Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Ameri-can or Ameri-can't?

         America has certainly taken a long and fast lap around the rest of the world in the past century. There is no question about it. The question that doesremain is whether or not America will keep at it or be passed up. In Joseph Nye’s book, Is the American Century Over?, Nye makes a vast array of points about America’s position on the world stage. He answers both yes and no, but still leaves it up to interpretation, because, after all, tomorrow is a mystery. It’s just a question of whether or not American past is going to be just history.
            Nye starts the book with a poll regarding American’s power and the perception of it by its citizen. To summarize, in 2011 38 percent believed that America stood above all other countries. In 2014, only 28 percent did (1). Is that a sign of decline? It would certainly be the first to be introduced, but the first point lays out the groundwork for the argument of what the playing field looks like. The nineteenth century is said to be the time where the United States ruled as the largest industrial super power (2). In terms of “purchasing power,” China has already beat the US according to the World Bank (3). There are some real experts having a say in his book.
            Purchasing power, however, is not everything. Power is the “ability to affect others to get the outcomes one wants,” says Nye (3). There are three ways in doing this: coercion, payments, and attraction (3). Nye says that economic power should not be the only way of addressing who is the most powerful (4). Nye says that when a country has “major power resources,” it may also have low power conversion capability. He uses the demonstration of the 1930s to demonstrate this: the US had a good economy but it had an isolationist policy (4). In the 1930s, it was virulently isolationist (6). The US has also done at other times a lot for global balance of power, so therefore it gives it power (4).
            Sticking with descriptions of the past, from 1945 to 1991 the world global balance of power was “bipolar,” as the US and the USSR competed for being supposedly unipolar (7). Some compare the US military power (as hegemon) to the nineteenth century British hegemony (8). If anything, with China and American competing, this would also a bipolar world, but the argument is that America will not be taking center stage.
Could America be following in the footsteps of Great Britain? It’s a point that Nye brings up (8). Critics point out that America hasn’t actually been a full hegemony though (11). It’s sort of living a lie by leading people to believe it is. Instead of calling it “American hegemony” it should be called “the American century” (14). Nye ends the next, second chapter by concluding that just because there are 100 year cycles (17), that doesn’t mean that it will prove to be true for every hundred years. History doesn’t repeat itself (18). Americans just have a long history of stressing about a decline (18). 
            Nye mentions relative decline and absolute decline (20). He also writes about other countries: Europe as a whole has a bigger economy (24), Japans population is shrinking (29), Russia, as a “one crop economy” is in decline (34), India will have more people than any country by the year 2025 (39), and Brazil has high corruption issues (43). He shares the other nations states as a way to help the reader know where other nations are at and where they are headed in connection to the US.
            There is a strong emphasis on the rise of China, but it’s left room for a debate. There are certainly a lot of facts on the matter though. Nye says that China is lacking cultural industries that would compete with Hollywood or Bollywood (47). He also says that China’s “rise” is a misnomer, that recovery is more accurate (48). China also lacks a greater PPP (Purchasing power parity), but it is expected to surpass the United States soon (49). Its per capita income is only 20 percent of the US level. It will take decades to catch up (if ever) (50).
            China’s trade is “larger but relatively less sophisticated than that of the United States or Germany (50).  In the 2020s, China will probably be the world’s biggest economy, but not its most advanced (51). It’s authoritarian political system has shown an “impressive power conversion capability” which is why it has built impressive cities and high-speed trains (54). China also has the largest internet population (600 million users), but it has a lot of control associated with it (55).
            China’s military is half that of the US, spending 2 percent of its GDP on it (56). China needs more soft power if it wants to look less frightening (59). The reason China does not have it is because it is assertive over its territorial claims involving its neighbors (60). “China,” says Nye, “makes the mistake of thinking that government is the main instrument of soft power (61). 
            Nye also says that, “Only China can contain China” He says that a rising China throws its weight around and drives surrounding countries to seek to balance their own power (66). The US has more allies than China (67). China is also in favor of international institutions such as the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (68). Nye acknowledges that “miscalculation are always possible, but conflict is inevitable” (69). The US still remains decades in front of China in military, economic, and soft power resources at the global level (69).
            In Nye’s book, he points out that Rome did not succumb to the rise of a competing empire (71). He says that if America declines, it’s because of domestic reasons (71). America’s culture is “never static and critics often lament the ways of the current generation” (72). These culture wars and other’s that are quite obvious now could distract America to the point of not being able to focus on its foreign policy (73). On a more positive note, the World Economic Forum ranked the US 3rdout of 154 countries in terms of global economic competitiveness (78). 
            A concern would be that American people are in a lot of debt right now. The state is, as well to foreign governments (81). American’s do quite well in terms of education. 32 percent graduate from college (82). The US spends nearly twice as much on higher education as a percentage of GDP than do any of France, Germany, Britain, or Japan (83). Americans also “win more Nobel prizes than do citizens of any other country, and publish more scientific paper in peer-reviewed journals” (83).
            The Constitution, as Nye accurately describes it, is based on the eighteenth-century liberal view that power best be pluralized and have checks and balances (87). Considering how much emphasis is now on federal government, this is in question and America could be moving away from its roots.
            There are a few points that Nye shared regarding power shifts and global complexity. He said the two great power shifts that occurring right now are: power transitioning from West to East, and power diffusion from governments to non-state actors, a result of the information revolution that is occurring on a global scale (94). He says the shift of power to non-state actors is causing a lot of transnational issues. This includes financial stability, climate change, terrorism, and pandemics, which tends to make the ability of all governments ability to respond weak (95). He says that power is widely diffused, so it makes no sense to speak of unipolarity, multipolarity, or hegemony (96). The nuclear age that we are living in is also a part of the debate regarding power (103). 
The US ranks second after internet use, this means that cyber security is a threat (104). Nye says that the “information revolution could reduce the power of large states and enhance the power of small sates and non-state actors” (108). He says the information revolution increases the diffusion of power in this century (110). Nye says that it is changing in a way that makes the US not as likely to achieve many of its international goals while acting alone (111).
Nye concludes the book by saying that China will not necessarily surpass the US as the most powerful country (114). He says that it is likely that the US’s centrality will help create a global balance for power (115). America also faces issues like “debt, secondary education, income inequality, and political gridlock” (115). The real issue that Nye describes is not being overtaken by China or another country, but instead it will see itself face to face with a rise in the power resources of state and non-state actors (116). One of Nye’s conclusions is that America’s century continuing depends on a wide set of alliances and will increasingly do so in the new context of world politics (123). His final conclusion is that “the United States will need to make smart strategic choices both at home and abroad if it wishes to maintain its position (127). 
Nye really does say it best. Moreover, many Americans associate immigration with the decline in America, but Nye does not talk much about it like that. Other than saying that non-state actors threaten the US, he leaves this up to interpretation. China may have more internet users, but they are subject to censorship. Another problem is debt.  Although the US has more PPP, many American’s live paycheck to pay check or on credit. The cost of an educations is very high. Stratification is increasing. Nye doesn’t mention the polycentric alternative.
The specific theme is that America will not lose its greatness. With culture combined with politics, the United States remains to provide the best quality of life compared to other nations. It’s more eco-friendly than China and other countries in Asia. Our non-state actors can take credit for that, activism has strong roots in AmeriCAN culture, and because of the strong emphasis on smart power, the US has a good balanced compared to competing nations, like China, Brazil, India, and Russia, all whom are more authoritarian. 

