We, as americans, have long been characterized as people who have pulled ourselves up by our boot straps.  We boomed in the industrial revolution and create an economy that has been the largest in the world for decades.  We worked hard, fought for our share, and built the american dream.  We were able to benefit by being on the forefront of production and technology.  Other countries were not so lucky. Many of these countries are on the African continent.  Let’s look at some of their struggles, and let’s see how we have evolved.

Africa has some issues with being short-sighted, most recently an example in agriculture.  Uganda has a booming tobacco industry.  Last years alone they exported 32,000 tons of tobacco leaves.  That fetched $52,000,000 in revenue, and let’s be honest, that’s major cash flow in Uganda.  In order to cure the leaves of the tobacco they need wood to burn.  Well, as an agricultural nation they have some trees to burn.  Fruit trees.  They are simply taking water from the left side of the bucket to put on the right(this is a simple illustration as a bucket does not have sides).  This has driven up the cost of wood in Uganda, wood that is needed for the emerging furniture industry, construction and wood is still widely used to heat homes.

This is a difficult cycle to get out of, where problems are cyclical and one leads to another to another.  Fortunately, for us, we had to opportunity to develop and work through these problems, right?!

The oil spill has been horrific.  Finally it is closed and BP can start to take credit for that.  BP has put away a huge amount of money to pay pack individuals and businesses who have lost money as a result of the spill.  They will pay anyone who can provide them with a tax form showing how much they earned last year.  Well this presents a problem for some of the fishermen who work as a cash only business and didn’t pay taxes last year.  Uh oh.  So they didn’t pay taxes, but now are complaining to the government that they didn’t pay for.  Call it karma, call it whatever you want, seems like if you didn’t pay taxes, you didn’t earn anything or it is tax evasion. Easy decision for the person handing out thecash.

Maybe this wasn’t a good example of how we have developed and advanced as a nation.

Let’s look at another major problem in our country.  The housing crisis.  This is multi-layered issue but let’s simplify it dramatically.  People are buying homes that they cannot afford.  They are then foreclosing, declaring bankruptcy, something to get out of the loan.  The government has come to their aid demanding that the banks help them out.  So the financially irresponsible are getting bailed out and are staying in homes that they cannot afford, while citizens who live within their means are forced to pay for it. 

Maybe we haven’t come that far after all.

Lock your doors, close the blinds, grab your shotgun and head for the tub Danny Glover style à la Lethal Weapon 2 (as fast as you can).  America is under attack.  Oil?  Disease? World Cup fever(click that link if you can only click one)? Socialism?  Nope.  Zombies!  They are everywhere.  Your first encounter was probably on MTV, back when they played music videos instead of bad lifestyle choices.  Then zombies invaded the  movie theatre, classic literature, commercials and video games.  Now they have invaded National Security Theory.  Is nothing sacred anymore?

We can’t say we didn’t see it coming.  Last year a few teens gave us ample warning in the form of a traffic sign.  But now a professor has harnessed the power of the undead for thinking about the defense of our nation.  The work is titled Theories of International Politics and Zombies (As a brief aside, I was reminded by a reader that titles are supposed to be underlined, please remind me of the rules about punctuation and parentheses, I’m learning).  The concept is brilliant.  Zombies constitute non-state actors of any sort that cannot be threatened by use of force or other means.  They can only be stopped through directed and not insignificant response.  This does not account for all forms of attack, for instance computer virus, but it does prepare for the enemy.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this book is the comparison of 3 succinct schools of political thought, neo-conservatism, liberalism and realism.  These are 3 ends of the political spectrum but your views should be found somewhere in between.  Let’s look at a few examples.

Zombies approach, in full force, from graves across America.  They are slowly forcing their will on the people.  We respond with Military force.  First for major city centers, then for sub-urban and rural areas.  This is where the schools of thought would begin to differ.

Let’s first look at the liberalists.  After a moderate military response with some success alternative methods become necessary.  Social programs win the day and housing, medical coverage and unemployment benefits are extended to the brain-hungry invaders.  Will this be enough?  Can zombies adjust to social society? Or will they simply take advantage of the programs?

