Whether you admit it or you bury your head in the sand, the plain truth is that this country is completely out of control. I’m not talking about a promising plain speaking congressman that let his lust get in the way of his sanity; I’m talking about how this nation is clearly facing its demise.
In the last two years, this nation has completely turned its back on the majority of American citizens in favor of those that can afford to pay for what it is they want. This isn’t an article about republicans; the democrats are equally guilty of ravaging the middle class, the poor, the elderly and those that are just starting out. Not only is this nation savaging the bulk of the people that are unlucky enough to be Americans in the 21st century, the American government is also literally savaging the Muslim world with missiles, drones, ground troops and radioactive ammunition that will linger for millennia.
We are now participating in five different wars in five different countries, all of whom just happen to be Muslim countries. That could just be a coincidence, but the older I get, the less I believe in coincidences. These wars have all been started on very shaky premises. In fact, the newest wars are being fought without any authorization from what used to be a co-equal branch of government, the Congress of the United States. For those of you under the age of twenty, before we declared a never-ending “War on Terror”, we once had a document, a sort of owner’s manual, a set of rules that the government followed called The Constitution of the United States. In this quaint document was a provision that the President had to ask the Congress for a declaration of war before it started to bomb and kill the citizens of another country. To be fair, if it was deemed to be a clear and present danger, the President could defend the United States immediately, but he still had to go to Congress as soon as possible to get authorization for hostilities.
Now it seems that this is no longer the case. When exactly the Constitution became obsolete is still debatable, but the facts are clear, it is obsolete. It is now very clear that the President can now start a war, at any time, in any place of his choosing. Every day, we routinely kill people in Pakistan, Libya and now Yemen, without any input from Congress.
Not to say that Congress doesn’t earn their money (and I’m not talking about their salaries, I’m talking about the bribes they receive from lobbyists that represent the bankers, the defense contractors, the insurance companies and scads of corporations that make up the real constituencies of our “elected representatives” in the form of campaign contributions, country club memberships and outright payments for “services rendered”). In case you are wondering what I’m referring to, let me give you a few examples of what I mean, Congress is trying to cut the deficit, which is so high that almost 100% of our nation’s tax receipts go toward paying the interest on our national debt. The “solutions” that Congress has come up with go something like this:
- Cut Social Security Entitlements by raising the age that people can collect, or/and lowering the payments that one receives after paying into it for all of their working lives or eliminating it altogether.
- Cut retirement benefits even though workers have paid into a “pension fund” their entire career with the Federal Government. This they are calling a “benefit”, at one time it was an “entitlement”
- Eliminate Medicare for our senior citizens that have been paying into for decades and replace it with a “voucher system” that pays a certain set amount. Anything over that amount is the responsibility of the senior citizen or the disabled. That means that once you run out of voucher money, the cost of medical treatment is up to the person who once had coverage under Medicare. If that person has cancer or some other very expensive illness, when the vouchers dry up, and the savings are gone, guess what? You die.
- Cut military pensions. Yes, even those that “fight for our freedoms” and join up to kill the “evil-doers” and stay for 20-30 years fighting all over the world in back-to-back combat tours will have their pensions cut.
- Lower Federal payments for education. This is something that is do-able now that most of the workforce is now flipping hamburgers or delivering pizzas. We have seemed to have outsourced most of our industry except for defense contractors and the financial sector anyway.
- Cut State subsidies for infrastructure. It seems that Congress has realized that good highways, Dams and sewer systems never made the lobbying corporations any money anyway.
Now here is the kicker, nobody has introduced any bill that will make the largest corporations in the country pay the same percentage of taxes that the working people of this country make. For example, corporations like GE, Bank of America and Exxon-Mobile (the largest oil company on Earth) pay no taxes. In fact, they actually got “rebates” from the IRS. Here is Senator Bernie Sanders in a short speech to the Senate:
Doesn’t that make your skin crawl, just a little bit?
Now let’s talk about the cost of all of these wars we are involved in, saving the World from something that we invented in Afghanistan to cause the USSR to experience their very own Vietnam (al Qaeda):
“Global military expenditure stands at over $1.6 trillion in annual expenditure at current prices for 2010 (or $1.56 trillion dollars at constant 2009 prices), and has been rising in recent years.” (from Global Issues http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending#Increasedspendingbeforeandevenduringglobaleconomiccrisis)
Now how does that stack up to our national budget? Almost 40% of our budget is used for the military. Since the cold war ended, our defense budget has been steadily rising.
