Time for a Guaranteed Annual Income

By Dr David Laing Dawson

A small note on Guaranteed basic income:

I would like to see a mathematically gifted person take a huge amount of data and derive an equation that would let us know what would happen if Canada moved to this. Most of what I read are naysayers forecasting huge debt, or proponents talking about the social value of doing this. But, but, when I do some simple mathematics it works like this:

$20,000 annually paid out to every Canadian adult.

Currently each province begins to charge income tax at a taxable income of approximately $11,000.

If I consider a recouped amount of 15% (average, GST, PST, HST, fuel tax, alcohol tax, cannabis tax, Income tax) with each transaction, and if I consider that $20,000 moving through one transaction per week, exchanging hands as it were, then in 52 weeks the governments have recouped close to $14000 of the $20,000. (I can use the series function on a spread sheet)

The remaining $6000 could be recouped by an increase in tax on the higher brackets or not buying an antiquated submarine.

Clearly this is simplistic and assumes everybody pays all taxes and there is no fraud, and that the whole $20000 circulates during the year, and is not hidden from Federal or Provincial taxes.

So there is the challenge: Some individual or group needs to acquire real data from many sources and design some complex mathematical formulae, but this could give us, I think, solid ground for making such a far reaching decision.

I believe a complex mathematical formula written in computer code is what they call an algorithm today, so, a shout out to my grandson who can do this stuff: stop trying to beat the stock market and apply those skills to a bit of social activism.

More Misguided Anti Racism Zeal

By Marvin Ross

Dr Marion J Simms (1813–1883 ) is considered to be the father of modern gynecology but he is now getting a great deal of bad press on Facebook and elsewhere for allegedly operating on slaves without anaesthesia.

Unfortunately, this is likely another example of the failure of many in their zeal to expose racism in our society to mistake what actually happened. Thanks to my medical writing colleague, Bruce Wilson, for bringing this to my attention. Simms developed surgical techniques for Vesicovaginal fistula which:

“was a common and catastrophic consequence of birth in which a hole develops between a woman’s bladder and her vagina and leads to constant, unremitting, and uncontrollable urinary incontinence. Attempts to cure this condition had eluded many previous generations of surgeons who had tried to repair these devastating injuries time and again, but without significant success.”

Simms set up a hospital behind his home in Montgomery, Alabama in order to try to develop a treatment for this condition. The reality of this condition was described by Dr P M Kollock at the annual meeting of the Georgia State Medical Society in April, 1857:

The poor woman [with a vesicovaginal fistula] is now reduced to a condition of the most piteous description, compared with which, most of the other physical evils of life sink into utter insignificance. The urine passing into the vagina as soon as it is secreted, inflames and excoriates its mucous lining, covering it with calcareous depositions, and causing great suffering. It trickles constantly down her thighs, irritates the integument with its acrid qualities, keeps her clothing constantly soaked, and exhales without cessation its peculiar odour, insupportable to herself and those all around her. In cases where the sloughing has been extensive, and the loss of substance of the tissues great, and where neither palliative nor curable means have availed for the relief of the sufferer, she has been compelled to sit constantly on a chair, or stool, with a hole in the seat, through which the urine descends into a vessel beneath.

Given this reality, it is not surprising that many women, in their desperation, were willing to try anything to get relief.

As for consent,Simms stated:

For this purpose [therapeutic surgical experimentation] I was fortunate in having three young healthy colored girls given to me by their owners in Alabama, I agreeing to perform no operation without the full consent of the patients, and never to perform any that would, in my judgment, jeopard life, or produce greater mischief on the injured organs—the owners agreeing to let me keep them (at my own expense) till I was thoroughly convinced whether the affection could be cured or not

It has also been said the Simms operated without anaesthesia but again it is not quite that simple. Simms first surgery was done in 1845 which predated the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic. Even after it was introduced, many doctors were cautious in its use. The view was that:

humane, conscientious, highly reputable practitioners and ordinary lay people held many misgivings about the new discovery. Neither sadists nor fools, these critics alleged a variety of rational drawbacks to the use of anaesthesia.

