Monday, January 13, 2020

Boeing 737 Max - What about the common good?

What are we to think of the ongoing crisis in aviation concerning the Boeing 737 Max? Evidence in the U.S.A. is accumulating that there is something structurally wrong with this model, which was a redesign in order to put in larger engines in response to its competitor in Europe. The result appears to have been that the plane tends to put its nose down instead of gliding effortlessly; as planes are supposed to do. Rather than solve this mechanical fault it was decided to make a software solution which would require new training for pilots. The result has been two fatal crashes and for now the planes are all grounded. There is a wrestling match between Boeing and the FAA regulating agency and, now, public opinion.

So what are we to think? There is a growing groundswell of advice for people to avoid any flights on any Boeing 737 but with flight cancellations and changes this may be beyond anyone's control.

For me the underlying issue is much deeper and much more serious, because it stems from the human condition. Charles Dickens was so taken with it that he wrote many novels to express all the human trouble he observed. It comes down to each individual's choice in the face of their human limitations, faults, and disturbing inclinations.

A person either chooses to make relentless daily efforts to master their impulses, inclinations, passions, bad habits, weaknesses, sins... or they don't. The person who settles with their faults, shuts down their conscience by considering moral questions as irrelevant, and sets out to look after their own interests first or exclusively becomes a person who represents a very real and serious threat to the rest of society, because this is a person who sets out to use, manipulate, and exploit others. To use an analogy, that person becomes a shark that considers all other people as so many fish on the "menu" to be consumed at will.

In a society as sophisticated as the U.S.A., this scenario is taken to complex levels in which the legal system, the medical system, the political system, the banking and financial system, government agencies, and transnational corporations, become transformed by a preponderance of "sharks" who employ the full weight of their resources - such as teams of lawyers, engineers, architects, and other professionals - to obtain results which are the complete opposite of the common good originally intended by human laws and customs. The rich, powerful, and influential push their own agendas and "to hell" with everyone else.

The Boeing problem is a mere pimple on the rear end of American society, but the real problem is far worse and much more serious a threat to the common good. America boasts it is the best society in the world, but its form of democracy and capitalism favors the less than one percent who are the rich, the powerful, and the influential who grab the levers of control of the dynamics of the whole society in order to look after their own interests, euphemistically called "American interests", but they turn events away from the common good and toward their own private interests. In public they create a mirage of the opposite, declaring unashamedly that they are doing everything in their power to serve the common good, but in private and in practice, the opposite is true.
The results are everywhere visible in the U.S.A. Consider "Corporate America" and the growing number of thriving little towns turned into ghost towns after the Walmarts of this world have squeezed all the juice out, put all the little businesses out of work, and abandoned their empty store to move on to another town in order to do the same there. American corporations are securely locked into a form of capitalism whose only interests are the profit and well being of the owners, board members and officers, and the controlling share holders. The profit and well being of everyone else, including all their workers, are of little or no consequence; such that with little or no notice they move jobs out of the country or eliminate them altogether with no apology or any sense of wrongdoing.

Then there is the medical system and public health. There are the 1 out of 4 Americans who don't have health coverage at all - the "working poor" - whose values prevent them from taking welfare but who can't afford health insurance. The bulk of Americans who do have health insurance are often told their condition isn't covered. Insurance companies - life as well as health and others too - have lots of staff whose job is to full exploit the exclusions in the contract to save the company as much money as possible and refuse as many claims as possible.

Then there is the legal system which tolerates hordes of "ambulance chasing lawyers", sharks, who encourage desperate people to sue for almost anything, whether legitimate or reasonable or not, and the judiciary system that tolerates and allows wrongful suits, driving the legal costs way out into space. People with the money to hire teams of lawyers trained in all the ways of exploiting laws to profit their employers destroy the lives of people they sue, and the judiciary is often without the wisdom of Solomon and gives its stamp of approval to such miscarriage of justice.
Then there is the food industry which has so industrialized agriculture that they are depleting the soils and turning them into deserts while producing foods that are less and less nutritious, also taking pains and employing lawyers to pressure small farmers out of their family farms in order to seize their property and turn it into huge agribusiness fields. A new strategy is the biological modification and copyrighting of seeds and suing small farmers out of their right to use normal seeds and in the end causing them to lose their farms so they can grab them.

Then there is big pharma which has industrialized medicine and exerts considerable power over the medical system and has pressured, bought, or sued legitimate alternative medical practices and practitioners out of existence, going so far as to create by malicious rumor suspicion of alternative doctors and going so far as to destroy their practices and even drive them to mysterious deaths.
Then there is the banking and financial system that in the U.S.A. has one of the most if not the most unforgiving rule book. All too often contracts clearly state that should the borrower default in their payments beyond a certain limit that their property reverts to the bank or financial institution and they are out on the street. Any number of life crises as indicated above can put people in a situation of hardship where they are unable for a time to pay their mortgage or taxes. When that happens, if they have no rich relatives to help them or insufficient income, they are consumed by the "sharks" and join the ranks of the homeless.

