Empathy Surplus Project

A Caring Citizens' Congress Federation.

Civil Society Consultation on the United States of America’s Second Universal Periodic Review U.S. State Department

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Chuck Watts will present this testimony at the Town Hall Meeting, Monday, July 20, 2015, at the US State Department Marshall Building, Washington, DC, and is a member of the Health Working Group

Concerning healthcare human rights, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of chartering the UN in 1945, by 50 Rotarians in San Francisco. The Empathy Surplus Project is an emerging federation of neighborhood organizations modeled after Rotary International called Caring Citizens’ Congresses dedicated to expanding freedom and fairness for all. The Empathy Surplus Project has two policy directions: (1) Change the US legal metaphor of healthcare from a product to a human right; and (2) Change the US metaphor of our economy from competition to cooperation. To expand freedom and fairness for all, caring citizens must, in their ethical businesses, create a caring economy that maintains a caring society. Freedom expansion is a moral imperative and the strategic reason we need more empathy.

We strongly support, without reservation, Cuba’s human rights recommendation 5.314, which states: “Guarantee the right by all residents in the country to adequate housing, food, health and education, with the aim of decreasing poverty, which affects 48 millions of people in the country.” 

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The Morality of Debt

Prepared by Joe Brewer, Culture Designer

Focus of This Report - - Exploring the "Cycles of Debt"

At the heart of our critique of the current system is the observation that morality is used to make those who suffer from global inequality complicit in maintaining the status quo. We are taught that it is wrong to take from others without giving back something of equal or greater value in return.

This simple notion of situational ethics is the prison that keeps billions of people locked in cycles of debt—a self-induced oppression that each of us places ourselves in every time we accept the “common sense” of debt morality.

In this weekly report, I want to explore the morality of debt to inform how we approach the World Bank, IMF, international trade agreements, and the role of the nation state in setting up and maintaining exploitative systems of financial power. The approach we will take is to treat the sentiment that repaying debts is a moral good as a meme that has “won” in the battlefield of ideas.

The memetic strategy I propose we take is to (a) deconstruct the semantic frames around debt morality in order to (b) better understand how the psychology of self-critique keeps us locked into systems of oppression and then (c) discover ways to break the cycle of social norms that perpetuate this condition among oppressed people around the world.

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U.S. Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

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What Will You Give America On Its Birthday?

When our founders, 239 years ago, weighed the values of obedience to the authority and discipline of King George and his corporations VERSUS the values of empathy, responsibility for self and others, and the strength to act on those values, they chose the human right to EMPATHY and the public good.

Our consultant, Joe Brewer, says, "Research in game theory makes it clear -- groups that cooperate better will out-compete groups that don't. This is the strategic reason we need more empathy!"

#GoEmpathySurplus

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UN Experts Voice Concern Over Adverse Impact of Trade and Investment Agreements on Human Rights

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GENEVA 2 June 2015 - A number of free trade and investment agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), are currently being negotiated. A group of UN experts* have issued the following statement to express concern about the secret nature of drawing up and negotiating many of these agreements and the potential adverse impact of these agreements on human rights:
“While trade and investment agreements can create new economic opportunities, we draw attention to the potential detrimental impact these treaties and agreements may have on the enjoyment of human rights as enshrined in legally binding instruments, whether civil, cultural, economic, political or social. Our concerns relate to the rights to life, food, water and sanitation, health, housing, education, science and culture, improved labour standards, an independent judiciary, a clean environment and the right not to be subjected to forced resettlement.
 
As also underlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, States must ensure that trade and investment agreements do not constrain their ability to meet their human rights obligations (Guiding Principle 9). 
Observers are concerned that these treaties and agreements are likely to have a number of retrogressive effects on the protection and promotion of human rights, including by lowering the threshold of health protection, food safety, and labour standards, by catering to the business interests of pharmaceutical monopolies and extending intellectual property protection.
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Ohio Family Farmers Against TPP

A Caring Society Needs a Caring Economy With Ethical Business

Without strong family farms, healthy food is at risk and American lives are at risk. We need to strengthen American family farms. President Obama's TPP trade deal is really a wealth extraction scheme that threatens Ohio family farmers' freedom to farm for themselves and their neighbors. Privateer accomplices in the US Senate have voted against family farmers. It's now up to the US House of Representatives to protect family farm freedom and keep us happy.

Call your Congressman NOW and demand she govern with care and responsibility for and to us and strengthen family farmers and Medicare. Demand they vote NO on Fast Track for TPP wealth extraction from America.

Ohio Farmers Union Against Fast Track of TPP

joinusfamily1.jpgFor centuries small family farmers have been caring for Americans, leading to freedom and fairness for all. We elect our representatives to care for us and take responsibility for us and our neighbors to keep us safe and happy. We don't send them there to conspire behind closed doors to hurt us and to steal our common wealth. Yet, that's exactly what's happening. When one branch of government violates our healthcare human right to transparency in government, we expect our elected leaders to check that abuse of power.

Ohio Farmers Union national president Roger Johnson is calling on Congress to check President Barack Obama's abuse of presidential treaty making powers and vote NO on granting the President a rubber stamp and blank check on TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement. In a letter to all members of Congress, Johnson wrote,

“Trade promotion authority (“fast track”) would remove an important constitutional check on the president’s power to negotiate trade agreements. Trade agreements must be fair for all parties involved and should therefore be subjected to review by the Congress – not conducted secretly.” 

