Students, Alumni, and Faculty Engaged in Gaining Universal Access to Rights and Democracy: The International Intercollegiate Coalition for Humanity
Respond to SAFEGUARD at Facebook page for Doug Ed Dix
See D. Dix, “Safeguarding Public Health from Higher Education” in the Journal of Family Medicine and Disease Prevention, October 2015 at ‘
SAFEGUARD seeks to inspire all schools and colleges to teach the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Millennium Development Goals:
“Now, therefore the general assembly proglaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance . . .”
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are due to expire at the end of 2015. The United Nations had, already by October of 2015, replaced the MDG with the more complicated, expensive, and illusive “Sustainable Development Goals.” SAFEGUARD does not support the new goals, but pledges to work for the MDG until they are achieved:
1. End life-threatening hunger, 2. End illiteracy, 3. End female exploitation, 4. Reduce child mortality, 5. Improve maternal health, 6. Fight infectious disease, 7. Ensure environmental sustainability, and 8. Establish global fair trade.
Seven billion people live on planet Earth. Almost a billion are hungry (1). Two billion suffer from vitamin/mineral deficiencies (2). A billion lack access to a toilet and safe water (3). Six million children die each year from hunger or easily preventable diseases (4). A similar number of women and girls are held against their will as sex slaves (5). Yet the laws, the money, and the food exist to solve these problems. All that’s lacking is awareness and will.
Slavery is illegal in every country. Fifty billion dollars per year could end hunger and malnutrition (6). For comparison, Americans alone donated $360 billion to charity in 2014, mostly to churches, synagogues, and colleges. And the world harvest of grain alone is more than 2.3 billion tons per year, or almost 2 pounds per person per day, just of grain (7). The 2 pounds of grain provides 3,400 calories and 90 g of protein. The average person requires only 2000 calories and 60 g of protein per day.
But grain is diverted from poor people. Some 33% of the harvest goes to feed livestock. Another 17% goes to make fuel alcohol. Another 5% goes to make beer. A larger amount goes to make liquor. People are hungry because they’re too poor to buy grain. They live without toilets and are sex slaves for the same reason. They don’t have enough money to compete with the rich who prefer to buy grain for meat and alcohol. If rich people stopped consuming meat and alcohol and traveled less and if they moved money in a reliable manner to the poor, hunger and slavery could end and everyone could have access to a toilet and safe water. Is that beyond imagining?
Everyone has a right to a decent standard of living (8). Granting that is justice not charity. Denying it is criminal. But no one is ever prosecuted for excessive wealth. We’ve come to think of it as our right. Not only is prosperity not a right, it’s downright deadly to the prosperous and posterity (9).
“Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and respiratory diseases like asthma now kill more people worldwide than all other causes combined. And the trend will only accelerate as the global population ages and sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food become more common around the world” (10). “Globally, four chronic diseases now account for three of every five deaths: heart disease, common cancers, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. . . Diet and physical activity now account for 40% and 10% of deaths from these diseases, with tobacco exposure accounting for 17% (11). Adopting a diet of whole grains and fruits and vegetables would reduce the incidence of common killer diseases (12). Eliminating meat and alcohol would not only improve health, but conserve resources, reduce pollution, and make grain more affordable. It takes 7 pounds of grain and an enormous amount of water to make one pound of feedlot beef. The greenhouse gases and manure from that beef are toxic. Some 70% of all antibiotic use in the U.S. is for livestock. This cultivates antibiotic resistant human germs. Agriculture is the largest source of pollution and the climate change that results will have a large and negative impact on food security (13).
America hoards the world’s food and money. The gross domestic product for the U.S. equals some $17 trillion. China, with a GDP of $9 trillion, is the only country with a GDP more than one-third the American value. Only 15 of the 192 countries in the world have a GDP greater than $1 trillion.
Austria is the only country with more food available per person per day (3800 calories) than the U.S. (3700 calories) (14 Chart 26). The U.S. is the world’s top food exporting country (14 Chart 14). Only Brazil, Netherlands, and Germany exported more than half the U.S. value. The U.S. is second only to China as a food importing nation (14 Chart 13). The U.S., therefore, controls the world’s money, food, and agriculture. And because agriculture is the main cause of deforestation, loss of biodiversity, topsoil destruction and erosion, water consumption, and antibiotic resistance, and a major source of air and water pollution, the U.S. also controls world ecology. This is an enormous opportunity for American college students: If they can change the way Americans relate to food and money, they can eliminate poverty and it’s consequences and save the world for our children and grandchildren. How to do that? Tell the truth. Food is deadly and wealth is concentrated among the richest of the rich.
In the U.S., more than 75% of all privately-held wealth is owned by the richest 10% of the population (15). This means that the bottom 90% of Americans own less than 25% of privately-held wealth. No other developed country has as great a wealth disparity. The richest 1% of Americans have received 95% of the income-gains during economic recovery (15).
Let’s work to require elected officials and candidates for election to always tell the truth to the best of their ability under pain of perjury. Let’s work to raise the highest income tax brackets up near 90% where they were when America had a robust middle class. Let’s work to expose all externalities and patronize business with ethical and environmentally sound practices, e.g., no employee can make more than 5X what the lowest paid employee makes (The Ben and Jerry’s rule). Let’s boycott businesses that prey on the poor, harm our environment, or endanger women or children, e.g., by selling sex, tobacco, alcohol, or junk food, or pushing violence, luxury, or glamour. And let’s work for more and better democracy at college by making decisions by means of referendum.
- UN World Food Program, 10 things you need to know about hunger, 1/2/13.
- McClung C.R. Making hunger yield. Science, 344: 699, 2014.
- Kaiser J. For toilets, money matters. Science 348: 272, 2015
- World Bank, World Health Organization, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN Children’s Fund, Levels and trends in child mortality – Report 2013, published 9/13/13.
- Kristof N., WuDunn S, Half the Sky, Vintage, NY, 2010, p. 10.
- UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director General www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html
- Worldwatch Institute. Grain harvest sets record, but supplies still tight. Product VST101, 9/14/13.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Gore A. An Inconvenient Truth, documentary
- Reardon S. A. A world of chronic disease. Science 333, 558, 2011.
- Fried L.P. Countering chronic diseases, Science 339, 35, 2013.
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
- Wheeler T. von Braun J. Climate change impacts on global food security. Science 341: 508, 2013.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Food and Nutrition in Numbers 2014, ISBN 978-92-5-108617-9, Charts.