Sir James Young Simpson who discovered chloroform did not feel that it was necessary in this type of surgery. He stated:

“The mere amount of pain endured by the patient is perhaps less than in most surgical operations, as the walls of the vesicovaginal septum are far less sensitive than you would a priori imagine”.

What was truly an assault on African Americans was the Tuskeegee experiments performed on many with venereal disease. This video explains what happens and begins with an apology from President Clinton

Of course, today we have the very negative impact that Covid-19 is having on African Americans for many reasons and the failure of the US to have universal healthcare for its citizens. So despicable is the concept of making profits in exchange for health and that impact on the poor and marginalized, that a former health industry executive apologized for the lies he helped to spread about universal healthcare and the attacks on the Canadian system.

Those seeking justice and equity for minorities would be better off fighting for those injustices.

Forget Statues and Name Changes – Teach History

By Marvin Ross

There is a growing move to rid our cities of statues of historical figures whose views, while common when they lived, are not supported by today’s standards. Parallel to this is the demand to change place names. With the exception of the Confederacy, these attempts are ludicrous.

The confederate states seceded from the Union and precipitated a bloody war that lasted for years and killed and maimed thousands. That act of secession was treasoness and largely based on the desire to continue to own and exploit slaves. Symbols of that defeat simply perpetuate the failed goals of that failed state. Having monuments to defeated generals is about as logical as Germany erecting statues after the war to Rommel and naming military camps after him and the other German Generals. Flying the Swastika would not be allowed and yet many Americans fly the Confederate flag.

Canada is toying with the idea of ridding our cities of statues of Sir John A MacDonald (our first Prime Minister and a father of confederation) because he supported residential schools for indigenous children. Dr. Dawson wrote about this a few years ago when it first cropped up. Boarding schools for the English upper crust were common then and even now so sending Indigenous kids off to learn was not an unusual idea. The intention was positive but the brutal discipline, pedophilia, and snatching kids away from their parents was not. Those who established these schools made their mistake by allowing the clergy to run them.

Edgerton Ryerson is another historical figure that many want to see banished. Ryerson was the architect of residential schools and what I said about Sir John A applies to him. Ryerson  also promoted and developed our free educational system in Ontario and that should be celebrated. Rather than removing his statue, Ryerson University added this plaque to it:

“This plaque serves as a reminder of Ryerson University’s commitment to moving forward in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. Egerton Ryerson is widely known for his contributions to Ontario’s public educational system. As Chief Superintendent of Education, Ryerson’s recommendations were instrumental in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported that children in the schools were subjected to unthinkable abuse and neglect, to medical experimentation, punishment for the practice of cultures or languages and death. The aim of the Residential School System was cultural genocide.”

Beneath this text are the following two quotes:

“Let us put our minds together to see what kind of lives we can create for our children” – Chief Sitting Bull

“For the child taken, for the parent left behind” – Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Murray Sinclair, an Indigenous member of the Canadian Senate,  declared that “Ryerson University has shown leadership in its commitment to equity and diversity and is clearly dedicated to righting the wrongs of the past.”

This is a much more mature way of dealing with statues.

What, for me and striking close to home, is a movement to rename Dundas as I live in Dundas, Ontario. The demands first appeared in Toronto because of the name Dundas St which is actually highway 5 and is called Dundas because it leads to Dundas, Ontario. Henry Dundas was the 1st Viscount Melville which is my double whammy because for over 20 years, we lived on Melville St in Dundas.

The concern that people have with Dundas is that he allegedly delayed the emancipation of slaves by about 10 to 15 years. This may be simplistic. In 1776, he represented a Jamaican slave (Joseph Knight) who was seeking his freedom in Scotland. At the trial, Dundas stated that:

‪“Human nature, my Lords, spurns at the thought of slavery among any part of our species.”‬ His pleading in Scotland’s highest court was successful, and the Court ruled: “the dominion assumed over this Negro, under the law of Jamaica, being unjust, could not be supported in this country to any extent”.

During a debate in the House of Commons to abolish slavery in 1792, Dundas supported the motion. But, fearful that the bill would be defeated as it had been earlier, he suggested inserting the word gradually into the bill. The House of Commons had already defeated an abolition bill earlier and the same politicians were present. They would have defeated this bill too but it passed. Emancipation did not come to Britain until 1807 but it is a stretch to blame Henry for the delay.

