Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Bonn, Germany


It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor (Seneca)

Laissez-faire is finished. The all-powerful market that always knows best is finished (Nicolas Sarkozy)

The man who accepts the laissez-faire doctrine would allow his garden to grow wild so that roses might fight it out with the weeds and the fittest might survive (John Ruskin)

In a laissez-faire society, there could exist no public institution with the power to forcefully protect people from themselves. From other people (criminals), yes. From one's own self, no (Karl Hess)

Laissez-faire capitalism, or anarcho-capitalism, is simply the economic form of the libertarian ethic. Laissez-faire capitalism encompasses the notion that men should exchange goods and services, without regulation, solely on the basis of value for value (Karl Hess)

he Bible says, "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Timothy 6:10). The love of money is a root of evil because some people love money more than they love God or their fellow human beings.

A human being is a selfish animal; he or she sees his own survival as being paramount, even if that means putting other people's lives in jeopardy. Human selfishness led to the doctrine of laissez-faire capitalism that originated at about 1681 in France but still being practiced all over the world until today. Laissez-faire, according to Wikipedia, is an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government intervention such as regulation, privileges, tariffs, and subsidies. Today, instead of declining, the laissez-faire ideology is triumphing, and that is periling many human beings, other animals and the earth. The Federal Government of the United States allows its industries to be "reading from any chapter they chose" without reining in some of their excesses.

What we, human beings, have forgotten is that a happier and successful life will never come only through the policy of laissez-faire. In this era, when government oversight is almost nonexistent, for economic reasons, and laissez-faire capitalism is in control, human beings will continue to be the losers. Nobody is saying that nation-states should go back to communism or socialism as these are fraught with catastrophic shortfalls, but some communist countries have found a way to move their respective societies into the right direction without becoming outright capitalist nations. Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) came and reformed the communist China, and today, that nation is reaping the benefit of communism with a human face. As dictionary.com points out, modern-day Russia is neither socialist nor communist. That ended in 1991. China went through a Communist revolution not long after Russia did, and today they self-identify as “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Today, European countries are better off than the United States in terms of the happiness of their citizens, because, unlike the latter, the former have sinewed their citizens better for any eventuality, because they're practicing capitalism with a human face. Unlike the United States, the European governments or people don't see everything as either profit or loss. For the Europeans, it’s not all doom and gloom, though. Many European countries operate as social democracies. This means they blend a lot of “socialist” policies (like providing state healthcare, social security, and worker’s compensation) with certain “capitalist” features (like private property and the democratic process).

The advanced European countries are more of welfare states than capitalist, because, they have a system whereby the state undertakes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, especially those in financial or social need, by means of grants, pensions, and other benefits. The Collins dictionary tells us that the foundations for the modern welfare state in the UK were laid by the Beveridge Report of 1942; proposals such as the establishment of a National Health Service and the National Insurance Scheme were implemented by the Labour administration in 1948.

Germany and some other capitalist countries also practice the welfare system in which the government provides free social services such as health and education and gives money to people when they are unable to work, for example, because they are old, unemployed, or sick. In other words, according to Webster's, a state in which the welfare of its citizens, with regard to employment, medical care, social security, etc., is considered to be the responsibility of the government.

Some of the advanced European countries are planned in such a way that no one will be left behind. In a country like Germany, there are neither extremely rich nor extremely poor people, and that's why crime rate here is abysmally low unlike in the United States where poverty is leading many into crimes. As I have noted before, Germany is probably one of the best-planned countries in the world; if you go there and understand their economic system, you will doff your hat to those who planned that economic system, as you can hardly cheat it or be left behind. Europeans plan ahead by giving their citizens happiness today in order to have peace for all in the future. Because of the way the Netherlands treats its citizens, only a few are interested in committing any crime. Do you know that few years ago, the Netherlands had to close seven of its big prisons because there were no inmates for them (no criminals to incarcerate there)?

In terms of happiness, the Europeans are doing better than the United States. The World Happiness Report was released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 20, 2019. The world's happiest country is Finland, and it's followed, in that order, by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands. Switzerland came in sixth place, followed by Sweden, New Zealand, Canada (the only country in the Americas) and Austria. According to CNN, the United States came in 19th place, dropping one spot since last year and a total of five spots since 2017.

What I'm saying in effect is that unlike the Europeans, the American aggressive pursuit of wealth is destroying them and dooming the world. While the advance European countries aggressively pursue their citizens' happiness and well being, the United States encourages only the pursuit of wealth and influence, while relegating the peace and well being of its citizens and those of the whole people of the world to the back burner.

What is the point here?: First of all, let me commiserate with the families of the victims of the two ill-fated flights. Only God knows what the over distraught family members are going through, and how lonely many of them are right now, because of the loss of their loved ones. May God succor and comfort them the more. This article is in no way trying to undermine the ongoing investigations to unriddle the causes of the crashes, rather it will help the investigators in their job.

