Philosophy of Health Management in the United States

Mariner is really old. He is a prime example of why the fiscal conservatives in government don’t like him. He is a drain on the world of dollars. One is not worth existence if one doesn’t generate dollars in some way. Insurance companies and the health industry have found a way to generate dollars in unhealthy people – especially old unhealthy people; the health industry has developed a cash producing model even for useless, expensive old folks like the mariner.

The model is: keep old folks alive for a few more years until their disabilities exceed insurance coverage and they must spend down their assets to continue treatment. Once the health industry has all the patient’s money and the patient is bankrupt, treatment ceases and the patient, who perhaps lived another few years than they might have, dies. After all, the patient is no longer a source of dollars.

Mariner recently had the experience of being prescribed a medicine that would slow the advancement of his disability, giving him another few years before the end. The prescription was administered in a matter of fact way by the physician with no warnings about the prescription being irregular in any way. Mariner and his wife stopped by the pharmacy to have the prescription filled.

“We can’t fill this prescription,” the pharmacist said. “It must come from a special pharmacy.”

Turns out the prescription will cost ten thousand dollars each month! That’s right – $10,000.00 each month. This is a good service because now the mariner can accurately project his life expectancy by dividing $120,000.00 per year into his total assets.

Even Big Pharma realized the cost was a bridge too far. A special charity will pay the monthly fee less copay. Mariner was advised by his insurance company that the copay is just under $3,000 each month. Whew!

To the mariner, this is blatant disregard for human value and respect. Jimmie Kimmel had it right when he admonished the health industry and Congress for making dollars more important than human life. Mariner researched the annual salary of CEOs for Big Pharma. They receive an average annual salary of $42 million. Apparently, health management has reverted to its mid-19th century practice of applying leeches.

Because of religious reasons, that is, believing in human life as the measure of supreme value, he will not take this drug – especially he will not allow anyone, charity or otherwise, to send this many dollars to prop up a leech’s salary.

Ancient Mariner

Church v State

In the early days church v state was not an issue. Before Jesus the government function known today as the ‘upper house’ (House of Lords?) was occupied by a collection of anthropomorphic gods. The lower house and the executive branch spent most of their time trying to guess what the gods were going to do next in their own interests and what twists of fate would they impose on the citizenry. The Old Testament in the Holy Bible spends a significant amount of time trying to have a relationship between Israel and one god, let alone a pantheon of gods. In Greece, military leaders had to visit an oracle to get the final say on whether the next war was worthwhile.

In the western world, Christianity took hold as the major religion. During the Roman Empire era and the expansion of Christianity into Europe, Christianity dominated human politics; all governments were theocracies to the point that the Pope could depose Kings with a thumb pointed downward. To realize how dominant church was over society, read about the Spanish Inquisition or the first oligarchs AKA Christian monasteries or the life and times of Galileo imprisoned because he said the Earth was not the center of the Galaxy or the Universe. However, human self-interest would not go away. Remember Henry VIII?

In the far reaches of Northern Europe, beyond the original advances of Rome and its theocracy, early Christianity was more of a wild card. Theology and theocracy were owned by local kingdoms like Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland. Along with the Nordic countries, these emerging nations lived on a frontier of war for centuries. Eventually, especially in England, the barons found they were spending too much on war and sought an agreement that would limit the power of the King and assure a degree of political independence within each baron’s territory.

They had a big meeting in 1215 and signed the Magna Carta Libertatum[1].

Church v state was born.

The Magna Carta was a deal between human factions. For the first time, human rights were based on common agreement rather than religious proclamation. The Magna Carta had a profound influence on Western political governance. In the United States, one can see the direct and overwhelming influence in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The United States is a nation based on the rule of law – not the beliefs of a given religion. Nevertheless, in all the documents, religion is granted the practice of religious principles without restriction.