History is not black and white but those arguing for the removal of statues and the change of place names only see in black and white. Their simplistic understanding of history and politics do all a disservice.

Things I Don’t Understand – The Economy, Part 11

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Shortly after having a discussion with some family members about guaranteed income for all, both the psychology of it and the economics, a CNN news item came on about the future of the NFL. The video clips showed players lined up, some kneeling, some working out within empty stadia. (martini, martinus)

And I thought, my God, we are wealthy enough to pay millions of dollars (each) to robust protein eating males to mill around on grass or astro turf bumping into one another.

This also reminded me of a TV item a year or so ago, this time Canadian, in which CBC interviewed a couple of minimum wage bros about the acquisition for a Toronto team of a star player with a 20 million dollar contract. They were so excited and not the least concerned that tickets to watch their new hero for a couple of hours would cost them a week’s wages.

In my childhood we did have semi-pro teams and the players had other jobs, often within the police or fire department. The bigger cities did have pro teams and we did have sports heroes, but Gordie Howe was paid only about twice that of a teacher, not fifty or a hundred times.

A craziness has evolved in our culture where American College Football coaches are the highest paid employees of the University, where we struggle to find money to pay teachers but sign a kid to play hockey for millions of dollars, where chasing a ball on a field becomes a multibillion dollar industry while the homeless population grows, and tent cities sprout within the boundaries of our cities.

Now with global warming and over population in the background COVID-19 arrives as if on cue; a virus, that for viruses at least, hits the sweet spot of being highly contagious but “only” debilitating and fatal about 1 to 5% of the time and transmissible before and after symptoms, completely disrupting our lives and the NFL, the CFL, MLB and the NHL.

And thus COVID-19, bless its little heart, not only gives us the quiet time, but forces us to examine our culture, our economy, our expectations and our relations with others.

Think of the money that could go into teaching, amateur sports, schools and housing if we did away with professional sport altogether, or, at least, took advantage of this moment to work it back to a reasonable proportion of “our economy”.

Analyzing the Atlanta Police Shooting video And a PS

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Laws, rules, policies, standards of practice, and expectations are all designed to limit what we have learned are the less positive and more anti-social potentials of human behaviour. All human behaviour, not just “bad apples”.

Sometimes societies control that which needn’t be controlled; sometimes our laws and rules turn out to be founded in prejudice; sometimes they give too little room for individual judgement; sometimes too much; sometimes the fears that drive them are unfounded; sometimes they can be used poorly, cruelly, unevenly, or for the enrichment of the few. Sometimes they simply don’t work. And sometimes the positive effect from a law is far outweighed by the negative. (making marijuana illegal e.g.)

Still, we need them, but once established, laws, rules, policies, and practices are resistant to change.

I am writing about this because it occurred to me, watching the videos we have all been watching, that with body cams, security cameras, and every potential witness carrying his or her own video camera, we have a new opportunity to dispassionately and objectively examine the enforcement, the enactment of laws, rules, and policies, and standards of practice, and make changes based on the actual observation of human behaviour and outcome.

Extensive video is available on, for example, the Rayshard Brooks death at the hands of police in a Wendy’s parking area. There are three decisive moments in these videos that lead to Brooks’ death.

The junior officer arrives first and arouses the sleeping Brooks. The officer is reasonable, polite, even jocular. Brooks cooperates but falls back asleep in his car in the drive through lane at Wendy’s. The more senior officer arrives and the junior officer fills him in thoroughly. The senior officer takes over. Brooks is compliant throughout but clearly confused in his story. He is obviously impaired and should not be driving. He may even be disoriented. The officers tell Brooks politely they will have to pat him down for weapons. Brooks complies. This is the first time they have moved in close and touched him.

The senior officer then takes Brooks through an agonizingly lengthy sobriety test and then politely asks Brooks if he is willing to take a breathalyzer test. Brooks agrees to do this.

To this point the officers have moved slowly, reasonably, politely. They have not touched Brooks without first getting his agreement.

