Dealing with Roe v Wade

The Roe v Wade Reversal Can be Fixed

We just have to stick together and demand it

Written by Carolyn Bertolino and published in

Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

Late last week, I replied to a social media post without first having either read or paid attention to the news of the day. I had just gotten back from a hiking trip, and still in vacation mode hadn’t yet learned that the Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v Wade. I did, however, know from the document leak this past spring that it was imminent. My reply, to a post about our current government that did not specifically mention the decision, was about how optimistic I was that things in general were in the process of getting fixed.

I got criticized for it, so I replied with regret about having made remarks that seemed to make light of people’s rights being taken away that day. I also said that I think we can at least expand the supreme court and stop these last three illegitimately appointed justices from taking our rights away from us. My reasons for calling them illegitimate might be something you’ve already thought of or heard and are mentioned later.

Sometimes I can come off as callous or unrealistic because a lot of times the first place my mind goes with things that are affected by politics is to possible solutions. Yes, I know we lost a constitutional right this June, but I knew it was going to happen and now the focus is on getting it fixed.

The possibilities and the impossibilities

The Constitution gives authority over the structure of the courts to Congress, and the last time congress altered its size was in 1869. I’m not claiming it’s going to happen, but with 61% percent of the country supporting the unlimited right to abortion, and growing awareness about how the Supreme Court works and where its power comes from, this should be a simple fix.

For one thing, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (R-WVa) need to start trying to do something about having been duped when Gorsuch and Kavanaugh lied under oath about considering Roe v Wade to be settled precedent. That would help in two ways: by bringing awareness to the public about how corrupt and unqualified these Trump-appointed justices are, and by educating people on the fact that the court can easily be expanded to make up for it.

An impossible (for now) solution

Those perjored justices can be impeached in the house of representatives with a simple majority and removed by conviction in the senate but only if we add a seemingly impossible number of Democratic seats in November. Vulnerable states for Republicans seem to be WI, NC, FL, and OH.

Because it takes a two-thirds majority of the senate, 67 senators, to remove a supreme court justice, this is not likely. Republican Sen. Susan Collins already talked about the perjury on the day of the ruling. We have to emphasize the perjury, because justices who’ve lied under oath delegitimize the supreme court. That helps our case for using constitutionally appointed congressional power to increase the number of justices and dilute the votes of the illegitimate justices.

Also, we all remember Mitch McConnell and the senate essentially defecating on the constitution back in 2016. That’s when they refused to even hold hearings on Obama’s perfectly qualified, distinguished, middle-of-the-road, and praised by Republicans, nominee Merrick Garland, with the bogus claim that no hearings should be held in an election year. Then as soon as Trump got in, he nominated and managed to confirm Neil Gorsuch despite huge reasonable questions about his judgment. And the rest is history, with some bad luck thrown in, most notably the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Possible solutions, a two-pronged approach

All we can do is what we can do. And we can do a lot, although whether we will or not is yet to be seen. At this time and with the way things are now, it’s probably not smart to assume the Senate will convict even if the House votes to impeach. No matter how good a chance we have of invalidating Manchin and Sinema, there’s no way to gain 17 Senate seats this year.

But the United States Congress can most certainly increase the size of the Supreme Court and invalidate the illegitimate justices. It’s been over 150 years since congress last changed the number of supreme court justices, now currently set at nine. The Necessary and Proper Clause generally spells out the authority of our legislative branch to legislate how all federal courts, including the highest one, are structured.

At the same time, Democrats need to continue working on catching up to Republicans in local and state legislatures. Republicans have a head-start dating back to 2009 or so, with the tea-party takeover. The Bernie Sanders movement and its subsequent organization Our Revolution has helped propel progressives into local elections, but we still have a long way to go. With this newly revived reconstruction-era conservative “states’ rights” movement taking hold all the way up to the Supreme Court, we have no choice but to ramp up our representation in local and state governments.

Of course, this next election also matters on the federal level. If we can’t get a simple majority this year to expand the court, we need to keep the House and add a couple senators as well.