This figure does not reflect the three new wars that that we are now involved in (Pakistan, Libya and Yemen). This year’s budget will be significantly higher. Homeland Security (our basis for the new American security state) is also a budget drainer. The facts are that we have 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Each of these carriers requires 22 Billion dollars.
* Construction Costs – $4.5 billion
* Mid-life overhaul Costs – $2.3 billion
* Operating and Support Costs – $14 billion
* Other Costs – $1 billion
* Total Average Cost – $22 billion each
Currently on the drawing boards is the next generation of Super carriers, the Ford class, named after President Gerald R. Ford. Being built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilders, there are three planned at an estimated $8 billion apiece for construction costs. Each will be incorporated with such technologies as a new electromagnetic catapult rather than the steam variety, more powerful nuclear reactors, newer intergraded radar and electronic warfare measures, and extensive use of automation to reduce crew requirements and costs. Completion of the first ship is scheduled for 2015. (http://historical.whatitcosts.com/facts-aircraft-carrier.htm) The country with the second most aircraft carriers is Italy, with 2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_carriers_by_country
Now, do you see something askew here? With the demise of the Soviet Union, why does our military budget increase every year? In the military jargon of the day, it is because the United States is vying for “Full Spectrum Dominance”. That is, the U.S. wants to dominate the full spectrum. What is the full spectrum you may ask? To put it plainly, it means that our wonderful nation wants to dominate the Earth.
So what does this all mean for you everyday people? Well, to be plain, it means that the enormous bail-out of the financial sector, and the resulting recession that was caused by irresponsible financial corporations like Goldman- Sachs, the second largest donor to the Obama Presidential campaign, is not being paid by those entities that were bailed-out. Even though Wall Street was more like a casino than legitimate businesses, the cost of their reckless gambling and the subsequent crash is being borne on the backs of the American worker, retiree and senior citizens.
Even though Wall Street gambled in credit default swaps,
“(Imagine you lend $10,000 to a friend. You may want to take insurance against default of payment from this friend. For about $300 a year, someone will reimburse you the entire $10k if your friend defaults. This is a CDS, a “credit default swap”, think of it as you would car insurance. In the event of a default you “swap” the liability with your counterparty. You get cash (or sometimes equivalent security), he gets the bond. CDS then are taken on bonds. You can buy a CDS on a bond from a company on a bond from a government, on an obscure tranche of a securitized loan. You can buy a CDS on pretty much anything).” http://www.thedelphicfuture.org/2009/05/crisis-for-dummies-credit-default-swaps.html
The bonds we are talking about are the mortgage securities that were bundled into bonds that were sold to retirement funds, local governments and a host of other groups. The bonds were a conglomeration of risky sub-prime mortgages that were bound to default and shaky adjustable rate mortgages that were given an “A” rating by rating companies like Standard and Poor’s and others, even though they were basically junk bonds. Goldman-Sachs made a killing by betting against these bonds that they unloaded on the market (insider-trading?). The insurance company AIG insured these bonds and when the bonds went belly-up, so did they. (No matter, many, many brokers got big fat multi-million dollar bonuses for work well done).
Are you following all of this? Is it enough to make your head spin? Do you realize that nobody has been indicted for the biggest scam that ever happened in history? Will anyone ever get indicted? The statute of limitations will insure that everyone gets off Scott-free if someone doesn’t do something about it. Where is a good U.S. Attorney General when you need one? So who are the suckers left holding the bag? The American taxpayer.
There is so much more that is so wrong in America. We torture people. We use the Patriot Act to search “suspected terrorists” without a warrant, eavesdrop on their online use and their phone calls. We arrest people without the benefit of Habeas Corpus, deny them representation and try them under military commissions. Who are these “suspected terrorists”? Anyone the government deems they are. There are no safeguards.
