Why There Won’t Be A Nuclear War

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There’s much talk about the possibility of a nuclear war if Putin is pushed too hard in Ukraine.
Particularly now that his army has underperformed and the quick victory he imagined, with Ukrainians bowing reverentially to his majesty as he made his triumphant journey to Kyiv, has been shown to be a fantasy.
In his despair, Putin has been tempted to unleash nuclear weapons, but he will not because China will have something to say about it.
China will do whatever they can to support Putin from the punishing effect of the sanctions the West has imposed. But they know, that should Putin give in to the itch to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, then China itself would be a target of retaliation from the West.
The West is clear that China is aiming for world supremacy. The Chinese have stated they are a ‘no limits’ ally to Russia.
In the face of a nuclear attack from Russia, the West has no option but to target China also as they do Russia.
If not, then a weakened West would be exposed to a predatory China.
Putin knows he has been damaged by his invasion of Ukraine which, in turn, has pushed him closer to China and thus more susceptible to their influence.
He is also likely facing pressures from within Russia, with influential people expressing their doubts as to the path he’s charted, the pain he’s inflicted and the profound loss of prestige that Russia has incurred.
Two and a half months have passed since the start of the war, and every day we hear of more atrocities committed by the Russian army.
China has not been critical of their ally. But they will draw a line when it comes to the use of nuclear weapons.
Shortly after he became president, Joe Biden made the decision to pull out of Afghanistan.
He was widely criticized for it but he was right to do so.
He understood that, after 20 years, the war against the Taliban was unwinnable since the enemy had found shelter and support in neighboring Pakistan.
Furthermore, he understood he needed to clear the deck because Mr Trump, his predecessor, had dangerously damaged America’s relationship with its allies and become too friendly with Putin.
Biden, like no other, saw the problem and its implications.
The resolve he showed then led to the resolve he’s shown now.
The war is not over but Biden has performed gallantly and deserves the nation’s respect and admiration.
The West today is more united than it has been in years. Our sense of purpose sharp.
This would have been impossible under Trump.
And yet, because of the problems with inflation, mostly arising from Biden’s effort to protect us from the pandemic, an electorate dissatisfied with higher prices may vote for the opposition in the upcoming mid term elections, and so reject his sound proposals to strengthen the country.

There is still time for the Democratic party to make clear to the voters, the magnitude of Mr Biden’s leadership performance.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

A Chinese and a Cuban Talk Politics. Part I

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C is Cuban. Chi is Chinese.

