Well, folks, here we go again facing another national crisis.
Now, mind you, I don’t shirk my responsibility for attempting to face reality and dealing with it honestly. But, I see little inclination on the part of our political establishment for engaging in like behavior, nor do I see much interest on the part of the electorate for stepping back from all that numbs their minds in favor of dealing with reality. God forbid they should assume a modicum of responsibility for knowing the sad state of affairs in this country, and being the least bit inclined to do something about it.
The new mantra emanating from our nation’s capitol is the growing deficit and what measures can be taken to re-focus on fiscal responsibility. Everyone in the hallowed halls of government is trying to get on the bandwagon as the next election cycle looms on the horizon. Our illustrious President has given his usual round of great speeches, and has managed to pass legislation that is so compromised it is, at best, a cruel joke at the expense of the American people. The klieg lights on the “issue of the day, “are quickly turned off so he can formulate and peddle yet another set of empty promises. He consistently goes back to the White House and sequesters himself with the corporate thieves who continue to plunder the country. After all, that is where the real money and the real players are who have set us on the path of complete economic ruin: Rubin, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke, Goldman Sachs, Health Care United and the cadre of loyal sycophants who labor in their service.
I am always amused at how transparent our “Raptor in Chief” really is. Bi-partisanship is the alpha and the omega of all that is good and holy in accomplishing the work of Washington. It has become an endless smoke screen for pursuing the agenda of the oligarchs and plutocrats, hell-bent on fleecing all that remains in the pockets of working Americans. Not until their emaciated bodies are reduced to begging for a crumb to sustain life, their eyes have sunk into the skull of what remains of their human form and the land beneath their feet has been laid waste, will those who have sold us down the river hang out the banner, for the second time, “Mission Accomplished.”
His latest ruse is to appoint Alan Simpson as head of a commission to study ways of reigning in the burgeoning national debt. His first targets are rumored to be the entitlement programs that provide a modicum of security against varying degrees of deprivation for a good many of our elderly population, namely Social Security and Medicare. A better whore could not have been found for the job than Alan Simpson. He is, of course, a Republican. His reputation among the elite of Washington is legion. I dare say he could easily qualify as the slimiest slug that ever slid down the hallways of the Senate. But, what the hell, he is one of the good old boys and a member emeritus of the most successful club of consummate thieves in the world. Welcome back, Alan. You have come a long way since your shameless antics in the dining room at the Henning Hotel in Casper. But, I digress. That is ancient history.
What most impresses me in Obama’s first push for fiscal responsibility is his exclusion of defense as a target for economic scrutiny and fiscal restraint. That is big “No, No” number one. The Wall Street Robber Barons remain in tact. Real financial reform is little more than a token gesture. Any genuine repayment of TARP and bailout money will, in all probability, come from money the big banks made by re-investing interest-free government loans from Ben Bernanke’s secret slush fund at the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, thanks to Obama and his happy band of former Clintonites, he will continue to run interference for them lest there be any serious attempt to account and atone for all they have done (and continue to do) to the taxpayers of the country.
Of course, thanks to his backroom deals, in addition to Wall Street, Obama has ensured the continued financial viability of health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. They are destined to reap even more billions through the so-called “Healthcare Reform Bill.” That was the underlying objective of all the hoopla about what a great deal this was supposed to be for all Americans. Another oxymoron peddled by the Washington elite.
If the powers that be really want to save big bucks and maintain the viability of the average American, there are better ways to accomplish those objectives.
Defense spending is the most obvious and should be our first priority on the road to recovery from the fiscal malady that grips the country.
1. The last legitimate war fought by the United States was World War II. The entire world was in peril and we, in the spirit of our finest traditions, rose to the occasion. We not only vanquished the evil plague that enveloped Europe and Asia, we also helped to rebuild the economies of our former enemies.
2. The Korean Conflict was fought to stem the rising tide of communist aggression on to the Korean Peninsula. But that was not deemed to be a real war but, rather, a “police action.”
3. Every subsequent war undertaken by the United States has been based on deceptions of one sort or another, perpetrated by the less than noble intentions and megalomania emanating from the White House, and blindly supported by a corrupt and subservient Congress. Countless millions of lives have been needlessly sacrificed on the altars of political ambition and corporate greed. Trillions of dollars have gone into a sink hole that could have, otherwise, been used to improve the lot of the American people, and to maintain some semblance of national fiscal responsibility.