In society that final recourse rests on government. It is the role of government to rule the nation on behalf of its citizens and to ensure the common good by regulating the many rabid human tendencies which tend to exploit the weak and helpless. America came closest to having such a government as an outcome of WW II when in the 1950's a large middle class came into being with an abundance of well paid jobs, good homes, and good health care. Then from the 1960's and 1970's on - coinciding with the government's insane warmongering in Viet Nam and subsequently other nations - American presidents led governments that progressively deregulated all of these fields of action in order to favor the rich, powerful, and influential by simultaneously disenfranchising the common citizen.

One of the results of all of these situations can be observed on late night TV in the "GREAT U.S.A." where people sell schemes for getting rich by gobbling up homes and properties of people who have fallen on hard times and are very late in paying their mortgages or taxes. Banks and financial institutions are the first to take over properties in default of their mortgage payments, but when the banks haven't already seized people's homes, entrepreneurs can grab them simply by paying the back taxes and the people who owned those homes are on the street.

A second result is the poor condition of infrastructures all over the U.S.A. - decrepit utility grids, bridges, dams, roads, sewage systems, and so on - because the rich, powerful, and influential refuse to pay their fair share and insist the burden fall squarely on the common citizen and taxpayer. Rather than do that, governments allow conditions to further deteriorate. Remember what happened to New Orleans when the poor condition of the levees allowed the hurricane to destroy much of the city and make permanently homeless any number of residents.

This is just a brief sketch of the scandalous condition of America's public institutions, and the Boeing problem appears to be wrong in the eyes of public America only because the callous disregard of its agents for the common good was so negligent that they exposed to public view what all the other sharks manage to keep hidden from view. The proof of that is how the current president manages to persuade much of the population that he is acting in their interests at the very same time that he is acting on behalf of all the rich, powerful, and influential and not at all for the common good. There are a few exceptions, such as the way in which at the United Nations he leads the American presence and delegation in hindering the efforts of those bent on forcing the nations into adopting abortion policies against their own nations' values in favor of preserving human life.

Please don't get me wrong... I have met many Americans during my seven decades of life on Planet Earth, both in the U.S.A. and elsewhere around the world, but especially here in Canada. Rarely have I not liked or even admired those Americans I have known. It is ironic that there can be so many very fine Americans while they endure such perverse public institutions. Their government buildings have emulated Greek architecture, as the Romans also did, in part because from the beginning they have seen themselves as successors to the Roman Empire.

Like them, they now interfere worldwide in the affairs of other nations, going so far as to bring down governments they consider unfavorable to their interests. No governments anywhere can be permitted to truly serve the common good in the genuine interests of the general population, because in their view the supreme interests are those of the rich, the powerful, and the influential. The general population can only be allowed the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich, if there are any, but if not; then that's just too bad.

American public institutions are not particularly more blameworthy than you or I, because they are simply more visible manifestations of the human condition, and what Christians call the original sin. Once human beings turn away from the benevolent will of their Creator and God, they no longer have any solid moral grounds for their thoughts or feelings, for their choices or decisions, for their deeds or behavior. Once we treat God as if He doesn't exist, the way is clear for us to take his place. America makes this most eloquently clear by constantly deciding what is to be considered good or evil, but always in accord with its current definition of American interests.

We in Canada are not far behind with our frenzied public enthusiasm for doing away with unwanted babies and anyone who may be tired of suffering or even of living, just as easily as we are publicly eager to redefine not only marriage but even what it means to be a human person, a man or woman. Without God there can be no moral compass, and I feel deep pity for people without God. It is still good news, no, great news, that God does not so easily abandon us as we abandon Him. During these Days of Christmas we have found once again great joy in celebrating the One who came to dwell among us - Emmanuel - Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Messiah, the true Savior of the world.

DISCLAIMER:    It is possible that I may have been inaccurate in one or other of my statements above or in the details. What I have written is nothing of my own but simply an accumulation of other people's observations as reported in countless articles, reports, public inquiries, public investigations, books by professionals, public scandals, American citizens I've been privileged to meet and know, other eye witnesses, and other reliable sources of information that I have been privileged over the past 5 decades to see, hear, or read. Where I am in error, I apologize, and am quite eager to receive authentic evidence to the contrary; upon reception of which I will gladly revise my views.

Peace to you and your family, and a very Happy, Healthy, and Holy New Year 2020!