Abortion is a highly emotional and polarizing issue. The debate over when life begins and the rights of an unborn verses the rights of a woman to free choice over her own well-being will probably never be fully resolved. It is a significant moral, religious, and political problem. A somewhat different way to view the issue and to frame debate is the Right to Life” verses the “Rights of Lives” (the pragmatic impact of an unwanted pregnancy on the birth, family, and others.
Issues related to the Right to Life include:
- When is an embryo capable of existence outside the womb?
- Should conception by rape or incest be considered?
- What about embryo abnormalities?
- Should fetal tissue be used in medical research even in view of indisputable scientific merits?
Issues related to “Rights of Lives” include:
- Are the mother-father persons able to rear a child responsibly?
- Who will assume the costs of birth and child care?
- What about the mother’s health?
- What are the medical and legal considerations?
- What are the realistic options for say a teenager or unwed mother to bear and provide for a child, for persons or families financially stressed, or for child raising by adoption or by others.
The decision to have an abortion is mainly a personal-medical problem. Each case is unique. The decision should not be made by legislative or judiical edict.
Globally, there are a number of issues critical to survivability and stability that need to be addressed:
- Climate change and the environment
- Nuclear weapons possession and proliferation
- Poverty and the rich-poor gap
- Healthcare and pandemic control
- ISIS and efforts by others for world domination
In addition, nationally there are other issues threatening our well-being and democracy:
- The influence of money in politics
- Military expenditures versus domestic needs
- Racial inequality and justice
All of these issues are important, but the so-called “War on Drugs” and current drug policies and practices may well have the most ramification and impact on so many facets vital to life in the United States and elsewhere.
The “War on Drugs” is an issue demanding immediate action. It is profound in its consequences and should be stopped.
The “War on Drugs” has been and continues to be an abysmal failure. Learn from the past – do not repeat the mistaken alcoholic “prohibition”. Drugs are more plentiful, potent and cheaper than ever before. The use and addiction to drugs is a social-medical-political problem; force is not a solution to the problem but is actually counterproductive.
Drugs have been used by humans throughout history. Today most people use drugs in one form or another, be it caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, prescription drugs, designer drugs, marijuana, cocaine or other substances. Demand for drugs is seemingly insatiable. For most people the use of drugs is a matter of personal choice having little affect on their ability to function in society. People use drugs to relieve pain, stress, monotony; for euphoria and social purposes. Some people are not able to use drugs responsibly, and some get addicted
Laws labeling certain drugs as illegal and the “War on Drugs” have engendered a vast expenditure and waste of money and human resources. Some of the issues related to drug trafficking include an increase in gangs, cartels, weapons trade, money-laundering, immigration of people fleeing violence, inconsistent law-enforcement, targeting types of drugs used by minorities, underground economy not being taxed, corruption of officials, arrests for relatively minor n0n-violent offenses, mass incarceration, and international intrusions to try to interrupt the supply of drugs.
What can be done to ameliorate the situation?
- Legalize all drugs
- Declassify marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic
- Regulate and control use by minors or for driver safety
- Tax the production and sale of drugs
- Vigorously enforce tax evasion, money-laundering, and other criminal activities
- Educate people on harmful effects to reduce demand
- Increase health care and treatments
- Reform laws and enhance our judicial system
- Expand research on drug use and alternatives
- Change three-strikes sentencing
- Reduce sentences for minor possession
- Treat crack cocaine and its powder form equally
- Reduce imprisonment and commute nonviolent offenders
- Create programs for job training, counseling, mentoring, an for transitional support from prison to reestablishment in society
Immigration Approach by Norm Gottlieb
Immigration is a complex issue. Comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. has not only stalled but appears to be unachievable at this time mainly for political reasons. A better approach might be to break the problem into parts that may have agreeable solutions that are respectful of human rights and economically viable.
The dominant issue regarding immigration is what the government and law enforcement officials are to do with the 11 million of undocumented persons living in the U.S. It is not possible to incarcerate every person who is here illegally, and it is not practicable to deport every undocumented person. In the name of humanity, it is not conscionable to break up families or separate legal children citizens from their parents.
The immigration problem is not only a human rights matter but is also a civil rights issue. Like most Americans who came to this country as immigrants, the currently undocumented are living here, working and raising families but are not able to vote, serve on juries, or have any voice in matters affecting their lives.
The vast majority of the undocumented are honest, law-abiding hard workers who should be given a reasonable, thoughtful, compassionate path to legalization.