4. The first “boogey man” to scare the hell out of the populace was the menace of international communism. That was good for years and years of fear mongering that shunted trillions of dollars through the pockets of the military establishment and into the corporate coffers of defense contractors. I cannot believe, given the level of sophistication in our intelligence apparatus, that we could not have known how fragile that house of cards really was, and which could have saved this country massive amounts of money. That was money that could have circulated through the real economy, rather than vanishing into the labyrinths of meaningless folly and the hollow dreams of empire. But we, the citizenry, dutifully bought into the exaggerated threat to our security and approved massive amounts of our national wealth for what? Bull shit wrapped in contrived patriotism?
5. Through all this we poured massive amounts of money into progressively more sophisticated weaponry, aircraft, ships, missiles and the like. Most of that investment was never needed, but it provided the brass an endless supply of new toys, and defense contractors with more money for their swollen piggy banks. Of all that hardware, probably the only cost-effective use of funds was those for nuclear submarines patrolling the oceans of the world, and the B-52 bombers. I don’t see much of a return on our investment in things such as the Osprey airplanes, stealth bombers and fighters, and a whole host of other hi-tech weaponry. We seem to have a penchant for building more and more that has less and less to do with common sense and reality. But, I suppose we have to keep building aircraft carriers so there is something sufficiently grand as to bear the names of prominent and less-than-noble figures that have crossed the stage of the United States political establishment. Except for those few examples of real success, I seriously doubt most were really needed and, ultimately, proved to be cost-effective deterrents. It would be interesting to see a detailed accounting of what the ultimate fate was of all that hardware, and the names of those who profited from what proved to be nothing more than red herrings in the collage of all that was reputed to be absolutely essential to our national defense. I would, also, like to see who bore the brunt of all the cost over-runs and casualties that occurred because of poor design and reliability. Could it, would it, have been the unwitting taxpayers? Not a chance!
6. That the Iraq War was patently illegal is an established and accepted fact. But, that certainly did not retard the White House and the Defense Department from treating it as the real deal, and pouring massive amounts of money into invading a country that never threatened us. But it certainly gave us numerous opportunities to test all sorts of new weaponry, and to cull out the numbers of uneducated and underprivileged slobs who might otherwise end up as civilian workers at home, demanding a living wage, and claiming their right to a share in the American Dream. Afghanistan is only an extension of that madness, but it is serving the same ends for the same people who control and profit from the insatiable appetite of our war machine.
7. The concept of “war on terror,” has caught on at home. The populace extols the loss of human life as somehow noble because, “it is keeping us safe and protects our freedoms.” Safe from what? Protects our freedoms from whom? A radical religion and a deeply ingrained hatred of us because of our foreign policy in the Middle East? What sacrifices are all those naïve champions of freedom making for those who lay down their lives on their behalf in far off places of dubious danger to the United States? This is nothing more than another form of fear mongering, created to serve corporate interests and political ambitions. There may be a modicum of reality to the threat, but the massive response does not warrant the commitment of overwhelming amounts of our national talent and treasure to a cause, the magnitude of which is yet to be proven.
8. I don’t believe one has to be a rocket scientist in order to figure out that these perceived threats are, essentially, little more than guerilla warfare. If we haven’t apprehended Osama bin Laden by now, I doubt we ever will. He and his happy band of religious fanatics are beyond the reach of conventional warfare and the tens of thousands of warriors attempting to destroy them. But it is a great way of squandering massive amounts of money the nation can ill afford in order to feed all the parasites who subsist on the myth of an illusive fear that, in all probability, may never be proven. I am more inclined to think that our first and most sophisticated line of defense should be at the shores of this country, not some far off primitive land whose people don’t even know why in the hell we are there in the first place.
So, what might be done to restore some semblance of national sanity and financial integrity? This is not the time to enable those to whom we have entrusted our future to engage in a game of reverse Robin Hood - taking from the poor and giving to the rich. If the powers that be can keep us focused on the pocket change, what they do with the big bucks will go virtually unnoticed.
1. Reduce the vast numbers of military bases scattered across the world. There is no rational basis for all of those outposts we maintain, given the sophistication of weapons that can incinerate the entire world in a matter of hours. They are nothing but a sink-hole used to flagrantly waste our economic resources. I say restore the real estate to its rightful owners and come home.
2. Stop buying into the fabled notion that we are the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. Given our current economic situation, I would have to say those words ring a bit hollow these days. That credo is so shop worn that I think we need to have Madison Avenue coin a new one. When we have no money and an atrophied economy, we are essentially broke.
3. Accept the fact that we, as a nation, face an enemy engaged in guerilla warfare, and deal with it appropriately and in like fashion. Serve notice on the world that any country harboring or providing safe haven to terrorists who launch an attack against the United States from their soil, will suffer the wrath of a retaliatory attack. We have the weapons and military hardware to do the job without invading and occupying any sovereign nation.
