Words That Should Be Replaced: 4. Supply Chain

Supply Chain Supply Net

This is the fourth installment in an ongoing series.

You’ve been hearing lot about supply chains

…in the economic news regarding international shipping of goods, and components of goods. Because international borders have been slammed shut in response to the SARS-COV-2 virus, many things are in short supply or completely unavailable.

This phrase is deceptive. The supply of goods (and services, for that matter) isn’t a chain.

A chain would be a simple thing. Store needs sprockets to sell. Factory needs a battery to make a sprocket. Battery needs lithium mined from the earth.

 

Mine > Lithium > Battery > Factory > Sprocket > Store

 

But that simple model is ludicrously unsuited to describing the real-world functioning of creation of even the simplest item.

The mine, for example, requires machinery.

The machinery requires fuel and lubricant and humans to maintain and service it. The fuel (let’s say diesel) requires its own oil wells and refineries, tankers and distributors.

The mine requires human labor.

The human laborers require food and clothing. The food and clothing requires fertilizer, factories, stores. They need protective equipment, which has to be manufactured as well. They need medical care, so hospitals and doctors are necessary. They need entertainment and communication, so theaters and sports arenas, televisions and smartphones are necessary…

 

Then the lithium is extracted from the mine.

It needs to be refined, so it goes to a lithium refinery where humans (with needs of food, clothing, medicine, entertainment and communication) operate machinery (needing fuel, lubrication, and maintenance) to pack the lithium into appropriate containers (also made in factories, by humans).

 

The lithium must travel to the factory

(using some sort of machinery or maybe on foot, but probably a truck or train with needs), and then other humans (with needs), wearing different protective equipment, use different machinery (with needs) to assemble casings, wires, and other components along with the lithium to make the batteries.

 

So, rather than a simple, linear chain, you’ve got something more like this for the first step alone:

 

And the lithium batteries are needed for each of the humans’ communication and entertainment needs, and also for the machinery that’s used at each step of the process, and for the medical functions that keep the humans functioning…

 

Web of creationA slight disruption at any stage would disrupt the whole elaborate system.

 

Supply chains are more like supply nets.

A net is woven of multiple lines looping back on themselves and interlocking. If one of those connections is disrupted, the net won’t hold fish as well, and if the net isn’t mended promptly, the whole thing will unravel.

Just like an ecology, an economy is a mesh, web, or net.

The idea that we can merely prime the first step in the chain and get it moving again is a childish level of foolishness. The intricate interrelatedness of every single bit of our economy is the underlying source of sustenance and flourishing for everyone on the planet. And every single connection is vital to it.

 

So, instead of supply chain, say supply net.

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Words That Should Be Replaced: 3. Mindfulness

Mindfulness Relaxed Focus

This is the third installment in an ongoing series.

Mindfulness is one of those words that’s become a pop-culture buzzword.

It’s used to tell people that they ought to calm down and focus on the present moment. Not only that, they should make a lifestyle out of calming down and focusing. Cool people are mindful. Not being mindful, in fact, is a spiritual failing.

True, calming down is often a good idea.

Wild parties, sporting events, exercise, violent attacks, and imminent physical danger are probably the only occasions when it’s advantageous to be emotionally and physically agitated. Yet, those are also times when it’s a good idea pay attention to what you’re doing.

More importantly, the word “mindful” has the word “mind” as its root. The human mind is unique precisely in its ability to consider things that are not happening in the present moment. What makes us human is our ability to consider things that occurred in the recent or distant past and apply them to the near or distant future.

Mindfulness is often equated with meditation.

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Photo by madison lavern on Unsplash

But having practiced several different types of meditation in my life and studied many more, I’ve noticed that one of the features of all of them is disregarding the contents and constructs of the mind. In fact, by settling into a pattern of stillness and focusing on one’s environment and breathing, you could say that meditation is more accurately about “bodifulness” than mindfulness.

A less value-laden, nonjudgmental way of talking about the meditative state of being is simply to describe it: relaxed focus.

Next time you see or read the word “mindfulness,” try substituting the phrase “relaxed focus” instead.