Why don’t we hear about this on the news? Probably because everything you see and hear on television is censored. They are censored by the government, their advertisers (oil companies, the defense industries and major corporations that don’t pay any taxes). You will hear about sex scandals, the President’s latest speech (with hardly any criticism of any substance while commentators tell you what has been said in language that third graders can understand). You will hear Democrats tearing Republicans apart over issues of no consequence and vice versa. Legislation introduced condemning U.S. military involvements aren’t mentioned. Anti-government demonstrations aren’t reported on. Death tolls in the many wars we are involved in aren’t publicized.
How do we know what is really going on? Well, the sad fact is that most people remain ignorant. There is the internet though. More and more Americans are getting uncensored news in just this way.
So what can be done about all of this? How can we change the direction of this nation? What about things like peak oil and climate change that hang over us like impending doom? What happens when the dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency and we can’t buy oil and commodities from other nations by printing money?
These are legitimate questions. I can only say this, get off your ass and get involved. Sitting in your living room, night after night, watching the idiot box won’t make any of these life altering problems go away. Don’t expect your “elected representatives” to care about anything. Sure, there are a handful of people in Congress that are doing the right thing, but only a handful. Get the facts; think for yourself, not what some talking head on TV tells you.
Go out with all the “radicals” and “dissidents” and demonstrate for what you believe to be right. They love to tag people who won’t go along with their propaganda and half-truths with labels. Don’t let that intimidate you. I suspect with the way things are now, the majority of Americans are “dissidents”. If you can, donate time and money to those causes you think will change things. Educate yourself about things you thought were boring, foreign affairs, U.S. military involvements, the defense budget, censorship of the mainstream media and who precipitated this financial crisis and how they did it. Find out how your congressman and Senators voted and why. Ask them why they haven’t addressed the loss of Congressional power.
Be vocal about the things you care about. Don’t “go along to get along”. We are at the edge of a cliff and the only way to go is down unless you push back. Ask why we are fighting in Afghanistan and Libya and Yemen? Why do we need to spend 39% of our budget on the military? When will we leave Iraq? Why are we threatening Iran when all the UN watchdog agencies like the IAEA report that Iran is NOT building a nuclear weapon? Why are we encircling Russia and China? Why do we support a terrorist State like Israel that has bombed and strafed and used tanks against Gaza while stealing land from the Palestinians? Why do we support a nation like Bahrain that tortures their citizens that protest for democracy while we turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates as they send in their U.S. supplied tanks to crush the protestors?
Ask why we have outsourced our industries to other nations while giving the same corporations that did this tax breaks? Ask why we don’t cut the defense budget and use that money to help pay our debts instead of putting all of our debt on the working taxpayer. Ask why the rich get tax breaks when 80%of all the wealth in this country is owned by the richest 1%? While you are at it, ask why the financial institutions that we had to bail-out aren’t paying the taxpayer back?
While the infrastructure is falling apart around our heads, why not ask your representatives in the Federal government why we don’t employ people without jobs to fix it? Think of the way that would bolster the economy by putting more spending power in the hands of more Americans. Think of the dignity a job would give the unemployed. Think of the pending disasters like failing dams and broken waterworks will cause.
Stop thinking Democrat or Republican. Think right or wrong. Put people in office that will do the right thing. If you don’t see anyone like that, run for office. Demand that Congress enact campaign finance reform that will take corporate money out of politics. Ask for an amendment to the Constitution. While we’re talking about the Constitution, demand that the Patriot Act be stricken down. Get rid of the Military Commissions Act. End the “security state” we live in and TELL THE GOVERNMENT TO STOP THE FEAR-MONGERING.
There is so much we could do to change the current paradigm. Things don’t have to be the way they are. We can defend our nation without resorting to war. We can rebuild this country and stimulate the economy at the same time. We are not powerless, we are powerful. The government works for us and it’s time we reminded them of that.
Maybe you are aware of everything I’ve written here. I imagine that many of you do. Maybe some of you believe I’m just wrong about the way I see things. That is your prerogative. For those that agree with what I have written and want to help change the way things are, pass this article around to the people you think need to read it. Forward other articles that touch on the problems we need solve. We can stay silent or we can demand change. Real change, the kind of change we need in order to live decent lives. In 2010 we voted for change but only got more of the same. You can change the world. We can change the world, at least the part we call America.