America’s legal system has headed in the opposite direction to equality. It has become a business in which a quarter of the world’s prison populous is kept; a workforce which is paid 25c/hr to produce all of America’s war helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens.  It’s estimated that 16% of these inmates suffer from mental illness, the majority have committed non-violent crimes, and many are innocent and waiting on delayed court hearings. 

 

Given the inequality of income related authority in the western world, who then stands up for the working man and his fair share of the pie? Nobody ‘above’ him will, so it has to be a collective of workers under the stigmatised banner of unionism. The graph below shows the effect of long term capitalist campaigns against union membership - no doubt the reason behind America’s abysmally low minimum wage.


 

Union indiscretions get more press than white collar crime, but if inequality is to be addressed, while public rallies and ‘occupy movements’ fail, then collective bargaining by worker unions is the only recourse that doesn’t involve a Marxist style Revolution. (Interesting to note a recent study by the Free University of Berlin in Germany which found that one in five Germans believe that revolution is the only way to truly reform society!)

 

In a similar vein an article by the ANZ bank’s ‘media centre’ in Hong Kong noted that its recent student-led protests directed towards future election freedoms were in fact motivated by the universal feelings of today’s youth.

 

‘The peaceful spirit of demonstration was widely different to those movements around the globe, but the underlying forces mirror those bothering young people the world over. In Hong Kong, minimum wage remains stubbornly low, property prices skyrocket and the gap between rich and poor widens.’


 

In the Middle East inequality surrounds border delineations that dictate wealth through fossil fuel resources and trade imbalances. Saudi Arabia gets 90% of its GDP from oil products which it guards with a strong military presence, being fourth on the 2013 military spending list.

 

Iraq’s GDP is small with 99% coming from oil and not much spent on military - so Iraq is a cheap target for oil seekers; Syria has bugger all oil (8%) and not much in GDP or military spending - so Syria is a haven for dissidence. Then there’s Syria’s geographical position between Europe and the world’s largest gas field straddling Iran/Qatar. A framework agreement for a$6 billion pipeline was signed in early 2013 but the Syrian civil war has disrupted construction. The new pipeline would be in competition with Europe's top gas supplier - Russia, whose gas exports to Europe are currently worth $43 billion a year.

 

Apart from inequities in natural resources and trade, the Middle East and North Africa have the world’s highest youth unemployment rates - a restless group with great potential for mercenary employment.

 

Who drew up the lines that separate countries, and how come some ethnic groups have no country at all? Inequalities between countries are important for military expenditure - globally worth $1,000 billion dollars in 2012. But we don’t need more weapons, we need overarching legal systems that recognise inequalities and dispense justice with a common-sense attitude aimed at resolution through reason, good will and compromise.

 

 


 


 

The importance of mass media in the 21st Century is best captured by the fact that in a global population of seven billion people  more than a third use text messaging via portable devices that incorporate music, print, film, radio and internet. 

 

The giant media consortiums all have their own agendas surrounding playing fields biased towards profit and the moulding of public perceptions. The 21st Century question is whether the future will be manipulated by the media?

 

In competition with traditional news outlets are recent additions which use the internet and have gained popularity with personal development articles and a different view of ‘the truth’. These include (amongst many others):  The Huffington Post; Aljazeera; AlterNet; Rocky Mountain Institute; The Daily Bell, Truthout, naked capitalism  and the 21st Century Wire. Then there's Foxtel's transmission of Japan's National Public Broadcasting TV in english (NHK ch 656); Russia Today (RT ch 658) as well as a number of other national outlets all with differing political opinions.

 


 

Questions of truth are often convoluted, with obscure games of finance and power shadowing the background. Personal interests dictate media realities - do we believe in global warming, do we believe there’s an economic crisis; do we still have faith in elected governments acting in the interests of a democratic majority?

 

The good thing about 21st Century media is its immediacy and its ability to open forums for discussion and blame. When the dam wall of the current bull market breaks the press will have a field day, and amongst its offerings will be obvious economic facts which have hitherto been ‘un-newsworthy’.