– – – –

Nothing in history is automatic. In fact, mankind does everything it can to muddy the waters of change. From the start, religious authority is implied because God is printed on all US money. Citizens are warned to tell the truth by God’s standards (so help you God…). How quickly we ignored the Christian guide book in Matthew 20:21 that says …”give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

What clobbered the clear principles of US founding documents was the Reformation. America simultaneously was populated and grew with opportunists and religious zealots. The church led early settlement across the nation as it moved west and insisted on strict commitment to the faith. On the other hand, opportunists wanted as little regulation and interference from the government as possible. Generations of citizens grew up with close scrutiny by their parish leadership and virtually none from the government. Consequently, threads of theocratic governance persist to this day. The rule of sanctuary in a religious building still is granted credence; the Amish have their own justice system. Ironically, a beautiful, poetic religion was obliterated when the US destroyed the culture of the North American Indian.

– – – –

So here the US is today – having to go to the Supreme Court to interpret the line between church and state. Not just once but for every piddling conflict: abortion, gays and trannies, commercial restrictions, race, non-Christian religious practices, wedding cakes, and marriage licenses. Amos grows tired of tolerance.

The simple rule is a person is allowed to practice and express their religion in ritual, within family, within any realm of personal possession or likeminded group – even in their personally owned business (without violating state law). On the other hand, that person cannot deny the right of others or the state to have beliefs and legislation of their own that may not be compatible with that person’s religion.

It sounds blunt but if one doesn’t believe in abortion don’t practice it. On the other hand, one cannot dictate the beliefs or rules of others or the state where there are differences in practice.

Mariner leaves it to the reader to decide the rights of Kim Davis who is an elected clerk in a state government post who denies marriage licenses to gays. Do we need the Supreme Court to determine Kim’s responsibility to the freedom of religion clause or the state to act independent of religious proclamation?

Ancient Mariner

[1] (Great Charter of Liberation) For a full and helpful translation of the Magna Carta, see: http://www.magnacartaplus.org/magnacarta/

Witness to the Acceleration of Change

Addressing the older folks for a moment, remember when . . .

Reality was dependable. It was familiar. There was time to pause. Weather was the common conversation. Religion had been around a long time and played a stabilizing role in the community. Families lived through generations without much change between them. Without giving it a thought, jobs lasted a lifetime and often multiple generations worked at the same place. Daily life was stable and dependable – so much so Norman Rockwell could freeze American life on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Music was friendly and fun. Dancing was ebullient and expressive, or a slow, romantic melody that left time to share feelings with a partner. It was the forties and fifties. It was the last time American culture stood still. Considered only an irritation to the public at the time, the public did not realize that McCarthyism ignited the fuse of change, separatism and social divisiveness that would last to the present day.

Innocently, society wandered into the sixties: Kennedy was shot. King was shot. Bobby was shot. Civil Rights stirred prejudice and violence that hearkened back to slavery; whole neighborhoods were set afire. The Cold War increased. Then the Viet Nam war; college students were shot on campus for protesting – by the National Guard! No one talked about the weather anymore or had time to pause and enjoy reality. Reality couldn’t be trusted anymore; it was full of angst, prejudice and social conflict. By the seventies, ‘one nation indivisible’ no longer existed.

The seventies finally eradicated the memory of that stable culture back in the post war years when Ozzie and Harriet seemed a reasonable interpretation of America. The seventies were dominated by Russia, the cold war, a viable threat of nuclear war, Richard Nixon, and US inflation climbed to 17%. George Wallace was shot. America was growing weary of conflict not only in war but in society as well. The role of religion was under attack by secularists. It was the end of Jimmy Carter and the beginning of Ronald Reagan.

In the eighties, Ronald introduced policies that diminished the influence of a citizenry over their government. Ronald fathered an economy that favored entrepreneurship and capitalization as the power of change. While these policies quieted the populist nature of the citizenry, only today is the Reagan Doctrine declining. As a result of Ronald’s economic policies, assets and income of the citizenry no longer grow at the same pace as the nation; assets began to assimilate unevenly toward the elite classes.

