Saturday, January 23, 2010

Feed War Starve Democracy

The American public is borrowing trillions of dollars to finance private capital and a military industry that president Eisenhower warned about more than fifty years ago. In an historic speech he cautioned that we were in danger of domination by a “military-industrial complex” that could squander our wealth and threaten our democracy . Have we done anything to avoid the problem he identified? Since the 9/11 attack supplied an excuse to expand on the previous myth of a communist menace, the military frenzy of economic waste and bloody slaughter dubbed the “war on terror” makes what Eisenhower feared seem almost benign by comparison.

While our consumer goods producing corporations have been emigrating to cheap labor markets abroad, our military industry has been - literally - booming at home . It’s more than 100% greater than it was in 2000 , doubling in size while the rest of the manufacturing sector has nearly vanished. We continue exporting jobs to foreign countries while importing cheap labor and increasing unemployment for American workers here in the USA.

The military sector is nearly three times as large as it was at the beginning of the Bush administration and regime change has brought not just continuity but further growth in that malignant trend ; with a military budget of more than 700 billion dollars things are getting worse and at a faster pace . Even true believers in total reliance on market forces for survival must acknowledge that war is ultimately bad for business in that it kills potential consumers. And producing bombs, tanks, and other mass murder weapons are not stacking shelves at the mall with goods to be consumed by America’s shopping legions . Further, given that the crazed credit delirium propping up this economy for the past generation is at an end, a fundamentalist market minister would have to admit that the death business is draining resources from the sacred global mall where we are supposed to shop until we drop or file for bankruptcy .

While we rob our society of its human and productive wealth with this incredible spending binge for endless war, we also subsidize financial cathedrals and their banking clergy with hundreds of billions for corporate capital’s further welfare . Both Bush and Obama say these prophets of profit are too big to fail so millions of citizens are paying for their private survival by taking on a public debt that threatens our future as a functioning society . This makes great sense to the wealthy who dwell at the penthouse levels of america’s class structure. They have little concern for those living on the floors beneath them except that the underclass majority shore up the crumbling foundation of that wobbling structure . How does that minority compare to the rest of us in financial status?

As recently as 2006 the top 1% of Americans averaged incomes of more than 400,000 dollars a year . Even if the lower 99% were all watching news analysis on Fox tv and Masterpiece wrestling on PBS they would know they weren’t included in that group. But wait . Even if they were, the top .1 of a percent - that’s 1/10th of one percent - had more than one and a half million dollars in reported income. If the 99.9% were all stoned, drunk or otherwise sedated while watching TV, they might still know they were a majority that was reduced to a minority in this political economy. In fact that's why so many of them are angry, frustrated and in various ways saying we've had enough and we can't take it anymore. Unfortunately, because they watch too much fictional reality Fox and minority reality PBS, they tend to lash out at one another, foreigners, demon scapegoats and invisible phantoms that are a product of what passes for reality in our corporate dominated mass media culture.

When we lay out hundreds of billions of tax dollars as interest payments on the national debt and realize that this is money we created, loaned to the top of society and on which they are collecting interest from us since they “own” most of that debt , we should be angry. But our anger needs to be informed and focused on the source of the problem and not ignorantly attacking its results.

We are creating new enemies as we mobilize to fight old ones and that mobilization would make an old anti-communist cold warrior of Eisenhower’s day drool. The profits pouring into the death machine increase as our society is impoverished, states and municipalities near bankruptcy and millions of our citizens are facing unemployment, unpayable debt and futures that are only seen optimistically by therapists, drug dealers and liquor stores that still take plastic .

We are faced with issues that cannot be dealt with by the political economic system that created them. Flip flopping from corporate republicans to corporate democrats and back again is part of that problem . The demonstrators at the U.N. conference in Copenhagen were speaking for all of humanity when they chanted that the focus should be “system change, not climate change”. The social and environmental crises faced by all the world’s people is not to be blamed on an abstraction called “humanity”. But a system by which humanity is dominated by minorities and organized to produce and distribute the means of sustenance and survival for the benefit of a relative few at an ever more deadly cost to everyone else is the problem. That system is capitalism and unless we deal with it, our military, financial and environmental problems will get worse. In order to transform reality for the benefit of all and not just some, we need democracy. Anyone who thinks we already have it is probably part of the .1 percent, or seriously drugged. Or both.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