Most of the undocumented have been living in the U.S. for many years working mostly in a large, thriving underground economy. Knowingly allowing this underground economy to continue is an economic concern and a breeding ground for corruption. Legalizing the undocumented will prevent exploitation of workers and foster equity and justice. Bringing these workers into the mainstream will increase tax revenues and improve national, state and local economies.
Many of the undocumented (some with false identification) are working for businesses as employees doing needful jobs not sought after by others in the labor market. In order for our economy to function, the U.S. needs a flow of immigrants for farm labor and domestic work.
All of the undocumented have been paying (directly or indirectly) sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes and numerous other taxes and fees. Many have been paying into Social Security for which they will receive no benefit. Many are working at jobs complicit with their employers where they avoid workers compensation and income taxes.
Many of the undocumented have been forced to flee countries under life-threatening, corrupt and unjust circumstances. These are human beings, people just trying to survive without fear. They are desperately in need of a helping hand. For-the-most-part, their struggle to get here and work exemplifies the same character as others before them who built this country. Some of the undocumented are people who are economically depressed, trying to improve the well-being of their families. All of the undocumented should be permitted to come out of the shadows, apply for legalization, and if qualified should be granted legal residency, employment opportunities and civil liberties.
A number of the undocumented don’t want to become citizens because they have allegiance to their birth countries and/or family or social ties. Many of the undocumented have been living and working in the U.S, for years; they should be granted legal status, issued special identity cards, and work permits, allowing them to continue working, get drivers licenses, open bank account, travel freely to home and back. If they have skills sought by businesses, the newly documented should be allowed to compete with others in our capitalist system and be compensated fairly.
A precedent was set by President Reagan when he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granting Green Cards to millions of unauthorized immigrants. In 2004, President Bush proposed an earned legalization program for illegal aliens. Since 1986, all presidents have taken some executive action to ameliorate the problem.
SeniorsCAN urge President Obama and Congress to address and act on this dominant part of the overall immigration problem immediately with bi-partisan discussion and input from informed individuals and groups. Other immigration issues such as border control, guest-worker programs, and visitors overstaying their visas should be addressed at future times.
Immigration Border Control by Norm Gottlieb
SeniorsCAN recognize the need for border control. It is necessary not only to minimize future illegal entrants into the U.S. but also to focus on what appears to be the most contentious issue preventing comprehensive immigration reform.
Past and current efforts to seal the border between Mexico and the U.S. have not been sufficiently effective. In fact, it is practically impossible to keep determined individuals from entering the country. Erecting fences, blocking tunnels, deploying border patrols and taking surveillance measures have offered some deterrence. But entry into the U.S. is relatively open via Canada, the sea and air; coyotes evade and corrupt law enforcement; and many over-stay legitimate entries to continue visitation (VISAs) and working here (guestworker programs).
In spite of the reality that it is virtually impossible to totally “fix” the border control problem, many members of the House of Representatives have taken a firm position blocking any immigration legislation until after border control is achieved. This polarization mainly for political reasons by congresspersons from states with few undocumented workers, has stymied action. Continuing to not resolve immigration reform is giving de facto permanent residency to millions of the undocumented; inaction exacerbates the problem.
SeniorsCAN believe that solving the “border control” problem requires new thinking and multifaceted approaches, and that considering each part of the overall problem separately will facilitate deliberative debate and consensual agreement. Attempts to achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform require too many compromises not agreeable to many legislators.
One possible solution would be to provide national identification cards to every person living in the U.S. White cards could be issued to citizens, green cards to qualified undocumented workers, and tan cards (with bold expiration dates) to guestworkers and visitors.
Producing these I.D. cards would be a massive, expensive undertaking but would solve numerous problems related not only to immigration but also to voting; jury duty; law enforcement; access to education, health care, welfare and social security; etc. The cards could be made tamper proof, possibly by embedding them with finger-print recognition.
Other approaches or regulations would be needed to solve related immigration problems such as: controlling businesses’ hiring persons with no identification or false documents, control of hiring services by homeowners, re-consideration of the law granting birthright citizenship, guest-worker and specialized hiring programs, et. al.
The U.S. does not have an enemy that poses a realistic threat to our homeland, life or property. However, our possession of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction pose a significant risk to our own safety and security.
The maintenance and protection of practically all of these WMD’s are prone to accidents, thefts, misuse, rogue action, terrorism, equipment failure, obsolescence, deterioration, malfunction, human error, faulty intelligence, natural disasters, and unforeseeable consequences.