4. Tighten up the systems for awarding and evaluating the performance of defense contractors. Hold every single one of them to the letter of the contracts they have entered into with the people of the United States. No more automatic acceptance of cost over-runs, re-negotiation and open-ended agreements. Establish a separate agency that has an arms length relationship with the defense industry solely for the purpose of reviewing and evaluating all government contracts before they are consummated.
5. For starters, and under the auspices of an independent commission beholden to the American people that will withstand the scrutiny of independent auditors.
* Stop backroom deals being made by Senator Dodd and Senator Shelby in order to
water down financial reform legislation so they can pay off the benefactors that
seek to keep them in power.
* Break up all the banks deemed “too big to fail.
* Restore the Glass-Steagall Reform Act
* Stop predatory lending
* Enact strict consumer protection laws against banks, financial institutions and
credit card companies.
* Insist on total transparency by the Federal Reserve. There can be no secrecy
when it comes to what is done with the people’s money.
* Separate the trading of derivative swaps from banks, and impose a
real tax on all investment and speculative financial transactions.
6. Impose a corporate tax rate that is in keeping with prevailing standards throughout the industrialized world. Stop corporate welfare and redirect those funds to the welfare of the country.
7. Follow the lead by many of our world contemporaries and impose a value-added tax on all cheap foreign imports coming into the United States. Level the playing field, restore our industrial base, and provide real opportunities for working Americans.
8. Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich and substantially increase the tax rates for that same population.
9. Stop subsidies to oil companies and other forms of national largesse for business interests. If they can’t effectively compete in the marketplace, they have no business playing in the sandbox.
10. Stop the delusion that the recently hailed Health Care Reform Bill is the greatest thing for Americans since sliced bread. It is a sham and most of us know it. Amend it to provide for a single-payer system and abolish the sweetheart deals for industries that have nothing but a parasitic relationship to those they are sworn to serve. They have stolen enough. Go for real reforms that genuinely reduce the cost and improve the quality of healthcare for everyone. The complexity of what we now have only serves to confuse the average person. It merely hides the payback to those who have created yet another form of thievery from those who can least afford it. Return the savings to the national treasury.
11. Adopt a legislative agenda that is as favorable to the working people of the country as it is to corporations and the financial houses that brought us to the brink of financial and social annihilation.
12. Publish, prior to every national election, the names of each political personality running for election or re-election, showing the candidate’s top 50 campaign contributors, the amount given by each, and their relationship to specific special interests. Let that be published on the Internet and cable television, as a public service, once a week for at least 4 months prior to the election.
13. Except in cases where issues of national security are clearly a valid concern, prohibit secret and private meetings with those interests seeking favor from the political establishment, with appropriate penalties for failure to comply.
14. Immediately suspend all the perquisites that elected officials have legislated for themselves and grant them no more than they would command in the marketplace. We deserve an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, with benefits that are no more or no less than what is reasonable. Any semblance of an imperial government, in any house and at any level should be summarily nullified. It is contrary to every premise upon which this great nation was built.
15. And, lastly, put as much pressure as can be brought to bear on the White House to rout out the rogues that do deals behind our backs on behalf of those who have no concern for the national interest. Some of the more visible are Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Rubin and others of like mind and bent. We have had enough of the dirty, self-serving politics sold to us under the banner of “Change We Can Believe In.” Hogwash. Obama is accountable to the people who put him in office. Contrary to his demeanor, he is not imbued with the divine right of kings.
Don’t you think the time has come to turn a deaf ear to the din of demagoguery with which we are bombarded from the liberal elite, the conservative right and a compliant news media that peddles their invective in order to pit us, one against the other? Let’s stop the rhetoric and insist on definitive, verifiable and enforceable action for the benefit of all the people. Drag from the sewers all the scum whose sole aim in life is to subvert the will of the people, lay waste to all that is good and decent about us, and which rightfully belongs to us all. As long as we continue to hurl epithets and perceive each other as adversaries, we take our eye off the ball and willingly succumb to the merchants of evil whose only goal is to seek the destruction of the American Dream.
None of this can ever come to pass without a firm moral compass to guide us. We must subscribe to a system of beliefs and adopt a code of conduct that speaks to the finer aspects of our human nature. Those are what must guide us in the conduct of our daily lives if we are to reclaim the dignity, decency and honor that made us a respected and revered nation on the world stage. All that keeps us focused must, of necessity, be the standards we insist on from every one of those who seek to govern and serve us. Nothing less will do. At the end of the day, it is we who are granting them a cherished privilege, not the other way around.
May 18, 2010