Next, the neo-conservatives.  War is waged on the undead.  Daily briefings are provided to the press to show progress.  Containment looks plausible, but inevitably it cannot be achieved.  Will we be able to train zombies in the ways of democracy?  Can we show them the light of the Western World?

Finally a look at the Realpolitik.  All out war consumes the zombie force.  Standard issue firearms are not enough and a significant part of the budget is diverted to research and development for a new weapon.  Now armed with the “President of the future’s last name”-rifle our military forces dictate the battle lines.  Walls are built to protect Americas largest cities and places of National interest.  Will we be able to protect our rural neighbors before the zombies feast? Or will they be considered an acceptable loss in the Global War on Zombies? Will zombie fences and walls litter the American countryside forever?

I have not read the book.  I have not been given any of the scenarios that are included in this book.  I will have to wait until later this year just like everyone else.  In the mean time, while zombies invade every aspect of our consumer life, we can hope that this book will provide guidance, in case Zombies invade our lives for real.

A Proper Response

June 15, 2010

Pres. Obama addressed the nation tonight regarding the oil spill in the Gulf.  He laid out some plans about repaying legitimate claims of monetary loss from the spill.  I agree.  BP screwed up and should pay.  He probably should have included that anyone who puts in a blatantly false claim will go to jail, or pay for the salary or 3 claims workers for one day.  Look at me, compassion.  This is similar to the fees that balloon boy’s dad had to pay, or McDonald’s had to pay for keeping their coffee too hot.  Not similar in amount but there is a precedent.

BP will ultimately pay a huge price for the spill.  Cost of clean up, loss of oil, opportunity costs of their employees and resources during this time.  This is a huge disaster, so it fits.  What about Lindsey Lohan?  She is a huge disaster.  Shouldn’t she have to pay?  Why not stop covering her every move in the press?  More than 3 years ago the AP did something similar with Paris Hilton.  It was great.  I didn’t have to sift through crap to get actual news.  It still was not enough.  Her celebrity was still significant enough for her to get out of jail due to stress or unhappiness.  Everyone is unhappy when they go to jail.  She should not get special treatment.  So I think Lindsay should be stricken from news coverage forever.  At least until she does something news worthy like star in a feature film, or help someone other than herself.

Not meaning to beat a dead horse, but I’ll rant a bit more about Lohan.  Her lawyer has attempted to move the hearing somewhere else because the jury pool is tainted.  Too many potential candidates would have read bad press about his client.  I have issues with this as well.  If she didn’t break laws by the minute, she wouldn’t have as much bad press.  And if we were to try to find a jury pool that hadn’t heard news about her, what kind of jury would that be?  Juries already consist of people who have not tried to get out of the duty, which creates a skewed representation.  What sort of social outliers would have no idea who Lindsey is or what she has done?

Why stop with Lohan?  Let’s extend this to a referendum on Kanye‘s music,  ban Artest from the NBA, Haynesworth and Vick (for Paul) from the NFL.  If people are going to be cruel, sadistic and attack innocent people/animals then they have no place in the public favor.  This should be extended even beyond citizens.  Countries who fail to evolve should also receive equal treatment.

North Korea played in the World Cup today for the first time in 44 years.  It was a proud moment for the citizens and leaders.  South Korea historically has broadcast international competitions to North Korea.  Given the current situation, they opted not to.  Well done.  They turned their back on the revenue in order to punish North Korea.  So here comes China to the rescue demonstrating their disdain for civil rights and freedom.  The soccer team also received a sponsorship for the World Cup.  A company called Legea has partnered with the PRK to provide uniforms.  When asked about the negative press the company’s president replied “I disagree, there is no such thing as bad press.”  He could have easily tried “North Korea has shown great strides to improve their freedoms, and we want to bring hope to that nation by sponsoring their representatives to the World Cup.”  If the president of a company can’t muster that much of a response, you know it’s bad.

So, North Korea gets uniforms, Kanye’s music gets played, Artest may win a ring (I hope not), Haynesworth got a record breaking contract, and Michael Vick gets a shot at starting quarterback.  If President Obama has the spine of the NFL, NBA, any rap station, or Legea we can all expect that BP will soon have a billboard on the Whitehouse lawn.