Climate, Society, Spirit

The light that shines in the darkness

These are interesting times, and the world of tomorrow will look very different from the world of today. Particularly with respect to climate.

The light that shines in the darkness

2016 is set to break all records with respect to global temperature changes, and as this linked graph indicates, it appears that planet Earth is literally in a “downward spiral” of warming. Some of the worst case scenarios of climate — three foot (plus) rises in sea levels, 2 degrees (plus) Celsius of warming, and all the attendant challenges that will bring, appear to be well under way.

There is no question that humans will, at some point, en masse, realize how much things are changing. The question is when — and whether there will be sufficient time to partially mitigate such changes to preserve some elements of current civilization (the ship appears to have sailed on preventing or fully mitigating the effects of global warming).

What is ethical in a world that is set to change so much? What does ethics even mean in a future that will look so different than the present world?

There are a few conclusions that I think are safe to draw from the current state of the science:

1.   Business as usual is producing a different Earth. There is no question about the science: the world is warming and sea ice is melting. The changes underway are historic far beyond that of a human time frame. We who are alive today are bearing witness to changes not seen for millions of years. The speed at which such changes are occurring is shocking scientists, but it is clear they are well under way.

2.  The Earth that is being created will likely be less hospitable to human life. Scientists warn that a warmer Earth will lead to significant changes in the biosphere that will likely make human life less hospitable. Beyond simply being hotter, extreme weather events such as flood and droughts will happen more often. A warming world may produce the spread of viruses such as Zika. Marine life is being choked due to the increasing acidification of the oceans, so much so that scientists speculate that some species of oxygen-producing plankton may vanish. Some scientists argue that global warming will actually choke out oxygen on Earth, leading to widespread suffocation of human and animal life.

3.   Social changes will likely be as dangerous to human life as natural changes. Of course, the changes affecting Nature are simply one part of the threat to humanity. The other is that in times of crises, our political systems and civilizations will be challenged in a manner that will literally be unprecedented. Climate refugees, the lack of clean water and crises in food production will produce cause severe shock to human social systems. Historically, times of crises are the fertile breeding grounds of despotism, tyranny, and war. Already, there is a rise in right-wing movements in almost every country, in nationalists, bigots, and hate-mongers. It is likely that as the planet continues to warm, social systems will likely break down in catastrophic ways.

4.  The time to prepare is now, yet now is when people are the least prepared to make changes.  The science is clear, and the scientific predictions are dire, yet humans have been slow to adapt. Perhaps our brains find it difficult to make concrete changes in the face of abstract data, and a few warmer summers (so far) are not concrete enough to prompt immediate social and political action. It is true that global leaders continue to discuss climate change amongst themselves, but the rejection of concrete action from the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses (including China and the United States), and the refusal for political leaders to enunciate a vision of a future that has successfully responded to the coming changes, means this is a low priority. Indeed, most people are struggling to survive in societies and economies that are the most unequal in terms of distribution of wealth in their histories.

5.  The future requires a positive vision of human social systems that has successfully responded to a more hostile world. In the days that will come, humanity faces a choice: continue with business as usual, and respond to the coming climate crises on an ad hoc, largely disastrous basis, or band together with other humans who are united by a positive vision of a future in which humanity has more or less adjusted, coped, mitigated, and perhaps even sustained itself in these hostile changes to come.

The choice is obvious, but what is less obvious is the vision. For millennia, humans have been divided by politics, religion, and national boundary. But humans also possess a remarkable capacity for evolution in thought, flexibility in social systems, and the flourishing of culture. Now, more than ever, humanity has little choice but to unite under a positive vision, or perhaps several related visions, that provide a philosophical, ethical, and rational framework for the days to come.

What is this vision? The basis of one possible vision is the simple notion of human solidarity: the recognition that humanity is one species, one family, one community, that will thrive or suffer, sink or swim, and live or die as one unit; that all people are entitled to some basic human dignities, rights, and protections, and to responsive communities that will permit the flourishing of such dignities, rights and protections; and that despite the differences in language, culture, and religion that seem to divide human beings, there will be no lasting peace and no lasting solution to the imminence of climate change unless there is a common recognition of the conscious spirit that resides in each person, and in doing what is possible to ensure that such spirit can flower and grow on this elemental plane: on an Earth that is receptive to human life, where there is a basic decency and warmth; where there is a steady and permanent foundation for human joy.