C – It’s amazing what you’ve done with your country in such short time.
Chi – Thank you.
C – You are now a rival to the United States.
Chi – And pretty soon we will be the most powerful economy in the entire world.
C – Wow. And to think we both started out as communists. I can’t help but wonder why you’ve grown so much and we haven’t. I mean, are you even communists anymore? I know you started as such, but it seems you then took a turn.
Chi – We did. We had that whole Mao experience as you know… lots of years of being very regimented… deprived, in fact… very traumatic the whole thing… had to read Mao’s little Red Book, again and again… I could recite it in my sleep… but slowly we came to realize that we needed to produce more and to do that, we needed creative and enterprising people. And we needed markets.
C – So you let the creative and enterprising people come out and do their thing?
Chi – Yes. We began to allow people to have their own businesses… and when you do that, then people with those abilities get to work. Up till then, the system was burying them… and they weren’t making money and no one else was making money, and we could say we were all equal… but what’s the point of being equally poor?
C – I get you. That’s what’s happening in Cuba. We can all say that we’re brothers and sisters and we’re all equal but we’re not. Not really. And those people with ideas for commerce and other things, they’re held back.
Chi – Right. Finally, we realized we had to try something different.
When we did, we began to see how new hierarchies began to form. Hierarchies of talent and ability, in all fields, hierarchies that have always been there, no point in denying them. They were there during Mao. The Chairman got to have all the girlfriends he wanted.
C – Same with our leaders. They eat and dress and live better than the rest of us.
Chi – Right. So we said to ourselves, that’s the way the world is. Some people have more than others because nature gave them more. In the jungle, you’ve got the lions and the tigers and the gazelles and the rabbits and the pigs, and the stronger gets to eat the weaker. That’s how nature works.
C – But we’re humans…
Chi – Sure, but we’re not all created equal.
C – Under the law we are.
Chi – Right. And that’s about it. Men and women are at their best when they have the chance to exercise their differences. And the better systems let you do that.
C – Exercise your difference?
Chi – Yes. Of course, you have to show some restraint so the stronger human doesn’t eat the weaker one.
C – But isn’t that what Capitalism has been doing?
Chi – Unchecked Capitalism, sure. But I’m talking of Regulated Capitalism. Regulated Capitalism gives us a safety net, allowing for workers to have rights, pensions, education, health care, days off and so on. And to do that the system taxes the people who make the money. The more money you make, the more we tax you. Regulated Capitalism – we call it State capitalism – needs to keep improving but we’re moving in the right direction.
C – You’re not against billionaires?
Chi – Not at all. We love billionaires. But they have to be accountable and pay their taxes. The communist party sends an emissary to be part of their governing board.
C – In Cuba we hate billionaires, or pretend to, when in reality we would like to have a chance at it.
Chi – Why the hate?
C – Our leaders believe a person can only become a billionaire if they corrupt others, so to allow billionaires would mean they’ve allowed corruption.
Chi – Corruption is a big issue, everywhere. We have it in China. The Chairman has been working on rooting it out. But some people can make a lot of money without corrupting others. They can make money just with their ideas, their creativity and hard work.
C – You really believe that?
Chi – I do. Of course, becoming a billionaire doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a fair or good person. They can be assholes, too. You have some and we do, too, but if they create jobs then that’s great. It’s up to government to make sure they pay their fair share.
C – There was an American presidential candidate recently who said billionaires shouldn’t exist.
Chi – Right. And what happened to him?
C – He lost. And there are famous economists who think the same.
Chi – I think they’re envious of billionaires.
C – Hmm. Interesting. Let’s go back to the issue of equality.
Chi – We’re not equal. Some people will always have more than others, be it brains, muscular power, beauty, musical ability, anything. If a system is wise, however, it will allow those with the greater gifts to rise. Then the system will work to make sure the benefits are spread out.
But it gets tricky when you start spreading the benefits. You don’t want to give out too much that it dampens the desire to work. Of course, there will be those who look at the billionaire and say, life is not fair, why can’t I do those things the billionaire does? The answer is there is a hierarchy.
Good governments ought to make that clear. And remind people that if they keep trying, well, who knows, something might happen and they, too, will become wealthy.
C – That’s like promising something that will never happen.
Chi – You never know, if you keep trying. Anyway, that’s the trick of governing, always give hope.
C – You’ve heard of the expression, ‘pie in the sky?’
Chi – There is hope that is realistic and hope that is false. Autocratic leaders preach false hope. In State Capitalism we give realistic hope, like we’re doing in China.
For an instance of false hope, take what’s happening in Venezuela. That regime has persuaded the people that government will lift them to a comfortable and satisfactory life. But it won’t happen unless people work hard. But work hard for the betterment of humanity? No. That’s too abstract. You work hard because you have incentives, because you can make money.
The Venezuelan government is not letting people make money, and are scared that if they do, those people will undermine them. So they prefer to keep everyone poor. Except the rulers, of course. They always eat and dress well and get to travel.
C – The government can’t create enough jobs but then it doesn’t let those who can create them do so.
Chi – And they have the guns to intimidate everyone. Guns to tell everyone that the real meaning of life is to work for the betterment of humanity, without worrying about material rewards. They’re delusional. Man is simply not like that. We are part of the animal kingdom. Not of the celestial one. We’re not angels. We love our money and what it can do for us.
C – You don’t have to go to Venezuela for that one. That’s what’s going on in Cuba too.
Chi – It’s very sad. And we both know there are lots of very talented Cubans and Venezuelans.
C – Our governments are afraid of them, afraid of what they can create.

