Avoiding the Necessity

Avoid the necessity
of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of
government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as
particularly hostile to republican liberty
.” -George Washington, 1st US president, general (1732-1799)

I know its out-of-fashion to lean back, draw an uncluttered
vision of the past in our minds and simply reflect.
But Washington’s comment reflected a general’s view of combat and matches
mirror-like another general and president’s statement by Dwight Eisenhower to “Beware the military-industrial complex.”

It’s no surprise to me that
both men served in times of existential wars, the first in a war of birth and
the second a war of survival. They, along with Harry Truman, are among our most
revered leaders and each of them had seen up close the human and physical
destruction of combat.

Truman’s answer was the Marshall Plan, the first time in human
history that a conqueror footed the
bill to rebuild the conquered so that
Europe and Asia might never fight again.

Yet here we are today, living in an America whose military
sucks all the financial oxygen from progress and is double the size of the next six
global militaries. That fruitless extravagance utterly destroyed our peaceful reputation, upended political balances (as nasty as they may have been), made allies of despotic rulers and
undertook the total destruction of
functioning nations
.

Other than those minor shortcomings, it worked out just fine.

Proving the truths of
Washington and Eisenhower, we haven’t been able, with all that dearly assembled
might, to win a military conflict since
World War II
.

Eisenhower again: “Every gun that is made, every warship
launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those
who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed
.”


So we ponder these imponderables at a time when we face
another existential threat. This one doesn’t wear a uniform, nor a raggedy
head-scarf or threaten car-bombs and jihad in America, but it’s far more deadly and immutable.

Yet, like war, it’s a battle we choose not to understand
and our leaders choose not to face with anything approaching reality. It’s that sneaky and, chosen or not, will end life on earth as we know it. Bomb-shelters
and hiding under classroom desks won’t solve this one, baby.

You know by now where I’m
going with this, but it’s such a toxic
phrase these days, devoid of immediacy
and with no flags flying or troops saving our nation from the enemy.

The word dare not be spoken
anymore—climate change—oh god forgive me, I said it.

We can’t possibly
afford it
,” sputters Mitch McConnell, who never put on a uniform in defense
of his country. “Even if I believed it
(which I don’t) and even if I was not paid
to disbelieve it (which I am), “it would
cost trillions and where would those trillions come from
?”


Well, Mitch, to begin with you
might well ask where the $6 trillion
your beloved (and feckless) Department of Defense can’t even account for.

Gone.

Simply vanished in the lack of accounting procedures Congress requires of the
DOD by law. Then duck back into your
office and scratch your head over the supposed (there are no clear records here
either) $10 trillion wasted on wars not won over the past half-century.

Now I know you are a great
supporter of the military-industrial guys and homelessness, busted
infrastructure, joblessness and offshore banking are well below your pay-grade
in Washington, but they still matter.
Somehow, to those of us in outlying America, they matter. The American Fist
hasn’t had all that much luck making America
First
.

But I understand the money has to come from somewhere.

Enact (I know that’s an unusual concept for you) a ½ of one
percent tax on ‘flash trades,’ that Wall Street innovation that very nearly
crashed our  stock exchanges systems twice without so much as a human hand on
the wheel. The revenue generated is hard to nail down, but it’s in the hundreds
of billions annually.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s
Green New Deal is already ‘beyond our means’ according to the blossoming
opposition, but it’s a multi-propositional deal that supports renewables and
infrastructure rehab, along with a slew of social support.

Even this early in the conversation, today Yale University
announced a poll that showed 81% of American voters supported the Green New Deal. Not good news for you, Mitch, as you
peek out from behind your fingers and contemplate your own leadership sell-by
date.

A return to those
brave-old-days of the booming sixties-through-eighties would bring us the
return of graduated income taxes. There’s growing support even from the 1% for
just that. Take another hunk from the military as Eisenhower did for his
highway program…or just plain print the
money
.

Calm yourself, Mitch and
listen very closely. There is deficit
spending (think military and social programs) that is necessary, but leaves no end-product. Gotta watch that deficit spending like a hawk.

Then there is asset-based spending (think Eisenhower’s
interstates and the nationwide electric grid) that leaves enormous assets
behind. Most economists agree you can spend extensively on asset-based projects
without increasing inflation, because you increase
the nation’s net worth
.

Every dollar spent by Eisenhower’s interstate highway program delivered
back six bucks in economic gains for
the country. Can you imagine the impact
on business and individuals if there was no
cost at all
(other than infrastructure) for energy sources

Breathe deeply, Mitch. Eisenhower was a Republican and, if
you move quickly, the Green New Deal could have your name all over it.

The length of what people are willing to read (usually not
even this much) leaves but one final argument. Jobs, that magical political noun. Not tens of thousands of jobs,
Mitch. Tens of millions of jobs. Good
Republican jobs, buddy. High-paying jobs from truck-drivers to engineers, with
plenty of over-spill for Republican contractors.
And those jobs
can’t be outsourced to China.

All we need do is avoid
the necessity of the worthless and celebrate
the necessity of the worthwhile—before we end our own civilization by an accident of ignorance.

Think of it, Mitch. Think McConnell’s Green New Deal and put your name in the history books. Now get out there on the Senate
floor and make the speech that will save your party and your ass, both at the same time.

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