                                                Reference Page

Nye, Joseph. 2015. Is the American Century Over?Malden, MA: Polity Press. 


            Aliens have been the talk of the town in Hollywood films, with too many movies to list. All over world, people talk about UFO’s and aliens as if they were a potential happening. “What if we were not alone?” they ask. “This universe is too big to house just us,” many say. The truth is that UFOs are here and they might have always been, but the people that could benefit from its disclosure don’t all believe it because governments have not made the information mainstream enough for them to see it, therefore viewings are not seen as credible in the eyes of the world governments or the people. While some countries de-classify the sightings, they haven’t made a massive public announcement. 
            On an individual level, there are government officials who recognize the credibility of UFO researchers. In the book “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record,” Leslie Kean, the author, requested that John Podesta, the former White House Chief of Staff, write the forward. Making this book even more credible, John Podesta starts the forward by saying that he supports the work of investigative journalism. This includes Leslie Kean and her organization, the Coalition for Freedom of Information, which was launched in 2001 (Kean 2010: 6). This organization obtained documents about UFOs through what is known nationally as the Freedom of Information act (6). 
            According to Podesta, Kean and her co-writers seek to establish a small U.S. government agency to cooperate with other countries that are also formally investigating, reviewing, and releasing information relevant to the UFOs. Kean expects this new organization to handle the documents, and any future investigations, with openness and efficiency (7). In Kean’s book, Podesta says that it’s time for “governments, scientists, and aviation experts to work together in unraveling the questions about UFOs that have so far remained in the dark. It’s time to find out what is really is that’s out there” (7). Podesta says that Kean seeks to do this, but she still isn’t so known (7).
            The military, who is also involved in supporting the research, put John B. Alexander up to the task of understanding this issue, while bringing other governments into the picture. He was a Green Beret vet who served in Southeast Asia. He is also a Doctor who has also served in high-level management positions since he retired from the Army with the grade of colonel. The assignments that have been given to him have brought him into contact with many of the highest scientific and governmental circles in the US and Europe (Alexander 2011: xiii). In response to so many sightings, the Advanced Theoretical Physics Projects (ATP), was created. Alexander says that its primary location was in the “spacious office” funded by the government in Tysons Corner, Virginia (6). He says that the Department of Defense had the responsibility to study what people were seeing (6). 
            Alexander says that there is an abundance of UFO cases. It makes selecting a certain one to use as an example difficult (Alexander: 155). These sightings are not just happening in America. The US government knows this, so they research them all over the world, including what Alexander considers to be the most important case: at the Royal Air Force Base at Bentwater in the United Kingdom in 1980 (155). The reason this one stands out is because so many people saw the UFO, but in this particular case it was seen by highly qualified U.S. Air Force personnel. These particular personnel were from the Personal Reliability Program, which means they had undergone “extensive psychological testing prior to being assigned to sensitive positions” (155). This example demonstrates that the public is not alone in its curiosity. 
            In both books, John B. Alexander and Leslie Kean describe countless cases of UFO sightings that had been recorded and documented by the US government over the course of many decades. There is a strong stigma if communicated, and despite the strong evidence supporting this case, which had been seen by many, still, a strong stigma exists against talking about UFOs. Despite all the evidence that Alexander and Kean outline, and the U.S. government knowledge of it, there are so many people who are approached with skepticism in the accounts of witnessing a UFO.
            Regardless of the stigma, the people and the media are interested in UFOs. Even though there is a stigma, most people believe in and are interested in UFOs. On November 7, 2006, there was an “unimaginable happening” at the Chicago O’Hare Airport during the afternoon rush hour. For approximately five minutes, “a disc-shaped object hovered quietly over the United Airlines terminal and then cut a sharp hole in the cloud bank above while zooming off” (Kean: 72). Kean says that not a lot of people had heard about it until a story about it broke in the Chicago Tribune almost two months later, which lead to CNN, MSNBC, and other networks all making a news story of it (72). The story goes that a pilot announced its sighting over an inbound ground radio for all the grounded planes (72). Kean says there was a “buzz” at United Airlines about this event (72). It’s no wonder the story surfaced, just not right away. Stories like this happen all over the world.
            Alexander quotes a poll that says that the majority of the population believes that the U.S. Government is withholding information about extraterrestrials (Alexander: 75). He quotes a 1997 CNN/Timepoll that says that 80 percent of Americans thought that their government hides knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life (75). In 2002, another poll was taken, a Roper Poll, which reported results that were similar, indicating that 72 percent of Americans believe that aliens have contacted humans. It says that 68 percent believed that the “government was hiding information that was known about extraterrestrial life” (72). From the Roper respondents, 12 percent reported that they have or somebody they know have seen a UFO at close quarters (72). He reports that 2 percent have experienced a close encounter with a UFO. That’s six million Americans (75).