“Congress should have full opportunity to review the provisions of a trade agreement, consistent with the authority and power endowed by the U.S. Constitution. The lack of transparency in negotiating TPP is particularly egregious, considering its expansive scope.”

US Senate Failed Family Farmers - It's NOW Up to YOU - Call Your Representative

Both parties in the Senate ignored Johnson and traded family farm freedom away to unethical multi-national corporations. See the full list here. It's now up to you and your Congress men and women to check this healthcare human rights violation. Please call your representative NOW.

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A Call at the UN for a Caring Society with a Caring Economy and Ethical Business

As a Rotarian since 1981, I am especially interested in the work of the United Nations. Why? Because of the influence Rotarians had in the actual charter of the UN. In 2000, the Economic and Social Council to which Rotary International holds the highest consultative status as an NGO, created the Global Compact. In 2009, Rotary International partnered with the Global Compact and calls all its Rotarians, through clubs and districts, to collaborate more closely with the UN, and to consider how to align their own businesses around basic human rights.

The United Nations is preparing to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace their Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It’s a grand list but, ironically, it misses out on the root cause that has brought us all these issues -- not caring enough about basic human rights to expand freedom and fairness for all.

Tessa Khan, Programme Officer at the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), called for more care for human rights in her speech at the UN General Assembly Financing for Development hearings held on April 9, 2015. We need more and more people like her, especially Rotarians, calling out the un-empathetic and irresponsible logic at the heart of the development agenda. There are 20,000 Rotarians in Ohio, where I live. Two of our three co-founders are Rotarians. As more and more Rotarians embrace our UN heritage and decide to engage directly, I look forward to collaborating with them.

Below the fold and the 9 minute video is the transcript of Ms. Kahn's testimony. If you're a Rotarian, or know a Rotarian, share this with a friend and consider exploring our partnership opportunity with a Caring Citizens' Congress.

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Working to Cure the Neoliberal Disease

By Robert Kadar and Joe Brewer, Co-Founders, Evonomics.com

“Zombiepocalypse” Unleashed by the Deadly Neoliberal Mind Virus

 

What it Takes to Destroy an Awful Bug.

A lethal parasite has infected the brains of politicians and economists all over the world. It is so invasive that it has defeated all attempts to control or eradicate it since its emergence decades ago, and we are still far from having an effective vaccine or way to prevent its transmission. The virus, known by its species name Neoliberalism Economicus (in lay terms, it is just called Neoliberalism), indiscriminately latches onto the brains of both liberals and conservatives. It turns social consciousness into ego-centrism, cooperation into unconscious greed, and it only gets worse as it mutates and spreads.

Once infected, the virus takes control of the host’s neocortex and converts rational thought into fantasy. The host begins to believe in ideas such as harmonious free-markets where people can act and do whatever they want, a deregulated financial industry that correctly responds to market signals and can dump compounding debt onto society without costs, and corporations that can maximize shareholder value without hurting employees, communities, or the environment.

This insidious virus doesn’t stop there. It leads its host to believe that government’s sole purpose for existing is to ensure that corporations and ultra-rich individuals aren’t restrained by rules because, if they were, economic growth would cease and wealth wouldn’t trickle down to the rest of society. Furthermore, there’s no need for government regulation when a natural order known as the invisible hand creates prosperity for all!

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Passover 2015: How shall we care for the Palestinians?

Reprinted with permission by Rabbi Michael Lerner and edited for the Empathy Surplus Project blog. Passover 2015 begins Friday evening, April 3, and ends Saturday evening, April 11.

The Caring Society Solution

What makes this year’s Passover Seders unlike any others is that a majority of American Jews are being challenged by their children to take responsibility and care for Palestinians. Palestinians today are asking Jews what Moses asked Pharaoh: “Let my people go.” The Israeli elections, and subsequent support for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s unempathetic and irresponsible refusal to help create a Palestinian state, is not playing well with many younger Jews. Redefining strength, younger Jews challenge their elders to care for Palestinians, too, and are becoming the caring society solution.

Increasingly, young Jews are embracing the strength of Moses, and calling Netanyahu, the contemporary Pharaoh, to care. So at the Seder more and more Jews will be asking Israel to become the caring society God created in the beginning and “let the Palestinian people go.” 

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We've Got People Dying

I am a member of the committee focused on living free through opioid use prevention. I was out-of-town and unable to attend the last meeting reported on in the Wilmington News Journal, Thursday, March 19, 2015. I wrote about opioid use prevention as a healthcare human right in January and again a couple of weeks ago. In addition to the public meetings, I have had private conversations with members of the committee, as well as, Judge Rudduck, about my hope that the committee can frame our conversation around healthcare human rights. 

If the words “healthcare human rights” were spoken at the meeting that the WNJ reported on, it apparently didn’t seem important enough to be printed. Judge Rudduck was reported to have said,

“We’ve got people dying and I don’t want to wait for a needs assessment. We know what we need. It’s ‘how do we get these needs met?’”

Judge Rudduck’s frustration is shared. 

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