After the breathalyzer the senior officer does tell Brooks he is drunk, and does tell him to put his hands behind his back, but then moves suddenly and quickly to get handcuffs on his wrists. The sudden movement startles Brooks and he fights back. They fall to the ground; the second officer piles in; one officer threatens to use his taser. Brooks wrestles free and runs off with the officer’s taser. One officer pursues Brooks. At one point in the video this officer can be seen passing his taser from right hand to left hand so he can draw his gun with his right hand. Brooks seems to partially turn and discharge the taser he is carrying at the police officer while he runs. The police officer fires his weapon about three times killing Brooks.

These decision points occur as I see them as 1. the sudden move to handcuff an intoxicated man. 2. the decision to pursue him after he has wrestled free. 3. drawing a gun during the pursuit and firing it.

The officer who fired his weapon has been charged with a criminal offence. Many Atlanta officers have resigned or called in sick. Systemic racism is being blamed. The video’s are being examined closely from a criminal perspective.

But policies, procedures, standards of practice are designed to protect us from our less happy instincts, be they hurt, rage, outrage, threat, aggression, stupidity, sloth, temper, or racism.

So looking at the three crucial moments: The first was the sudden move (without warning or discussion) to handcuff, triggering the aggressive reaction. This practice could be examined.

The second was the decision to pursue. Was that necessary? They had his ID and his car. It had not been a violent offence until the handcuffing. Just as there are now policies (at least in some jurisdictions) to avoid high speed car chases, might it be safer for everyone to not pursue in such a situation?

Finally the gun. Undoubtedly it is a fantasy to think we can move back to a time when police did not carry guns. But many mistakes can be avoided by slowing down the process, especially when flight/flight hormones have been activated. And to this end, here is a suggestion recently discussed with a police officer in Canada:

On regular patrol or traffic duty or calls to non-violent offences, or “mental health calls”, all weapons could be kept in a lock box in the trunk of the car with code or fingerprint access only.

And this means, for example, as in the Atlanta situation, that one more decision step would be in place, between the scuffle and the pursuit, giving at least a few seconds for the angry officer (be he racist or not) to calm down, slow down, and consider.

postscript:

No sooner had I finished writing about the police shooting in Atlanta, in as dispassionate a manner as possible, a 62 year old man is killed by police in Mississauga, Ontario. Apparently in some kind of health crisis, barricaded in his apartment, known to have schizophrenia (or other mental illness), family members living in the same building.

Police respond with “uniform officers, tactical officers and K 9 unit”. There is communication for a while and then it stops.

On the grounds that the man poses a “risk to himself” the police go into action. They refuse help from the family. They go in armed. The confrontation quickly escalates from non lethal to lethal weapons discharged by police.

This is an absolutely ridiculous way to respond to a “health, well being, mental health check”.

To all police forces in Canada:

Please review all policies and procedures for response to such situations and use and incorporate expert advice on dealing with mental health crises. And do this before the calls to Defund the Police begin to make sense to all of us.

Would Public Health Hire an Anti-Vaxxer?

By Marvin Ross

No so why do mental illness treatment groups hire anti-psychiatry people as peer support workers? I’ve just received a book proposal from an aspiring author which is not particularly surprising. I have published quite a number of books on schizophrenia that have done well and, I hope, have helped people to have a better understanding of this disease, its impact on the victims and their families. This particular proposal, however, really struck a nerve and I was left with that WTF feeling.

The proposal came from a woman who is presently working as a peer support counsellor and who has had a total of eight psychiatric hospitalizations to date. Those stays have involved her being medicated and she wishes to discuss the negative effects of psychiatric drugs. Her book is a critique of psychiatry and her own definition of psychosis and how it is caused.

She does not believe that there is any medical reason for psychosis but rather it is something that is “actually caused by people who are highly sensitive being exposed to trauma and the resulting disintegration of the psyche when not caused by drugs.” That’s nice but this sentence does not make sense. I think she is saying that psychosis occurs in people who are sensitive rather than caused by people who are sensitive and then are traumatized.

She thinks that her book will appeal to the approximately 189,000 “victims” of psychiatry in Canada and their friends and relatives. Her goal “as a Peer Support Worker …. is ….to educate the people I work with about the dangers of psychiatric drugs.” Hiring this person as a peer support is about as sensible as hiring an anti-vaxxer to work with new mothers in a public health unit.