            The paradigm surrounding UFOs involved secrecy yet a shared curiosity in the US and around the world. Many New Age cults have responded through “channeling” the aliens of hearing reports from people that have encounters. There is a big online community called Gaia that conveys information about extraterrestrials, and CSETI does its part too. The original SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) searched out for outside intelligence using radio frequencies, which they received back. The experiment proved to be incorrect and that this feedback device was not working properly. CSETI (Center for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) has had a better outcome, which they talk about in the movie “The Unexplained,” which involved groups of believers getting together and then summoning UFOs, which do indeed come and they can even prove it on camera. Shows like Ancient Aliens seek to tackle the theories on mythology, but are they too subjective to get through to the masses? Do people just not care?
            Raymond Duvall, in the essay Sovereignty and the UFO, says that, even despite people like John B. Alexander and John Podesta doing research into it, that “UFOs have never been systematically investigated by science or the state, because it is assumed to be known that none are extraterrestrial” (Wendt & Duvall 2008: 607). How can this be if so many people in the government have come forward, and also shows like Ancient Aliens, which lead the public to believe in their series? The truth is that it’s a matter of sovereignty, that humans don’t want to believe that aliens created us when we are the rulers of earth (608). Ever since the enlightenment, the super natural has taken the back burner. Still though, theories like intelligent design and ancient alien theory get proven wrong, who is to say that Ancient Aliens won’t be? Not knowing certainly adds to the mystery…
            There’s a lot of stuff out there. It’s hard to sort through what is wrong and what is right, but the truth is that people have been seeing UFOs, and it has been in the mainstream media too. Why are not the politicians speaking on it? It is because it seems like people don’t know what to do about extraterrestrials? Adding it to political debates would be adding flames to a fire, so they keep it quiet, leaving esoteric websites like SiriusDisclosure.com to convey the documents of nations like the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Vatican City, Japan, Ireland, France, and Chile, all nations who have disclosed UFOs, but just not in a way that has reached the general public, so instead they communicate the information quietly (Siriusdisclosure.com 2019). 
            An interesting idea from international relations theorist, Alexander Wendt, came about in a written interview called “Theory Talks: Alexander Wendt” on UFO’s, Black Swans, and Constructivist International Relations Theory.” When asked if international relationships were having an “identity crisis,” he said that it, “certainly has become an incredibly diverse terrain…” (Wendt 2008: 3). He disagreed that it was an identity crisis, but that there are a lot of contradictory positions in IR. He says that in the US a lot of people “demand very rigorous science in order to find the Truth with a capital “T” (3). He says that advancement is dependent on people accepting that there are “interesting positions in other fields from which we can learn a lot” (3). This is where the paranormal experts would come into plays: digging into the massive amounts of documentation from groups, including the CIA, who have done the research, just not politically on a macro level.
            These new age “cults” have some pretty remarkable findings. The problem is they are being hushed by “the man” who want to preserve Christianity because it helps them to win votes, at least in America. While authoritarian nations censor it, media outlets in the US every-once-in-a-while document a sighting caught on camera, but not at the word of the governments of the world. Where is the G7 in this matter? Or the G20? Or even BRICS? These sightings and experiencing are documented and sometimes even captured on camera. There may be a debate, but it’s just not yet a capital “T” truth. Most people can handle the truth, but they just don’t seek it out.
            Drezner points out that in a liberal paradigm, which is what the world is leaning towards, a liberal paradigm would present two paradigms of a result of a his example of a zombie attack in his book on international relations. The first, some countries would not provide timely information about a zombie outbreak until the main problem had increased to being beyond local control (Drezner 2015: 60). Drezner says that authoritarian nations are often “reluctant to admit health crises because of the threat of such an admission could have on state control over society” (60-61). As America becomes more authoritarian, information is being suppressed, thus the reason for not releasing many of the reports. The second has more to do with a local happening. 
            Developing countries would be at risk, just as they would be a zombie attack, says Drezner. Just as they would lack the infrastructure to recognize the reemergence of the living dead, they would also not communicate it to other countries, like China’s refusal to notify the rest of the world of a severe SARS outbreak (61). Why must it be assumed that the aliens would be harmful though? Although Stephen Hawkins says it would be equivalent to what the white man did to the Native Americans, that doesn’t mean it’s true.
            The truth is that UFOs are a world issue that often goes ignored. People in the government have come forward, but it has been mostly up to American hegemony and the soft power associated with it to speak to the masses, while leaving the issue still up to be stigmatized. The show Ancient Aliensdepict them as our gods, but modern physicists don’t like the idea because it doesn’t match up with their theories. Just to further a point, the Roman calendar was able to discover that there are 365 days a year before the invention of the telescope. Is it really not possible that there wasn’t an intelligence source telling them this information that is beyond epistemological observation?
 Governments of this world are taking this issue and turning it into hard power instead of edifying the masses by building soft power through a world announcement. Until we achieve a more liberalized society, a new spiritual paradigm will still be in the “cult” phase of religion. If there isn’t disclosure, world leaders would be leaving all the world’s religious conflicts still up to be dated to stuff hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years old, instead of creating a new religious paradigm in the whole world. Although many governments have come out openly about UFOs, the US should be leading more to. 