The big picture

This is a very dark time for our country, and a lot of us knew there would be bad times to come back in November 2016 when Trump was declared the winner after losing the popular vote by two percent. Strictly because of the emphasis the electoral college puts on state residences, and the state residences of several thousand voters, we had to accept a president who got roughly three million fewer votes than his opponent.

It’s never good when the winner got less votes, as we learned in Bush-Gore. That’s partly because it’s harder to govern when the majority didn’t want you and partly because of other things in the cases of both Bush Jr and Trump.

The person who replied to my post was outraged that I could be optimistic on a day when we lost a human right. That is valid point, and I will be more mindful of how I come off in the future. It’s hard to convey in a social media post that the fall of Roe v Wade was absolutely going to happen as soon as Trump got his three justices, and that’s part of the reason I can still be cautiously optimistic about the future of our country. Not the present, but the future.

How we got here

It was obvious right when Trump was declared the winner that our democracy would either be destroyed or very damaged. Early that morning after the official election call, I remember saying to the person I was with “Well, I guess everyone will now see the full power of the presidency.”

That’s because I, and a lot of other people, knew that most presidential obligations are unenforceable. The earliest example was Trump and the Republican party’s complete distain for the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which was designed to prevent conflict of interest just like the one we had with our 45th president owning and profiting from his own businesses.

Not only does the former president’s business manufacture products mostly overseas, but his hotels and resorts also profited from his presidency. We saw that play out when foreign governments and lobbyists rented rooms and the attorney general booked a party at his DC hotel. We also saw it when the military changed its route to enable Trump’s Ireland hotel to be receive profits for service members’ lodging easily influence numerous policy decisions.

The president’s constitutional requirement to enforce the laws that Congress passes was taken with a grain of salt during the Trump administration as well. In the summer of 2017, Russian sanctions were passed with a veto-proof majority, yet the president “declined” to administer the sanctions until he was successfully pressured to the next year.

A guy like that being able to appoint three justices, two who lied in their hearings and one who wasn’t even his to nominate, is a travesty that needs to be reversed. Now it’s time to follow the constitution in the way it was intended to fix what was done when it was used in a way that was not intended.

Keeping our heads in the game

It’s important to be aware of what got us here, to a place where five people can give states the right to make essential healthcare illegal. The future will only be worse if we don’t do what the Constitution gives us the power to do, and right a wrong made to the structure of the Supreme Court. The legislature has the power, and they answer to us. They’re just waiting for us to tell them what to do so let’s do it.

In Search of an Explanation for Mass Shootings.

The Real Underlying Cause of Mass Shootings in America

The answer lies deep in American society and culture.

Written by Natalia Packwood and published in 4/6/2022

Originally posted in An Injustice!

A crowd of people with their palms up that say “never again” and holding a sign that says protect kids not guns

I want to first preface this article by saying I am not anti-gun control. In fact, I think it’s a great idea and will allow us to take one step closer to a future where mass shootings are a thing of the past. However, I also believe that the best way to solve a problem is by cutting it off at the root. And the source of mass shootings, or the reason behind them, is American culture.

No, not patties on the grill American culture, I’m talking about American masculinity, homophobia, gun culture, gendered stereotypes, and racism. These things are obviously not unique to the United States, but they are important in understanding why it is that mass shootings happen in the U.S. more than in any other country in the world.

“Since 1982, an astonishing 121 mass shootings have been carried out in the United States by male shooters. In contrast, only three mass shootings have been carried out by women”¹

The connection between masculinity and shootings

The theory of social identity threat is a great place to start in understanding the relationship between men’s gender identity and violence and how it affects mass shootings. Okay, big sentence. Sorry.

Let me rephrase.

Basically, a social identity threat is when a person, or more accurately a man, feels that a part of their identity that they care about is threatened or questioned.² This theory also explains that these persons respond in a patterned way, or in other words, by overcompensating with violence.

You might be thinking I’ve never heard of this theory, who are you to say that this is an accurate representation or explanation of American masculinity?