They pause for a moment.

C – We’re not equal… I get it.
Chi – We should treat everyone with respect and encourage them to do their best. Everyone should get that. That’s how equality should be viewed. Equality under the law. Not equality of results or pay or position. Hierarchies are part of life.
C – What do you think of the economic embargo the United States has on Cuba?
Chi – We know how it started. The Castro brothers nationalized American businesses that were making big money in Cuba.
C – Right.
Chi – That could’ve been done a lot differently so as not to piss off the Americans.
C – True.
Chi – Terms to repay could have been set… and the likelihood is that would’ve allowed business between the two nations to continue.
C – Maybe. Anyway, it didn’t happen. The Castro brothers couldn’t think that far.
Chi – But they sure have got a lot of political capital out of the embargo.
C – They have. They keep blaming the embargo for the misery Cubans live in.
Chi – Get someone else to blame for your own inadequacies.

They pause.

C – Going back to China, do you think you’ll ever become a democracy?
Chi – That’s a good one.
C – Or are you getting comfortable with being ruled by the Party and its State Capitalism?
Chi – I think that eventually we will become a democracy. Eventually. The more and more successful we become economically, the more we will want to have political power also.
C – It is a unique phenomenon in history, what you’ve done.
Chi – It is. We’re very proud. Even with the restrictions we live under. We are wary, though, that democracy carries with it some risks, corruption of course, and the possibility that some leaders will emerge that will not care for maintaining the unity of the nation.
We see what is happening in the United States with Trump and realize it could happen to us, too. So, yes, one day we will want to become a democracy, but not anytime soon.
Before we do that, we will want to become the most powerful nation in the world.
We are getting closer to that.
C – How much intimidation do you live with in your country?
Chi – A good bit. We don’t like it, but the government lets us make money, and lots of it.
C – So long as you can make money…
Chi – Yes… we love to make money. Wouldn’t you?
C – Yes, I would.

They pause again.

C – One thing, though, I admit that if Cubans were allowed to make money things would be different… but the embargo has hurt.
Chi – You are right. If it hadn’t been for the American market and all those companies that came to China to make their products, we would not be this far along. So we are thankful to the Americans, although they made a pile of money, too.
C – And you stole and copied the technology, and spied to get whatever else… did you not?
Chi – We did. But… we worked with what we stole and copied, and then improved it. Let me give you an example. We asked America to let us in on the Space program. They said no. Well, we gathered what we had to gather, and our scientists landed us on the other side of the Moon, the dark side. No one had done that. We did it. So, the fact that we have stolen and copied does not mean we’re not creative and have vast brain power.
C – Good point. And as far as Cuba is concerned… even with the embargo… if we created something to trade… we could do business with the rest of the world.
Chi – Yes.
C – But first we have to figure a way of allowing ourselves more incentives.
Chi – True.

They pause.

C – We have talked about the importance of incentives… to make money… but make money for what?
Chi – Ah, yes. Good question. I can think of a two part answer to it. But let’s take it up next time we meet.
C – Deal.