The nineties were a sort of halftime, a pause to enjoy an amiable President and to enjoy the growth in entrepreneurship that led to a relatively strong economy. It was a time to catch a breath in the unending changes society had passed through since the forties. Beneath the respite, however, corporatism and governments diseased by excessive cash from the new entrepreneurs began to damage the culture in a new way. The idea of a job for life was disappearing; regulations controlling the business environment began to protect corporations over the wellbeing of human beings. By 1998, computers and artificial intelligence threw their own wood on the fire that was reducing middleclass comfort, security and identity. John Henry would roll in his grave.

So here we are in the new millennium. Our lives are jammed into a splintered information age stuffed into devices and databases that rapidly take control of that thing called ‘personal freedom.’ The old societal watch guards like religion, human value, the common good, trust in our nation, and equality among the populace, all are gone. Today our society struggles mightily to gain control of rapidly changing cultural values; we seek protection from raucous abuses in an uncontrolled society. To add insult to our injury, we have Donald.

Anyone care to stop over to binge watch some old Ozzie and Harriet episodes?

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Migration – the Great Culture Changer

Mariner was watching the weekend television information shows, which are informative shows, not news shows. He noticed a comment, just one sentence on GPS, the Global Public Square with Fareed Zakaria, that today virtually the entire planet suffers the pressure of large migrations of humans.

The comment prompted mariner to remember migration as a major culture changer. Humans have had major migrations since prehistoric times. 60 thousand years ago a great migration of early humans left Africa likely due to a major climate shift. It was responsible for starting populations in every direction in Europe, the Middle East, and east into India and Southern Asia. That migration certainly brought change to Europe as immigrants overwhelmed the resident Neanderthal population and essentially replaced them. In the process, newer hunting methods and different social capabilities brought a different culture to Europe.

15 thousand years ago, a short ice age caused another migration into Northern Asia and eventually across the Bering Strait to populate North and South America.

10 thousand years ago improved farming induced a population explosion that added more immigrants into Europe and Asia and down to Australia.

Migrations are launched because of imbalances in safety, food, disruptive weather and overcrowding. The Middle East has suffered two great droughts – suffering the latest one since 1998. Today’s drought in the region is 50% drier than the last drought 500 years ago and the driest in 900 years.

Today’s drought shows no signs of letting up and continues south into Northern Africa where government conflict and social unrest continue to grow.

As a result, migration continues to grow.

Given the patterns of migration in human history, natural drought patterns are the most common cause and likely are intensified by climate change. Cultural stress disrupts governments leading to revolution, terrorism and rampant populism. Unlike Sub-Saharan Africa where 20 million face starvation, the Middle East has oil. The vagaries of imbalance as seen in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen and Iran have launched a migration from that region. Combine the Middle East migration with other migrant groups from South and Central America and cultural change seems a certain experience in our future – virtually guaranteed in Europe.

The US is experiencing homophobic behavior because Donald promotes it. His base, those who feel they are being pushed out, easily adopt homophobic behavior. However, immigration is not a bad thing. In fact, the US is far better off as “the great melting pot” than it would be otherwise. Besides, in a nation of 350 million, even a million immigrants will not have a disruptive effect but they may, as in past US history, contribute to positive change. If for no other reason than rebalancing the lopsided US demographic profile, they should be welcomed.

– – – –

Don’t blame the turmoil of cultural change just on immigration. Toss in computerization, the internet, and the devious smartphone. The smartphone is eliminating the rich culture based on human-to-human contact and virtually eliminates group processes like clubs, community service, a strong sense of self and an absence of accountability to one’s community. The net result is a culture of blasé. From whence do we derive our ethics, morals, compassion and empathy? These are the energies that make us human. A photograph on Facebook does not make one a living, incorporated human being.

Perhaps being responsible to care for our new immigrant citizens will reset our human values.

Blasé is bad.

Ancient Mariner

 

Merry Christmas

Mariner is sorry that the Christmas season occurs during such torment and unstatesmanlike conduct in our government. We must endure; it is our duty as citizens. These are times of dramatic change in our society. Automation and artificial intelligence loom in our future; the collapse of the Reagan economy on the right; the future of our children on the left. The United States is a tumbling society at the moment. Our status as a champion among nations, as a symbol of wellbeing within a world of conflict, is fading because we cannot govern our own nation.

