Health and Wealth

If one has the time and the wherewithal to conduct exhaustive research and writing, perhaps one would end up concluding that global chaos and disorder is bound to increase until there is a global leader who can restore global order and peace. There are many factors which contribute to global chaos and disorder, and it is the role of journalism and media to traverse both the elites and regular people and somehow create a balance between elite and popular interests which in turn would establish equilibrium and peace in society. It is also easy for journalists and the media to fall prey to sensationalism in order to reap profits. But that particular method comes with social costs, as we saw on January 6 at Capitol Hill. Therefore, one should stick to the principles, even if it comes at a personal cost. The core objective of journalism and the media is to hold government accountable to the people, not to create chaos and civil strife.

There is also plenty for which our government should be held accountable. For one, by venturing off into the Middle East and Afghanistan for two decades and for absolutely nothing, leaders and bureaucrats in the United States forgot the two most important things, namely, the health and economic stability of their own citizens. There was never a clear end game in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which is why the US has drained immense resources to no avail. In the beginning, the stated objective in Afghanistan was to defeat the Taliban. Then, the stated goal was to establish democracy and women’s rights. Finally, the goal was to capture and kill Osama Bin Laden. But the Taliban is still around, and in fact the United States has signed a peace deal with them. Also, democracy cannot sustain itself in a tribal society with widespread illiteracy. Moreover, Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. Thus, there is a lot that our government has to answer for, given that immense blood and treasure has been wasted in Afghanistan and the Middle East for nothing.

It is encouraging to hear that the Biden Administration has made the health and economic stability of the American people its foremost priorities. Biden’s focus on the health and economic prosperity of the American people comes after a 20-year period of American global expansionism whereby America accomplished nothing except to make Iran, Russia, and China – which are America’s main adversaries –stronger than what they were before. All while at home in the United States, inflation went up by almost 50 percent, the GDP growth rate got cut by half, and wages either decreased or stagnated for workers.

While the government is responsible for this economic downturn in the United States, the government is also an important player in bringing the economy back to levels of productivity and growth that are competitive with China. Keynesian economics does not necessarily translate into bloated or overbearing government. As a matter of fact, while prescribing public spending for social welfare and subsidies, Keynesian economics also prescribes lean tax policies and sensible regulations that would guarantee consumer protections, protect the environment, and ensure public health. However, all of this has to be matched with a short list of macroeconomic measures that would boost productivity and growth, namely, low taxes, low inflation, and low interest rates. Also, keep in mind that in the end, the market is always superior to governments when it comes to stabilizing and sustaining a truly global economy.

Science and objective thinking matters. In short, science is the observation or study of reality, with reality being the totality of all things in existence. Western science is divided into two branches, namely, the physical sciences and the social sciences. The pinnacle of the physical sciences is quantum physics, pioneered by Albert Einstein and Max Planck. On the other hand, the pinnacle of the social sciences is psychology, figure-headed by the likes of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, and Viktor Frankl.

In turn, economics is defined by Bertrand Russell as the distribution of food. There are two pillars of economics, namely, productivity and growth. Productivity is the relationship between inputs and outputs, and there are four factors of production: land, capital, labor, and enterprise. Capitalism equates to the risking of these four factors of production for a profit. Growth is the increase of transactions in a market, and a market is the totality of transactions for a particular good or product either globally or locally.

Most people, however, fall short of reaching optimal health and wealth. Certain psychologists have argued that only about 1% of the world’s population reaches the psychosocial state known as “self-actualization,” which equates to becoming what one considers to be “fully functional.” Self-actualization is the ultimate outcome of what is known as the “individuation process” that was first discovered by the psychologist Carl Jung. In sum, the individuation process consists of five steps, and what is unfortunate is that 99% of people never make it out of step one:

1. Ego-consciousness, which means that an individual is totally immersed in the external world of appearances and illusions.

2. The wounding of the ego, which occurs as a result of adverse or tragic events which in turn drive an individual into isolation and withdrawal.