                                                            Reference Page

Alexander, John B. 2011. UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realties.New York, NY. St. Martin’s Press.

Drezner, Daniel. 2015.Theories of International Politics and Zombies.Princeton, NJ.  Princeton University Press.

Duval, Raymond & Wendt, Alexander. 2008. “Sovereignty and the UFO.”  Sage Publications Volume 36 (Number 4):607-608.http://minotb52ufo.com/pdf/Wendt-Duvall-Sovereignty-and-the-UFO.pdf

Kean, Leslie. 2010.UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on Record.New York, NY. Crown Publishing Group.  

SiriusDisclosure. 2019. “Countries Releasing UFO Information.” Sirius Disclosure. (https://siriusdisclosure.com/evidence/countries-releasing-ufo-information/)


In 2015 Minnesota had a population of 5.3 million people (Shragg, 2015, p. 34). If Minnesota was as dense as Haiti, Minnesota would have 79 million people (Shragg, 2015, p. 34). Although this may be taken with a sigh of relief, despite the difference density, both places are contributing to climate change in one way or another, one in poverty and the other in comfort. Although living in the Twin Cities may be more comfortable than Haiti, there is a larger carbon footprint due to consumerism, which would increase if the poor, more populated nations became larger consumers, and climate change would get worse. Climate change is no longer debatable, and overpopulation is to blame for the destruction of the planet.
Ten thousand years ago, at the start of the agricultural revolution, the human population was about 5 million. Next came the Malthusian leap, which was up to 300 million by the birth of Christ; in 1800, 1 billion; by 1927, 2 billion; 3 billion by 1960, 4 billion by 1974; by 1987 there were 5 billion; in 1999, there were about 6 billion; and more than a whopping 7 billion in 2017. There’s predicted to be 10 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by 2100 (Frances, 2017, p. 25). The common Malthusian understanding is that this increase has caused poverty and hunger Darwin incorporated this principle into his work to revolutionized modern thinking. Malthus pessimism suggests this growth is a bad thing because it leads to poverty and hunger, and it’s true just like there are other negative consequences to overpopulation (The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 2016, para. 5). Poverty is just one result of over population, the more detrimental consequence is the warming of the planet.
With this population growth, there has been a massive spike in the Carbon Dioxide in the air. CO2 has increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) at the beginning of the industrial revolution to 400 ppm just recently in 2013. In the book, Ten Billion, Stephen Emmott (2013) says, to keep the temperature down, the people of this world would have to limit our CO2 intake, but the world will not meet the target of keeping concentrations between 425-450 ppm because people and corporations are not cooperating with environmentalists (p. 34). Not only has the carbon dioxide in the air been increasing, but the temperatures of this planet have been as well. That includes the ocean climate (Emmott, 2013, p. 40), and that is another thing that is no longer debatable, but the reason is still ambiguous to some.
The truth is that too many people prevent this planet from living sustainably, which means “living in a way that does not put a heavy demand on the environment and resources” (Shragg, 2015, p.4). Sadly, the rising number of people has created so many more demands out of the resources Mother Earth has to offer. 
This planet is not just dealing with more people, the world is dealing with more of a need for land, which means deforestation (Emmott, 2013, p. 64).  Land is a true commodity, as the 40 percent of the ice-free land areas are being used for farming (Emmot, 2013, p. 49). Emmott writes that the rest of the land is made of up of the Sahara and larger parts of Australia, which are both unsuitable for agriculture; the places in urban and suburban areas; protected areas, like national parks; land where the extraction of finite resources take place; and managed forests for timber production (Emmott, 2013, p. 49).  All this land isn’t going to sustain a growing population comfortably, which is why it is not sustainable just like the future populations.
Bini Irwin, Steve Irwin’s daughter, said something along the lines of, “[Overpopulation] is a lot like having a birthday party for 15 people and 70 people show up. You have 15 party favors, 15 cupcakes and when 70 people arrive they expect their fair share, but there isn’t enough to go around” (Qtd. in Shragg, 2015, p. 38). Shragg (2015) reported that in 2013, the US State Department, under Hillary Clinton, was the one that censored Irwin’s essay (p. 27). When the neglect to inform the citizens of populations that have consequences of a result of overpopulation (which is all of them), this presents what Trevers and Sailer call a “democratic defect.” This is a democratic system or government that has acted in a way that has neglected to look after its citizens in a way that is in their best interest (Trevors & Saier, 2008, para. 1). 
Frances (2017) argues that while the world discusses things like “war, refuge crisis, famine or pandemics,” the debates seemed geared to focus on the political and economic precipitants, almost always avoiding the main root cause, which is overpopulation” (p. 24).  The world is afraid of the awful connotations that population control has, which are “Hitler, eugenics, killing babies, restricting reproduction, and destroying the primacy of family life” (p. 24). Frances says, “Everyone is afraid to talk, or even think, about the population bomb, because we would then have to face the urgent, but delicate and difficult, problem of defusing it” (p. 24). That’s not an easy task, but birth control is a start.
In the book Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth, Wiesman (2013) writes that 1934 was the year that the US began its first governmental birth control program in Puerto Rico (p. 68) Puerto Rico didn’t have much room to expand considering that it is only one hundred miles wide and thirty-five miles side. It didn’t have much room to expand, but it was expanding. Speculation has it that they tested on Puerto Rico because of their skin color, but it could also be said that they needed to test on somebody, and with a climbing population and less land, Puerto Rico was a prime candidate (p. 69). 