It is a time for stamina, for the strong will of the people. Our government has been infected with greed. We must step in and erase this infection. Our government, both state and Federal has forgotten the founding principles of our nation: equality for all.

Do not be dissuaded by the goballygook of corporate giants flexing their innocence as we move into global economy. It is about humans, not profits. Our collapsed Federal Government, including the House, the Senate, and indeed our President, has left the voting citizen with a serious problem which threatens to destroy our nation. We must clean up the mess. We must undo the gerrymandering that eliminates half our voting power. We must elect representatives that espouse the will of the common citizen. We must create a government based on the definition of a human being, not that a human is worth nothing more than a profit source.

Do have a merry Christmas – we need it! But return to your minuteman responsibility to “Make America Great Again.”

Ancient Mariner

 

Attack on Tribal Culture

As a sociology major in college, mariner studied many types of society. There are many reasons for a unifying culture to come into being. When the age of agriculture gave way to industrialism around 1760, the information age around 1960, and now the globalization age beginning around 1914 with the League of Nations, economics has become the measure of worth even to the value of a human being. Today, the world around, philosophy of life and its scruples are measured in dollars.

Where does tribalism fit into this?

First, mariner must update the anthropology of tribes. Do not think of Native American tribes with about 100 individuals. Native American tribes had a two-tiered culture consisting of clusters bound in size by terrain and environment and a larger tier consisting of politically related tribes whose individuals could number in tens of thousands. A good example is when Native Americans gathered for a bison kill. Also observe that an individual Indian did not need food stamps to acquire some bison meat. Native Americans distributed the kill equally among tribe members – a tribal characteristic.

What defines tribe behavior is a strong commitment to a common member value. The attacks today on groups of people who are in defiance of the dominant economic power structure are considered to be organized “tribes” and enemies of the state. The relationship between the state and defiant groups is acknowledged but mariner takes issue with the judgment that tribes are a bad thing. In fact, vocal dissent is a good thing, a healthy thing and is key to evaluating the inherent worth of citizens.

Tribalism is a level of organization that occurs when the group is relatively small and comparatively vulnerable to outside circumstances. As a consequence, a spirt of common good prevails that equally protects all tribe members.

Think about the Amish. The culture has a tier comprised of small congregations each free to describe its own values as long as the basic premise of their religious heritage is followed. On the higher tier is the entire Amish movement which holds to a given theology, economy and anti-secularism that existed in Europe in the late 1600’s. Today, a middle tier is growing that represents different flavors of the Amish faith; think of Christian Protestants as an example. A loyalty exists across tiers of tribes that sustains the common good.

These models of tribalism are, more or less, based on geography as a natural restraint to size. Mariner lives in a small Iowa town of less than 1,000 citizens. During the era of agriculture, the town behaved as a tribe would behave. The common ethic was sustaining family wellbeing. In fact, most of the virtues even among local merchants were family-centric, assuring that families with misfortune were taken care of by everyone. This behavior often is referred to as ‘the common good’, reflecting the desire to support survival of the tribe.

Then industrialism changed the focus from tribal self-sustenance to economic collaboration with its steam and oil machines. John Henry died proving that the value of a human being was no longer inherent; it was the economy that was more valuable.

In the United States today, with its priority toward economic objectives rather than the human condition, government policy has isolated many citizens to the point that it is obvious citizens are no longer important enough to be sustained by the economically driven government. The ethic of sustaining families or for that matter any common human value is absent.

The prevailing economic polity sees tribal behavior as a populist movement – consider governmental and corporate reactions to tribal resistance by the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Nation to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The word ‘tribe’ is misused in this respect. Further, it is true that economically supportive classes are exclusive in nature and foster prejudicial rejection of societies that support the tribal virtue of equality among members.

The strength of a common ideal over other idiosyncrasies explains why Donald’s base does not care about Donald’s behavior; it is Donald’s interference with the economic establishment that is the overarching value. Unfortunately, commitment to Donald and his personality disorders is a high price to pay even for his base.