Two relevant studies support this theory’s claim. Though many others on the topic provide evidence to “prove” this theory, these two do so directly. Christin Munsch and Robb Willer conducted a sexual coercion study. The results showed that men whose masculinity had been threatened at some point were more likely to identify with rape culture ideologies. For example, these men were less likely to identify sexual coercion as sexually coercive and more likely to blame the women.³

I digress. I don’t want to waste valuable word count explaining the depths of social identity threat. Point is, that this threatening, questioning and bullying is a common experience in almost all male shooters.

The second study I mentioned, conducted by Kimmel, discovered in a review of school shootings between 1982 and 2001 that nearly all of the incidents were boys who perceived themselves as being targeted and bullied. And the most common type of bullying they discovered was gay-baiting.⁴

Kimmel even provided a simple basic-level example of this theory in work in the real world.

“I have a standing bet with a friend that I can walk onto any playground in America whee 6-year-old boys are happily playing and by asking one question, I can provoke a fight. That question is simple: ‘Who’s a sissy around here?’”

This deeply rooted homophobia in America is not only affecting the lgbtq+ community but straight men as well. I mean, in a way, I get it. I was a kid once too, I didn’t like to be teased or judged. It’s hard to be surrounded by people who picked on you for being a bit different, for acting a bit different, for being “gay.”

So, what sets these shooters apart?

I was bullied Natalia, didn’t shoot up a school.”

Fair point. And to explain this, we have to dive deep into American culture.

As we all know, white men have reaped the benefits of privilege in America for centuries. However, Kimmel from the above study forms an argument that essentially claims that modern America has created a new emotional framework for these privileged men. He calls it aggrieved entitlement.

Essentially, aggrieved entitlement is a “gendered sense of entitlement thwarted by larger economic and political shifts.”⁵

This entitlement leads these men to build racist and sexist mentalities which then steers them down the path to becoming an “angry white man.” This group is more susceptible to turn to violence and when they do so they are able to easily access guns, and thus, are able to kill.

In other studies, a surprising amount of male gun owners spoke of a “nostalgic longing for a particular version of America.”⁶ This could be contributed to the shift in gun culture as well as the shift in society as America began to grow into a more inclusive and diverse country.

Yamane’s study argues that the start of the 21st century was approximately when gun culture turned from recreation to self-defense.⁶ This is important to consider when we look at the demographic of gun ownership applicants. Surprise surprise, it’s mostly white men.

But what is even more interesting is the motivation behind these men. Stroud found that racial anxiety, or this idea of aggrieved entitlement and threatening, was the driving force of these applications.⁷

The actual solution?

There isn’t one straightforward answer. I’ve talked your ear off about social theories, masculinity, and statistics but what you need to take away from this article is an understanding of why mass shootings are predominately conducted by men.

You need to remember the next time you see a gun control ad or watch another report of a school shooting on the news, that the reason behind these actions lies in how we raise our men.

Again, I am not anti-gun control. I’m actually pro-gun control, but something that a lot of gun supporters argue is that criminals will always find a way to access a gun. And they have a point. There will always be guns in the world. There will always be an outlet for violence.

But if we raise our boys differently? If we teach white men that violence is not a solution? If we create a society that limits racial anxiety and homophobia? That is the real sure-fire way to ensure that mass shootings become a thing of the past.

Maybe that isn’t what you wanted to hear. You wanted an easy solution — a law to be passed that will put a stop to mass shootings. But I don’t think it’s that simple. I think the problem is American culture and society.

How Bad is America?

If You Hate America, You Might Want to Reconsider

Written by Bebe Nicholson and published in 6/09/2022

The United States has problems, but that’s not the whole picture

Photo by author

The United States is in trouble. Like other countries, we have problems. A big one these days is the political divide that prevents us from addressing issues like crime, abortion, and gun violence.

I’ve read a lot of articles lately by people who are ashamed to be an American and want to leave the United States. Other writers blast our capitalist economic system, or believe we are a country that subscribes to white supremacy and racism.

People from other countries say we’re arrogant and rude. Going all the way back to 1958, The Ugly American described the bungling of the U.S. diplomatic corps because of arrogance and failure to understand local culture.

Newsweek even published an article saying the United States was ranked among the world’s worst places to move to.

But are we more arrogant, racist and rude than people from anywhere else?