The Puerto Rican’s were taking high-dosage pills and experienced “nausea, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, bloating, or vomiting” there were some Puerto Ricans that suffered blood clots and strokes (p 29). They were not the greatest side effects, so this is one of the contributing factors that gave birth control a bad name. Years later, in Costa Rica has been one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. Families averaged between seven and eight children per household (Weisman, 2013, p. 68). The birth control programs that the US started in Costa Rica successfully slowed down the population growth, making Costa Rica into the popular destination that it is (p. 68).
In American society, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the organizations that get it, says Shragg of World Population Balance. According to Shragg, the foundation does very “commendable work” as they try to break down the cultural barriers that prevent people access to birth control. This is to an estimated 220 million women in third world countries (Shragg, 2015, p. 20). The reason this is so important to Shragg is that “overpopulation prevents a good quality of life for anyone struggling to live where resources are stressed” (2015, p. 20).   Frances (2017) also says that birth control is important. He says that Planned Parenthood is the “world’s most effective solution to the challenge of the Malthusian population dyscontrol.” He also explains the history of it: It was found a century ago by Margaret Sanger. This was in one tiny clinic in Brooklyn, New York. Now it runs 650 clinics in the United States. They provide reproductive, educational, and women’s health services. They have affiliates in twelve other countries (p. 28). Certainly, commendable work—worth funding.
Despite the sensibility of programs like Planned Parenthood, it has been subject to a lot of scrutiny, mainly from the religious Republican politicians and voters. They are more concerned about getting babies born than creating programs to make sure those babies have a good, quality life (Frances, 2017, p. 28). Trevors and Saier (2008) asked the reader if fascism look familiar in today’s society (para. 4). Although this was written twenty years ago, in today’s society that has been a question that a lot of people have been asking after noticing certain trends. Racial superiority of a certain group or nation is the key theme in fascism, which Americans are seeing in the Donald Trump presidency. It seems like increasing the American population is a political scheme for dominance, especially considering the rise in the Chinese population in China, our competition.
When people think population control, often times China is thought of. China has a one child policy for a long time, but according to Yang, Wang, and Zhang, there are three things that people should know. The first is that the one child policy was not East Asian. Two, it was created out of pressure from the United Nations. And three, the high levels of fertility that happened from the adoption of the one-child policy came because of the Great Famine of 1958-1961, which killed 30 million people (Yang et. al, Qtd in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 2016, para. 12). There is a question of how effective it is because birth rates were already declining. Also, since there were less young people, there were not as many people to support aging populations. More men ended up being born than women, leaving more men single and without a household. This effected the quality of life in China (Yang et al, 2016, para. 13). China’s population continues to rise, and that is a threat to the US, which could be one of the reasons that people deny it. 
Nevertheless, activists like Shragg continue to try and spread the world that population is the cause of global warming, poverty, hunger, and the overall discomfort of certain groups. Labeling this idea as “population sanity,” Shragg (2015) suggests that groups like Feed My Starving Children would be better off making sure starving people do not reproduce because it only creates starving children (p. 36). Although it’s a good thing that this world has groups like that, it’s not a good thing that developed nations can’t help out more by ending the cycle of impoverished people reproducing to create families that cannot provided for themselves. 
To add to the list of problems, Madeline Weld, the President of Population Institute of Canada, says that, “It is not just a religious right that hampers access to family planning…so does the feminists and social justice left…They derailed any direct targeting of population growth by linking it to indifference to women’s rights, racism, and eugenics” (qtd. in Shragg, 2015, p. 39). All overpopulation activists struggle to get their message out in competition with all the naysay.
There are stereotypes of overpopulation activist that are hard to break, and the Catholic church has been re-enforcing these stereotypes in their teachings. They also hold the view the human fertilized egg is sacred and should not be aborted (The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 2016, para. 24). What they really think about population, as quoted by Pope Frances, is that “demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development” (para. 24). This just means they want to put it in the hands of God equally, that Catholics don’t want to tell certain people not to reproduce or prevent it of anyone. These expectations are having a very negative effect on an increasingly populated world. 
It’s not just climate change that is no longer debatable, over population is too. The problem is that it’s not debated enough. It’s a topic that rarely comes up, but scholars have been trying to make it known. It’s a petrifying reality that there 2.6 billion cars produced between 1900 and 2012, and that by 2050 there are predicted to be 4 billion more, as reported by the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (Qtd. in Emmott, 2013, p. 110). That’s not looking good for the melting of icecaps, which releases a “significant quantities” of methane from the Artic Ocean (Emmott, 2013, p. 118). There is no end to the argument…population must be humanely reduced, and the next few generations will have to be the ones to do it.