Continuing to spend vast sums of money on devices that are life-threatening, wasteful, and for the sake of humanity can never again be used is a form of insanity brought about by fear and paranoia. This insanity also has elements of corporate profits, power, political advantage or posturing, “Cold War” gamesmanship, military imperialism and misplaced priorities.
U.S. policy and practices of possessing WMD’s should be revisited and changed. Whole classes of WMDs should be eliminated or curtailed. In furtherance of our democracy there should be rational analysis and national discourse on this matter, taking into consideration not only the military need and deterrence value but also human rights, the environment conservation of natural resources and better use of manpower and finances.
SeniorsCAN respectfully urge President Obama to take action on this proposal. Please Mr. President – Take the high moral ground and responsible humanitarian leadership.
We are fully aware of the opposition and inertia of the military-industrial-congressional complex. But it is the right thing to do. If you make the authoritative, principled case to the American people as only you can so eloquently articulate, we believe you would not only have their overwhelming support but also the grateful endorsement of the world’s peoples.
Be courageous. End the “Cold War” mentality. Start an arms race in reverse. We believe this acton would go down in history as the “Obama Declaration”.
SeniorsCAN call upon President Obama to take what would be the boldest and most far-reaching action toward world peace and security in the 21st century.
President Obama should declare that the U.S. will proceed as soon as possible to reduce our stockpile of weapons of mass destruction with the immediate aim of total elimination of chemical and biological weapons, and by 2030 the partial reduction of nuclear and conventional weapons to a minimum level needed only for deterrence and national defense.
To assure the world that we will act and abide with international treaties, we should permit the United Nations to inventory, inspect and monitor the reductions.
Such actions would benefit the U.S. It would make us safer and less prone to accidents and terrorism. It would enhance us economically by reducing waste and making money available for debt reduction, infrastructure improvements or other uses. It would further U.S. prestige, international leadership, and consideration of human rights
The B61’s are a remnant of the Cold War. They are our oldest nuclear weapons and the Pentagon’s only tactical nuclear armament.
The only stated purpose of possessing and deploying B61’s and of proposing the “modernization” of these nuclear weapons is deterrence – mutually assured destruction.
Maintenance of B61’s based in Holland, Belgium, Italy and Turkey pose a risk of accidents and security at a cost not commensurate with its deterrence value. We already have more weapons and a redundancy of systems capable of reaching any place on earth.
The possession of any nuclear devises above some minimal number deemed necessary for political purposes only makes the world less safe. It not only does not make the U.S. more secure, but it actually weakens our defensive capability, our economy and our moral standing among nations.
It is unthinkable that a B61 would ever be used. It could trigger a catastrophic nuclear war. All of the B61’s in Europe are dangerous and provocative; they should be eliminated as soon as possible.
The U.S is engaged in a de facto, never-ending, pre-emptive are of choice against Al Qaeda and affiliates, including the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. We are also fighting Taliban factions and others identified as terrorists, Islamic extremists, militants, combatants, insurgents or rebels.
The CIA, The National Security Agency, and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command have been killing suspected enemies within the sovereign nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries.
President Obama should not assume “legal authority’ in conducting the so-called “War on Terror”. Unilateral military action killing persons without due process is against U.S. principles and international law.
Congress should re-visit this issue and re-assert its Constitutional duty to declare war and to exercise its responsibility for authorizing or prohibiting targeted killings and for financing intelligence and military expenditures.
The U.S. is not able to kill all terrorists. Attempts to rid the world of Al Qaeda using drones or other military means fosters retaliation. Killing particular leaders of a group is a stop-gap measure virtually ineffective; new leadership always emerges.
Where is the moral outrage of the majority of Americans in allowing the President to continue this war putting people in harm’s way and depleting valuable resources? Controlling international terrorism is not a license for an unlawful, on-going killing program. This matter should be handled similar to methods used to fight the Mafia nationally and gangs locally.
By Norm Gottlieb:
At times, I feel frustrated with my inability to solve the myriad of problems facing this country, and those of the world.
At times, I feel impotent, that my voice is like blowing into the wind.
At times, I fall into apathetic depression, thinking of giving up taking what appear to be futile actions.
At times, I have thoughts of doing nothing; it would be easy to “let others do it”.
However, soon after recognizing those feelings, I rededicate myself in the belief that the most effective changes occur by individual efforts leading to mass education and collective action.
I believe it is my duty as a responsible member of society to call for action toward solving even the most intractable problems by taking incremental, positive steps.
Most of the time, I feel compelled to action. I am optimistic. I have hope.