Let us be moved by the passion of such solidarity and the logic of action that must accompany the dire conclusions that result from any reasonable and centered analysis of the current state of planet Earth. Under the shadows of the challenges that await, the only logical response is for each person, any person, who can, to act as the light that shines in the darkness.

Politics, Society

Imagining a peaceful world

Is it still possible to imagine a world committed to peace?

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It was not too long ago that a durable global peace seemed not only conceivable, but also inevitable. At the end of the Cold War and with the fall of the Berlin Wall, discussing the “peace dividend” was popularized by conservative politicians like George H. W. Bush and Margaret Thatcher.

Today, a decade-and-a-half after the inception of the Global War on Terror, global peace seems like a distant ideal, naive and unattainable to the point where peace is not even mentioned in popular discourse.

But this has little to do with genuine political realities and far more to do with the failure of current political leaders to provide the vision and the will to produce such a future.

There are several reasons why peace seems so distant today. First, current political leaders — and those seeking positions of power — find it easy to engage in discourse that assumes that violence and war are the natural state of affairs between nations. Demonization of Muslims in Western countries (and vice versa), the summoning of Manichean worldviews that group nations or beliefs into good and evil, and use of “us versus them” mentalities are prevalent. There is little room for nuance in this type of thinking, but it is easy and it has the effect of stirring up emotion in the political conversation.

In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy challenged the American people in a June 1963 speech at American University to look beyond propaganda and to at least consider the notion of peace with the Soviets. He said:

No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements–in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture and in acts of courage.

Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war.

This is simply not the type of message that is prevalent today, from government, from politicians, or from the media.

A second reason that distances people from the hope for peace is the failure to understand the root causes of current political violence and terrorism. The Cold War conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was in many ways a classic “Big Power” rivalry. Understanding that, and also understanding the hell that would be unleashed if war (particularly nuclear war) ever broke out, leaders had both the correct analysis and the correct incentives to prevent a major war.

Today, in contrast, there remains little attempt to understand the root causes of terrorism. Citizens of Western democracies are entertained with the gore and imagery of each attack, told to be afraid, and made to believe that terrorists “hate freedom” or some similar explanation that has no factual basis. People are told that it is not important to understand the reasons for terrorism, even though it should be plainly obvious that understanding the reasons why someone wants to commit violence is not the same as agreeing with those reasons.

In fact, when terrorists do explain themselves, their reasons for terrorist violence are couched in terms of fighting against perceived injustices of US and Western imperialism, including the support of tyrannical regimes in Saudi Arabia, the invasion of Iraq, and the killing of civilians through drones and other measures. It will be impossible to end or prevent terrorist violence without understanding these stated concerns, and analyzing whether such perceived injustices have any real validity.

Third, peace has become a distant vision because the threat of terrorism is manufactured to the public as a larger threat than it really is. Much in the same way that air plane crashes promote the false idea that air travel is unsafe (air travel remains one of the safest forms of transportation) the spectacle of terrorism, and the non-stop news coverage that accompanies terrorism, promotes the view that terrorism is an existential threat. It is undeniably true that terrorism kills people, and that every such death is tragic. But only 29 Americans had been killed between 2005 and 2015 because of terrorist acts in the US. As the Washington Post reported last year, Americans are more likely to be crushed to death by furniture than be killed in a terrorist incident. Yet there are no cries for a “War on Furniture.” That would be recognized by all rational people as a ridiculous political stunt.

I believe it is possible to engage in political discourse that not only permits the possibility of peace, but advocates for a durable global peace as the inevitable product of civilization. But in order to do that, thinking people will need to reject the failed and dark visions espoused by current leaders, the irresponsibly inaccurate reasons put forth by so-called “experts” regarding the reasons for terrorism, and replace these with a world view that understands the reasons that encourage terrorism and places the risk of terrorism in rational perspective.

Perhaps the greatest reason for the failure of peace is the failure to believe that such a future is possible. There are powerful forces and thousands of people who wake up every day, dedicating their lives towards creating a world of dominance through violence. This energy must be matched and countered by those who believe that a more civilized age is possible based on human rights, equal dignity for all peoples, peaceful coexistence and the rule of law. This is perhaps the greatest challenge of the current era: inspiring and encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to dedicate whatever time and energy they have towards a future that will make the world more livable and sane.