To be continued. This article was written on 9/14/2020

Oscar Valdes Oscarvaldes.net. medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Dear Mr Musk

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You’re off on an exciting quest – the acquisition of Twitter – to facilitate free speech in our polarized and often hostile world.
That you have embarked on this journey speaks of your adventurous spirit.
Thank you for that.
I have some concerns about the likelihood that you can make progress on the matter.
Having the enthusiasm and energy for the task is an essential ingredient but a broad non judgmental mind is equally important.
It worries me that you have praised China. You and Tesla have benefitted enormously from their hosting you but, in praising them, you slide over the profound negative impact the Chinese government is having on their people.
They are a repressive system that severely restricts free speech and monitors closely the activities of their citizens.
To call China anything other than a dictatorship is fooling ourselves.
When free speech is restricted as it is in China, the Chinese people are devalued. This is the same people who have been rooting for Putin and his troops as they have invaded Ukraine, bombing and killing thousands of people, while destroying their homes, hospitals, schools and infrastructure.
It is from devalued minds that such groundless praise emanates.
The China leadership speaks of having ‘no limits’ in their friendship with Putin, i.e. Putin may do whatever and they’re right there behind him.
Yet you praised them.
You did, even though their own atrocities on the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province were well known. And though you knew of this, your company opened a showroom in the province.
I am sure business is very good but I doubt you have the moral clarity to be a sound arbiter in the delicate matter of deciding what is acceptable and what is not as concerns free speech.
Extremes in politics, whether on the right or the left, are positions that have run out of arguments and thus choose to embrace violence, with their devastating consequences. These factions don’t want to talk for they fear their views may not hold. The results can be devastating, as in the assault on the Capitol on January the 6th. And in Myanmar, did the military want to talk to the opposition which had won the elections by a landslide before they chose to stage a coup and kill thousands of demonstrators? No.
As you start up on the effort to build a platform to facilitate free speech, modifying some algorithms may seem an expedient way to fix the problem, but changing attitudes requires much more than that. It requires reaching out to hardened human beings and patiently searching for what has shaped their hostility to the rest of us.
Your new venture may prove profitable, but it is unlikely to make a difference in strongly held positions. For that to happen the human touch is needed. And leaders with the courage to apply it.
Good luck

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

Ukraine is Becoming a NATO Nation

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By virtue of its courage, its tenacity in the battlefield,
Ukraine is becoming a NATO nation.
The men, women and children who have died in their heroic quest
Are clear testament that the proud nation
Is becoming a NATO nation.
As the world witnesses the atrocities committed by Russians,
Day after day,
Ukraine, with its valiant stand for their right to choose their destiny
Is becoming a NATO nation.
We will not be conquered! They cry out confidently.
We will not surrender! They affirm with vigor,
Even as the Russian missiles fly into their residences, their schools, their hospitals,
While Putin, comfortably in Moscow,
Reviews the damage.
‘Not enough!’ he says, ‘we need more. More dead, more wounded, more destruction,
Until they come begging to me, kneel before me and plead for relief.’
But Ukrainians are not asking for an audience with the murderous man,
They are asking for more and more weapons and support from the West,
So they can fight on,
So they can defend their land,
A land which has now transformed itself into a symbol of freedom
For the rest of the world,
A symbol of freedom for all those peoples who now tolerate
The repressive rule of their dictators,
Nations like China and wherever else autocrats and despots live.
Ukraine’s quest is for victory or death,
And as they struggle on against the brutality that Russia embodies,
They cover themselves with glory
While Russia debases itself with shame.
No more talk of neutrality!
A nation that has bled so much cannot settle for a silent voice.
They are risking it all, everything, for their right to be who they are.
While in Russia, millions of people,
Watching sheepishly on TV the version that Putin chooses to feed them,
Afraid to question,
Become accomplices in a grand massacre of fellow Slavs.
Sooner or later, Putin, as he is defeated in the battlefield,
Will choose to use chemical or nuclear weapons on the Ukrainian people,
To exterminate them,
With the consent of China – who has practice with genocide – and all the autocrats of this world,
And the West will say NO!
For Ukraine, with its grand affirmation of their right to be free,
With all the death and damage they have endured,
With all the valor they have shown,
Has now become a NATO nation.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Fix or Replace the U.N.

