Blow the whistle! - Albuquerque Journal

Blow the whistle!

My dog, Daisy, is relieved the leftover fireworks from Independence Day finally seem to be depleted. However, I’ll kind of miss the noise during the days surrounding the 4th of July, partly due to nostalgia, and because it remains the most unifying and patriotic time of year.

Fortunately, July not only begins with a patriotic holiday – it ends with one. July 30 marks National Whistleblower Day, the anniversary of the 1778 passing of the first law protecting courageous individuals who report wrongdoings by their government colleagues. Even at the height of the Revolutionary War, the founders made transparency a principle of democracy.

It is said that sunshine is the best disinfectant, and boy, we need some now more than ever.

That’s not a partisan statement; I’m a registered Democrat. But I’m among the 85% of Americans who believe America’s on the wrong track, and I recognize the federal bureaucracy and military-industrial complex outlast presidential administrations, continually moving geopolitical chess pieces.

And as writer James Baldwin said, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

Consider how close World War III seems – involving nuclear superpowers – not even one year after our nation lost its longest war, in Afghanistan, in a manner so humiliating it almost seemed intentional.

In Ukraine, peace terms always seemed within reach – yet no one is fighting for peace. It’s easy to imagine it spiraling out of control, and Russia has warned it could use the nuclear option.

New York City even released a 90-second public service announcement on surviving a nuclear attack. Few Burqueños I meet seem concerned, but Stephen Schwartz, author of “Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940,” says Kirtland Air Force Base is among 15 targets Russia would have to strike to wipe out our nation’s nuclear forces.

This follows the first documented coronavirus pandemic in history, the highest increase in the nationwide homicide rate in modern history and the highest number of school shootings.

Working households have endured the highest annual inflation rate since 1981, record gas prices and record home prices. Blackouts are expected, and food shortages, even as a robust supply of drugs resulted in overdose deaths topping a record 100,000. Meanwhile, the most severe “megadrought” in 1,200 years persists.

What is going on?

How might an insurance actuary calculate the likelihood of all these supposed once-in-a-generation, once-in-a-lifetime and unprecedented events happening in the same two-year period, by mere coincidence?

Granted, they aren’t independent variables – climate change, for instance, could certainly be a contributing factor, as well as our deteriorating cultural landscape.

Ultimately, these outcomes are determined by decisions made by human beings – politicians, bureaucrats and corporate crooks. Many mistakes seemed avoidable, and solutions are still possible. However, few of our leaders seem to notice or care.

Is there another motive, something more sinister behind the scenes?

It’s time we raised the profile of National Whistleblower Day and leveraged July 30 as an opportunity to rally potential whistleblowers – hopefully drawing strength in numbers – encouraging them to shine light on a range of troubling matters. Any unconstitutional activities are inherently not privileged and must be disclosed to the public.

Everyone sees dark clouds gathering ahead, so concerned citizens should encourage whistleblowers to bring forth information from within the federal bureaucracy and disclose it in a responsible manner to the news media or online audiences and help clarify what is really driving increasingly chaotic events.

Brian Burkhart is a freelance writer and principal of Roundhouse Writing Group, as well as an adjunct professor at Central New Mexico Community College. His website is He lives in Albuquerque.

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