I do think that peer support can be helpful if all the person does is act as a guide or mentor to someone going through what they themselves have gone through. The caveat, however, is that the person hired be familiar and well trained in the reality of psychosis and its treatment and not be an adherent to alternative or flaky views on psychiatry. Susan Inman, one of my authors who wrote the very successful memoir (After Her Brain Broke) did an excellent article on what should go into a good peer support worker which I highly recommend.

This proposal that I received mentioned that her book would be similar to the book by Erin Hawkes (When Quietness Came) which I also publish. If the person writing the proposal has actually read Erin’s book or anything about Erin, she would have known that Erin is a proponent of everything this proposal writer disagrees with. Erin is the author of one of the best defenses of involuntary treatment out there.

Needless to say, I am not interested in pursuing the manuscript.

Things I Don’t Understand

By Dr David Laing Dawson

1. “The Economy”

In January of 1961 with smuggled East German Marks in my pocket I entered a shoe store on Stalinallee in East Berlin. The black market exchange rate for East German marks acquired in the West was 5:1 so I was looking forward to buying a very inexpensive but good pair of shoes. (If this sounds a little too much John LeCarre, I was only 19 at the time, the wall had not yet been built, the subway still connected West to East Berlin and the Volkspolizei were not that interested in three naive Canadian backpackers – they had stopped us, looked in our eyes and our passports and then gone on to more serious matters.)

Stalinallee was the Soviet era showpiece, bleak and stolid and colorless, but hiding  the reality of East Berlin rubble and the old women picking through it.

The shoe store itself was pleasant enough, with display cases and shelves and at least 20 people in clerical uniforms standing around waiting to serve. But there were no shoes to buy; the shelves were empty.

It was, I thought at the time and later, a marvelous exposure to a major flaw in Marxist economics and central planning.

Many years later in Cuba, after the Soviets had abruptly left, I stepped into a restaurant in a small sea side town. The tables were set with silverware and linen; the waiters, quite a few of them, stood around waiting and were  polite and apologetic, for they had no food to serve.

And now, with COVID-19 our “economy” has been locked down through March, April and May, the stock market plummeted and is currently bouncing, and each province and state is gradually “re-opening”. Nail salons, hair salons, parks, beaches, stores and restaurants.

Meanwhile Jeff Bezos is about to become a trillionaire, Elon Musk will be firing his Space X rockets with astronauts on board, and governments are sending out money as fast as they can. And I notice how few of us today, in Marxist terms, are employed in the actual production of necessities. And for the most part, during this pandemic, the production and distribution of food stuffs and necessities were kept open and flowing. The part of our “economy” shut down was really the large non-productive, non-essential part, from hair salons to movie making to elective surgery and luxury vacations.

It is also easier to see during this quiet period of our lives, how we already have enough stuff and food – not evenly distributed of course – but certainly, in this country, more than enough over all. We don’t really need more paintings, more songs, more movies, more computers and phones and decorative rugs.  We don’t really need to buy a new sofa to replace the one so nicely worn and comfortable.

I am not promoting Marx, nor am I against nail salons, or the making of art, but isn’t it time we re-thought the meaning of and measurement of “our economy”. We have allowed, or at least the capitalists have indoctrinated us into thinking the measure of “economy” is growth, and that growth is quantified by consumption and spending. Always more, more, more, with a terrible fear of a “recession”, that is, a year in which we actually spend less.

COVID-19 highlights the ill distribution of wealth, not the creation of it. We have enough. And during this pandemic it seems the government can re-distribute some of this wealth without disaster occurring. We don’t need billionaires, or trillionaires, or rockets to the moon or an always growing economy (measured as consumption and spending).  Let’s take advantage of this quiet period and rethink such things as “the economy”, consider guaranteed income for everybody, what a “good economy” could mean if measured differently, and how we might all benefit from the wealth we already have.

More on Police, Race and Mental Illness

By Marvin Ross

I ended my blog on police race and mental illness by asking why we abdicate the crisis care in mental illness to cops in the first place. Those who are ill deserve more than to be treated by people with guns. It has already proven to be a disaster. Since that came out, there ithas been talk of defunding the police which, frankly, I do not understand.

