have found repulsive in a life approaching the century mark.
Months ago I started on this essay only to find that Naomi Klein had explored, world-wide, the very same events in much greater detail than I ever could. Two of her books, over 500 and 700 pages respectively, “This Changes Everything - Capitalism vs The Climate” and “The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” are amazing with the spread and debt of her research and how she reinforces my fading memories. How can I continue my essay without stealing her data or that of numerous other such authors?
Before I try, let me insert a few recent scams, starting with 6 phone calls, all in one morning:
Because it was free I had downloaded Windows 10, immediately losing my e-mails and usage, plus previous bookmarks. There was no way to return to Windows 7, so it cost me $200 to have experts leave me with a workable Windows 10, some aspects of which I am beginning to like after a few legitimate updates. Three of these 6 phone calls were from a voice claiming to be a Windows 10 representative based in Washington and whose goal was to correct Windows 10 errors if I followed the steps he would give me. His accent told me he was calling from India and, as I began to implement his instructions, it became apparent it was a scam and that he was trying to gain access to my computer, so I hung up. He called back twice more. The other 3 calls were from male and female voices telling variants of the tale that the government or tax people had confiscated, or put liens on, my bank account and property, and would soon arrest me. However, being lawyers, they could rectify all this if I acted quickly, sending them a small fee. Then, there was that other phone call from a voice sounding very much like my grandson and saying he was in jail for a traffic offense and needed $2,000 for bail. He was too ashamed to advise his parents so begged me to immediately send a money order to an address he gave me, telling he would repay me as soon as he could. It all sounded quite genuine except for the post-office-box address. I told the voice I was off to the bank to get the money, then made a discreet inquiry to learn he was still safely in university. It is indeed frightening that so many scam artists exist, and that they succeed in stealing money from those who can ill afford to lose it.
Sir Penny still rules (see my blog of 10 Oct 2014). For years during excruciatingly-long US elections I receive daily an average of 8 requests for political donations, one day actually getting 24. No wonder I now delete them to give what I can afford to organizations actually doing good for humanity, wildlife, and the environment. A few good debates and personal analysis of how they perform on the job should tell us what we need to know about political candidates. Buying votes insults and nullifies democracy.
So, who or what controls us? Are we really us until we reach the age of reason? Alas, while reaching that age we have been controlled by parents, siblings, society, religions, politics, and schools. As adults how can we reason correctly when immersed in a sea of human predators creating ever-new scams to confuse us, slant our beliefs, and rob us of what wealth we might possess? There are even movements afoot to deny us the right to boycott products from countries whose actions we despise. Yet our governments can impose sanctions that hurt innocent people, and even ourselves, more than the chosen enemy. They can negotiate secret trade agreements that benefit multi-nationalists rather than workers. Who is not guilty of promoting personal views?
But, I do need to return to my original thoughts, perhaps with the help of Naomi who does rank as the world’s 11th top intellectual and whose articles and interviews appear in a dozen Canadian, EU, UK, and US publications, films, and TV news outlets. Fortunately, she is not alone.
I had set out to emphasize the unbelievable plight of the thousands who have suffered from the CIA-financed, 1951-61, studies of neuroscientist Ewen Campbell of McGill University who sought to help mentally-disturbed people by reverting brain processes to the infantile stage then rebuilding them. This came to involve painful torture including repeated electrical shocks, complete solitary confinement, and other tortures so McGill cancelled the program and paid compensation but the CIA produced textbooks that were used in Abu Ghraib, Egypt, and Guantanamo (that Cuba should reclaim). The process did revert hundreds to the infantile state but was unable to rebuild. Naomi tells me that in 1988 Canada paid each victim $100,000 and the CIA paid a total of $750,000 to 9 survivors who sued them.
I had long been dismayed at the depth and spread of the havoc wrought by Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Economics but my memory pales in comparison to the hundreds of pages Naomi uses, describing the emissaries sent to numerous other countries that opened the door to oligarchs, world-wide but mainly in the US, to cheaply buy up state enterprises for huge profits at the expense of the working class and national stability. Friedman (died 2006) glorified the benefits of free trade, privatization, no government interference or regulations, low taxes, and abolishing unions. But first, to accept such immense changes, countries had to be in a state of shock due to natural disasters, wars, dissolution of the USSR and apartheid, etc. Where this was not enough, torture, imprisonment, and murder of hundreds of thousands of protesters and union members ensued in Argentina, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, China, Indonesia, Mozambique, Peru, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay, USSR, and Yugoslavia. Sadly, too often funding for these atrocities emanated from the US and the US-based International Monetary Fund and World Bank built by taxes from 178 countries. Often they were too selfish for gains to provide adequate assistance for failing currencies caused largely by low-priced imports, reduced union wages, inflation, and rising unemployment.
The half dozen whistle blowers who published their disillusionment and admitted the harm done received little media coverage. These included Davidson Budhoo (died 2001) who, after 12 yrs with IMF, repented with “There is not enough soap in the world to wash off the blood and ill I have caused.”
In detail, Naomi describes disasters including how the West turned its back on Mikhail Gorbachev’s honest attempts to remake Russia and its world and embraced Boris Yeltsin who dismantled economies and permitted the rise of billionaires which, in Russia alone, went from 0 to 17, most of whom took their gains out of Russia, further harming the economy which was inherited by Vladimir Putin. Likewise in South Africa Nelson Mandella, after 27 years in prison, swept the election that gave him political power, but his ANC party, flushed with victory, overlooked the administrative laws the old regime was cementing in place so that Mandella had the political power but no way to enact reforms, leaving the masses worse off than they were before, yet forced to pay off the debts. Obama was to find the same frustrations against a hostile Congress, NRA guns, Supreme Court stands, and so on, yet he sins by condoning a dangerously-bloated military and nuclear updating.
For thousands of years a few elite have been able to employ followers to entice or force millions of boys and men into their armed services then enforce discipline with lashes and executions applied by members against fellow members. It was common for those enduring the horrors of trench warfare to despise their own governments more than the enemy they were ordered to kill but who were also suffering. To remain in power the elites need imagined enemies to frighten the masses while concealing their own exploitation.
Now, we do have a few real enemies like Daesh, al Qaida, the Taliban, al Shabab, Boko Haram, and armed militias, but we created them and our biggest worry is their growth potential that we must address.
In 5 years in the Arctic and Polar regions starting in 1946 and including the command of a 500-mile stretch of the DEW Line 1962-3, I made numerous friends among the Inuit while ashamed at the way Catholic and Protestant churches competed for converts. We would take Inuit children, fly them to boarding schools, immerse them in an Alberta-style curriculum, then, each summer, dump them back home, fit for neither world. Yes, our mining and military short-lived interests has provided some employment and some southern comforts but the current suicide rate among young Inuit men is 40 times that of the rest of Canada. I advised my Inuit friends, whom I found to be quite intelligent and innovative, not to permit us to take over their country and that the best way to do this was to accept our education, rise to high office, and beat us at our own game. Several of the young boys and girls I knew have now done this. Inuit now own airlines, 20 hotels, communication networks, and Hunter Tootoo is now MP for Fisheries for all of Canada, the second Inuk to hold a federal cabinet position. Much is yet to be done - but . . . .
Maybe, there is hope for us.