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Something is wrong with an organization that allows Russia and China to hold veto power in the Security Council, even as they are clearly the offending nations.
Russia, as it carries on with its cruelty in Ukraine, China, as it proceeds with its effort to suppress the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province.
The two nations work together to render that prestigious organization useless.
While the plight of refugees, the mass killing of people and the destruction of property, clearly establish Russia’s inhumanity, their envoy to the United Nations goes on and on justifying Putin’s invasion, calling it necessary to rid Ukraine of Nazis sponsored by America and intent on destroying Russia.
He goes on and on, in a calm demeanor, unaffected by the widespread evidence of his country’s behavior.
And if any motion is put forward by any dissenting member nation of that council, the Russian envoy can simply use his veto power.
Something is deeply wrong with the design of such organization for it is not doing what it’s supposed to do.
It should be fixed or cease to exist.

The UN has yet to summon the clout to bring the warring parties to the table. The likelihood is that it will not.
So Russia and China’s having veto power over any resolution proposed, renders it irrelevant.
I have no doubt that the United Nations’ many efforts over the years have had considerable impact in many areas, but the plight of Ukraine tells us that it is time to redesign how power is wielded in that body or it must be replaced with a better designed entity.
Is this the time for the nations of the West to initiate a boycott against it? To simply walk out and leave the representatives of Russia and China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and Myanmar, keep blabbering on until the lights are turned off?
I think so.
As we speak, the world is being divided into two opposing camps. One led by the free nations of this earth, the other led by Russia and China.
So, in the face of the impotence of the present United Nations, this is the time to form a different organization, to include all those nations who wish to share in the ideals of democracy and free trade.
Why should we tarry with the pretense that dialogue with the leadership of Russia and China is possible?
There is no indication any attempt to do so makes any difference, so why waste our time?

Let us instead form a United Nations West so we can nurture and cooperate with each other.
I have no doubt who will win in the end.
The story of a divided Germany gives us the answer. Too bad the rest of the world has forgotten that lesson.
Men and women are born to be free.
The task of every government is to facilitate that all of us develop our potential as human beings.
In the West we keep working at it, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, but we keep trying.
In Russia and China, reigning autocracies are the preferred arrangement.
Until one day their subjugated populations rise and demand their freedom. Like we are seeing in Ukraine.
A United Nations West is a necessity.
The spirit of Ukraine lives in all of us.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

Afghanistan, Ukraine and Biden

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He’s been widely criticized, for having pulled out of Afghanistan as he did.
He’s been blamed for signaling to Putin that the US would not commit to long term tasks. That America was eager to isolate.
If it hadn’t been for Afghanistan, they say, there wouldn’t have been the invasion of Ukraine.

Biden did what other presidents before him had not been willing to do. Face reality.
Afghanistan was unwinnable.
It could not be won with neighboring Pakistan sheltering and supporting the Taliban.
Previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic, had not made the choice. Demand that Pakistan cease supporting the Taliban or will not support you.
And so the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the man who ordered the 9/11 attack, took much longer that it should have.
The pullout from Afghanistan was messy but not messier than from Vietnam. But it had to be done. Biden deserves credit for it.

For one reason or another, during our 20 years in Afghanistan, we failed to elicit in Afghanistanis the will to build their nation. Over 2500 Americans died in that country, alongside others from allied forces.
It was very sad to see the country’s undoing, and the difficulties they’re now enduring.
But we had to leave. For now.

Ukraine is a vastly different story. Ukrainian nationals who had left the country to live elsewhere are returning to fight for their land.
President Biden has acted vigorously to pull together the EU-US alliance and Europe has responded.
The Ukrainian people are bearing the brunt of the struggle, fighting valiantly to defend their homeland. Volodymyr Zelensky, their leader, is fully committed to the task and will not surrender.