As the world migrates toward globalism driven by economic values instead of human values, many scholars have reservations. At some point, society must reconstruct the inherent value of a human being. Otherwise, they believe, humans are well on their way to a life of human meaningless – to be nothing more than a battery in a coffin in a Matrix world.

REFERENCE SECTION

Mariner’s wife, a complete, forty year professional librarian, often is a silent partner in mariner’s posts. She provides the following source of a writer of similar persuasion albeit many magnitudes more in importance:

John Ralston Saul, CC OOnt (born June 19, 1947) is a Canadian award-winning philosopher, novelist and essayist. He is a long-term champion of freedom of expression. Saul is most widely known for his writings on the nature of individualism, citizenship and the public good; the failures of manager-led societies; the confusion between leadership and managerialism; military strategy, in particular irregular warfare; the role of freedom of speech and culture; and his critique of contemporary economic arguments. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ralston_Saul#Non-fiction for his nonfiction bibliography.

– – – –

Yes, Virginia, there is the word divers.

Mariner thinks sometimes a more accurate count of viewers can be had from using a fine but little used word. He does admit that he is a bit of an archivist when choosing words that have precise meaning instead of using a simpler word augmented by a preposition. To bear witness, he provides a reference from the Grammarist[1]. Nevertheless, in deference to his readership, mariner went back and added the ‘e’.

Ancient Mariner

[1] For entertainment derived from language and grammar, see: http://grammarist.com/

The Great Experiment in Peril

In 2016, Eric Metaxas published a book called “If They can Keep it.[1]” In a post, mariner reviewed it at the time. Metaxas took the title from a phrase Benjamin Franklin spoke upon leaving a meeting of the founding fathers. The great experiment was to let citizens run the nation. Citizens would select fellow citizens to represent them in a Federal Republic that spread the agenda of managing the goals and processes of government across three representative levels – Federal, State and Local governments.

In other words, you, mariner, and every other US citizen have a daily chore of looking after the philosophy of government, the guaranteed equality of freedom, the mores of economy and culture, and the quality of representation in government. Together, citizens comprised a central power that controlled the nobler objectives of political science.

Metaxas described the daily chore as three elements of human character: The first is loyalty. We have forgotten that in the US, we aren’t loyal to a regime or an ideologue. In the US, the strength of our society is not loyalty to the flag. No, it isn’t. We are loyal to each other. Not just in political rituals or paying taxes; each of us has a bonded responsibility to look after our fellow citizens and they must look out for us. Eric Metaxas said the US is founded on freedom. Freedom requires belief in freedom; freedom requires loyalty; loyalty requires virtue.

The romantic element in this new philosophy of government was similar to a citizen’s commitment to their spouse and children: a DAILY act of responsibility with family and with affairs of state. In effect, citizens comprised a massive Board of Directors. However, mix this with the other part of the great experiment, the right of freedom to be whoever a citizen chooses to be, the guarantee to believe in any manner, and the minimal intervention of government imposing on one’s freedom raised a deep-rooted flaw. The two elements were and are in conflict: one espousing national unity and responsibility for the quality of government countermanded by guaranteeing a life of individual freedom to be what one chose to be. Benjamin was astute in his comprehension of a direct conflict between responsibility to a unified society supporting the rights of everyone and at the same time supporting the right of everyone to be individualistic.

What held the great experiment together for one hundred years was a common philosophy that commerce was obligated to perform in behalf of the citizenry. Commerce was measured first not by profit but by quality of support to the citizenry. However, the guaranteed freedoms of the constitution led to the opportunity to be as wealthy as one could possibly be – the obligation to citizen wellbeing fell by the wayside. During the last half of the nineteenth century (1850 – 1900), capitalism emerged. A socially aware economy partnered with the government rapidly became an economy of financial opportunity without accountability to the citizen “Board of Directors”.

The cultural conflict is clear: How does one look after the wellbeing of everyone else yet sustain independence to further one’s own wellbeing?