Society, Spirit

Take advantage of stability

Stability in human societies is a wonderful thing. It is also a fragile thing. Americans who lived through the Depression realized this, as did their contemporaries in Germany, Japan and elsewhere. There is a thin line between civilization and violence. And that line is fading ever so slightly, every single day, until there comes a day when we may look back and wonder when it was the line disappeared, and when we came to accept the brutality of lethal violence as a daily aspect of modern life.

For many people on this planet, violence is already an everyday reality. The Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia are not stable places. Central America is rife with gang warfare, which has famously spread into many parts of Mexico. In the United States today, gun violence exacts a heavy toll, killing at least 10,000 people annually.

Democracies are now straining under the weight of social, economic, and environmental changes already afoot. These changes will continue to become more complex and more pervasive.

The stability of civilization is an assumption, and nothing more.

This is not a suggestion that people should flee to the woods and become survivalists. Far from it. It is a call, instead, that people consider that what makes a society resilient — friends, families, loved ones — are the things that should be cultivated today, at present, when times are relatively decent, as these are the bonds that will carry people through darker times.

Stability is growing in short supply. It should not be wasted on meaningless things. There is a lot that clutters a lot of people’s lives — a lot that doesn’t matter. Get rid of it. Start focusing on the things that really do matter. Take advantage of relatively stable times to build a strong foundation. This is the heart and soul of the story of Noah’s ark: not a legend about a rain storm, but a story that explains the wisdom that comes from preparing for unstable times. There may come a day when stability goes, perhaps for a long time. When stability turns to chaos, one will either be aided by the preparation of the past, or drowned in its absence.

Society, Spirit

The mob, the shadow and the light

Strangely, we live in a time where abundant mechanisms of personal expression — podcasts, blogs, social media and personal electronic devices — appear to find steady comfort, if not ready partnership, with social conformity and a growing mob mentality.

Carl Jung was the first to discuss the “collective unconscious” — a background set of archetypes and shared human experience that resided in the psychic ether, a shared connection and unconscious world between all human beings that contained the historical psychological legacy of being a human.

Part of being human meant the ability to explore this unconscious, and in particular, the shadow that resides in all people: a “dark side,” which we all have, and all repress, yet which is an integral part of the human experience.

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The shadow that we all keep is, ironically, weakest when we acknowledge it, explore it, study it and befriend it. The more we keep it hidden and bury it beneath other psychological urges, the stronger and more powerful it becomes until it takes over one’s personality and expresses itself in the fullness of day. Our legends and myths acknowledge this horror in the form of the goddess Kali, or in the beast that is described in the Book of Revelations.

Right now, terribly so, the realities we occupy are becoming darker, inked with a growing collective darkness — the result of societal mass repression of this shadow.  This repression is, in turn, creating a growing mob mentality.

The “mob” is growing, in every society, at every level. The mob is humankind at its most animal nature, prior to the conditioning of civilization: a social creature that seeks comfort in a group for the purpose of exacting efficient and ruthless violence against its enemies.

Mobs are growing because societies are refusing to be honest with themselves about the injustices that exist in today’s world. These injustices are endemic. They are political, economic, social and environmental. Indeed, there is a crisis in organized civilization at every level. In the face of the failure of leaders to enunciate these crises, and provide a positive vision of how to combat these crises, mass psychology has collapsed in itself and people are literally reaching for their cell phones and their firearms in order to organize and plan the deaths of their perceived enemies.

This is hardly hyperbole. ISIS is a mob, and nothing more. It is an semi-organized social group held together by a religious worldview and a belief that violence will achieve its aims. But ISIS is not the only mob that is growing. In Western democracies, the mob is also growing, and it is possible to see it at political rallies in Europe and in the US, in nativism and xenophobia. Political violence in democracies is chilling, as it inevitably leads to despotism. This was true in Greece, in Rome, in revolutionary France and in Weimar Germany.

The mob is a herd. And the only way to combat this herd mentality is the silent defiance that comes with civilized human thought — thought that is grounded in ethics, in culture, and in the brighter archetypes that inhabit the collective unconscious such as courage, free expression, and mutual aid. And it means that individuals who are grounded in such thought must band together, too, at this shared resonance; not at the mentality of the mob, but at the mentality of a unified democratic collective will that is the hallmark of every liberating social movement in history. The mob is the expression of the shadow at its most potent. And it is only through the light that those who are caught in the mob can be liberated from its grip. If Jung was right, and perhaps he was, every person knows what it means at a deep psychological level for the light to balance the shadow. Now it is time to act on that impulse, or else, simply watch as the shadow grows and spreads across the Earth.

