Archive | May 2010

A thought experiment re: justice and money

What’s up fam,

I have thought experiment that I have mulled around for a while now. For full disclosure, I am enamored by the work of Philosopher John Rawls and his theory of creating justice from “behind the veil.” So here it goes. Tomorrow morning, you turn on the news to find out that some super computer virus has deduced everyone’s bank accounts to zero. Let’s also assume that there is no way verify the bank account balance before the computer virus attack. To be sure, I am talking about governments, corporations, and individuals…everybody.

How world would rebuild from such scenario says much about how much about how we as a society think about justice. Just think about it, how do you think society would reorganize itself. I know some people are thinking, “They could look at paystubs, newspaper clips, etc. Be that as it may, who gets to justify what form of proof is sufficient? Whose word is most trustworthy? In other words, who gets the set the rules? Here are some more thoughts for you.

How would governments go about evaluating the health of their economy, debt, trade relations, etc? What would be fair?

And assuming governments establish themselves first, how would you want the government to restore and/or distribute the country’s wealth? What would be just?

What part of your identity, if any would feel undermined? Is it possible that you would feel liberated (at least temporarily) from trying to keep up with the rat race of earning more and spending more?

Would you try to justify receiving more money than you were entitled to?

Assuming that things got back to normal 1 day later, what would you appreciate more, if anything?

I hope some of these questions helped you evaluate what you truly value now. Please post your reactions in the comments section. Just my thoughts,

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

Photo Courtesy of

Water Wars Redux

What’s up fam,

This week’s Economist magazine had a great 16 page report on water and I strongly recommend you buy it because we are entering new territory regarding access to clean water. Previously, I have written about the growing battle for the right to water and The Economist does a great job of sounding the alarm. Roughly 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water. What really had me thinking was two main things. The first surrounded the notion of water wars and conflicts over water. The Economist highlighted the work of the Pacific Institute in California that has an awesome interactive map detailing the history of water conflicts across the world.

The old adage is that “a hungry mob is an angry mob.” but without 1.1 billion people without access to clean water, that adage may have to change to say that “a thirsty mob is an angry mob.” I was distressed reading about how diarrhea is the biggest single cause of child deaths across the globe. Now think about all the water and nutrients that need to be replaced when you have diarrhea and imagine the pain that three and four year olds are suffering from even as you read these words. For more information on this topic, I found some good info from the US Coalition for Child Survival.

Moreover, I remember reading about water shortages years ago and thought, “Why don’t we just get water from the ocean?” I find it interesting that the cover story for The Economist magazine involved man-made life but with all of man’s intellect and hubris, we still haven’t found a way to efficiently desalinize salty ocean water. Of course, desalinization is no silver bullet and we have to reduce demand through shorter showers, rejecting bottled water, revising irrigation strategies, washing our cars less, etc. In short, we need a world changing water master plan that decreases conflicts over water. Do your part.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

Chaos or Community: Detroit

What’s up fam,

This has been a sobering week for Detroit and while I can’t quite make sense of it all, I know I need to write and revisit my thoughts later. So please, bear with me and indulge my stream of consciousness.

For those that don’t know, the city of Detroit has been ransacked by a wave of violence in the past couple of weeks involving the unrelated deaths of two children and a cop. Brian Huff, a cop, was shot dead when he and other police officers were called out to investigate shots fired from a vacant house. When the cops entered the home, the people inside the home opened fire, wounding four cops and killing Huff. Huff, 45 is survived by his wife and 10-year old son. Here is where we stand thus far according to what is being reported in the press regarding the children. Chauncey Owens, a 34 year old male shot and killed 17-year old Jerean Blake.
Read More…

Overplaying the Race Card

Originally posted at the Center for Community Change blog.

The race card

Racism still alive/They just be concealin’ it — Kanye West, Never Let Me Down

Hearkening back to the days when American conservatives openly defended the “peculiar institution”, today some conservatives are returning to their prejudiced roots and embracing hate speech and hateful policies across the country. The moral bankruptcy, practical lunacy and political idiocy demonstrated by these short-sighted tactics undermine their future as a palatable movement. Several examples follow: Read More…