3. The emergence of the “shadow,” which is essentially the dark forces that plague one’s psyche.

4. The development of the “anima” and “animus,” which are both feminine and masculine qualities such as virtue, wisdom, knowledge, and spirituality that develop once an individual overcomes eroticism and desire.

5. The integration of the ego with the Self, which is emblematic of the integration of both the material and spiritual dimensions of man and thus the integration of the material plane with the divine plan or will.

Before the age of American global expansionism, economic slowdowns were usually attributed to either business cycles, corruption, or macroeconomic policy involving inflation, interest rates, or fiscal policy (taxation and public spending). Now, we are seeing that there are existential threats to our global economy such as the spillover effects of war and political violence in other countries, climate change/natural disasters, extraterrestrial threats, pandemics, and mental health crises. As a result, our inclination towards hyper-militarization and trekking a war path must be counteracted with a will towards global cooperation and diplomacy. It is imperative that we overcome the aforementioned transnational problems and issues which affect everyone in an age of globalization, in which everyone is now part of a truly global economy and market.

Also, economics is the management and efficient use of scarce resources. Thus, what is intrinsic to economic behavior and thinking is two concepts, namely, opportunity costs and tradeoffs. If we choose to do one thing, we are foregoing or missing out on something else. As Kant said, war and commerce cannot coexist. Thus, at the end of the Cold War, we were presented with a tradeoff that obviously came with opportunity costs. After the Cold War, things were quiet in the international system and the dust of war had largely settled with the exception of small pockets of violence such as Afghanistan and the Balkans, both of which were bound to settle down. Those in power had the choice of either making the macroeconomic and structural adjustments needed for sustainable economic growth and social development, or manufacture a war in order to sustain a very narrow special interest group that thrived off defense spending and weapons manufacturing. Obviously, people in power chose the latter at the expense of the former.

Now we are seeing the consequences of that decision immediately after the Cold War. The world is literally in shambles, and it is up to the generation of Millennials and Gen-Z activists and entrepreneurs to clean up the mess made by the Baby Boomers and Gen-X. As common wisdom dictates, it takes a long time to get into a problem, and it takes a long time to get out of a problem. Moreover, one should ask: what is the job of a government aside from messing things up and wasting taxpayer money? The answer is quite simple:

1. Raise a police force and a military to ensure the internal security of a nation

2. Maintain a sound fiscal policy whereby taxes are low and public spending ensures both public welfare and infrastructural development

3. Preserve a judiciary system that ensures consumer protections along with life, liberty, and property rights

Although environmental rights and public health are important items on government agendas these days, these issues can be tackled only through public-private partnerships. There is nothing to suggest that governments are competent enough to tackle these issues on their own. Therefore, it is time to get back to these basics in order to allow the macroeconomic and structural flaws to be rectified in a more manageable way.

Those who are most capable of rectifying the system are entrepreneurs. One can argue that the concept known as “Entrepreneurship” is founded upon the notion of “enterprise,” which in turn serves as the most basic function of a business or a firm. Enterprise involves both belief and confidence as the two main psychological determinants of one’s reality, in addition to the risking of material “factors of production” such as capital, land and labor for a profit, with production being the relationship between inputs and outputs. In sum, enterprise is interchangeable with risk. Profit is the primary objective of a business or firm. Enterprise, or risk, is undertaken for a profit. To put it simply, Profit equates to revenues minus costs.

Profits are then used for either consumption, investment, savings, or charity. As of late, businesses and entrepreneurs have fostered the rise of what is known as “philanthrocapitalism,” which is a highly public display of charity. In the end, philanthropy is merely one dimension of a broader mission of socially conscious entrepreneurs, which is to use one’s resources and wealth to solve the plethora of problems which are plaguing society.

Most — if not all — of the various transnational dilemmas and threats which exist in the international system tend to fit into the following five categories:

1. Risk of political violence and war

2. Climate change, environmental degradation, and resource scarcity

3. Mental health crises (depression and suicide account for more deaths than crime, war, and natural disasters combined)

4. Epidemics, disease, and pandemics

5. Poverty and ignorance (The economist Amartya Sen coined a term known as “multidimensional poverty,” which translates into a combination of poor education, bad health, and low incomes)

All five of these transnational dilemmas or threats are perhaps interconnected, which means the solution or the set of solutions that need to be devised have to be comprehensive, complex, and holistic.