The Ukrainian bravery has awakened Europe from the denial they were living in, the false belief that they could somehow, through trade, dissuade the brutality of Russia.
Europe had seen it before – in Hungary in 1956, in Czechoslovakia in 68, twice in Chechnya, in the 1990’s and in early 2000s, then in Georgia in 2008 – and still they held out hope that Russian leaders could be depended upon. That it would be okay to rely on them for their oil and gas, their wheat, fertilizers and valued minerals. That the moneys from such purchases wouldn’t be used to finance the massacre of a neighbor’s people.
Even one of their former chancellors, Gerhard Schroder (1998-2005), became a Putin ally, the chairman of the Russian energy company Rosneft and a proponent of the Nord Stream pipeline to supply Germany with 40% of their energy needs.
Such denial was shared by subsequent German leaders with the consent of their people.

But now the Ukrainian nation has awakened Germans and all of Europe from their stupor and so they are owed a debt of gratitude.
The struggle for Europe and the West will not be over until Russia and its vassal nations become democratic countries.
It has fallen to Ukraine to shed the heroic blood that will mark the path to follow.
And then there will be China – for many sectors in the West are still in denial of that nation’s quest for supremacy.

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Yes, America, We Must Talk!

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We have to. It is a matter of survival.

We are being pressured and challenged by Russia on one side, by China on the other.

They are both betting that we can’t pull together.

They are both convinced we’re in decline, that we have forgotten to compromise, that animosities will keep us apart and we won’t be able to build bridges.

We have scientists. We have builders. We have artists. We have technology. We have drive. We have natural resources. We have good people.

And yet, we have fallen on hard times because we have stopped talking. And when that happens then the hope for compromise fades.

The majority of the nation agrees that democracy is worth defending and affirming.

And at the heart of democracy lies the need to give and take. So, yes, the pace of change is slower when we compromise but the prize is freedom. Justice. Equality of opportunity.

Extremes are toxic. We have to avoid them.

The next time you come across someone with a different viewpoint, do not shirk from expressing your own. Fear not their anger. Express your view.

And if you find the opposing view absurd or outlandish remind yourself that most issues are complex, and that varying circumstances have shaped our views, and that it is absolutely essential that, regardless of how irritated we may be with the opposing view, we must retain our calm and composure and so avoid that our anger leads us to judging the person.

Let us keep our minds open.

China and Russia both have powers that can harm us. They are both dictatorships that severely restrict freedom of speech. If a person living there challenges the system they end up in jail or eliminated.

Their leaders fear freedom of speech for it can spread to others and endanger their hold on power. Xi Jinping has been president since 2013 and has arranged to change the rules so he can stay in command. He even arranged for their legislative body to designate him ‘Historical Figure,’ like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping before him.

And so with Putin, who’s been in control of Russia since 1999 and has intimidated his nation to extend his term til 2036.

There are reasons why we have term limits for President in America. It prevents corruption. It allows for other views to emerge and be considered.

Today, Russia is threatening to invade the Ukraine. Is Ukraine a threat to Russia? No. But Putin fears that if Ukraine veers toward freedom, then other countries under his thumb will also try to better themselves.

China has squashed democracy in Hong Kong. They can’t stand the fact that Taiwan, after much struggle, has become a free nation. So they aim to invade it and bring it under their control.

We, in America, have freedom. Talking to each other, making the effort, is essential to keeping it. Anyone who refuses to reach out to others is toxic to our system.

Freedom is based on dialogue, compromise and bridge building. And all of us, every one of us, needs to do their part to preserve it.

Oscar Valdes    oscarvaldes.net.  also on anchor.fm, apple, google podcasts and buzzsprout

The Tesla Problem

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Tesla is flying high in China. It produced about 930 thousand models in 2021 with at least half made in Shanghai.

Now it decided to open a showroom in Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, where Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims are being forced to assimilate by Chinese authorities in what has been described as an act of genocide. Chinese authorities dismiss all responsibility.

Tesla has a problem though it chooses to dismiss it.

The problem is that it doesn’t give a damn about the forced assimilation going on in Xinjiang.