Law, Society

Ending the silence about criminal justice in California

For the last five years, the state courts in California have reached out to my law firm to appoint us in cases whereby people can appeal a state court criminal conviction.

After handling dozens of such cases to date, I have uncovered some interesting realities about criminal justice in California.

The facts invariably involve someone of color, and someone poor.

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Some of the cases involve people with prior criminal histories. You usually see a pattern over many years of continued run ins with the law. This is huge flag that the criminal justice system is utterly failing in preventing people from reengaging with the criminal courts.

Sometimes you see a fact pattern in which someone might have a very old criminal record, and has been rehabilitated for many years, and then they are hauled in for a petty offense or on an outstanding, old, bench warrant. They will have families and friends testify that they are doing well now, but you see a hard-nosed prosecutor demanding jail time. These are tough cases to read, since, again, it appears to defy common sense to destroy a person’s life just at the moment when they seem to be getting their act together. But the system does this.

I had a case once where a women of color, with no previous criminal history and who was a pastor at her church, discovered her husband was cheating on her, and pretty much lost it. She lost her mind and threatened her husband with a gun. I was unable to overturn the conviction or lower the sentence — she was given 17 years in state prison. I don’t see what 17 years in jail does for her, her husband, or the tax payer who pays for her prison sentence. I think a better sentence here would have incorporated elements of mental health counseling in lieu of a prison sentence.

If you have never known anyone who has gone to prison, it may be tough to realize what the prison system does to a person. In addition to removing someone from society, the prison system effectively destroys a family unit, a group of friends, a community. Someone who might otherwise be a tax paying, productive member of society is forced to lay fallow behind steel and concrete, perhaps making slave wages in the jail.

It would be difficult to design a prison system more effective than ours as a means of producing waste, psychological infirmity, and destruction of homes, families and communities. It is troubling to me that at the international level, war criminals who recruit child soldiers are often given prison sentences between 10 and 20 years — the same amount of time given to the defendant in my case who broke down upon hearing about her husband. If the punishment should fit the crime, then the calculus is becoming deeply flawed.

I think what pains me the most is how silent the criminal justice is amongst people. Both for those who get caught up in it — certainly there is a sense of shame and stigma that is associated with any connection at all to prisons and criminal courts. But beyond that, we are supposed to be a country that values liberty and personal freedom. Having our jails be empty should be our common aspiration  — a sign of prosperity, personal well-being and social progress.

Instead, you see a patchwork of law firms, non profits, and individual activists who fight the many-horned beast of the criminal justice system, struggling to improve it in sometimes contradictory ways, pitching and moaning in the tempest that we have all jointly created through our social contract. The U.S. jails the most people in the world out of any other nation, but you would never know this from the news or from listening to politicians. There is a strange silence about this situation, almost a co-dependency, a muted embarrassment, like talking about the alcoholic in the family. Perhaps this explains  the need for such powerful distractions — we Americans, and particularly Californians, create the best distractions in the world, with our mass media and our technologies.

I am not trying to excuse the conduct of anyone who ends up in jail. But after a few years of intimacy with the criminal justice system, I don’t have any doubt about the following facts:

  • While all people of all socioeconomic backgrounds commit crimes, it is primarily people of color and almost always the poor who are subject to criminal action,
  • The mere existence of repeat offenders is a powerful indictment against “business-as-usual” criminal justice, and
  • The system will sometimes go out of its way to destroy those who are actually rehabilitating.

100 years ago, the progressive movement in this country fought hard to improve prison conditions. I would say today we need another such movement, united by (1) the recognition that the criminal justice system itself is broken, and (2) the aspiration that criminal justice needs to rehabilitate and keep people in their communities so that they can function as productive members of society, instead of in jails and prisons. This will require a shift in mindset. And it will require people, of all ranks, classes, and backgrounds, to talk honestly about what they see when it comes to criminal justice. It’s time for an intervention — and in a democracy, that means the involvement of everyday, normal people who see a problem and recognize the wisdom in effective solutions.

Society, Spirit

The search for intelligent life starts on Earth

Maybe you missed it, but there was a lot of news in the last week about a supposed alien civilization that astronomers may have discovered.

