My World of “Ought to Be”
by Timothy Wilken, MD

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Tuesday, October 08, 2002

What Hitler didn't Know

Timothy Wilken writes: Sunday, I explained that the cause of all mistakes is ignorance. That even when mistakes hurt people, the proper response to a mistake is still education. I explained that it was time to move Beyond Crime and Punishment. Sometimes I am asked, But what about really evil people? If ignorance is the cause of all mistakes, what was it that Hitler didn't know? (10/08/02)


The Silverlining

Sarah Ruth van Gelder writes: The collapse of public confidence in corporations may be the silver lining in the dark cloud of economic news. In the race to revise our way of life before we inflict permanent damage to the Earth’s ecological and social fabric, losing our society’s almost religious faith in the corporate system could open us to fresh possibilities. The Enron and WorldCom managers who walked off with millions while employees and other shareholders were left holding depreciated or worthless stock have provoked a crisis of confidence in corporations, a crisis Congress has responded to with reforms addressing only the tip of the iceberg—the accounting scandals. But what if we responded to the deeper problems of corporate rule? What if along with investors, the natural world could cry “Foul?” What if the people who have lost their land, water, and livelihoods to corporations; the people whose governments have been corrupted or overthrown to extend corporate access to their resources and markets; the victims of land mines, massacres, and other attacks carried out with the products and blessings of the military-industrial complex—what if all these people had a voice? What might they say? (10/08/02)


If I were President ... News -- Ex-President Clinton speaks: The real reason I came here today is because politics matters. It matters to the people whom you represent, and because we live in an interdependent world and what you do here matters to all of us across the globe. ... Since humanity came out of Africa eons ago, the whole history of our species has been marked by human beings' attempts to meet their needs and fulfill their hopes, confront their dangers and fears, through both conflict and cooperation. We have come to define the meaning of our lives in relationship to other people. We derive positive meanings through positive associations with our groups and we give ourselves importance also by negative reference to those who are not part of us. There has never been a person in any age, and I bet it applies to everyone in this room, who has not said at least once in your life to yourself if not out loud, "Well, I may not be perfect but thank God I am not one of them." That has basically been the pattern of life. But since people first came out of caves and clans, we have grown ever more steadily inter- dependent and wider and wider in our circle of relations. And that has required us constantly to redefine the notion of who was "us" and who is "them." Yet the prospect for a truly global community of people working together in peace with shared responsibilities for a shared future was not institutionalized until a little less than 60 years ago with the creation of the United Nations and the issuance of the universal declaration of human rights. Such a community did not even become a possibility until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. The history of civilization as we know it -- with writing and urban life -- is just a little over 6,000 years old. Human beings have been on the planet, depending on how you read the evidence, somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 years. I say that to begin on a note of optimism. The world has a whole lot of problems, but we have not had a chance to bring it together for very long. You should be upbeat and grateful that your party is in power at a time that you have a chance to make all the difference in the world. (10/08/02)


Glitterati vs. Geeks

MSNBC-Newsweek -- Larry Lessig admits it: he’s nervous. Who wouldn’t be? This week the brainy Stanford law professor makes his first appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court—barely a decade after clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia—to argue a case that could redirect millions of dollars, rejigger the entertainment menu of the entire nation and liberate Mickey Mouse. IN ITS NARROWEST context, Eldred v. Ashcroft deals with the seemingly arcane issue of the length of copyrights for books, films and music. But it’s actually a high-noon showdown between two great industries at odds in the age of the Internet. In one corner there are the big studios and record labels, intent on protecting their property and their turf; their success in winning congressional goodies has been more reliable than a Hollywood happy ending. In the other stand the forces of high-tech innovation, who until recently wore their distrust of government like a badge of pride. Now the techie crowd understands that if Big Media gets the government to help lock up its content, consumers will have less reason to buy new computers and software. Lessig, 41, is firmly in the Silicon Valley camp, not so he can help boost chip sales but to prevent what he sees as an intellectual-property train wreck. Though a fervent adherent of geek values, Lessig doesn’t buy the canard that the Internet is impervious to corporate or governmental attempts to stem that glorious (and sometimes shady) flow of information. In two books (“Code” and “The Future of Ideas”) and countless speeches, Lessig has made the case that Hollywood, while whining about digital piracy, has used the courts and Congress to increase its grip on its properties—even to the point where “fair use” of legally obtained copyrighted material is under siege. (10/08/02)


The Right to Bear Arms ... -- Ballistics tests have linked the shooting of a 13-year-old boy today to shootings in Montgomery County, Washington and Virginia, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The boy, whose name was not released, was shot and critically injured this morning outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Prince George's County authorities said, heightening tension in the wake of a series of sniper-style attacks in nearby communities. Bullet fragments removed from the boy during surgery were analyzed this afternoon. The seemingly random rampage has now covered a five-day period, terrifying residents and frustrating police. On Wednesday and Thursday, five people were shot to death by a sniper in a 16-hour span in Montgomery County. A sixth victim was killed Thursday night in Washington. On Friday, a woman was shot and wounded in Spotsylvania County, Va., about 55 miles to the south. Suffering from a single gunshot wound, the boy underwent nearly three hours of surgery at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., this afternoon. He was reported in critical but stable condition. Dr. Martin Eichelberger said he's "optimistic" about the 13-year-old's chances of recovery, despite extensive internal damage. Eichelberger said the bullet entered the boy's abdomen, and then went through his chest and into his spleen, stomach, pancreas and lung. (10/08/02)


State of the Federal Budget 2002

U.S. News & World Report -- For the first time since 1997, our budget this year will show a deficit probably in excess of $160 billion, in sharp contrast with a $127 billion surplus last year. This dizzying swing–$287 billion–is the largest on record. Why the big change? The drop in tax revenue this year, of over $130 billion, is the sharpest in 56 years, much of it due to layoffs, pay cuts, pay freezes, fewer exercised stock options, and a fall in capital gains. What's more, the reduction of tax rates for upper-income households enacted last year means that when the economy does finally pick up steam, Washington won't see a commensurate pickup in tax revenue. The projected 10-year federal budget surplus had already shrunk by nearly 95 percent, from $5.6 trillion to $336 billion. But even that number is wildly overoptimistic. It doesn't include the costs of a prescription drug program for seniors, estimated to cost at least $300 billion over the next decade. It also doesn't include appropriate costs for military and homeland defense spending. And it assumes that discretionary spending will rise at the rate of inflation, a pipe dream. If government spending continues to increase at its current rate of 8.5 percent, we will add an additional $2.9 trillion in debt over the next decade.  (10/08/02)


As of Sunday, 200 Ships waiting to Unload

Yahoo! News -- SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Almost 200 cargo ships carrying food, critical manufacturing equipment and retail goods sat idle all along the U.S. West Coast Sunday after four days of talks failed to bring an end to the longest work stoppage in the region in 30 years. ... Incoming and outgoing cargo piling up off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington is costing the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion a day. ... Some $300 billion in cargo flows through West Coast ports every year, and after one week, the lockout has already had an impact on several sectors of the economy, from farming to manufacturing. Growers in California's fertile Central Valley have opted to leave crops in the field until the ports reopen trade to Asia. In Los Angeles alone, home of the busiest port in the country, 100 ships carrying 5,000 containers each, were idled offshore, the PMA said. "This is a sight we haven't seen before in L.A.," said Sugerman. "Streets usually bustling with rail and trucks are absolutely silent." And in export-dependent Asia, fears were mounting that the U.S. work stoppage could threaten the economy there. Morgan Stanley warned Thursday that East Asia could fall into recession within a month if the lockout continued. (10/08/02)

6:23:29 AM    

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