The Lion Air Flight JT 610 that crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia, had 189 people on board, and they all perished when the plane dived into the Java sea on October 29, 2018. The plane was about two months old. Less than five months later, the Ethiopian Airline Flight ET302 went down on March 10, 2019, near Addis Ababa, killing all the 157 people on board. The victims, which were en route to Nairobi, included 35 nationalities from across the world. The plane was about 4 months old. It was also reported that Boeing has been accused of failing to warn airlines about potential hazards of a new in-flight control system on its 737 MAX jets that may have contributed to the deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

The question is how could brand new planes crash? Investigators are telling us that there are “clear similarities” here. The CNN wrote that for the second time in less than six months, a brand-new Boeing aircraft has crashed just minutes into a flight. All 157 people on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa that crashed on March 10 have died, the airline has confirmed. The tragedy follows the Lion Air flight that went down over the Java sea in late October, killing all 189 people on board.

The point is that the lives lost and the trauma unleashed could have been avoided if Boeing, the plane manufacturer, and the airlines, Ethiopian and Lions Airlines, have done the right things. They were more concerned about profit than about the lives of the passengers. I will explain later.

What is known, however, is that both flights took place on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 -- a new model recently unveiled to great fanfare by the US aviation giant, that saw its first flight less than two years ago. "It's highly suspicious," said Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst and the former Inspector General of the U.S. Transportation Department. Hear her: "Here we have a brand-new aircraft that's gone down twice in a year. That rings alarm bells in the aviation industry because that just doesn't happen." Adding to concerns are some similarities between the two flights. Both were operated by well-known airlines with strong safety records -- but the Lion Air flight went down 13 minutes after takeoff, while Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed just six minutes into its journey.

And while the Ethiopian Airlines did not see the wild fluctuations in altitude that the Lion Air flight saw, it did dip and then regain altitude before it crashed. "The similarities with Lion Air are too great not to be concerned."

The problem is that when Boeing decided to produce the MAX 8 version of the 737 jets, instead of topping it up with the latest safety features, it made some of them, that the older version of 737 series had, ineffectual, and Boeing didn't inform most airlines about the change. So, the pilots flying the MAX 8 version of 737 were caught off-guard whenever they were confronted with related problems. Why should Boeing keep the pilots in the dark about a certain change it made in the MAX 8 version?

The Reuters writes: "Much like tapping the brake pedal in a car to disengage cruise control, a sharp tug on the controls of older models of Boeing Co's 737 used to shut off an automatic trim system that keeps the plane flying level, giving the pilot control. But Boeing disabled the "yoke jerk" function when it brought out the 737 MAX, the latest version of its top-selling jet - and many pilots were unaware of the change, aviation experts told Reuters. The difference may help explain why pilots struggled to keep their aircraft climbing after takeoff on two fatal 737 MAX flights less than five months apart that killed 346 people. Pilots of a Lion Air flight that crashed in October scoured a handbook for answers as the plane repeatedly lurched downward in the first minutes of flight, Reuters reported. An Ethiopian Airlines flight that went down on March 10 showed "clear similarities" to the Lion Air accident, aviation authorities said after seeing black-box data.

A pair of switches on the center console between the pilots will turn off the automatic trim and a mechanism, new on the 737 MAX, known as the Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, that is suspected of playing a role in both disasters.

But pilots would have needed to know that MCAS existed, that it had unusual power to force the plane down and that "a hard pull on the yoke" would no longer turn off the automatic trim that uses MCAS, John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT, said in an interview. "That wasn't clear to the pilots flying the airplane," Hansman said. "The training material was not clear on that."

The worst thing Boeing did was the selling of safety features to airlines at an extra cost. How can the company roll out 737 MAX 8 series with fanfare but didn't make certain safety features for the plane a permanent part of it? How can Boeing make safety features in its planes optional when it should have known that human beings will go for the cheapest as long as it's optional? Because Boeing wanted to make more profit, it decided to sell some safety features as extras. Also, the Federal Aviation Administration erred by not making the inclusion of those safety features compulsory. The regulating body did that in other to help Boeing boost its profit, but look at what that negligence has cost now. That was wrong, and must have remotely lead to those deaths. It's just like car manufacturers making the brake pad optional for cars - it can only lead to deaths. Boeing's practice of selling safety features at extra cost is wrong, and it was doing this for the maximization of profit at the expense of lives.

The United States' government through the Federal Aviation Authority should have compelled Boeing to have those safety features fixed at no extra cost right from the start. Now, Boeing is waking up because many lives have been lost. The planes will now get the safety features fixed without extra charge. So, lives must be lost before we do the right thing?

To be continued!