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The Washington Post reported –

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright said. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Meanwhile, another Post article observes that the vast majority of planets that may be able to host life probably haven’t even formed yet.

That raises the fun possibility that humans are very early to the intelligent life party.

Searching for life in outer space is a wonderful endeavor. But I also wonder why we’ve given up on looking for intelligent life on Earth. Whales have bigger brains than humans, ravens are more logical than apes, and elephants display empathy, something thought to be only mature in the province of humans.

Even as the habitats of many of these animals are being wiped out, science keeps confirming that other forms of intelligence appear to be common, even prevalent, in the animal kingdom.

Life on Earth has been shaped by very unique conditions, including a specific mix of atmospheric chemical elements (nitrogen, oxygen, argon and carbon dioxide) and particular geographic conditions that have provided abundant water. There is probably life on other planets, but there is no guarantee it will look anything like us—or any other type of life we might know based on what exists on Earth.

What if we were to assume that other life on Earth was intelligent in its own way?

Respect for the intelligence of other life might make people think differently about the abuse of the environment and feel sad about the current 6th great extinction that is currently in progress.

It might make people wonder more about the importance of balance and harmony with nature, so as to preserve the other forms of intelligence that exist concurrently with human intelligence.

It might make people more humble about humanity’s place in the world, honor the splendor of having a habitable planet, and even encourage more open mindedness as to what life might look like once it is discovered elsewhere.

The search of intelligent life starts on Earth. There is still a lot to discover here.

Climate, Society

The ethics of the future

What responsibility do we have to the future? And what is the role of ethics in that responsibility?

The question becomes important in light of the technological and ecological changes now taking place in the world today.

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Humanity is closer than ever to leaving the planet and creating artificial intelligence.

Yet the Earth is in the middle of its sixth great extinction, and the specter of anthropogenic climate change raises the possiblity of a completely different Earth in our lifetimes.

Humanity is already locked into a 1.5 degree increase in global temperatures; anything over 2 degrees will likely spell the end of civilization as we know it.

In spite of this grave fact, there remains little significant action with respect to the slow and steady warming of the planet.

Can thinking people sit by and simply observe these changes without getting involved, hoping for a normalcy that does not exist?

I would argue that in this era, the role of ethics becomes increasingly central.

A clumsy but easy definition of ethics is “the study of right and wrong.” Ethics helps define what it means to lead a good life on planet Earth, and to live with other humans and species.

Human ethics are in dire need of an update. What does it mean to live on a planet that is slowly — but relentlessly — changing into a different state? What does it mean to live on a planet in the midst of a great extinction? How does that affect human behavior. What should it mean?

In the last century, the great killing known as the Second World War produced remarkable idealism in the form of the United Nations and a global governance system designed to keep peace on Earth. These lessons have been lost, and ironically, the challenges ahead will be far more difficult to humanity than those posed by global fascism.

Good, right thinking people cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. It is no longer enough to simply live an assuming life and to do the best you can. The times do not permit this. The ethical bar has been raised. Business as usual means the end of civilization in one or two centuries.

Good, right thinking people must upend the usual to create the extraordinary. There is no other choice.

Society

California agrees to reform solitary confinement

Positive news with respect to prison reform – California has agreed to revamp its procedures regarding solitary confinement in its prisons.

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Apparently, hundreds of inmates have been held for decades in solitary confinement, often with indefinite detentions within solitary.

The New York Times reports:

Under the settlement, prisoners will no longer be sent to isolation indefinitely. And gang members will no longer be sent to solitary confinement based solely on their gang affiliation; only inmates found guilty of serious prison infractions like violence, weapons, narcotics possession or escape will be sent to isolation.

The state will create a new unit for prisoners who are deemed too dangerous to return to the general population. There, they will have more privileges than in solitary, including more time out of their cells, small group leisure activities, and some job opportunities and phone calls.

It’s incredible that at a time of such technological advancement, governments continue to wield methods of social control that belong in the 19th century. This is not an exaggeration – I have visited state prisons in California working on cases, and many of them were literally built when California was newly admitted into the Union (I am thinking of San Quentin in particular).

Companies and entrepreneurs are doing their best to innovate with respect to technology, and our global economy lets them do that. So why is government failing to innovate with respect to the prison system? What prevents politicians, judges, administrators, and bureaucrats from making necessary reforms that will save money and increase the well being of citizens?

