The Ukraine crisis has shaken Europe's faith in a stable post-Cold War order, Gavin Hewitt writes.
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|Rescooped by Eli Levine from Strategy and Competitive Intelligence by Bonnie Hohhof|
While the idea of raising the minimum wage is broadly popular, efforts to do so at the national level have stalled. We gathered key facts looking at the issue. While the idea of raising the minimum wage is broadly popular, efforts to do so at the national level have stalled repeatedly in Congress, leading advocates to focus more of their efforts on cities and states. A Pew Research Center survey from January 2014 found clear partisan differences in support for raising the minimum wage: Overall, 73% of people favored an increase in the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, mirroring a Democratic-backed proposal that failed to move ahead in Congress last year. But while large majorities of Democrats (90%) and independents (71%) said they favored such an increase, Republicans were more evenly split (53% in favor and 43% opposed).Here are five facts about the minimum wage and the people who earn it
It is, quite honestly, criminal that we permit so many people live on so little so that a few people can have so much more than they can ever hope to spend in a lifetime. These people are people too, and they are entitled, as human beings and American citizens, to live and have the ability to thrive and pursue happiness as well. What good comes for those who take so much while delivering so little in return for the rest of us by comparison to the labor and potential contributions of these tens of millions of people?
The science of policy-making, governance, and politicking from the perspective of improving, enhancing, and maintaining power structures all stem from the science, principles, practices, and ethics of good medicine from the perspective of benefitting all patients. Policy-making and governance are the technical, scientific parts of it. Advisors, staff, and researchers are like the specialists, surgeons, and medical researchers who develop the techniques full time; potentially great at what they do and at operating technically, but sometimes not so great at the bedside manner which is important in communicating medical treatments and policies to and for the general public. Politicians and those who work with the public need to be more like the family doctor or the general practitioner; trained and aware of the science and limitations and able to do experimental treatments sometimes, but ultimately owing a lot of advice and knowledge to the researchers and technical specialists. The communication processes with the public and with people in the public is an art. It can be practiced and taught; but not all will be great at it due to personality, temperament, or preference.
The politicians are the ones who need to be able to synthesize all of the research and knowledge and practices of every field of medicine in order to come up with an accurate, general, and overall picture of societal, economic, and environmental health in order to make the day to day management choices over the governing agencies and the social body that is human society. Advisors, researchers, and staff help fill in the technical cracks in their knowledge, awareness, and function, creating a detailed yet holistic synthesis of information for the politicians to do. All members of the government and the governing and research bodies are interdependent on one another and on the health and well-being of the society that is in their technical charge. Any failure in the society that can be addressed by government is ultimately a reflection of the failures within the government. Any failure in the society that the government cannot get at due to a matter of political choice and preference on the part of the society is a fault of the society. These can possibly be remedied by the government through its policy and choice making systems in given moments and over time, especially as the benefits and costs are made more known to the public. There is also the fact that there are diverse "correct" answers in policy making depending upon the given situation that a planet, international region, country, intra-country region, state, intrastate region, or locality may be in that does no harm to others or to themselves and enables the given area to thrive due to its favorable circumstances and choices. All of these layers must work together and communicate with one another freely, openly, and honestly in order to ensure optimal functionality in the long term, both within governmental organizations and across social organizations and people. Otherwise, we get less effective and efficient policy-making and governance in our social world and across societies, which ultimately costs lives, well-being, health, quality of life, resources, energy, and effort for disappointing or negative returns.
The principles of free trade must also be balanced with the insurance of well-being within the given society. Jobs will be lost as a result of trade and since the free market will not likely provide opportunities for retraining, it would behoove the government to ensure effective training programs to help people transition to new jobs that are more valuable in the context of the given global market economy. This must also be done while ensuring that wages are not left to stagnate for the sake of businesses' profits or executive compensation, which will ultimately cheapen the any bargain from the perspective of human society and prevent meaningful growth, health, and improved well-being from manifesting in the given society. With these two caveats in mind, free trade, indeed, does ensure a certain degree of improved quality of life by making goods cheaper to the general public. However, without jobs, there will be no room for people to afford the cheaper goods and without the insurance of fair wages, all of the benefits will go to the top executives and shareholders at the expense of the general public that the deals were intended to help. There is also the issue of national defense which has to be considered when making calculations in trade deals, as a loss of meaningful manufacturing capacity can make a country by default less sovereign and able to protect itself from those who have manufacturing capacity. The societies in question will have to balance these points when making trade deals that truly benefit everyone in their given societies. Otherwise, it's just a transference of wealth from the many to the few with no room for advancement and improvement for the many, along with a potentially weakened strategic position in the context of an overall global system.
There doesn't appear to be a hierarchy of laws, in the traditional linear sense. Rather, there appears to be an interconnected web of laws and rules that apply to the universe, the society, and to the individual. The purpose of this piece is to logically get a theoretical image of what is present in our universe with regards to law and the limitations and possibilities of human beings within the context of this universe.
