Can the world be fixed?

Friday, July 23, 2010

1) If democracy is consolidated and political leaders take the reins instead of bowing to pressure from financial institutions, and replace our present speculation-based economy with a knowledge-based economy.

2) If investment in weapons and military spending is reduced and more money is devoted to global sustainable development, significantly increasing the number of people who benefit from progress.

3) If tax havens are decisively closed down and alternative financing measures are put into place, such as fees for electronic transactions.

4) If, for once and for all, the plutocratic G-7, G-8, G-20... factions imposed by the “globalizers" are dissolved and the United Nations is reinforced and endowed with the means for fulfilling its worldwide security missions, enforcing international law, including the World Trade Organization and ensuring that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund carry out the goals for which they were founded, with rapid deployment of UN Blue Helmets, rather than remaining as passive witnesses to genocide and massive human rights violations, and if the actions of Red Helmets are coordinated, being specially prepared to reduce the impact of natural or man-made disasters...

5) If it is decided overnight that drugs are worthless and are made universally available at reasonable prices, as is the case with alcohol and tobacco. This “legalization” would be accompanied, as warranted, by a campaign in the communications media, educational institutions, etc. to discourage drug use and clinical treatment to cure addiction.

6) If citizens the world over, aware of the power of distance participation, cease to be resigned “receivers” and turn to action.

The world can be fixed. But the “Bush solution” G-20 will not solve the world’s problems. They will not be solved by “rescuing” irresponsible bankers with public funds. Nor by delocalizing production for “greed-added” motives. Nor by investing thousands of millions in weapons of defense and security designed for past conflicts. Nor by allowing embarrassing tax havens to exist. Nor by maintaining the people distracted and blinded by the new real and virtual circuses of the 21st century. Nor with outdated formulas incapable of meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow.

This will only be achieved with imagination. By inventing the future.

By applying solutions designed by reliable people: "in times of crisis, imagination is more important than knowledge" (Albert Einstein).

And another: "All change is possible... No challenge is beyond the reach of human creativity" (John F. Kennedy).

In his excellent essay "Crisis, culture and democracy" José Monleón quotes Amin Maalouf when he writes: "Mankind is facing previously unknown dangers that require previously unknown global solutions".

The future has not yet been forged. A new world worthy of human dignity may at last be built at the dawning of the 21st century

Secret Diagnoses? ¡No, please!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Concerning the Bilderberg Group and other similar institutions...

The "distinguished members" of the Bilderberg Group, like those of the Trilateral Commission and other similar think-tanks meet amid much fanfare and luxury, to debate the great challenges of humanity (which hardly affect them)... and they do so in secret. The topics discussed are secret. The list of attendees is secret. Nothing is publicized: neither the conclusions, nor the solutions (if there were any). But what is the purpose if they do not offer alternatives for facing the great challenges?

Blessed are those who not only make diagnoses, but also suggest treatments. Promptly-implemented treatments are what make analyses truly valuable and timely.

I remember when the Club of Rome presented in 1969 the report The Limits to Growth, and a few years later, No Limits To Learning, in stark contrast to the “secrets” and formulas for “internal consumption” discussed in 5-star hotels. The Club of Rome’s reports were intended for the whole of society and reflect its world view of solidarity.

At this time in which we need to find so many solutions, when it is so essential that each human being have confidence in himself and in others, when we need so much light to survive the crises provoked by the immense trap of globalization, the “distinguished invitees” at the Bilderberg Group meeting in Sitges remain silent. I will never tire of repeating Antonio Machado’s observation that "it is foolish to confuse value and price”.

It may be that they truly have nothing to say. But they surely could do much more than they are doing for the good of humanity.

We share a common destiny. The same awaits all of us at the end of the road. It is better to lighten our load, to share what we have. To live for others. I will never forget the enormous impression that this statement (really, an epitaph) made on me: "les linceuls n'ont pas de pôches" (funeral shrouds have no pockets).

I know what is going on and for that reason I must make this commitment. As long as my health permits I will be the voice of so many people who are silent or have been silenced, distracted, and reduced to mere spectators or subjects.