In my travels to Western Europe, the Nordic countries, Africa, Canada, Russia, and Mexico, people seemed much the same everywhere. Some were kind. Some were rude. Some were racist and some weren’t.

I found this to be true when I worked at a charity, too. We helped people re-locate to the United States from Haiti, Nigeria, Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Syria, and many other countries. Some were warm, generous-hearted and kind. Others were dishonest, arrogant and prejudiced. It didn’t matter what country they came from.

When I kept hearing negative opinions about the United States, yet saw so many people leaving everything behind to move here, I thought, “If we’re so bad, why do so many people want to live here?”

“A simple way to take the measure of a country is to look at how many want in… And how many want out.” Tony Blair

I’m realistic about our country’s problems and hope we can do something to solve gun violence, racial unrest, divisiveness and incivility. But there are many positives that people either don’t know about or choose to ignore.

If you tend to view the United States and Americans negatively, maybe this additional information will broaden your perspective and brighten your outlook. Discovering these facts confirmed my feeling that there is still a lot to like about America.

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

We welcome Immigrants

Did you know that more people immigrate to America than to any other country? According to a report put together by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United States “far and away” leads the world in total immigrant population, with more than 46 million total immigrants. The country with the second largest number is Germany, with 7 million.

According to the American Immigration Council, “Migrants make up significant shares of the U.S. workforce in a range of industries, accounting for over two-fifths of all farming, fishing, and forestry workers — as well as one quarter of those working in computer and math sciences.”

We Are Diverse

The U.S. Census released its race-ethnic population estimates, with data indicating a more diverse nation than was previously expected. According to new estimates, nearly 4 of 10 Americans identify with a race or ethnic group other than White.

This is especially true of the younger population. In 2019, more than half of the nation’s population under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Latino and Black residents together made up nearly 40% of this population. Diversity enriches us, or as Angelina Jolie said, “Our diversity is our strength. What a dull and pointless life it would be if everyone was the same.”

We Are Still a Land of Opportunity

Minorities are still way under-represented when it comes to extreme wealth. But even so, there are about 1.79 million African American millionaires in the country and about 1.57 million Hispanic millionaires.

According to Forbes, There are only 15 Black billionaires in a world of 2,668 billionaires around the globe, but 9 of those 15 are Americans. Since the initial article, Forbes has added one more Black American billionaire, Lebron James, to the list.

There is opportunity here for immigrants. In 2018, more than 2.6 million immigrants, including 314,000 refugees, were employed as health-care workers, with 1.5 million of them working as doctors, registered nurses, and pharmacists.

Food, Foreign Assistance, and Generosity

Did you know the United States exports more food than any other country in the world? And not only do we export a lot of food. Taxpayers in the United States have been generous to foreign countries. According to Forbes, between 2013 and 2018, nearly $300 billion in U.S. taxpayer money flowed as aid to countries outside the United States.

Each year, the U.S. spends about $47 billion in aid, with half of it going to Africa and the Middle East.

Americans give around 3 percent of our collective income to charity — more than the citizens of any other country, according to Giving USA. And its individual Americans, not the government, who are generating the biggest share of contributions.

According to the National Philanthropic Trust, the vast majority of U.S. citizens donate to charity.

Health Care for Low Income Households

There are 8 million Americans without health care, and this isn’t good news. But did you know that Medicaid is a government health care program for our low-income citizens?

When my daughter was pregnant with her first child and didn’t have a job or health insurance, Medicaid covered all her pregnancy and delivery expenses.

I’ve been fortunate to have good health care because of my husband’s job as a schoolteacher. One of my friends, a single mother, likes her job in the school cafeteria because of the health care benefits.

Now that I’m over 65, I have Medicare. Another friend, not old enough for Medicare, says Obamacare finally enabled her to get health insurance. My sister-in-law has been satisfied with Med-Share, a health care sharing ministry.

Progressive Tax Rates

This may or may not be considered a plus, depending on your outlook, but according to the Tax Policy Center, the share of Americans who pay no federal income taxes has been hovering around 44% for most of the last decade.