The universal laws apply to all societies and to all individuals. They can include, and are not limited to, the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, societies, and economies. They influence behavior and performance on the micro scale and on the macro and vice versa. These are incredibly complex laws, with many caveats, nuances, and possibly different levels of application. However, they are what are most relevant to human beings as they seem to be the hard limitations of what we can and can't do, and how we approach things in this universe at the very least.
The next level of law are the social laws. These are the aggregate and collective logics of individual human or otherwise societies. They help define the group; in terms of internal identity and external identity relative to other groups. These social laws are what we're raised with and influence and are influenced by the content of the individuals in the society. These have mixed effects on the individual(s) in society, depending upon the content of the individuals in the society and their willingness/ability to acknowledge and accept these social laws. Thus, unlike universal laws, which do not appear to be changeable by present human technology or awareness, social laws are malleable to the needs of the society, because they are only present if individuals agree to follow them. However, as experience has shown with the major innovations in human social law, these laws are limited by what came before them, with humans frequently reverting back to the same logics and principles when the change occurs with force or all of a sudden.
This brings us to the individual, who both internalizes and absorbs the socially aggregated and universal laws and finds themselves subject to sometimes breaking or attempting to break the other two sets of laws with mixed effects depending upon the popularity and legitimacy of the social law(s) or whether or not the laws are indeed universal in nature. It is through mutations on this individual level that can spread within the social law and eventually, if at all, spread to the rest of society and influence the very behavior, logic, and perception of the individuals' fellow human beings. However, the individual is always limited by their biology, circumstance, and the consequences of their actions. These appear to be universal laws that are always applicable in the universe, as far as we can tell with present technology and comprehension of the universe. A human can only imagine what he/she is somehow familiar with and not all humans have the same capacity for imagination or comprehension as others.
Thus, we are bound in a networked nest of sometimes conflicting, sometimes harmonious laws in which the universal laws triumph over the social and individual laws and the social and individual laws have a mixed relationship where one influences the other and vice versa. It should be noted that this is only a thought experiment and the derivative of the Socratic method of philosophy. Hopefully we'll someday be able to test these frameworks out to see how law actually works in the natural sense, the social sense, and on the individual level. To know this is to, again, understand our limitations and potential to move beyond or around those limitations.
The economy is much more complicated than the businesses that occupy it. While it is important to understand how businesses and businesspeople respond to external factors in the economy, based on internal preferences and desires, it is also important to bear in mind the relative value of financial profit relative to environmental, social, and economic concerns. Since businesses and businesspeople are too preoccupied with monetary gain and profits, it behooves the society, businesses, and businesspeople alike to turn over final authority over the economy, at the very least, to the society under the trust of the government in order to preserve the businesses and business interests non-monetary concerns. The beauty of an effective and efficient democratic system, free from the constraints of businesses, businesspeople, and general social elites, is that the government is more likely to be corrected by the society and the people living in the society than if it were left to the oligarchic manipulation by the economic and social elites. Working people benefit from being protected from businesses and businesspeople attempting to take advantage of them and their labor. Businesses and businesspeople benefit from maintaining a relative environmental and social homeostasis in which they can best operate to make money within the constraints of society, the environment, and technological know-how. Without this combination of factors, it is impossible to maintain a society in which people can live or make money over and above the financial costs that are required to maintain such a system.
"When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak, so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind." - Prologue, Code of Hammurabi.
These are the principles for which I stand. Like Hammurabi, I submit myself to the conditions and workings of the universe (read, God) as discovered by scientific investigation and analysis, not by revelation and opinion. I am just a human. I am not likely to do much in this world for the sake of others, nor will I likely be successful at communicating these concepts to the leading classes of the world and to the working underclasses whom the upper classes have such scorn and disregard for. I will always, however, be throwing myself in calculated and adaptive manners at the wall isolating humanity's conscientiousness, for the sake of humanity. We should never rely on written laws for constitutions for our guidance, but only on the discovered truths of the universe in which we live and must make our living. There are an infinite number of possibilities for actions we can take, limited by practicality and feasibility. These remaining practical and feasible options are then limited by what is actually healthful for us, which is then limited by what is optimally healthful for us. The trick now is to experiment with methods of organization and political games, such that we can fine tune our society's politics, such that the needs of the general public becomes the central focus of our political leaders, not the perceived needs and interests of a particular population or group of populations. This is how you're best able to maintain a system; this is how you're best able to preserve your office, your institutions, your legacies, and, perhaps, even leave a positive memory amongst the people once you inevitably depart from this lifetime. If you don't truly want to be happy, healthy, successful, and able to be in office or have a lasting, sustainable, and perpetual institutional basis for society, how then can you expect to survive in office or ensure your own health and well-being, let alone, the health and well-being of others? If you truly want to be happy, healthy, successful, and able to be in office and have a lasting, sustainable, and perpetual institutional basis for society, then why would you take actions which actually leads to the destruction and degradation of your office and institutions for any reason whatsoever?