How Many Poor Children Will Lockdowns Kill?

The unbelievable media chorus

in favor of continued forced lockdowns, despite the lack of any credible evidence whatsoever that they work, continues.

The latest UN report

On the effect of lockdowns on the world’s children estimates that hundreds of thousands of children will die as a consequence of this economic suicide that we are allowing to happen.

Some bulleted excerpts from the report:

Extreme Poverty to Rise

  • At a household level, the collapse in income threatens the livelihoods of millions of house- holds with children around the world. Inputting the forecasts from the IMF optimistic scenario into an IFPRI poverty model4 indicates an increase in extreme poverty (PPP$1.90
    a day) this year of 84 to 132 million people, approximately half
    of whom are children, compared to a pre-pandemic counterfactual scenario.
  • While children are not the face of this pandemic, its broader impacts on children risk being catastrophic and amongst the most lasting consequences for societies as a whole.

 

Reversal of Progress on Infant Mortality

  • The global economic downturn could result in hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020, reversing the last 2 to 3 years of progress in reducing infant mortality within a single year.

 

Loss of Crucial Learning and Development

  • The potential losses that may accrue in learning for today’s young generation, and for the development of their human capital, are
    hard to fathom

Covid Rarely Kills Poor Children. Measles Does.

  • The share of symptomatic children who lose their lives to the virusin China has been estimated as 1 in 25,000, which is 30 times less
    than of the middle aged and 3,000 times less than the elderly.
  • …measles immunization campaigns have been suspended in at least
    23 countries that had cumulatively targeted more than 78 million
    children

 

Children’s Mental Health

  • The effects of physical distancing measures and movement
    restrictions on children’s mental health represent another cause
    for concern. …For children facing extreme deprivations, acute
    stress can impair their cognitive development and trigger
    longer-term mental health challenges

 

Nowhere to Go

  • Enforced shutdowns, curfews and movement restrictions have led to
    the sudden closure of refugee camps and residential institutions,
    and the dispersion of slum-dwellers, including children

I don’t want to read any more about how “we’re all in this together,” “quarantine has let us focus on what’s really important,” “we all have to adjust to the new normal,” or any other delusional, privileged, wealthy-country platitudes. This is harming millions of children and killing hundreds of thousands.

It needs to stop.

Words That Should Be Replaced: 2. Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy Theory Unsanctioned Premise

This is the second installment  an ongoing series.

The phrase “conspiracy theory” passed into common usage following the 1964 Warren report on the assassination of JFK.

The phrase was amplified in the heavily manipulated, non-social, media of the time as a form of ridicule. Later, it came to be applied to any theory that contradicts received, official, orthodox, or approved analysis, information, or justifications.

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For a story to be labeled a conspiracy theory, it is totally beside the point whether it actually involves a conspiracy.

For example, when extensive evidence was brought to light showing that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, various actors in the government, intelligence community, and mass media all had incentives to support the claim that it did. They didn’t conspire; they didn’t have to. They just had to refrain from pulling the brake on the train and go along for the ride. Those who mentioned the actual available evidence were labeled conspiracy theorists, marginalized, and shouted down. Eventually, everyone was forced to concede that Iraq had no WMD and that the evidence of this was freely available it all along. Baghdad was already in ruins.

Conversely, if an official, approved, or orthodox organization embraces a notion, it can never be labeled a conspiracy theory.

An example might be the idea that the Soviet Union had conspired with thousands of artists, writers, actors, broadcasters, and journalists to infiltrate literature, news, government, civic organizations, and entertainment during the Cold War. That theory led to the persecutions and blacklists of the McCarthy Era. That was never referred to as a conspiracy theory, because it was held by a sizable faction of the US government, including law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Congressional hearings and criminal charges were made based on it. Many lives were ruined.

This is not to say that there are not actual conspiracy theories.

Some of those theories are probably correct (i.e., conspiracies do exist). But most of the time, the phrase is used as a pejorative without any precision or accuracy. It is far more accurate to use a phrase that makes it clear that the idea being discussed is challenging to a belief considered authoritative.

Whenever you hear or read the phrase, “conspiracy theory,” substitute the expression, “unsanctioned premise” in its place.