The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. (2016). Editors Introductions: Is Overpopulation a Problem? Multiple Perspectives on this Perennial Question. 
Emmott, S. (2013). Ten Billion. New York. Vintage Books.
Frances, A. (2017). Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump. HarperCollins. 
Shragg, K. (2015). Move Upstream: A Call to Solve Overpopulation. Minneapolis, MN. Free Thought House.
Trevors, J. T., & Saier, M. H., J. (2010). The democracy defect and our polluted, overpopulated biosphere. Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 205, 73-74. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11270-008-9768-y

Weisman, A. (2013). Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope For a Future on Earth? New York, NY. Little, Brown Company 

The Cheap Track to Obesity

            America is the wealthiest nation in the world. Although wealth is associated with “silver spoons” that feed hungry mouths, all over America, people are eating off of plastic spoons at cheap dining, and it effects all Americans in some way or another. Cheap dining is an American specialty which is contributing to large waistlines and inactive lifestyles that puts America to shame. In capitalist societies like America, cheap labor and product advertisements set the foundation for an economic system that is geared for profit. In addition, Americans have a busy lifestyle and make more income than in most countries. But they go for the most advertised and affordable food products, even if the cheap food isn’t healthy and makes America the most obese nation in the world.
            With the debate of obesity being a matter of more than just guilty pleasure, it also revolves around a debate about Americans’ obesity being an economic one, where capitalism is at fault for America’s weight problems. Karl Marx theorized that in a capitalist society, the best labor would be the cheapest labor (qtd. in Ritzer 42). This doesn’t just mean the production of certain commodities, but also the material that the product is made out of. The cheaper the better, according to big corporations. It means they profit, and Americans can pocket their savings. Being the home of cheap distribution, many look for sales and savings instead of a holistic investment into their health. Over the years in America, food has been getting cheaper and easier to make. All American’s are affected by these recent trends, and less money out of American pockets, not just corporation, is being spent as a result.
A new study at the University of Illinois found that Americans spend a smaller share of their paychecks on food than any other nation in history (Preidt). The study found that in the 1930s the average American spent one-fourth of their income feeding themselves. In the 1950s, that fell to one-fifth. Now, one-tenth of people’s disposable income is on food (Preidt). Consumerism is one of the great things that capitalism has to offer. People would rather spend money on technology or entertainment, funneling their money into whatever suits their preference. Food has become less of a priority, which is paradoxical because although Americans spend less money on food, they are actually gaining weight. As a consequence, the cheap food that Americans consume is very bad for the health. Processed food is hard to digest, because it is not organic. Therefore, all that junk food stays inside the body and becomes stored as fat. It should be considered that the rich people, the people profiting off the food, keeps getting richer because there is a greater demand for more food for the obese people. Living in a free world though, we still have options, but some are better than others.
            Just like how cigarette ads have been banned, public health advocates say that advertisements for unhealthy food should be regulated for the same reasons (Barclay). Hedy Kober, a doctor who runs the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at Yale University, found that out of the 45 publications that they reviewed and the of 3,300 participants they surveyed, they found “a very strong” relationships between cues and eating (Qtd. in Barclay). If food regulation was the solution, then it’s pretty far out of reach, says Robert Paarlberg, a food and agricultural policy scholar affiliated with the Harvard Kennedy School and Welleley College. He says that food advertisement is protected under the freedom of speech amendment. He says the supreme court would weigh in to overthrow any attempts to regulate ads for fast food or other products that are regularly advertised (Barclay). It’s unfortunate, really. People see these and they act as subliminal ques to go out and eat. It is almost like hypnosis for the stomach not just the mind, but what is going to happen to help stop it?
            Since regulating ads isn’t an option, Americans are forced to settle for the culture that they have, and it has made two out of three Americans to be obese (Aalai). In a thoughtful Psychology Today article, Azadeh Aalia Ph.D. points out that American culture is contributing the issue of obesity, and busy lifestyle are a part of the problem. Access has a lot to do with why people can’t get food, not only do we deal with food deserts in certain places, but also, as Aalai describes, Americans are “assaulted” by the overabundance of it in most places. Technology is the second reason described. She says that we don’t work out as much as we used to because life is easier. There has been increase of a lack of portion control, which is the third reason (Aalai). Mindless eating is the next big issue, and the final one listed. These five attributes make up a big part of the issue, and they are not exactly in the locus of control of Americans while considering busy lifestyles, which stems back to the economic and capitalist points.
            America certainly does have an obesity problem, and it doesn’t look like it will go away so easily. Although capitalism is a part of the problem, American businesses and consumers could make things better by not settling for processed food if they work up some discipline and relinquish the obsessions for bargains. Although regulation has been proposed, regulation is not an option considering the American Constitution. With processed foods and additives being toxic to the people, it’s nothing that we of a culture would be powerless against if Americans quit taking the fastest and cheapest track to satisfying their hunger. Certain measures have been taken to improve our diets, but a big part of the issue is that people are socio-economically deprived and overworked, so they have no choice but to grab that plastic spoon and eat off it, while the silver spooned, privileged people take home the grass-fed bacon. 
Works Cited:

Aalai, Azadeh. “Psychology Today.” Top Five Ways American Culture is Making You Fat: U.S.  Growing (and no, I don’t mean the economy,” October 21st, 2012. 
Barclay, Eliza. “Scientists Are Building a Case For How Food Ads Make Us Overeat.” National Public Radio, January 29th, 2016.  https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/01/29/462838153/food-ads-make-us-eat-more-and-should-be-regulated
Preidt, Robert. “Cheaper Food May Be Fueling U.S. Obesity Epidemic.” MedicineNet.com

Ritzer, George. Essentials of Sociology. Chapter 2, third edition, 42, 2016.

Wordless Warrior

During the contentious power struggle between the elite and the workers, individuals at times of chaos rebel against expectations. This is known as class consciousness, according to Karl Marx (Ritzer: 42). Although I don’t believe that the shooters were particularly targeting the 1% based on their victims, the people of this world who commit these acts are dealing with frustrations. These shooters turn to violence when they are not heard, or when they don’t have the words to describe why they are angry, because they are dealing with class battle and therefore an educational one, even on a micro level when you consider the concept of power distance between fellows. This could be from the relationship between teacher and student, to the people and politicians, to a patient and their psychiatrist. What is happening with these shootings is leaders unintentionally make people feel that the world is not a safe place while turning the workers against each other by using certain stigmas that create distance between people and their fellows with mental illness. 
Anger is a big part of mass shooting, but without words that anger turns into careless action. While still considering classical sociological theory, let it be said that the rise of secular society can be compared to the Calvinists in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, because shooters too are un-phased by potential consequences, with secularism being a new religion to our modes of conduct. The Calvinist people believed in predetermination, so they didn’t see the value in choice; they just made actions, maybe not like James Holmes of the Aurora shooting did, but there are similar themes (Ritzer:43).  
Emile Durkeim’s theory stood out while comparing suicide to mass shootings. It’s almost common knowledge now to believe that people who are mentally ill tend to go one of two ways: Some kill themselves, some kill others. Shooters choose the latter. While making the comparison to Japan, the Japanese have a collective conscience that believed that suicide is more normal, stemming from the actions of the ronin samuri. In current society, too many of the overworked Japanese people kill themselves to get out of the routine, motivated by what Durkeim says to be the collective conscience (Ritzer: 47). More and more, we are seeing mass shootings take place…they are copying each other as the collective ego manifests itself as a new norm that looks a lot like a collective conscience, and similar yet opposite to the suicides in Japan. 
James Holmes reportedly had a quarrel with his psychiatrist (Phillips: 2018), which is an indication of a lack of respect for power distance. This relationship is the micro to Marx’s macro. With society having a fractal-like effect, our capitalist society has a greater power distance between authority figures and citizens, or in Holmes’ case, psychiatrist and patient. After the shootings, law enforcement, in Holme’s case, responded by him giving a psychiatric evaluation (Reid, 2014). He got given a diagnose and declared guilty, despite his plea for reasons of insanity. Mental health systems seek to abolish this behavior, but I feel that it’s something that 1960’s experiment can describe, in addition to the classical theories. John Calhoun lead an experiment to predict the outcomes of the increasing human population and it was found that the mice started to totally go against their nature in a highly communal and connected space. They, however, did not have semi-automatic weapons, and it’s unfortunate that we do, but the people that commit these shooters, according to the FBI would not have failed a background check.
According to the trends of the last half a century, it is the sick that commit acts of deviance, including mass shootings. What has not changed, according to Anne Hendershott, the writer of Natural Law and the Sociology of Deviance, is the societal values that are based on unwritten laws that stretch from community to community. The boundaries that are created, she suggests, “protect us from the instability of moral panic” (Hendershott: 45). In a post-structural age, those laws are more ambiguous than they ever have been. Although Hendershott doesn’t bring post-structuralism into the equation, what is brought in is the concept of mental illness, deviance understood as sickness instead of a moral flaw. She does bring up globalization in regard to moral judgment. She says that globalization has, “created societies based less on shared culture than on narrow calculations of individual self-interest” (Hendershott:46). 