Recently, mariner’s wife listened to a podcast featuring Princeton University economist Uwe Reinhardt, one of the nation’s leading health care economists. On the matter of health care, he said the US will never solve the issue until all Americans on all sides come together as one nation to decide a common tax or fee that will enable comprehensive, government-paid healthcare. The hard part is bringing together a defunct Board of Directors. Since the Viet Nam war, the nation steadily has fallen deeper into the natural human grouping of tribes. Even the “two party system” in Congress splinters into more and more ‘tribes’ as new issues arise. Congress is not designed to be a parliamentary system. Nor, it seems, an authoritarian oligarchy – no matter how hard Donald tries.

Over time, every political system suffers entropy and new challenges. It has been 250 years, more or less, since the great experiment was launched and many changes in economics, technology and industrialism warrant some jostling of the political structure and goals of any nation during that era. But these are not normal times for change.

– – – –

The entire world is in the throes of shifting from one nation, one economy to international economic agreements. It is not a time to throw rocks into the gearbox of the US economy. The forces at work are monopolistic corporations invading a new money system where regulation and political influence are scant. An example of the effect is similar to Amazon.com or Walmart or Google diminishing or eliminating local businesses or incorporating the small business marketplace into the large corporation – in effect curtailing how smaller businesses invest and grow. Replace local businesses with nations; a scramble for global market share is underway. The US, early on the scene, put together the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a consortium of 12 countries agreeing to share a global market. Sadly, some terms of the agreement were overbearing to a given nation’s participation and the Congress was ignorant of the context in a global economy. Donald has cancelled participation.

Another area in the throes of global change is Artificial Intelligence. Cloud technology and ever smarter software will displace millions of labor class jobs around the world. Again, corporate interests see a time when job salaries and jobs can be eliminated – without obligation to the jobless employees.

Further, world population is in dire straits. For the developed nations, including the US, demographics are skewed toward older, retired individuals who no longer contribute to the economy; rather, the nations must support the retirees – a double whammy.

Under developed nations suffer corrupt governments or oligarchies. There is no dependable economy. 20 million people in North Africa face starvation.

Finally, Planet Earth is changing. Only the fossil fuel industry and its allies refuse to accept global warming despite visible, three dimensional evidence.

There are many other collapsing systems that humans depend on in the environment. The list above is a collection of economic issues in serious disrepair as the world moves into a truly new age.

Will the great experiment survive?

Ancient Mariner

[1] “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas, copyright 2016, Penguin Random House. ISBN 9781101979983 hardbound — ISBN 9781101980002 ebook. $26.00 hardbound. Or see your library.

The Judge and the Ladies

Roy Moore is an unavoidable brouhaha. It’s like watching water drain down a sink after cleaning vegetables. Every issue that has anything to do with politics, news media, simple human ethics, government procedures, Alabaman morality, and any personality of note from Donald to Mitch to Jeff to DonaldJR to Steve Bannon are sucked down the drain in this melodrama.

The swirling water has the bitter taste of GOP immorality, that is, highly questionable priorities for a political party representing all the people of the United States. Toss in some vinegar and rotten egg when the GOP and extremist religious groups (including citizens of Alabama) intend to vote for Roy regardless. God forbid a democrat is thrown into the mix. Truly, the GOP is morally corrupt.

Spices are added when Mitch rejects Roy and the news media says, “Who, me?” and Steve vows to create more favorable news of his own. One wishes Donald were in Washington during this vulgar conflict; Donald would find good people involved . . .

As to Donald washing down the drain, he would clog it.

Guru has pondered for some time why Dixie has never been able to catch up to contemporary morality and advancing social behavior; for over 250 years – even before there was a United States, Dixie stayed well back in moral progression and unifying culture.

Mariner must say it is fun to watch for the moment, however horrific. He is reminded of Bill Mauldin who drew cartoons of GI Joe in the second war.

Ancient Mariner

 

What is it?

You can feel it. Everyone can. It is similar to flying through the Universe faster than the speed of light. It feels like a tennis match using a dozen balls instead of one. It whirls you about like a carnival ride. It feels like you are crawling under barbed wire in the mud while bullets fly around you.

