Beyond Greed

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"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true."

Anchor for this item  posted March 03, 2003 at 10:56 a.m. MDT

The Register reports in "Leaked NSA email exposes UN bugging offensive" that "The US National Security Agency is mounting a bugging offensive against UN delegations in order to gain ''information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises'' in the Iraq debate. According to an email from one Frank Koza leaked in yesterday's Observer, UN Security Council members are prime targets, but paying attention to non-Security Council members "UN-related and domestic comms for anything useful related to the UNSC deliberations/debates/votes" is also important.

On another tack, in "The Real Shopping-Cart Revolution" from March 03 edition of Wired, J. Bradford DeLong writes on "Five hundred years of progress packed into a sack of flour."

"A smart shopper can buy a 5-pound bag of Gold Medal flour for 69 cents. That's enough to feed three people for a day - 7,500 easy-to-digest, relatively nutritious, and potentially tasty calories. All for less than 0.7 percent of an average American's income. [...]

The 7,500 calories in today's bag of flour would equal the diet of a four-person peasant family for a whole day; the difference is that it would take three days of medieval work to afford.

From 300 percent to 0.7 percent: By the bags-of-flour standard, we are some 430 times wealthier than our typical rural ancestors of half a millennium ago. Today - at least for the average American - getting enough calories to stay healthy has dropped off the radar screen. Quite the contrary: The surgeon general has warned that obesity is a literal threat to national security.

Impressive as it is, the steep rise in bags-of-flour wealth probably understates the magnitude of transformation we have already been through. [...]

William Gibson once famously said that the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed. Guess what: The present isn't evenly distributed, either. The human race today has a tremendous degree of wealth and productivity, with an extraordinarily unequal distribution. ... Bringing the future to the world's leading-edge cities is a piece of cake. The challenge is bringing more than a few bread crumbs' worth of the present to the rest of the globe.

Something like half the world's population lives on $2 a day or less ... over a third lives on $1 or less. On the other hand, 6% of us own very nearly 60% of the world's wealth ... 220 or so individuals own as much as 45% of the global population? "Geee, why can't people just get along!" (It is any surprise that whole groups are getting incenced and indignant? There's one certain antidote to terrorism: justice.)



Human need, not corporate greed ... without justice, there can be no peace. That's the meme stringing these items together.

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