We need the police to prevent and investigate crime in our communities. That should be their primary function and, I gather, no one who advocates defunding disagrees with that concept. I think, and I may be wrong, that the other issues like responding to mental health calls, police in schools, and similar duties should not be supported. I guess that would also extend to domestic disputes where a marriage counsellor would show up. These calls, however, are among the most dangerous for the police.

A Toronto Star columnist, Vinay Menon, wondered if defunding meant this should happen when his house was broken into at 3 in the morning. He said he took:

real comfort in knowing a squad car with armed cops is only a 911 call away. What’s the alternative? Go downstairs in my jammies and kindly ask the home invaders to get on the blower with a community psychologist to figure out why they have just removed steak knives from a kitchen drawer and are frantically rifling through my wife’s purse for car keys, which they are about to use to steal our Jetta before terrorizing my cats? True story!

Defunding maybe are laudable goals but are they feasible. Mental health services in North America have been so defunded and are so inadequate that the health system is often AWOL. I learned the sad reality many years ago when the schizophrenic brother of a friend would regularly escape and show up at my apartment. The second time it happened, I called the hospital and told them to come get him. I was so naive, that I fully anticipated hospital staff would come. Two cops showed up but he had already left. No worry, they said, we know him and will drive around the area.

Jospeph Meyer, whose excellent blog I referred to, did a small survey on facebook asking Would you feel comfortable calling for the police during a psychiatric crisis? So far, 60 people have said no and only 18 have said yes. People commented that they had both good and bad experiences while one said the police killed the subject and another said an arrest was made. I have also heard outside of this survey that the police are sometimes handcuffed and can do very little because of restrictive mental health acts in that community.

In many communities, there are specially funded units for trained officers to go out with social workers or psychiatric nurses. Often the hours are limited, the demand too high for them to respond and it is the regular patrol car that arrives. I’ve dealt with some of the specialized officers and been on panels with them so I know they are dedicated and trained but they are too few. With the regular patrol car, you’re taking your chances.

The solution is not defunding the police but improving their training while, at the same time, fighting for improved mental health acts, more hospital beds, longer hospital stays and more realistic privacy legislation. We still need the police for psychiatric emergencies but we cannot accept the excuse of “there are a few bad apples so what ya gonna do, eh?”

Some of the problems are well illustrated in this news report: If the embedding does not work and for some problem it does not show, here is the link
https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1748788803526/

One of the interviewees in that clip refers to being made to feel like a criminal when the police become involved and that is a perfect example of a bad encounter with untrained police. In one of my earlier Huffington Post pieces, I talked about a man with schizophrenia who went to his local ER for help. After a long wait where nothing happened, he wanted to leave but was not allowed to. The hospital called to police (five of them), a physical conflict ensued and the poor guy was arrested and charged with numerous criminal offences including assault of a police officer. That is often a charge laid when someone’s head gets in the way of a police fist.

I knew the man and wrote about his adventures with the criminal justice system where he was found not guilty and the judge had very harsh words for the police and the hospital staff. Despite his acquittal and the denunciation of the complainants by the judge, the perpetrators received no penalties from their employers, the justice system or the healthcare regulators asI described. I did encourage him to sue which he did. He called me a few years later to say that his legal action was done and he was very pleased with the result.

I can’t remember who said it but no airline has ever used the excuse that sorry the pilot who flew into the mountain instead of landing at the airport was just a bad apple pilot. Training and vigilance is needed to improve their response so they do not shoot and kill a young Indigenous woman when doing a health check as happened recently in Edmunston, New Brunswick.

And maybe we need a People of Colour Police Department

Bipolar Disorder and Black Lives Matter

The letter below was sent to one of the followers of this blog  from the CEO of Carnival (Cruise Line) Corporation to his employees. He grew up in the segregated South and these are the steps he had to take to ensure that a family member remained safe in the community they grew up in.

A Message to Employees from Arnold Donald, President & CEO Carnival Corporation

June 3, 2020

To the members of our Carnival family,

I have been hesitant to join in with the many executives who have issued communiques, knowing that any words are far too inadequate in the face of the events that have occurred in the U.S. over the past several days.