It is change. Change in religion; change in life style; change in deep-rooted national values; change in economic dependability; change in the Earth’s environment; change in self-confidence; change in the workplace. It is change. Change happening faster than ever before. Change so pervasive as to leave the entire world in disarray.

War is changing. Fresh water is disappearing. Work is changing. Seas are rising. Vital food chains are disappearing. Human life lives too long to be supported. Changing weather drives millions out of their habitat into starvation. The mammalian age is fragmenting. Sea life is dying.

If you are older than the Millennials, it feels like passing out in a spinning centrifuge. If you are a Millennial, reality is a hodge podge of artificial experiences that lead nowhere.

Change is so disruptive it begs the question, “How can we change change?” We can’t. Change is not arbitrary; change has no speed control; change cannot be reversed. And, to identify the cause of change, as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Broadcast news services cannot bring us all the changes. There are too many changes from too many diverse sources. News agencies are busy chasing down nothing more than political frivolity and gossip. Most viewers aren’t interested in change; viewers are interested in viewing frivolity and gossip which require little thought and action. Yet change rumbles the ground beneath us. Rock solid virtuosity is changing to flowing currents of ineptitude. Human life is in the midst of the largest quake in human history.

Ancient Mariner

 

Global War already has begun

On last Sunday’s broadcast of Global Public Square (GPS), Fareed Zakaria covered the prospect of modern warfare. The point was raised that the new bullet is hacking a computer system. Just as the world is tackling fossil fuel as a global conflict, nations of the world are moving from gunpowder to cybernetics.

The US had a good taste of modern warfare in the 2016 election. Obviously, great harm can be visited on a nation if any adversary, nation or otherwise, can disrupt basic political functions, electrical grids, economic status, or major services like health care. Ronald Reagan had a project that was to invent a bomb that would kill people but not hurt buildings. Today, why bother; a single hack can shut down the whole of Manhattan.

The key adversaries capable of a cyber invasion are Russia, China, Iran and North Korea – setting aside the European Union, Canada and Australia who can hack against the US but don’t. Frankly, none of these nations, including China, would be better off after a conventional war with the US. But now war is ongoing: recently it was reported that North Korea literally has stolen billions of dollars from other countries and corporations around the world. Here in the US, we take great umbrage when a citizen fraudulently claims tax refunds belonging to another citizen; think what a cyber invasion from a nation could do . . .

Amos thinks the antiquated Congress (and the President) has no idea how to fight wars anymore; two recent useless wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) were launched by a Congress unaware that global economics, cyber warfare and international collaboration were capable of containing internal religious conflict to be settled internally whether by war or better means. Yes, oil was a major reason for meddling but the Middle East, oil and all, could have been managed differently than with tanks, land mines and gunpowder bullets.

Many, especially veterans, remember battling for territory. Maps were important because wars had battlefields. A few veterans have had a large influence in the nation’s handling of wars; think about Eisenhower, Kennedy, the Bushes, and John McCain. A new movie is out about LBJ and how he knew the Viet Nam War was unwinnable. Barack believed he was elected to get out of wars. Donald, never a veteran, never a statesman, has no idea what war is (nuclear, gunpowder or cyber) and may cause one for useless reasons.

Today, one knows the Internet has no map. It is ubiquitous. In fact, there is a new phrase, ‘ubiquitous computing’[1] that allows anyone, any nation in fact, to wait until a situation presents itself then take targeted action against that situation. Simple example: cash transfers between nations. Technical example: jamming signals coming from military satellites. Social example: interjecting false information into major broadcast networks about a spreading disease or the decorum of a political candidate.

Who needs gunpowder when one can control information? Reminds mariner of all the movies about controlling the weather.

The new bullet is an automated transaction fired from anywhere, anytime for rational and irrational reasons. Information is the new cloud over the battlefield. Pun intended.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Ubiquitous computing (or “ubicomp”) is a concept in software engineering and computer science where computing is made to appear anytime and everywhere. In contrast to desktop computing, ubiquitous computing can occur using any device, in any location, and in any format. For us old timers in programming, it means platform doesn’t matter; that an application will adapt to platform and to data status.