This brings us to Adler and Adler’s ABC’s of deviance. Deviance is contingent on attitude, behaviors, and conditions. Attitudes are internals, so in regards to a case like James Holmes, he was suffering from mental illness. He got diagnosed with delusional disorder and schizotypal personality disorder (Reid: 2014.) This would obviously influence his behavior, thus his reason for dressing strangely, dyeing his hair orange and dressing like the Joker. Schizotypal people tend to have weird appearances…the conditions mean that the shooting at a Batman film provided him an outlet to dress as the Joker. He had an affinity for the film and delusions regarding his relation to it.
While also going deeper into Hedershott’s article, the medicalization of deviance is brought up. Sociologists named Conrad and Schneider (1980: 6) wrote that eventually deviants would no longer be labeled as evil. While some people consider shooters to be mentally ill, the conspiracy community stood up for Holmes and a film called, The James Holmes Conspiracy, was created. People said that there was another shooter, despite police reports saying otherwise. The other explanation for a justification of deviance being medical has to do with the pharmaceutical industry. People pointed fingers at psychotropic drug companies and psychiatrists, much like the one James Holmes had. Many say that psychotropic drugs make people commit shootings, but sociologists say otherwise.
A sociologist and a four-term U.S. senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, had something to say about why shootings happen. He wrote about “defining deviancy down,” and pointed to the horrifying trend of unacceptable behaviors becoming acceptable (Hendershott: 46). There is a lot of numbing going on in our society because deviance has become normative. Many deviant behaviors, as he says, has been increasing. This is even in a time of prosperity for our society. What he considers to be “defining deviancy up” has to do with the old normal being now stigmatized (Hendershott: 46). It’s increasingly twisted. With the common assumption of narcissism being a factor, these shooters are seeking out attention. While serial killers used to bring that, now it’s old news. We don’t hear about serial killers as much, but mass shooters make the headlines that serial killers used to. 
We are in a tricky time period while considering post-structural beliefs dominating American hegemony. People are pointing fingers in all different directions…the issue isn’t black and white though. It is not about good vs. evil, sick vs. sane. Just as ordinary people were responsible for The Holocaust, ordinary people are committing mass shootings, while being labeled ill when this society is just as sick. 
The macro has a huge influence on the micro. Certain conditions are allowing these events to happen, and it’s not just because American’s are allowed guns. There are many truths that make up our understanding of this world. There are a lot of factors playing into this, and unfortunately not enough solutions. While everybody turns to the experts to diagnose or lead, people become victims to them. But that is what the world is made of: victims and predators, it’s just a shift that we are seeing in the semantics of those labels. 
Karl Marx once said, “A philosopher produces ideas, a poet poems, a clergyman sermons, a professor compendia and so on. A criminal produces crimes,” as quoted in the book, Criminology: A Very Short Introduction, by Tim Newburn (Newburn: 25). In a world where there is such a huge demand on the economy, people are pressured to produce. While some fall short because of “mental illness” others pursue careers that start from having something to study, and in certain cases something then to enforce. It’s part of the yin and yang in the world that there is a balance, and while bloody battles used to fill that hole, we’re actually no more violent than we used to be. Think of the days when people were burnt at the stake, merely over religious beliefs. As the politicians keep saying, “We need to create jobs!” because our survival depends on it, but entropy is just as natural as creation.
Mass shooter’s are indirectly creating through destruction, acting under the same pressure that everybody else is under to create—some people respond worse than others to pressure though. Environments activate certain genes. Although they are not all uniform, people like James Holmes would not justify his actions by saying he was under mind control if the naturally occurring psychotic gene didn’t activate along the way. 
The conspiracies, however, are creating more of an outlet for deviance as they take the forefront of certain people’s minds. People commit mass shootings for different reasons. It is wrong to stereotype them as all the same, especially since after the shooting we hardly hear anything about them to understand. Although deviance is a part of society, we are witnessing something like our world has not seen before. It most likely often has to do with a need for power, which is what people are under pressure to grab as part of the American dream, a dream with stereotypes that some people fall short of due to attitudes, behaviors, and conditions. While the macro exists in an ambiguous state in regards to defining deviance, people too are not quite sure what the right action is. As a result many don’t conform to it. 


Awakened to a Dream

I have awakened to a dream, I back then concluded. While following the current of my breath, I observed the reflection that I saw in the w...