But one could reasonably argue that the primary drivers for all five dilemmas or threats stem from economic and psychological factors. Moreover, no single government or single group can shoulder the entire burden of solving these transnational issues and threats. Perhaps the first step toward tackling these dilemmas and threats is a paradigm shift away from hyper-militarization and a war path towards one based on global cooperation and diplomacy, which has yet to be undertaken. Right now, many countries are turning inward to address the two most urgent issues of our time, namely, the coronavirus and the reversal of the global economic downturn stemming from the coronavirus. Although the chaos and turmoil in the international system is palpable at the moment, the day will perhaps come when the opportunity for global order and peace will arise. The question is whether any of us will be ready to seize it.

Arguably, identity and values are at the core of the dilemma for many groups and individuals, but most acutely for the Muslim youth who are born and raised in the West. The dilemma for the Muslim youth in the West is a devastating one, for the dilemma is based on a combination of alienation and discrimination on the part of native populations in the West on one hand, and a total disconnect from their ancestral cultures undergirded by hypocrisy and lies on the other hand. “Bildüng” — which is the German term for lifelong education — is perhaps the only remedy for a torturous situation where being a young Muslim born and raised in the West, all while being socially disconnected from one’s ancestral country, equates to being perpetually stuck between a rock and a hard place. Education ultimately teaches us that our core duty is to be stewards of the earth, and it is virtually impossible to fulfill this duty without a sound education.

Focusing inward instead of prodding other countries over issues that have been unresolved at home would be ideal. It is worth mentioning that although Hong Kong is portrayed by the West as a bastion of democracy and human rights and so on, the reality is that Hong Kong has long been a safe haven for criminal activity and drug money. Hong Kong stands as one of the top three safe havens for drug money in the world, alongside the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Without the triad of drugs, oil, and weapons, the American-led neoliberal system would wither away and there would not be much of a spread between Western and Eastern wealth. There are 21st century businesses like artificial intelligence, biotech, and real estate that are quite profitable, but until now nothing has racked in as much cash as the drugs, oil, and weapons being peddled in the American-led neoliberal system.

Moreover, global leadership means providing the one thing that others cannot, namely global order and peace. But as a “global leader,” America failed to establish global order and peace over the last two decades. Although it is better positioned than others to lead, America still risks the loss of its preeminent position due to corruption and the corrosion of the American-led system due to drug money, oil money, and money from weapons that is flowing in after Citizens United. Only political decay can ensue from this type of corruption. Moreover, those individuals and groups which our foreign policy establishment prop up are quite corrupt. For one, Alexei Navalny is actually known for being an anti-Semite and Islamophobe with neo-Nazi tendencies. Aung San Suu Kyi lost her credibility after defending her government’s abuse of Rohingyas. Also, in Ukraine, America installed Petro Poroshenko, who was a Moscow crime boss in the 1990’s, after riots toppled the former Ukrainian president.

If there is any hope in the fight against widespread corruption and lies, it is through a steadfast commitment towards both transparency and truth. Transparency and truth ultimately shed light on meaning, which is what all of us seek either consciously or subconsciously. In turn, meaning equates to love, with love translating into self-sacrifice for a purpose that is greater than self-interest. In the end, however, we are all seeking “Multidimensional Wealth,” which is comprised of access to lifelong education, holistic health (mental and physical), and good income. What we all seek to avoid is “Multidimensional Poverty,” which translates into poor education, poor health, and low income.

Yet, governments are usually out of touch with the realities pertaining to ordinary people. It is due time for all governments to overcome corruption and an inclination towards social strife and war so that the private sector and societies are enabled in improving access to lifelong education, improving health outcomes, and improving economic conditions and incomes for all people so that social order and peace can prevail in the international system.

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