The top 20% of taxpayers paid 78% of federal income taxes in 2020, up from 68% in 2019. The top 1% of taxpayers paid 28% of taxes in 2020, up from 25% in 2019.

Taxes vary some by state. In South Carolina, where I reside, federal and state taxes shrink a $100,000 a year salary to $69,806. According to an article in USA Today, “Americans will shell out an average of $525,037 each in taxes throughout the course of their lives.”

For 2021, Congress increased the size of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and the child and the dependent care tax credit — all of which erased the federal taxes owed for millions of American families, reported CNBC.

Why am I including tax rates as a positive? Because I’ve seen so many articles about Americans avoiding taxes, and I wanted to correct the assumption that our poorest citizens bear the brunt of our tax burden.

Do we need to improve in all the areas I’ve mentioned? Of course! Is the situation as dire as some people paint it to be? I don’t think so.

Other Things You Might Not Know

Here are some other interesting facts about The United States.

The National Park System encompasses 423 national park sites in the United States. Over 650 million acres, nearly one-third of all land, is federally owned.

We are home to less than 5% of the world’s population but produce 25% of the global economic output.

We are the only country with all of earth’s five climate zones.

The U.S. has the world’s strongest higher education system and draws over a million international students a year, the most of any country.

Much of the music the world listens to comes out of the United States, and the U.S. film industry is the largest and most profitable film industry in the world.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 quickly made an impact on the quality of the air Americans breathed. Today, on average, the pollution that Americans are exposed to is only about one-third what it was in 1970.

One of our greatest exports might not be what you think it is. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to create more access for people with disabilities. Since then, 181 countries have passed disability civil rights laws inspired by the ADA, according to the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

Mentioning a few positive aspects of life in the United States doesn’t mean I’m naive about our challenges. I agree with some of the criticisms, and I cry tears of anguish over crime, corruption, and the politicization of every issue. But I love my country and cling to the hope that we can do better.

I believe our young people are hearing so much negative news that they are becoming pessimistic and despondent about the direction of their lives. But they need to know they have the hope and opportunity for a good life.

As Barack Obama said, “In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.”

White Supremacy

 White supremacist attacks stir GOP fears for safety of White people

Image without a caption

Written by Dana Milbank and published in the Washington Post 6/07/2022

Garnell Whitfield was testifying about his 86-year-old mother, Ruth, shot dead last month along with nine other Black people in a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket, allegedly by a white supremacist motivated by the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory.

“What are you doing?” Whitfield demanded of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at their hearing on Tuesday. “Is there nothing that you personally are willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires?” With breaking voice and sniffles, he added: “My mother’s life mattered. Your actions here today will tell us how much it matters to you.”

Then, Republicans on the panel answered — with accounts of violence committed by Black people and antifa.

“The Brooklyn subway shooter was a known Black supremacist who called for racial violence,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.). “The Waukesha attacker … was a viciously left-wing Black nationalist bigot. Another Black nationalist gunned down five police officers in Dallas.” Cruz went on, about “the violence of the antifa riots and the Black Lives Matter riots.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the panel, spoke of 2016, when “two Black racists killed eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge,” and of 2018, when “members of antifa in Philadelphia assaulted two Marines.” Extremism, Grassley said, “includes Black racism and antifa ideology.” And Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) focused on a (Black) man and (Asian American) woman who “had thrown a Molotov cocktail into a police vehicle during the antifa riots.”

Jonathan Capehart: Why Black people are afraid of ‘crazy’ White people

Their illustrations served to build a case that the focus on white supremacy is “diminishing” violence against others, as Cruz put it, including “violence directed at White people” — and that, as Grassley asserted, “even though many in the press only focus on far-right attacks, the most deadly ideology often changes year to year.”

But that’s just not true. Since 2015, when the recent upsurge in political violence began, the brutality has been overwhelmingly perpetrated by the far right. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, right-wing extremists (generally either white supremacist or anti-government) were involved in 267 plots or attacks and 91 fatalities from 2015 through 2020. Far-left extremists (anarchists, anti-fascists) were involved in 66 incidents and 19 deaths. The proportion of left-wing attacks and plots increased in 2021 (40 percent of the total, compared to 49 percent by right-wing extremists), but right-wing attacks remained far deadlier, accounting for 28 of 30 political-violence fatalities in 2021.