We're Americans, Not Hyphens

When the census taker visits consider withholding information until you get some of those changes promised in the last election . Remember “changes we can believe in” ? We can certainly believe the census is important to decide what political representation we allegedly get, but without substantial change that representation will continue to be for corporate capital and Israel far more than for us. And that's whether we identify as Americans or consent to being diminished into minority classification . In fact, if you are forced into hyphenation rather than full citizenship you might consider renouncing the whole charade until you become a total American without hyphenated labels that make you part of a fragmented America. Among the dictionary definitions of the word “hyphenated” placed before “american” is this one :
“citizens formerly suspected of having conflicting loyalties”. Oh?

The census counts us as members of the ultimate identity group: the nation. We are collectively more than 300 million Americans, not hyphens . Wars are not suffered or fought nor are taxes paid by hyphenated citizens. Real material barriers separate a minority at the top of society from the great majority below but they are made nearly invisible . Why? In order to keep immaterial separations of race, ethnicity or religion in our minds so that we disregard those of economic class. We carry a massive and growing public debt which is not hyphenated by ethnicity or race but is borne by a majority made to pick up the crippling burden for a wealthy minority and put off the day of reckoning of a worse recession or depression. Will the census count help us distribute the cost of empire more equitably? How many dollars, lives and freedoms will we give up to keep second class citizenship as the disabled birth right of a supposed democratic majority of Americans? How many more hyphenated members will we send to congress? To join or form a hyphenated caucus that follows the un-hyphenated majority leaders in support of corporate capital and Israel? Will the hyphens before their national identity label make us a better America? Or much worse?

We should pay higher taxes when we make more money , not because of a socially imposed or identity group label listed on a tax form. And we should pay less taxes when we make less money, not when we are identified as genetic or national subcategories of citizen. Isn't it about time we became one united nation, as our affirmative action president claimed we were? And not only in rhetorical theory but in actual practice? Just because Obama’s actions totally contradict his words is no reason for us to emulate his behavior. And when we acknowledge ourselves and thereby become full citizens of America, we ought to demand serious changes to bring reality into harmony with our ideals and belief systems. Those are presently honored only in private while social reality tosses them into a deadly trash heap that threatens to bury us all in a global sewer.

When we profess loving respect for our fellow beings - at religious gatherings or holiday celebrations if not when we’re in market combat at the mall - we might consider bringing our actions into balance with those ideals and beliefs. Having hundreds of military bases in other countries and conducting an expanding madness dubbed a war on terror is hardly the way to make friends and influence people, let alone spread peace and democracy . And creating new terror suspects out of several hundred million humans who look or act “arabic” or “islamic”, according to the hybrid president's recent action, is hardly the way to gain global support from more than a billion muslims. Nor is submitting travelers to the electronic molestation of body scanning which offers great profit potential for one company but will cause greater loss of freedom and democracy to all travelers, whether they bear hyphens before their nationalities or not. If we wish to further abuse and alienate people and drive more of them into acts of frenzied retribution against us, this might be seen as brilliant. That would be if our hyphenated labeling is accepted and due to real “conflicting loyalties” that mean we don't really give a damn about our own nation and our own people. Hmmmm.

Qualifying our nationality is just another language distortion that covers real problems with cosmetic verbiage, or minimizes serious disorders with catch phrases or misnomers to describe them. Does warfare’s mass murder become worse if we call it genocide? Do those who die when they’re bombed or invaded feel nicer if they are called collateral damage and not murder victims? Is the death toll easier to take if it isn't called genocidal? Is someone beaten to death by a crazed assailant feeling better if that murderer is called a hate criminal? And are the millions who died in world war two somehow more peaceful and less dead at having perished in something called a “just war”?All this terminology serves to do is make horror and bloodshed somehow more acceptable when cleansed by language distortion, or worse when given a “terror” title.

We are not more or less citizens of our country because we are forced to accept what passes for minority status and the longer we tolerate such distortions of language the longer we will suffer as minorities. In reality, we the people are supposed to be the ruling power in this democracy. We cannot assume control of anything as long as we accept control of nothing, beginning with our own identity. Maybe this census can help us clear up some thinking about who we really are so that we might begin acting like the society we want our America to be. Wouldn’t that be a change many of us could believe in?

Copyright (c) 2010 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.