Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Inequality is a central issue in the 2016 presidential campaign -- at least among the Democratic candidates. The role of the 1% became a political issue when the Occupy Wall Street movement highlighted it in the wake of the 2007-2009 Great Recession. Its continuing political significance is testimony to that fact that so many Americans are suffering in an economic system that has left wages stagnant for four decades, mounting personal debt and a bleak-looking future.
Walking the campus of my alma mater this past graduation week reminded me of how the elation of that special weekend felt for me. I was, however, also sobered as I looked around at the faces that I saw represented by the young graduates streaming around me along the busy sidewalks -- with a striking lack of change in diversity. I completed my undergraduate and medical school degrees in the heart of the Midwest. Returning to the US for college, after nearly a decade in Africa with my family, I was wide-eyed at the glaring homogeneity of my classmates when I first walked into class.
More than 100 supporters rallied outside the US District Court in Detroit, Michigan, on Monday, June 13, in support of Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh. Odeh and her legal team were in court for a hearing about whether Odeh will be allowed to testify about evidence excluded from her earlier trial. Odeh was convicted in November 2014, of an immigration fraud charge. Prosecutors alleged that Odeh broke US immigration law when she did not disclose that an Israeli military court imprisoned her in 1969.
For those who aren't familiar with Milo Yiannopoulos, allow me to brighten up your day. Yiannopoulos is an "alternative right" (or "alt-right") provocateur who hates feminism and the Black Lives Matter movement, and is currently embarked on his "Dangerous F*ggot Tour" across college campuses. (Yiannopoulos is openly gay, a freedom hard-won by progressive activists.) His rhetorical strategy is to use hyperbolic language and outrageous insults -- usually playing on gender and racial stereotypes -- to inflame the emotions of "regressive leftists" who have boisterously protested his talks, interrupted him while speaking and even caused some of his events to be cancelled.
Cost effectiveness analysis (CEA), as applied to health care, attempts to estimate the value of expenditures on procedures or treatments that is returned to patients, such as longer life, better quality of life, or both. Given that the US has the most expensive health care in the world, with comparatively low value and outcomes compared to many other advanced countries, you would think that CEA would be a major part of health policy in this country. Sadly, the opposite is true, and it is notably absent from the way we do things.
In the final act of the Democratic presidential primary, it is easy to believe the US has gone through a battle unparalleled in modern history. A liberal outsider candidate, expected to remain in the margin of error at the outset of the race, has mounted a massively successful campaign against the overwhelming establishment choice. Bernie Sanders has regularly shattered ceilings imposed by media pundits and conventional wisdom, taking his populist message and urgent desire for change straight to the banks by running a remarkably powerful campaign against Hillary Clinton.
In Plato's Republic, Socrates criticizes the belief that we would prefer to act unjustly if we could do so without consequences, namely, without incurring punishment or damage to our reputation. In support of this position, Socrates' interlocutor recounts the story of Gyges, a shepherd from Lydia or what is now Western Turkey. Gyges, we are told, discovered a ring with the power of invisibility, allowing him to circumvent all external mechanisms of accountability for his actions. In short, this ring granted him impunity, leaving only his will to influence his choices.
In the name of "growth," forests are burning, oil is spilling, ice caps are melting, animals are dying and villages are disappearing. Unsustainable economic systems are being replicated in the developing world where labor is cheap so that more forests can burn, more oil can be spilled, more ice caps can melt, more animals can die and more villages can disappear. What is actually being sold to us under the auspices of "growth" and "development"? How does consumerism contribute to this? Why is this bad for us as persons? And what we can do to change for the better?
John Perkins used to work as a chief economist for a major international consulting firm, advising the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the US Treasury Department and several Fortune 500 Corporations on how to exploitthe resources of developing countries for profit. He retrospectively dubbed his role an "economic hitman," a person who helps multinational corporations and wealthy governments prey on weaker nations, a form of neocolonialism.
Along with VCNV companions, I'm part of a 150 mile walk from Chicago to Thomson, IL, a small town in Northwest IL where the US Bureau of Prisons is setting up an Administrative Maximum prison, also known as a Supermax. Prison laborers from US minimum security prisons now labor to turn what once was an Illinois state prison into a federal supermax detention facility with 1900 cells that will confine prisoners for 23 hours of every day.