The problem is that, by its actions, it says to the public, ‘so long as we make money, we don’t care. We will certainly not upset the Chinese authorities because then our bottom line will be much affected. So there. We believe in freedom, absolutely, the freedom to make a buck wherever there’s a buck to me made. And as far as the present American administration, get off it, stop being so puritanical, let people make money, that’s the heart of the matter, don’t interfere with that or any of us in the company will not support you in the next election.’

Oh, the all mighty dollar, how its shiny light blinds the morals of some folks.

Here’s a smart, effective businessman, failing to see the big picture. Dismissing the humanitarian concerns of so many as mere pieties. An intelligent man blinded by his fast accumulating billions.

But it won’t do.

The world cannot give a free pass to China in its continuous human rights abuses.

China’s bellicosity is growing by the day, and to further its progress needs the assistance of western companies, banks and industrial concerns, willing to say ‘Yes! We want the money!’ as they bow to the angry and demanding dragon.

And in exchange, the mighty Chinese will treat them well, maybe grant them special rights in Taiwan once they invade the island, or wherever else they to choose to expand.

The Chinese government’s abuse of people in their own land is a precursor of things to come. Let it happen now and before you know it they will come for you, too.

The history of the world has taught us that lesson again and again but still we don’t get it.

We humans are fond of doing the ostrich number and burying our head in the sand.

Mr Musk, as leader of Tesla and Space X, has made important contributions to the world and to our nation. We thank him for them.

But maybe it is time he stepped aside.

Moral blindness is a detriment to leadership. And eventually to profits.

Take a break, Mr Musk. Broaden your views. You might surprise us all with your new insights.

Good luck.

PS – By the way, now and then, when you exult in your greatness, take a moment to mention the thousands of engineers working for you that make it all possible. They deserve it.

Oscar Valdes.   Oscarvaldes.net.  also available in anchor.fm, apple, google podcasts and buzzsprout.

Dear Oppressed Person of the World

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There are so many countries in our planet, where the very few govern the many. So many countries, even advanced ones, where the very few have found a way to impose their will on the many.

In those instances, something has happened in the many that they were willing to surrender their will.

Hierarchies, natural ones, are needed so things can run better and more is accomplished. They are needed for efficiency.

Knowledge, know how, wealth, power establish hierarchies.

Take a company, for instance. The founder has developed expertise in an area or has invented a product that they have taken to market. When we choose to join that effort we are assigned a place within the hierarchy and we are paid for our work.

It makes sense that the founder get the most of the profits. Without their expertise or product, the company would not have existed. But it is essential that the worker be treated fairly.

If this can be done without unions, so much the better, since unions bring their own hierarchies and bureaucracy. But the fact that unions exist is evidence that often the company’s hierarchies do not deal squarely with the workers.

One of the problems of any hierarchy, be it in business or government, is a gradual tendency for those on top to overrate their own capacity while devaluing that of those beneath them. The more distance between those at the top and those in the lower ranks, the more likely the devaluing.

It happens everywhere. The task is to find ways to prevent it.

One way is to keep an open conversation.

This allows people at any level in the hierarchy to remind others of the role they play within the organization.

When there is a real conversation between those at the top and those beneath them, there is less of a chance of devaluing everyone’s contribution. Even down to the janitorial staff that, working the night shift, ensure that those coming in the morning will find a clean office.

When the conversation between top and bottom is genuine, then there is a sense that everyone’s contribution is acknowledged. And the lesser the likelihood of devaluing to occur.

Open conversation creates the opportunities for people to improve their skills and so aspire to move up the organization as jobs become available.

There is a similarity between the organization of business and the organization of governments.

In totalitarian or autocratic governments, the conversation between the top and the lower ranks is limited or non existent. Conversation understood as a two way exchange, where contrary views can be aired. Conversation understood as free speech.

Today in our world, in some powerful countries, there is none or little conversation between the upper and lower ranks. That is a problem because it shrinks the human spirit.