Yes: a resolution to be renewed each day, to refuse to remain silent, although the thunder of the great spokesmen (including the “secret” ones) seeks to dissuade us.

We must resist. We will win in the end.

Let’s live each moment intensely, planting the seeds of the future, daring to peacefully confront the conclaves that are incapable of showing us their “fumata bianca”.

Pacha Mama is calling. And asking for our help.

Oh! In that regard, you should know that the GDP is not a happiness indicator. Friendship and solidarity are. The faceless members of power groups should also learn this lesson. Their methods don’t contribute to putting a smile on Mother Earth’s face.

Innovative Financial Solutions

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I believe that for once and for all it is essential that we apply the mechanisms that will enable us to address the problem of the quality of life for the less fortunate segments of the world’s population, together with increased responsibility of national governments in financing international development and cooperation.

In the last few years there have been significant proposals and initiatives in that regard:

United Nations, New York, September 20, 2004. At the initiative of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, he met with Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, French President Jacques Chirac and Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to increase, as warranted, financing for development ".

Likewise in September, the Report of the Technical Group on Innovative Financing Mechanisms to Finance the Fight against Hunger and Poverty was released. It proposes taxing financial transactions and addresses the arms trade, international financing facilities, special drawing rights, international reserve assets issued by the International Monetary Fund, tax evasion and tax havens, increasing the impact of remittances, voluntary contributions through credit cards and socially-responsible investment.

On September 14, 2005 the aforementioned heads of state and government endorsed the Declaration on Innovative Sources of Financing for Development: "we support pursuing the creation of international levies as an element in the development financing system". These include financial transactions, currency exchanges, immigrant remittances, taxes on airline tickets...

On September 19, 2006 French President Jacques Chirac proposed creating UNITAID for the “allocation to the purchase or production of pharmaceutical drugs of a tiny part of the immense wealth generated by the acceleration of trade.” Part of UNITAID funds come from a solidarity contribution levied on airline tickets.

At the Doha meeting in September, 2008 UBUNTU presented a proposal to create a global Currency Transaction Tax. But once again, the shortcomings of the Doha Summit were as obvious as the former ones in Monterrey, etc. In that regard, especially relevant was Stamp Out Poverty Campaign Coordinator David Hillman’s presentation on November 29, 2008: Innovative Financing to Serve Development: from Monterrey to Doha, Towards a Scaling Up.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner published an article on "Innovative Financing" in "El País" on September 17, 2009 in which he proposes different means for obtaining funds to meet the growing needs of development which, as was to be expected, are not being met by the States.

Also noteworthy is the Pilot Group on International Solidarity Contributions for Development’s Dakar Declaration on innovative sources of financing.

On March 4-5, 2010 a meeting was held in Paris on "Innovative Financial Solutions for Development" to exchange experiences with respect to new mechanisms for generating resources. French Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner and the Minister for the Economy, Industry and Technology Christine Legarde attended the meeting, underscoring the importance of the Tax on Financial Transactions initiated in 2008 in the context of the Pilot Group on Innovative Financing for Development. Also present were many private sector representatives of banks and financial institutions. There was a general consensus concerning the need to impose levies on the financial system.

Finally I would like to highlight the review published in the February-March, 2010 "UBUNTU Newsletter" entitled "An Imperative and Fair Need: New Funds to Finance Development".

Arctic Melting

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

With climate change comes melting of the polar ice caps. Ice caps that maintained the temperature of the planet from the Arctic to Antarctica now threaten to profoundly transform the earth, with important repercussions in many areas. Permafrost is also melting due to the increase in temperature that comes with climate change. One of the consequences is the emission of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that likewise contributes to rising temperatures. It is estimated that Siberian permafrost, which is over 400 meters thick, dates from the Quaternary glaciations.

In his article “Arctic Geoenergy,” published in Política Exterior, 134 (April-May, 2010), Vicente López-Ibor explains why this melting and technological advances will facilitate access to Arctic energy resources and will open new navigation routes, but he underscores that the real debate should focus on the risks that this poses for the earth as a whole. "The vast marine and land areas of the Arctic region are vital and vulnerable components of the planet’s ecosystem, for their role in regulating climate worldwide ".