More Murderous Consequences of Lockdown

We’ve already seen

here, here, and here that lockdowns will cause stress-illness deaths in wealthier nations that rival the death toll of the virus itself. Reuters recently joined the chorus of saner voices pointing out that more people will die as a result of lockdowns and those consequences are being ignored, although they wrongheadedly focus first on suicides, which are a much smaller proportion of deaths than the stress-illness deaths that will skyrocket due to unemployment.

We’ve also seen that experts such as Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis and 800 Yale physicians, public health PhDs, and epidemiologists have decried the lockdowns as not based on valid evidence and likely to have serious unintended consequences. I plan to go into what the limited evidence available suggests does mitigate the virus in a future column.

Look at Their Actions, not Their Words

In the meantime, Neil Ferguson, whose initial modeling of the pandemic yielded insanely inflated numbers, and who advocated the most extreme of lockdown measures, fostering a global authoritarian panic, has resigned in disgrace. He was caught violating the lockdown rules he himself helped create by having sex with his married girlfriend…whose husband was ill with coronavirus symptoms. That demonstrates that the questionable motivations of advocates of these measures go all the way to the highest levels.

Lockdowns Hurt the Global Poor

It brings me only sorrow to report that predictions are emerging of the effects the advancing recession will have on the developing world.

Starvation

The BBC brings us a report estimating that 30 million people will starve in “biblical” famines caused by the deliberate disruption of the web of economic interdependency that sustains humanity. This is in addition to people killed by the virus itself.

Tuberculosis

And a report Developed by Stop TB Partnership in collaboration with Imperial College, Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University and USAID predicts that low- and middle-income countries that lock down will have as many as 1,367,300 additional tuberculosis deaths over the next five years as a consequence. That’s not taking into account either hypothetical interactions between tuberculosis and Covid-19, or the decrease in TB prevention public health programs resulting from the cuts in government revenues due to the recession/depression.

First, Do No Harm

I enjoyed this Venn diagram, which describes my perspective on this pandemic to a “T”:

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This virus is no joke. Especially for people who are older, obese, and/or have a variety of common diseases, it can be lethal. Most such people at risk will self-isolate. But now that we know that deaths and serious illnesses in children are rare and in young adults are uncommon, one has to ask if the forcible closing of businesses, recreation and exercise facilities, and even public streets is appropriate. The risk to young healthy people of going out in public (maintaining arms-length spacing and avoiding large gatherings) is much lower than many things (for example, driving a car) that people do on a daily basis without any hesitation.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the most rational way to approach the situation is for younger people to get back to work and into public settings, building a herd immunity, so that older folks can eventually sit in the parks and feed the pigeons again.

But to do that, humanity will need to push back against the brutal top-down control that is being imposed.

Are you brave enough to speak out?

Words That Should be Replaced: 1. Healthcare

Healthcare Medical Care

 

This is the first installment in what I plan as an ongoing series.

I chose this particular word for the first one in the series because it’s near and dear to me, because of my 30+ years as a chiropractor.

The word “healthcare” as commonly used today means the sale of medical goods and services, or the sale of services that manage payments for medical goods and services (such as government and corporate medical plans).

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Yet, those services would be more accurately referred to as “illnesscare”

or more neutrally, “medical care” instead. With very few exceptions, when you visit a clinic, doctor, or hospital, you’re seeking treatment for an illness or injury. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s great that medical care is available! I’m just pointing out that medical treatment is only a small part of the process of caring for your health.

What do you do to avoid illness or injury?

Eat well, stay active, get plenty of sleep, drink water, laugh with your friends, wear your seatbelt, wash your hands, get massages and spinal adjustments, brush your teeth, get a little sunshine? Wouldn’t all those things be more accurately referred to as “healthcare”? Those are things you do while you’re healthy in order to care for your health. And they are actions that are under your individual control.

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Why is this important?

Because it refocuses the discussion of health and well-being to include the elements of personal responsibility and creative initiative, instead of framing it as something you passively pay to have done to you.

Anywhere you hear or read the word “healthcare,” replace it with the phrase “medical care.”