We have painfully witnessed the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others, followed by frustrated, passionate protestors exercising their rights of freedom of speech, unfortunately followed by vandalism and looting perpetrated by a few – all in the context of a higher-than-normal level of pent-up tension and anxiety exacerbated by the global pandemic, stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, loss of jobs and income, and an uncertain future. Clearly these are not the best of times.

So what can we do? And I ask what can I do? Not just words but actions, that in my own small way, help us to a brighter day? Racism is real. Not just here in the U.S., but around the world. Injustice and brutality are real. They’ve been with us forever despite many efforts to eradicate both.

I grew up in a segregated South in the U.S., and like others at the time, I witnessed and suffered injustices. I have a family member with bipolar disorder and at times when elevated, can come across as belligerent, at perennial risk as a young black adult of finding himself in a bad situation that could lead to severe or even fatal consequences. And I have family members who are in law enforcement and put their lives on the line every day. I’m certain that many of you have similar circumstances.

I make certain that my bipolar family member is introduced to the law enforcement officers in the communities that he is in. I make certain that they see him as a human being, as a complete person, albeit one with the unique challenge of suffering with bipolar disorder. I make certain that I remind my law enforcement family members to remember their purpose and their training – all of their training. And of course out of love and concern for them, I hope they don’t hesitate when they face a truly threatening situation.

In the hope of catalyzing even the smallest of change, I share with my neighbors and my professional colleagues the incidents of racial profiling and biased accusations that my family members and I have experienced on far too many occasions. And through the greatest platform that I have available to me to effect change, as CEO of this corporation, I want to provide the support and the motivation for us to build on our foundation of being the greatest travel and leisure company in the world, bringing millions of people together every year of all nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds and experiences so they can joyfully discover what they have in common and learn to celebrate their differences, rather than fear them – while at the same time providing an economic multiplier that contributes to a higher quality of life through the power of inclusion.

I thank each of you for the part you play in making this possible and I encourage you to honor our core values expressed in our vision statement … “We are committed to a positive and just corporate culture, based on inclusion and the power of diversity. We operate with integrity, trust and respect for each other … an exemplary corporate citizen, leaving the people and the places we touch even better.”

Despite these times, and despite what seems to be far too tedious and far too slow progress, collectively we are capable of powerful change for the better, and I have no doubt that if we double down on our efforts and stay the course, together we will create a brighter future.

The only way through is forward.

Arnold

Defusing Nasty Cultures (Police, etc)

By Dr David Laing Dawson

There is a small moment in one of the videos we have all been watching that is very telling: The 75 year old protester has been pushed by a police officer, he falls backwards onto the sidewalk and cracks his head. As they walk by one officer starts to bend down to tend to the fallen and bleeding man. Another nudges him to walk on by. The one whose instinct was to respond to the injured man acquiesces and straightens up and walks away.

In the George Floyd video it is unclear to me which, if any, of the other officers are simply standing by, abetting, participating in the assault, and/or at least suggesting a different action be taken.

We are social animals. And that means we are each vulnerable to accepting practices within our club, our company of brothers, that we would not accept in the quiet contemplation of our own instincts and morality. Nasty cultures, nasty cultural practices and attitudes can develop in groups, especially in isolated brotherhoods, and those who perceive themselves as under threat.

(“nasty” here can mean antisocial, nihilistic, apathetic, misogynistic, racist, aggressive, criminal, vindictive, even sadistic)

And this development of an insular nasty culture can occur within platoons, cults, police divisions, offices, residential schools, hospital wards, and long term care homes.

Once such a nasty culture has developed it is hard for any member to resist it, as that first video illustrates. Membership comes at a price.

The remedies:

1. Moral leadership, very active visible moral leadership.

2. Policies, rules and standard practices that go as far as possible in preventing these cultures from developing and flourishing. (e.g. Not teaching choke holds but banning choke holds)

3. Breaking up any nasty little groups that develop within a police squadron or the night shift nurses.

4. Transparency. (Finally we may have a real benefit from everyone carrying a camera)

5. Perhaps, above all else, we need to admit these behaviours are within our human capacity and therefore we need to develop social strictures that prevent them.