U.S. / Canada NAFTA 2 cont…

An NPR piece today noted that Canada is our biggest trading partner.  There is, for instance, a tremendously significant export/import dynamic around automotive vehicles and parts. Trump is threatening tariffs on imports of these (and other products), to play hard ball in getting a NAFTA 2 deal made with Canada.  However there’s push back from Canada, which, the NPR piece noted, is creating some friction between two countries that have had a strong alliance, across the board, for years.  I was just reading in the book Canadian Society (A Macro-Analysis) that there are, really, only subtle differences between the two societies.  And things like free trade “…contribute to better integration of the two societies.”  Our administration policies would reflect a paradigm that spins around increasing yet more of the camaraderie between the two countries.  Note:  While our administration’s economic policy would focus more on “Buy American,” conversely we would promote more joint cultural exchanges, joint environmental projects, joint tourism initiatives, Peace Corps outreach… to increase camaraderie with Canada.

Shoes for the Third World… from Bluffton, Ohio

My son Jonathan and I are collaborating on a funds2Orgs project at the high school here.  We are setting up a box for used shoes.  The organization then takes the shoes, weighs them, and donates so much per: pound to the non-profit Rec Center here.  What’s more, the shoes are then shipped overseas where they are used to help people in the Third World set up small shoe cottage industries.  In addition, these businesses also sometimes hire people to refurbish the shoes.  And, finally, consumers there often get quality shoes at an affordable price.  Everyone wins.  Note:  Several years ago, our Sarah took a missions trip to Nicaragua.  One night in Managua, her team came across a group of young kids in threadbare clothes and shoes, playing soccer on a small patch of dirt in the city.  Sarah said the kids were “joyful,” were making do, but at the same time, America could help these kids so much more than we do.  These refurbished shoes (including, hopefully, a lot of soccer shoes), will be a step in this direction.

NAFTA 2… a new perspective

As I write this, Trump’s “NAFTA 2” is in motion.  Mexico is at the table and Canada is lining up for talks as well.  There’s multi-dimensions to all this.  And they need to be well understood before the parties ‘…sign on the dotted line.’  In entering into trade talks with Canada, for example, its advisable to understand how Canadian society ticks in regard to the ideological underpinnings of their economic system.  In the book Canadian Society (A Macro-Analysis), it notes: “The dominant ideology in Canadian society has been the liberal model which accepts a stratified society because of its belief in individualism, yet modifies the excesses of the capitalist system by making some provisions for the most disadvantaged.  Marchak fears that with the increasing concentration of global capital (as multi-national corporations support the shift from competitive capitalism to monopoly capitalism), inequality will become an even more critical problem.”  After “NAFTA 1,” so to speak, our family toured Juarez, Mexico, where some of these multi-national corporation factories had gone up on the border. Because provisions in the first NAFTA were favorable for this, it created a situation where plant workers were making $3 a shift, not an hour, but a shift, in these plants, while living in extreme abject poverty in the slums of Juarez.  The hierarchy in the multi-nationals were making a lot of money, the, say, American consumers were saving a lot of money on these factory items; but on the lower end of the inequality side, these workers, and their families, were suffering tremendously.  As Marchak notes: “…as these multi-nationals move toward monopoly capitalism, inequality will become a more critical problem.”  And it has for these Mexican multi-national plant workers.  This could also happen in Canada this time around, at least to a degree. And our administration would not only be looking out for American interests in NAFTA 2, but we would also be looking out for the interests of the general populace in both Canada and Mexico.  While this is, indeed, sound spiritual principle, these trade agreements are seldom looked at through this type of paradigm.

Greyhound dogs; playing local hoops

Catching up on the last month…  I did a number of house painting jobs in Bluffton, while continuing to hone my “populist image.”  One of the homes had two greyhound dogs.  The fastest dogs, I learned, on the planet!  (They can get up to 43 mph.) During an interview for the local newspaper, their owner, Debra Hankish, told me that many of these dogs are kept in cages for 23 hours a day, and just let out to race.  What’s more, once their racing career ends, in, say, Arizona, some of the greyhounds are taken out to the desert and shot.  Ms. Hankish joined a “Greyhound Rescue Group” and adopted the two dogs that are now in Bluffton.  They are, in many ways, “gentle giants,” said Ms. Hankish.  So much so, she is having one trained to be a “therapy dog” that will go into the local nursing homes, and such.  Note:  During the summer at noon on M/W/F, I played hoops at the local Rec. Center with a number of guys/gals from a nearby factory.  One of the women (who I chose not to guard, ever) had been the starting point guard at the University of Toledo not too long ago.  Boy, is she good!

De-nuclearization now (2018) and then (1960)

‘De-nuclearization,’ as this term has been coined by politicians and pundits, of North Korea, and the Korean Peninsula in general, has been in the news regularly of late.  What hasn’t been in the news, and what was classified as “top secret” for many years, was a series of letters between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev back in the early 1960’s.  They were discussing, of all things, ‘de-nuclearization’ of the U.S. and Soviet Union.  Total de-neclearization.  In the book The Kennedy-Khrushchev Letters, Khrusshchev, in one of his correspondences wrote that he wanted a treaty on general, and complete, nuclear disarmament “…under the strictest international control.”  Note: People say that neither country is using their nuclear weapons now.  But they are.  Both countries are using them to, not only protect themselves, but to wield “big sticks” in getting other countries to do their bidding.  What’s more, in using them (it costs $50 billion a year to maintain the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal), America, for instance, is taking food, clothing, shelter, medicine… out of the hands of, say, the Third World poor.  You have to wonder how God looks at that, don’t you.  Our military and foreign policies look squarely through this lens.