 

Currently the US Federal Reserve is coming under attack and may soon be required to undergo annual audits. The influence of the internet in bringing this about is noted by the financial website site The Daily Bell:


 

A lot of socially dominant themes are in the process of collapsing as the Internet Reformation continues its merry path of destruction. Global warming, peak oil, big pharma – all these memes are under heavy attack. The monetary elite can seek to sustain them, but credibility is central to promotion.


 

Most democratic countries have ‘left’ and ‘right’ factions, the right deriving from the French ruling class and the left from the French working class. A recent study on plutocracy in the US concluded:

 

‘... rich individuals and business-dominated interest groups dominate the policymaking process. The mass-based interest groups had minimal influence compared to the business-based interest groups.’

 

Democratic processes in the 21st Century are tainted by their governments obsession with economic growth and this leaves voters confused about the way forward – is it free trade we need, or do we need more government intervention and harder tax laws. Governments then throw in more familiar matters on which we have strong and often conflicting opinions; like abortion, same sex marriage, and Marijuana legalization; meanwhile the assumption of economic growth is left unquestioned.

 

The facts of the rest of the developed world are accentuated in America’s economy where median wealth has dropped 43% since 2007 while Forbes estimates that in November 2014 forty three individuals owned more than the 160 million citizens whose income is below the median wealth level.

 

The United States National Debt has grown to $17 trillion since the 1970’s. That’s roughly $55,000 per an American citizen, or $176,000 if personal debt is included; and accounts for the fact that 52% of Americans can’t afford the house they’re living in.

 

Liberal American journalist, Robert Kuttner has summed up the ineffectual governmental approach to inequality as being:

 

‘… one part financial deregulation and trade deals crafted to enable banks and corporations to outrun the constraints of domestic law. The other part was small-bore initiatives to signal help for ordinary working families. Such proposals are unobjectionable, except for the fact that they don't fundamentally change the political economy of American inequality.’

 

In times of uncertainty in leadership we either throw ourselves mindlessly behind the stronger faction (to hide our doubt), or take a ‘don’t care’ approach by bagging the lot; meanwhile ‘Kings in the Making’ move chess pieces that involve strategies unfathomable to the common man.


 

Greece is currently in the throes of resisting an austerity program that threatens to destroy the heart and soul of its people. The Greek tragedy was brought on by the 2007 US subprime mortgage loan crisis, but it had a foundation in a culture of personal ‘greed’ that pervaded Greek society for decades prior to its exposure. Financial journalist, Michael Lewis made this observation in 2010:

 

Here is Greece’s version of the Tea Party: tax collectors on the take, public-school teachers who don’t really teach, well-paid employees of bankrupt state railroads whose trains never run on time, state hospital workers bribed to buy overpriced supplies.

 

The Greek people, like the rest of humanity, have to undergo a change in philosophy towards an unselfish belief in the social capital of it people - rather than the selfish belief in personal aggrandizement. The tax evasion culture that was previously part of Greek life must – like the current day tax evasion of corporate companies – be corrected.

 

Tsipras and Varoufakis have a job ahead that is bigger than their national debt; and their success will largely depend on whether the Greek people have  ‘had enough’ of the old ways and are now ready to sacrifice themselves in support of each other.

 

One thing is certain – the continuing pursuit of global economic growth for individual and country alike will only lead to longer unemployment queues, less trust in government, more pollution, shrinking natural resources, fragmentation of ecosystems and the loss of life forms that have evolved from the last great extinction  when the dinosaurs took the bullet.

 

Unless forced by something akin to an Arab spring, no government will willingly burst the current economic bubble without first having an alternative ideology, a public mandate, and the legal muscle to implement change.

 

 


 

Mass media can be used to reinforce stereotypes such that any ambitious country can sell its own agenda. ‘History is written by the victors’ was not a Winston Churchill quote; and besides Americans wrote more about the Vietnam war than did the Vietnamese; not saying that the US lost that war since it was a strategic withdrawal assisted by media influences after years of political argy bargy and propaganda.

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Legal Systems and Equality
Mass Media
Governance

Legal Systems and Equality

Mass Media
Governance