I don’t understand the logic – every person in a prison represents a loss to the labor force,  a broken family, and government subsidies to house, feed, and guard someone who is not otherwise working. Maybe, two hundred years ago, this was the best that society could do. Times have changed.

Society should aim to empty its prisons and ensure that prisoners don’t come back. Prison incarceration rates vary wildly by country. I don’t think this is because there are more violent people in the US. I think it is because the US just deals with its social problems with prisons. Prisons are a necessary but very small part of a functioning society’s social fabric.  Societies that only use prisons are naked dictatorships – places like North Korea for example. Is that what Americans aspire to?

Reducing solitary confinement is a good start. It means that regulators, judges and politicians are keen to the problems facing prisons in this country. But it is just a start.

Society

Evolving the corporate form

Is it hyperbole to say that corporations are living things? For purposes of the law, they are certainly alive. A corporation has a perpetual existence until its charter is revoked. It can be subject to a lawsuit, or even criminal penalties. Sometimes they have mascots and trade names, a corporate history, even corporate museums.

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And like all living things, corporations are capable of evolution. In fact, corporations have already evolved in significant ways. One way is the ease in opening a corporation. It used to be the case that a corporation was created by an official act of government, requiring a specific charter or act of the legislature. About 100 years ago, states updated their laws so that any one could simply open up a corporation by filing papers with the Secretary of State. Opening a corporation today is quite easy. Corporations evolved to “reproduce” more easily, and even live forever. This was not always the case.

Perhaps it is time today for another evolution in the corporate organism. As tools for generating profit on a monetary investment, corporations are ideal. However, the conduct of corporations oftentimes produce negative effects. Corporations need to be retooled so that they are better able to internalize the external problems (what economists call “externalities”) that they cause. The most common example is pollution. Energy companies are heavy polluters, and the burning of fossil fuels is leading to irreversible climate change. But there are other types of externalities, as well. Corporations also cause negative social consequences, such as when they push aside unions or generate low wages in a labor market. Certainly, moving production or labor center overseas is often lamented as a chief force of US wage stagnation and decline.

The corporation is, of course, mindless. It is simply operating within a certain legal and regulatory framework. It is probably time that societies changed that framework. Corporations should be incentivized to produce jobs in the US, clean up pollution, and pay people more. A key way to do this is through taxes. A tax break could be given to any corporation, or to stockholders of that corporation (perhaps through reduced capital gains), that is producing a positive social impact, restoring the environment, or healing social rifts.

In contrast, tax penalties should be raised on corporations that are doing the opposite. A carbon tax is perhaps the simplest and easiest way to reduce carbon emissions. Corporations that produce too much carbon should be taxed. Corporations that move their work forces overseas should be taxed more, or not be able to carry certain deductions. Corporations that do not pay corporate tax on profits over a certain amount should be penalized. Corporations that sit on money and do not invest it (or pay tax on it) should be subject to higher taxes when the money ultimately gets spent.

All of this could be done quite easily and corporate conduct would change overnight. You would see people celebrating corporations, and decisions like Citizens United would ironically become important ways for socially positive corporations to impact the political system in beneficial ways.

The corporate form has been a powerful force in human history. It has altered civilizations and conquered ancient empires. It brought slaves across oceans. If it has done those things, it can almost certainly restore habitats, educate people, empower wage earners and increase the levels of civilization in a society. The corporation is not the problem — it is how it is being used. Why not just use it in a different – a better – way?

Society

How to handle the refugee crisis in Europe?

Europe is facing its worst refugee crisis since World War II.

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Ironically, the cause seems to be the havoc caused by US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the current destruction of Syria caused by factionalized fighting between NATO-supported forces, those loyal to the regime, and ISIS.

Daily, it seems, there are more discoveries of people dying in boats trying to cross the Mediterranean, or being killed in some other sinister fashion (as in these 71 people who suffocated in an abandoned truck).

It is unlikely that European countries, (at least those that have  supported Western military action in these regions), considered the consequences of military action at the time they provided such support. If they had, they probably would have been much slower to agree to such campaigns and may have been more interested in looking for alternatives to war. After all, the entire premise of the United Nations is that most (perhaps all) international conflict can be dealt with through discussion, and failing that, some type of conflict resolution such as international arbitration or mediation. The premise is sound, but governments today are not inclined to rely on it.

The effects of global climate change will only exacerbate the flow of refugees. The international community seems highly unprepared for this seeming inevitability.