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The Beach • Posted: Jun 12, 2019 17:23:01Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Heavy rains have stopped. The sun is out. Temps are up. School is nearly done for the year. And, though the waters are still very cold, people have begun to visit the beach again. Even the gulls are pleased.

The world as a whole? Not exactly going so well. Just this morning huge protests in Hong Kong over a new extradition law affecting political dissidents have turned violent, with bottle throwing, tear gas, and rubber bullets. And this, on the heels of the locally blacked out 30 year anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square protests. Not a happy thought to think we may be witnessing a repeat of a Chinese political elite forcibly repressing democratic opposition to its single-minded policies. A test, perhaps, of an assertion from my last post that nurtured diversity fuels adaptive innovation, which may be the only guarantee complex systems will ever have of surviving dynamic environments. Will the Chinese system crumble from within as innovative diversity seeks outlet through corruption? Or, will the Chinese system fail as doctrinally groomed up and coming officials order harsher and harsher repression of thought developed within a wider exchange of ideas and information?

Also this morning, news of an Ebola death and seven more suspected cases in Uganda, which borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo where more than 2000 mostly fatal Ebola cases have been reported during the preceding 10 months. The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been exacerbated by political posturing and sometimes fatal attacks upon medical aid workers trying to control the outbreak. Again, the attempted stifling of adaptive innovation by a self-serving power elite can be seen undermining the health, stability, and cohesiveness of a developing nation. Will the same misguided ethic be attempted in Uganda?

News today also notes the arrest of hundreds of protestors in Russia over the recent detention of a noted journalist on fabricated claims of drug dealing. The journalist has since been released, but protestors want government officials responsible for the fabrication dismissed. Once again, a government of corrupt ruling elite are attempting to maintain and increase power by suppressing information and potentially adaptive innovation originating from within the ranks of those being governed.

Back in the United States, a different kind of confrontation is taking place. Young people, a group of school-aged students, have sued the US government over inaction regarding climate change. The students contend the viability of their futures is at stake while nothing substantial is being done by those in power to help control climate change. Another hearing on the case was heard just last week in Oregon. And, it’s a head scratcher.

Originally filed back in 2015 by a group of 21 students, the Obama administration asked that the suit be dismissed because such policy matters would be better handled through Congress and the Executive branch. The Trump administration, taking a harder line, is arguing that there is no “right to a stable climate” and, in parallel with the Obama administration contention, that an unelected court in Oregon should not be dictating national policy favoring narrow interests.

The head scratching part comes when prevailing law is considered. Our Constitution guarantees citizens the right to petition government, which the students have done. Liability law also allows for the recovery of damages due to action and/or negligence by citizens and/or corporations. But, several conservative leaning judges have recently dismissed similar liability law suits due to “standing”. In other words, whether or not petitioners have, as of yet, suffered any actual harm due to action or negligence by defendants in the law suits. Suits challenging the construction of oil pipelines have been dismissed because potential damage from leaks has not yet occurred. Individual state suing the federal government over recent changes in federal policy under the Trump administration have been dismissed because harm cannot yet be shone to have occurred. Similarly, for the student’s climate suit, should the federal government be forced to change climate and energy policy when no harm or neglect can yet be attributed to those policies? It’s a kind of catch-22 built into our laws, and possibly one that Congress or the Supreme Court need settle one way or another.

What makes the US confrontation between citizens and government different from what is happening in Hong Kong, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Russia is that the US confrontation is occurring peacefully within established institutions, institutions that have been designed to balance one another with respect to the exercise of power. That is not to say such institutions cannot be, or are not in the process of being, corrupted by a self-serving monied elite seeking to reify its own power by suppressing information and adaptive innovation coming from outside its ranks. Perhaps a strong fourth estate, the press, and motivated voters will help keep such undermining corruption in check. Let’s hope so.

May your coming days at the beach be both thoughtful and constructive of life-giving diversity and adaptive innovation benefitting all of us.

Saturday, June 9th, 2012