Those at the top do not want to listen to those at the bottom. The ruling elite has found a way to block the conversation and prefers to punish those who wish to start one.

The ruling elite wants to prevent challenges to its privileges.

But something happens to those who are consistently devalued and not allowed their views to be heard. Something that should have been developed is not. And the longer the suppression of those voices the greater the existential poverty that follows.

Today, China and Russia – Cuba and Venezuela in the Americas – are examples of such damage.

The opportunity to express one’s ideas is essential to the spiritual health of the individual and thus of the nation. It enhances creative possibilities. Not having it is a clear sign of oppression.

Chinese and Russian citizens may find comfort in the economic and military might of their respective countries but without freedom, human beings slowly degrade and contract. They become less than they could otherwise.

Chinese or Russian citizens may be entranced by their leaders but if freedom of speech is not available, they forsake the chance of achieving full development as human beings.

Here in the United States we are going through a difficult period, with opposing sides hardening and little effective effort made to establish a conversation between the two.

Bridges must be built.

Or the poorer our existences will be.

For those interested, Freedom House does an excellent job of mapping the distribution of democracies around the world.

Oscar Valdes.    Oscarvaldes.net.    Available as a podcast in anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts, buzzsprout.

Putin’s Inventions. His Envy and Greed.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The Russian dictator must be having trouble at home because he decides to amass troops on the eastern border with the Ukraine and then claim he must do so because Russia is under threat by the West.

According to Putin, should Ukraine continue to lean toward the West his empire would be vulnerable to invasion.

But who would want to invade Russia? What for? Who wants to go there?

Instead, it is Putin who is a threat to other nations. He aids in the repression of democratic protests in Belarus, supports the Myanmar dictator’s savage repression of his people, joins with Assad to brutalize Syrians, aids the socialist government in Venezuela, which regime is responsible for the largest exodus of people in recent history, six million Venezuelans having sought refuge in neighboring countries with all the attendant pain of dislocation.

Russia may have 4000 nuclear warheads to scare the world, but it is a nation that inspires no one.

And now Putin wants to pressure the West into forbidding that NATO expand its reach to Ukraine and Georgia and demand that no western forces be stationed in Poland or the Baltic countries.

That Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet Union is clear. But those citizens in all those eastern countries formerly in the Soviet Union, have something to say about it. And they don’t want the Russian boot on their throats.

Putin’s dictatorship has held back Russia’s development. He makes every effort to choke the opposition and now has one of their leaders, Alexei Navalny, in prison.

Putin is clearly envious of the West and their ability to be productive, in spite of all our problems. He has been in power since 1999 but cannot get the Russian people to be more productive. This has nothing to do with Russians’ capacities. They are competent people, but for one reason or another, fell under the spell of a man who thinks only of how great he is.

Putin is also envious of China. He wishes he had come up with their way of attracting capital to get their economy moving. But he couldn’t do it. It wasn’t in him.

What is in him is his ability to scheme and invent crises, hoping to profit from them.

Now talks are under way to ease the tensions Putin has created with the threat to invade the Ukraine. But the West should not give in an inch.

Putin’s move gives, in effect, a great opportunity for president Biden to unify the Western alliance which had been frayed by Trump’s shortsighted diplomacy.

Russia’s government, not the people, is an enemy to the West. The Russian people are being diminished in their possibilities by an authoritarian regime that has made their nation less competitive in the world and caused them to fall far behind.

If Putin chooses to invade the Ukraine, then president Biden should follow through with his promise of aiding Ukrainians in defending their nation without sending in American troops.

It would make for a bloody war, for Ukrainians will fiercely resist having to bow to the Russian government.

Freedom has a price. A protracted war in the Ukraine would have the effect of strengthening the anti Putin movement in Russia, hastening his fall.

President Biden and the West must stand firm against Putin and his disregard for humanity, including that of his own people.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net also available in anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts and buzzprout.