Senate Republicans used similar arguments a couple of weeks ago to block consideration of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which would have created dedicated government offices to track domestic terrorism, including white-supremacist violence. That modest bill, with no added surveillance powers or criminal offenses, had passed the House and originally had Republican support. But at a time when Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and Republican officials including House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) have given voice to the “great replacement” conspiracy, Republicans have apparently lost interest in challenging white supremacy.

Image without a caption

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Instead, they brought in their favorite all-purpose witness on Tuesday, law professor Jonathan Turley, who argued against the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act and claimed that the Jan. 6 insurrection was not an act of domestic terrorism. But mostly, Turley testified about himself: “I have received hundreds of threats against myself, my family, and even my dog. … I am generally viewed as something of a free-speech purist. … I come to this subject as someone who has written, litigated and testified in the areas of terrorism, extremist advocacy, and free speech for decades. I have also represented the United States House of Representatives in litigation. … I should confess to a bias as a Madisonian scholar.”

Committee chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), noting that Fox News’s Carlson alone has amplified the “great replacement” theory (in which White people are supposedly targeted for marginalization) on more than 400 episodes of his show, urged his colleagues to “speak in one voice and repudiate this incendiary rhetoric, along with any individual or extremist group that resorts to violence.”

But Republican senators declined that invitation, instead turning repeatedly to Turley and to their other witness, former U.S. attorney Justin Herdman, to support their desire not to focus on white supremacists; they wanted to evaluate the threat of terrorism without “any sort of analysis of the ideology,” as Herdman put it.

In his poignant opening statement, Whitfield spoke of the man who allegedly killed his mother: “He did not act alone. He was radicalized by white supremacists. His anger and hatred were metastasized like a cancer by people with big microphones screaming that Black people were going to take away their jobs and opportunities.”

Repeatedly, Whitfield asked the lawmakers what they would do about his mother’s death. Republicans, in their refusal to acknowledge the unique harm being done by Carlson, party leaders and white supremacists, gave their answer: not a thing.

Is this the end of Civilization?

This Is Collapse — Some of Us Just Aren’t Paying Attention

Food, Water, Energy, Money. How Many Crises Can a Civilization Take? We’re Finding Out the Hard Way

Written by Umair Haque and published in, 6/8/2022

Image Credit: The Financial Times

How are you feeling these days? I hope you’re all doing OK, well, even. Me? I’m…hanging in there. I’m a little under the weather today so I’ll try to keep this brief. OK — LOL. At least shorter than usual.

If you look around, and if you’re observant, you can begin to notice something profoundly disturbing happening to our world. Our civilization is beginning to visibly fail. Over the last few years, I’ve warned of civilizational collapse. I’ve predicted failures of all kinds, that our basic systems would begin to shatter and break. And now you see it beginning to happen.

When I talk about civilizational collapse, people seem to think it’s some kind of prediction. It’s not — not anymore. My Western friends are lost in comic book movies and Instagram bodies and billionaire fantasies and dueling celebrities. But if you look at the world for just one second, what do you see?

Let me take you on a brief tour of a civilization that’s now beginning to collapse in earnest.

The basic systems of our civilization are now visibly coming undone. This is a change. It’s the beginning of a long-run trend, which will define the rest of our lives and beyond. On a dying planet, things don’t work. Every kind of system fails. It’s not just about the war in Ukraine. System failure is a problem of a dying planet. And so is war, like in Ukraine, which is about controlling our dying planet’s dwindling food and energy supplies.

What systems can you see failing — if you only look? They’re hidden in plain sight.

Let’s begin with the global food crisis. Everyone from the UN to the World Bank is warning of one that’s a “catastrophe.” Those aren’t my words, that’s the Economist, this time. You can probably feel it in your own life. How fast have the price of your everyday groceries, meat, produce, bread, milk, risen? Maybe skyrocketed is the better word. As my lovely wife put it, over the last year “every day everything got more expensive.”