Although technical studies to confirm gas and oil resources are lacking for over a third of the Arctic territory, it is estimated that there is no other place on earth with the energy potential of the Arctic Polar Circle (20% of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves).

As indicated above, melting seas are progressively opening channels for navigating Arctic waters rather than using transoceanic routes, in detriment to the principal continental canals (Suez and Panama).

In a study presented at the International Seminar on Climate Change and Peace held in Barcelona on 2-3 December, 2009, Manuel Manonelles likewise examines the environmental, political and economic impact of melting glaciers in high mountain areas, which were heretofore considered perpetual snow zones. He warns that "the opening of new land and sea routes will completely change the dynamics of international trade ".

New frontiers... increased military spending. In 2008 Canada alone approved an extraordinary allocation of 6,900 million dollars to strengthen its military presence in the country’s Arctic zone.

The rise in sea levels is another now irreversible consequence of polar melting, threatening the territory of flat countries, especially islands, as well as large infrastructures (ports, refineries, airports, nuclear power plants, etc.) located at sea level. But most important are the human populations that must be relocated or protected.

In addition, it should be noted that polar melting will enable access to other presently-hidden treasures, to polymetallic nodules (for use in superconductors, new materials, etc.), which many large mining corporations yearn to exploit.

These are the real problems... and not the ones that those obsessed with the inertia of globalization seek to make us believe are the problems with worldwide stock market fluctuations, distracting citizens while selling more weapons than ever.

These are the world’s problems that demand that “the Peoples,” in the words of the Preamble to the United Nations Charter, take the reins of destiny into their hands.

For loads of denarii

Monday, July 5, 2010

For loads of denarii –currently for scandalous amounts- the colossal power of the media reduces us to fainthearted “onlookers”, resigned to whatever happens. They offer us non-stop football (the Spanish League, Spanish Cup, Super Cup, UEFA Champions League, World Cup, friendly matches), and auto and motorcycle racing, also unending, together with other sporting events... Because in doing so they not only keep the people docile and quiet, but also reap economic benefits from television broadcasts that bring in record earnings, enabling them to offer staggering sponsorship deals to certain teams and millions to their drivers (who make even more as walking advertisements), or giving football idols and their trainers vertiginous sums... But despite being plagued by "readjustments" and "cutbacks", the spectators and fans don’t seem to mind being transformed into a “mass”, a docile and manipulated crowd that plays no role in determining or implementing the measures that, as a society, they must face, the great economic and environmental challenges of our times, so that the children who they take to these events can enjoy a less dismal future.

And, make no mistake, I like football. And tennis. And in this case I admire the “masters ". But if we do not awaken from our slumber, if we continue as heavy-eyed unperturbed spectators, if we do not contribute to the radical changes required to ensure an adequate legacy for our future generations,... if we allow the power of the media to continue to dominate the world, we will not have fulfilled our supreme mission as citizens, which is what makes sense of the mystery of our existence.

For a few denarii,

for a lot of denarii,

for loads of denarii...

We are compromising the future of our children, the generations who must follow in our footsteps.

When we discuss our children’s education, we turn rapidly with a frown toward our schools. But the family? And society?

For even a few more denarii

Friday, July 2, 2010

For even a few more denarii advertising (for perfumes, jeans, lingerie…) that negatively affects the emotions and behavior of children are allowed on our streets and in public venues. But the advertisers don’t care because in the world of the “market” anything goes. Anything. Even those things that as parents, guardians or educators we suddenly discover are extremely damaging to the behavioral development and life styles of those who depend on us.

We must react. We can’t be irresponsible. Let’s refuse to purchase the products of the companies behind those advertisements. And let’s do the same with the sponsors of television channels and programs who also believe that anything goes. What they say and how they say it. The images that they broadcast and the times they broadcast them. When they become aware of this boycott, they will urgently change their ways. This is the meaning of “citizen power”: to hit those who so strongly influence young people in the only place that will be quick to understand: in their pocketbooks. By not consuming the products that they offer potential consumers in this shameful way. Only then will we be able to infuse these shameful ads with some freedom and dignity.