I therefore testify to the world that there is a common reality which has natural features to it with unwritten, yet at least partially discoverable rules of cause and effect to them which we can partially manipulate for our overall improvement or our overall detriment as a collective and individual species. The trick to staying in office is to follow, learn about, and abide by these natural laws, and then apply them for the general well-being of the public through adaptive, dynamic changes in policy, programs, at the absolute expense of the particular interests for the sake of the absolute and relative interests of the general whole. There is no need to rely on the lawyers or merely eloquent arguers of opinion who don't, and likely won't, accept the natural laws and conditions of society. The trick to dialogue and debate is to discover truth, in its most subtle, complicated, and simple terms. That is how you preserve a society. That is how you preserve institutions of society, formal and informal. That is how you, as a policy-maker and decision-maker keep your seat and make it easier on yourself to justify your positions and get re-elected in the short term, which then condenses into the long term. I for one have no more use or interest for the incorrect and unfounded opinions of others. I think that, given a comprehension of the bad, while allowed to have tastes of the good, will help guide society as a whole to the same general conclusion in the long term, which then collapses into the short term all too soon.
I will stand for these principles and these facts from now, until the time that I physically die in this form, and throughout all time and space, for my own absolute improvement, or my own absolute detriment in this lifetime and beyond. I stake my life, liberty, and happiness on this being actually the truth. Let all challengers come to knock it down. I will continue to stand by it honorably until it is actually and conclusively knocked down by someone more adept at perceiving the world as a whole than I am. I will then, at that point, humbly alter my opinion to bring it in alignment with the new understanding of common reality and cease to support it. That is how science works and I am only human.
We will not have an global governmental system of any sorts until we first recognize the communal nature of all human societies and respect the sovereign right of all peoples to self-determine and make their decisions on a national, regional, and global level. There can be no central leader, no cabal of powerful nations or people to rule over all. Such a model is impractical and infeasible, and will likely be undermined in time by the many smaller nations, or else, fall prey to its own stupidity and purity of thought and reasoning. The first practical step to creating a global civil society that has legitimacy on the bottom levels of human society would be to eliminate the veto power of the 5 Permanent UN Security Council Members. The effect of this would be that all nations would have a say in whether to intervene in a given area, with defacto power and influence being turned over to the regional, national, or intra-national levels, such that the locals can have ultimate control and say over what happens to them in their own territory. We all have a stake on this planet to mediate disputes in such a way that they that it works for the people who are in conflict and to resolve common problems for all of humanity, such as resource consumption and environmental impact. You cannot have a centralized, singular, and conscientiously homogenous body in charge of the diverse planet. Rather, the world must be regarded as a community of peoples, not unlike neighborhoods within a city or clusters of people in an apartment building, with reasoned respect given for all person's privacy with collective action being taken only in instances of severe violations of common human dignity and well-being. Corporate private interests must be subsumed for the sake of the collective well-being and, in that check to personal ambition and prowess, the individual is better able to survive and be well on this planet.
So, my suggestion would be to eliminate the veto power of the Permanent UN Security Council Members and for the great nations of the world to scale back their meddling operations to recognize the sovereignty and dignity of each human being, at the absolute expense of corporate and financial interests, for the relative gains to having those supreme egos checked. This is my conclusion based on my observations of history, human psychology, and sociology. We cannot continue to afford to bully or act unitarily and capriciously against our own perceived threats, nor can we counter popular resistance in its home territory. This is my general prescription for logic in International Relations, not firmly in any of the schools of thought. This is a new synthesis based on the old schools and at least my own observations and interpretations of facts. Test it, shape it, mold it. In the end, it is always going to be power backed up by kindness and legitimacy that wins, rather than power backed up by pure force alone. As it is on the personal level, so as it is on the collective.
What progressives and liberals need to recognize, is that they need to go down with their honor and dignity in tact. The United States is, and always has been, an essentially progressive nation, where inclusion, equal opportunity, and human rights, the essentials of liberalism, are put on pedestals while monarchy, aristocracy, exclusion, and the corporate pretender wannabes, the essence of conservatism, are shunned and vilified in popular culture and sentiment. We want leaders who are accountable, responsive, and genuinely concerned with the well-being of ourselves as leaders. Why would we vote for anyone who doesn't fulfill these things for us on a practical level?
The progressives in their present form need to pull back, reorganize, go underground if necessary, and cede to the conservatives and Libertarians all the power and influence that they want. The leadership should be prepared to get out of the country and find safe haven overseas while maintaining lines of communication inside. We need to prepare for war, make friends overseas, and prepare for combat if necessary against the conservative and Libertarian forces. Let the people eat the dog shit provided by the wannabe corporate aristocrats, and they'll more than likely grow weary of it. They'll long for a return to what their government was meant to be about. This is the United States of America, not the play pen of some inbred pseudo-nobles. I think that, if given enough rope, and provided that the progressives avoid being condemned as a group by the public, the conservatives will hang themselves or be forced to evolve on the terms and lines of the progressives. Conservatism in government is little more than an abusive, unfeeling, and uncaring relationship with the public. Only the public can make the ultimate cut with the conservatives. The progressives, for their part, must get themselves ready to out campaign the conservatives on the grassroots level, and possibly fight a popular guerrilla war against the bankers, the corporate executives, and the establishment union leaders and entrenched interests. It is time that our leadership should recognize their true interests relative to the public.
I call this the Obi Wan Maneuver. "Strike me down, and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."