It’s OK for “people like us.” You, me, the average Westerner. Even if we’re hurting these days, we’re still relatively affluent. But as Antonio Guterres has warned, the impending food crisis is going to horrific for much of the world. Many of the world’s poorer countries and regions are net food importers. Shortages will hit them especially hard — and people will starve.

When I talk to my Western friends about issues like this — global hunger — they don’t get it. Not anymore. They just don’t care. It’s not just that they’re indifferent, lulled into numbness by Marvel Movies — Aquaman will feed the world!! — it’s that way back in the 80s, all this got turned on its head. Celebrities did a good thing and tried to “feed the world” — remember that song? But the net effect was that the average person now sees it as a kind of cultural issue. My Western friends don’t get how incredibly, shockingly bad this really is.

So let me tell you. In Afghanistan, which is one of the world’s poorest countries, people are starving. Look at this picture of a starving baby from Afghanistan. Look at it. Look at it. That poor child looks like a haunted, broken thing. A skeleton. Does any baby deserve that?

So do you know what parents are doing in Afghanistan to feed their kids? What would you do if you saw your child turning to bones before your very eyes? Would you cry? Scream? Rage at the horror of it?

They’re selling their organs. People are selling their organs to feed their starving kids. This is the world we live in. My Western friends, trapped in their idiots’ paradise of Marvel Movies, not only can’t imagine it — they don’t bother to notice it.

That is a measure of moral emptiness — and that’s not just an empty jeremiad. It’s why their societies are falling apart, too. You can’t not care about people selling their organs to feed their starving kids and then hope the fascists and theocrats don’t come for you, too. That’s not how this works. This thing called the project of human civilization.

To be a civilization where people are selling their organs to feed their kids — at this juncture in human history — is, in a nutshell, why our civilization is failing. How it is. This is what we reduce people to, still. It’s the 21st century. Talk to me about progress, sure — but don’t also stop noticing how badly we have failed as a civilization, whose test is how the most vulnerable are treated. The most vulnerable people in our civilization? They’re not “like that” Afghanistani child above. They are that child. And we treat them in unspeakable ways. What does it mean to reduce a child to bones, to starve them, for their parents to sell organs in a desperate, futile attempt to feed them milk?

But another reason my Western friends don’t care is that, well, life is getting hard for them, too. It’s hard to have sympathy for a starving baby from some country a million miles away — when your own country, America, is struck by a food crisis, too. And you can’t get baby formula for your own kids. At that point, distinctions cease to matter. When you can’t provide for your own, empathy quickly runs out. It dries up and turns to dust. All you can think about is your own baby.

America’s baby formula shortage isn’t really about what Americans think it is. A factory being shut down, not even the centralization of production in a few factories. Sorry, wrong — proximate causes, sure, but not ultimate ones, real ones. Let me tell you the true cause.

To avert this catastrophic global food crisis, do you know how much the World Food Program needs? $22 billion. In other words, Jeff Bezos or Gates or the rest of the billionaires gang could stop, prevent, and end a global food crisis in a microsecond, and still have so much money left over they’d still be mega-billionaires.

How much richer did billionaires get during the pandemic alone? $trillion. In other words, billionaires got a hundred times richer just during the pandemic than it would take to end a global food crisis erupting now. A hundred times.

Something is very, very wrong with a civilization like that. That something is that it concentrates too much wealth in too few hands, and there is an endemic, chronic lack of investment in things people need. Those few hands where wealth is concentrated “own” everything — and that is how you get to a world where production is centralized in a handful of factories and so forth. Baby formula? Come on, it’s something that should be produced in every city, region, state. It shouldn’t just be produced in a tiny number of factories in a big, big country. That’s a recipe for collapse.

These economics are fatal. Remember Rome? What did Nero do? He fiddled and danced a jig and sang…while Rome burned. What did Caligula do while the gates crumbled? He had orgies, apparently, and gorged himself and his friends to the point they’d throw up in bowls…just so they could do it all over again. See any of today’s billionaires lifting a finger to stop the global food crisis?

