Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Opinion on Iraq War: Late Stages

It has become increasingly clear that the main justification by the Bush administration for going to war with Iraq was to bring the war against terrorism whatever that really is to the Middle East, to Iraq, rather than to fight terrorism within our own borders. Oil mattered but not as much as the Neo-Con dream of the USA running the world but calling it democracy or democratic reform. It didn't matter that the country chosen to pursue these Machiavelllian ends was not one of the countries in the Middle East from which terrorism was emanating. It also did not matter that innocent civilians In Iraq would in large part be the victims of this military venture and that the country would be brought to the brink of civil war, although some think there is already a civil war happening between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

One question that could be raised is Did the ends justify the mean ?, (Gee I like mean better than means, in this case) , in other words, did going to war with Iraq make terrorism go away from US shores? At the same time, the administration states we are achieving our goals in Iraq, the administration warns us constantly that we are just around the corner from a major attack on the USA. Can they have it both ways or have all the Bush foreign policy goals re Iraq ended up in disarray? Yes, I know there is all that talk about bringing democracy to Iraq and both Democrats and Republicans for the War do point to the elections and drawing up of a constitution that happened last month (nov 05) as an important step in this direction. It seems there has been a trade off of a dictatorship of Saddam Hussein that has been abolished instead for a fake type of democracy with unceasing violence and death and the use of a country for another country's ends and means which are to pacify a citizenry far away made afraid and whipped up by fear using 9/11 as the catalyst for starting the war, keeping it going, and now justifying its continuation.

Where will it all end? The country is waking up from its long sleep on this question. The troops will be pulled out but many will still stay in the region watching the action from nearby borders I would guess. In the end, everything the pundits against the War predicted will have come true: Further destabilization of the Middle East, a post Viet Nam kind of depression will set in; and, Afghanistan will still not have gotten rid of the Taliban and Al Quaeda which is what I thought this fight was all about in the first place.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


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What is the Future of Old Age?

There are two portraits that emerge about the future of old age in post industrial information age driven countries. One is an optimistic view that depicts the average middle class or professional person being healthy, content, independent, productive and living to a very old old age. The other picture is one of the have nots among the elderly who live with a variety of chronic illnesses that may go untreated as the health care system bankrupts itself as well as the country. This group of oldsters worry about how to pay the bills and many end up in nursing homes or their equivalent. Both depictions may turn out to be reality.

Many of the positive depictions revolve around the baby boomer generation which is expected to be more innovative and demanding about quality of life issues in later life as compared to their parents’ generation, many of whom seemed surprised, and satisfied that they lived as long as they did into their eighties and nineties with their economic nest eggs mostly intact. Most seemed realistic about both the benefits and deficits that attended old age. If there is one thing about the baby boomer generation that no one is predicting, it is that many will have a more difficult time accepting problems that might attend old age. Perhaps, it will be “the rising tide of expectation syndrome” that has already set in which is an attitude that says “I will outlive my parent’s generation and when I do I will outdo them in living to the very end with energy and verve”. (hypothetical quote)

This PollyAnnish expectation is a set up for failure, although there is no doubt that some will succeed in finding a way of life that suits them as well as also achieving a very old old age. It may end up being a different old age then any of these baby boomers ever predicted as most find the future when it comes a new and different reality than was ever expected. Who could ever have predicted for instance that someone born around the turn of the century would live to see telephones, television, a man on the moon, even the computer. More remarkably, who would have predicted Hippies, The Flower Children, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, The Rebirth of Feminism, Gay Liberation, The Transgendered Movement, Disabled Rights Movement and Gray Panthers.

Many predictions automatically assume that new medical breakthroughs, healthier life styles, and more demands for specialties that will meet the needs of the very old will ensure an increasingly older and healthier old age for each successive generation. The fact that the planet earth is being assaulted on a daily basis by the worst possible kind of pollutants in the air, water and the ground, that between high health care costs, inattention to poverty and famine around the world, the continuing tendency to foment horrible wars using weapons of mass destruction causing instability across the globe, concerns about pandemics, and other unforeseen consequences of the economic insensitivities of globalization in this postmodern world makes these kind of rosy scenarios of old age seem like some kind of idiotic lunacy.

It may be true that a smaller and smaller group of affluent persons who are still alive in the year 2035 -2050 may live to very advanced old ages (100-125 years of age or older). Many scientists are no longer speculating that humans, individual humans, cannot ever achieve an old age that goes beyond the approximate 120 year limit. Scientists are breaking the age barriers in their thinking about old age. Why not 150, why not 200? Who knows, it is theoretically possible, although no one states it quite this way. The Fountain of Youth is possible but will we want it and at what cost?

If the present keeps going the way it is now, the future is likely to hold both scenarios. Many continuing to die too young, never seeing even a middle age yet alone an old old old age. Middle age may begin at 60 and end at 100 for the elite who have all the benefits of futuristic medical stunts and endeavors but it is hard to imagine how this group of elites will manage to survive all the problems of living in an increasingly fragmented and war weary world. There are only so many walls that can be constructed around “The Leisure Worlds” and “Sun Cities” of the future.

Note: For demographic age pyramid prediction see

Sharon Raphael

posted by sharon raphael @ 11:38 PM   0 comments  

Monday, December 05, 2005

What a Shame! Cartoon by Mike Lane.

Tens of thousands of people gather at the Hong Kong Victoria Park before a huge march Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005 to pressure the government to speed up political reforms that would allow voters to pick the city's leader and entire legislature. (AP Photo)