National Day of Prayer; BU graduation event; Farmers Market

Catching up yet more on the last couple months…  I covered a National Day of Prayer event at Bluffton’s Town Hall for the local newspaper.  Christians from all over the town, and nearby towns, converged on the building’s third floor.  People prayed about safety in our schools, safety for police and firefighters, for intact nuclear families, for today’s youth “as drugs, sex and suicide” swirl all around them…  Local Christian New Vision FM radio station’s Ken Kayser implored the Lord for a balanced media that doesn’t “…slant the news to the left or to the right — but rather to the truth.” The room was packed…  I also attended a graduation weekend event at Bluffton University. Senior Andrew Hunter, who was picked as one of the keynote speakers, pointed to perhaps the best literary tome to inspire his fellow classmates as they were about to head out into the world:  Dr. Seus’s Oh The Places You’ll Go…  And I also did a newspaper piece on the Bluffton Farmer’s Market featuring “all things organic,” with music from the local band The Old Folkies.  “It was either that name, or The Geriatric Troubadours,” the lead guitarist smiled.

drug addiction epidemic…

Continuing to catch up on last couple months…  I interviewed some pharmacy students from nearby Ohio Northern University.  They are going about the county trying to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic currently sweeping the country.  [They are calling their initiative NADA, Northern Against Drug Addiction.] One of the students said some 160 Americans die of opioid overdoses every day now.  He said that would be like a full airliner going down in America every day.  [See two entries back for a similar analogy to another societal problem.]   Our administration would take drug addiction, across the board, very seriously.  And we would come at it from a very comprehensive, multi-dimensional approach.  Alcoholism/drug addiction is at the root of a majority of crime in America, a lot of the domestic violence and broken homes, a good deal of drunk and drug affected driving accidents, overdose deaths…  I was an addictions counselor for a number of years, and I believe I have a good take on the root causes and treatment modalities, etc., needed to reverse a lot of this.  For more on our approach, listen to…

Farming “God’s way.”

Continuing to catch up on last couple months…  I recently interviewed Bluffton farmer Greg Probst at his “Century Farm” for a local newspaper article.   He grows everything organically, has free-range chickens (no antibiotics), etc., etc., etc…  He said he believes he is farming “God’s way.”  I do too.  As we have traveled, we have regularly stopped, and sometimes worked at, various organic farms.  On a stop in Oberlin, Ohio, I met with author David Orr, who is also the head of Oberlin College’s Environmental Science Department.  In his book Earth in Balance, he writes that artificial toxic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers are creating “chemical cocktails” that are exploding into all sorts of disease in our bodies, including cancer.  One in three Americans now get cancer in a lifetime.  That’s not happening in a vacuum.  Common sense says we should stop using these toxic chemicals, and our  agriculture platform goes into this in depth.

The Amish on driving

Continuing to catch up on the last couple months…  My son and I recently traveled south an hour to Mt. Victory, Ohio, where we did a series of short videos around Amish beliefs (Mt. Victory is replete with Amish people.)  I noted, among other things, that the Amish buggy or bicycle to, for one, be good environmental stewards.  (Think: global warming.)  What’s more, they believe getting in, say, a 2,000 pound vehicle increases, exponentially, your chances of killing someone.  And they take the 5th Commandment seriously.  I noted in the video that some 33,000 people were killed on America’s roads last year.  That would be the equivalent of, say, a 747 airliner going down in America — every day!  Think about that.  And if you want to think more about our rather unique position paper on transportation, see…

Awakening Minds Art; “Mathew 25 moment” in Columbia

Catching up on the last couple months…  I did a newspaper interview with the director of the local Awakening Minds Art Program.  It is in some 19 counties of Northwest Ohio and is, primarily, designed to use art as a medium to help special needs youth and adults.  The director, Sarah Crisp, pointed to, for instance, Jared Willis, 16, who, physically, has a degree of “dwarfism,” and is a bit mentally delayed as well.  (He had just won the program’s “Your Colors Change the World” award for some of his art.  He has, in time, become quite an artist, and by extension, a much more confident and optimistic youth these days.  Rosalyn Carter was a big proponent of getting much more funding, and help in general, for mental health issues.  Our administration would pick up that torch in a major way — looking at mental health issues on a par with physical health issues…  Our foreign policy would focus much more — than the U.S.’s current paradigm — on worldwide poverty.  (Some half the world populace lives on $2 a day, or less.)  During this time, I also interviewed Bluffton University’s Professor Paul Neufeld Weaver.  He is the director of the university’s Cross Cultural Program.  He, for instance, takes students to a tough metro-neighborhood in the country of Columbia.  They distribute food to the homeless, to drug addicts, to gang members, to prostitutes…  The professor refers to it as a “Mathew 25 moment” for many of the students.  What’s more, hopefully, just as many of the students come back with a much clearer understanding of the face of abject poverty, and such, in some of these countries.  And by extension with this one, they then also get behind more non-profit and governmental initiatives to help in these poorer countries.