But what do we even call someone who could prevent the deaths of millions of people…by lifting a finger…and doesn’t? If you could save a million babies like the one above — just by lifting a finger — wouldn’t you? If you didn’t, what would it make you?

Perhaps you see my point.

This is civilizational collapse.

The food crisis isn’t just about food, of course. It’s about the real problem at the heart of our civilization. Money. Prices are skyrocketing even in rich countries — especially in rich ones. But even there, life has become a struggle. In America, of course, the average person is perpetually indebted, because they can’t make ends meet to begin with. So what happens when food gets more expensive by the day — and never stops?

But it’s hardly just food, either. Western America’s in drought — and weirdly, again, nobody much seems to care. Maybe it’s happened before. But this time is different. It’s not seasonal. Lake Mead is at risk of dying. Everything on a dying planet is — take heed. And yet from its waters tens of millions of people survive — and so do many of America’s crops. What happens as it runs dry? What happens when the water runs out?

The answer to that question is: nobody knows. And that’s a very, very big problem. Because we should know. There should be some kind of plan. Because it’s happening before our very eyes. But even in the richest countries, like America, there’s no plan, literally, to deal with any of these crises — food, water, money. Leaders are just like deer in the headlights. They can’t seem to believe it’s happening, even though they’ve been warned, at this point, for literally decades, by people like me, by people much smarter than me. They’ve had decades upon decades to prepare — and yet there America is, unable to feed its babies formula, without a plan for what happens when the water runs out, without enough money to go around.

So how bad do you think the situation is in poorer countries? It’s getting to be catastrophic. Many of the poor people fleeing to America’s southern border are at this point climate refugees. As the planet warms, harvests in their countries have dried up. Water systems have failed — water’s a problem across much of the region. Money, of course, is in short supply. And so they head north. It’s not just that they want to go to America — it’s that the North of a planet which is dying because of the heat is what’s going to survive.

Did you see the warning about yet another system failing? NERC — America’s energy grid regulator — warned just the other day that because it was going to be an especially hot summer, expect blackouts and brownouts. “Persistent, extreme drought and its accompanying weather patterns, however, are out of the ordinary and tend to create extra stresses on electricity supply and demand.” LOL — thanks for the warning, I don’t mean to poke fun at fine people doing good work — but none of this is “out of the ordinary.” Every summer is going to be like this, and it’s going to get much worse, fast. Hello, we are living on a planet that’s currently heating up at light speed.

America’s energy grids are beginning to fail. Americans don’t often stop to think about that, but they should, because, well, what happens when the power goes out? Everything in society grinds to a halt. Hospitals stop functioning. Businesses close their doors. Work grinds to a halt. Everything just stops. And so there’s of course a consequential knock-on effect on the economy as a whole. Which leads to unemployment, recession, more inflation, and so forth.

Energy grids going down are a very, very bad thing. But of course, this is another consequence of not having invested in systems that are fit for now — just depending on old, broken, industrial age ones, like America’s ancient, creaking energy grid.

What’s the list we’ve made so far. Food. Water. Money. Energy.

Those are all of a civilization’s basic systems.

Let me say it again.

Those are all of a civilizations’s basic systems. These systems are already under profound stress in America — breaking visibly before our eyes. They are already shattering around much of our world. If they’re crumbling in a rich country like America — how bad do you think it’s going to be in poor ones? Want to live in the kind of world where you have to get water delivered — and so it becomes a privilege for the wealthy? Where just affording food is a stretch? That’s how much of humanity has lived, but progress means the opposite. We are heading in the wrong direction. We are growing poorer as a civilization, now, fast. That is what all these crises mean.

A food crisis. A water crisis. An energy crisis. A — if you count Covid — public health crisis. A money crisis so absurd and demonically evil that it’d make Caligula develop a conscience — billionaires who could solve those crises by swiping on an iPhone. Who could prevent millions of deaths — but won’t, and what do you call a person like that?

How many crises can a civilization have at once?

We’re finding out the hard way. And that is what I mean when I say that I don’t warn of civilization collapse, or predict it anymore. Now I’m watch it happen. And so, if you’re looking — if you’re not too busy desperately living it — are you.