A Head Start in Recovering Our Moral Base

Republican or Democrat, rich-man, poor-man, atheist or believer, it’s pretty much unanimous that America has lost its moral compass. As with divorce, when each side of all issues blames the other, you can be pretty sure the blame falls equally and if mom and dad don’t pick up on that, ask the kids. They know. You don’t think they know, but trust me, they know.

Our national mom and dad have their hands around each other’s throat

Yep, half the nation believes we need a Green New Deal and the other half thinks the national debt will sink the ship of state. Many believe immigration made the country the powerhouse it is (or was) and just as many others terrified our white majority is going down the tubes.

Is there a middle-ground, a place to come together?

Damned if I know, but I have a suggestion. That begins with things we agree are going to hell.

Without putting too sharp a point on it, nothing much works anymore because we can’t afford anything both liberals and conservatives agree we need: our roads are full of potholes, our bridges falling down and electric grid either burning down California or failing to heat or air-condition Texas.

Private schools are doing great and public schools are so bad that the governor of Oregon just signed a bill that allows high-school students to get a diploma without requiring the ability to read, write or do math at a 12th grade level. That’s a non-denominational tragedy.

I just lately read an interesting article in Salon: Why Americans can’t have nice things: We squandered our nation’s wealth on pointless wars.

For two decades our elected leaders foolishly spent our money trying to impose democracy at the point of a rifle in a country with no democratic culture or tradition. To date, U.S. taxpayers have spent about $2.3 trillion on an undeclared war that cost 2,448 American troops their lives avenging about the same number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. More than 100,000 Afghans died in the 20-year war.

This butcher bill comes to more than $6,000 for each American man, woman and child. Our elected leaders borrowed all that money because of federal tax cuts in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2017.”

Now, lest you think I’m whaling away at Republicans (although they began both the Iraq and Afghan wars), Democrats were equally complicit. The longest war Americans ever fought was never approved by the Congress, as the Constitution requires. Well, fuck the Constitution unless it comes in handy for your argument.

But eight tax cuts in a twenty-year war is pretty stupid

Because those costs (either Vietnamese, Iraqi or Afghan) don’t end when we pull out. You may never have heard of Irene Triplett. I hadn’t until researching for this article.

Irene died just last year. She was the last legal recipient of the last pension from the Civil War, which ended in 1865. Her $73.13 monthly check finally ended Civil War veteran pensions after 156 years—the gift that keeps on giving.

Vietnam Veterans (as an example) may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans. VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial.

I don’t object to that. They deserve every penny and more, but I offer it as an example of ongoing costs.

Continuing from the article…

China, in contrast, didn’t spend its money on wars. Indeed, China hasn’t been in a war in this century, though it brutally oppresses those within its grasp who challenge its totalitarian control.”

Well, let’s not go there…not with our own record of native-American genocide, slavery, ongoing racism and the horrors of torture during wartime.

But it’s fascinating to me that our war-profiteers—and that includes everyone from Dick Cheney to the majority of members of congress— 51 of whom, along with their spouses, own between $2.3 and $5.8 million worth of stocks in companies that are among the top 30 defense contractors in the world.

And these, dear readers, are the very sabre-rattlers who are pimping the next war. And who might be the supposed enemy within their sights? Why China, of course. That nation we were primarily responsible for building into a world power after the Nixon-Kissinger move toward opening China to the West in 1972.

China, as mentioned earlier, has gone to war with no one in this century. China builds most of our computers, many of our automobiles and is the largest supplier of electric buses in America.

Of course we should go to war with China

Who else is left to keep Ratheon, Honeywell, Lockeed-Martin and Boeing in business?

Now of course we could employ these warmongering profiteers into building high-speed rail, wind turbines and the enormous requirement for a whole new and modernized electric-grid, but what-the -hell, they’d rather build F-35s at enormous cost-overruns.

They’ve already set up the pipelines to a constant inflow of contracts, enabled by their special congressional investor-class. The key to their profitability has always been war, no matter Eisenhower’s warnings. No one checks costs during war. High-speed rail offers none of the hard-earned profits of a $285 screwdriver, a $7,622 coffee maker, a $387 flat washer, a $469 wrench, a $214 flashlight, a $437 tape measure, a $2,228 monkey wrench, a $748 pair of duckbill pliers, a $74,165 aluminum ladder, a $659 ashtray and a $240- million airplane.

And so, to step one in recovering our moral base

War itself is perhaps the planet’s primary moral issue, so why not begin the healing there? Defund the military. There is no other way. Their talons are too deeply set in the congressional flesh.

That will not happen without crowds in the streets I’ve linked you to a brief litany of articles pointing out the military-industrial crimes of the past fifty years and all of that to no avail.

The top 25 protest marches in America include Occupy Wall Street, George Floyd Black Lives Matter, Earth Day, 2017 Women’s March and the Great American Boycott. All of them pale by comparison to a $387 flat washer and, politically significant as they are, the entire list doesn’t come close to the annual military-industrial theft made possible by a profiteering Congress.

There is currently no law against profiteering in time of war, although many have been written and debated in the Congress. Unsurprisingly, none have survived their final draft, either alone or as attached to other legislation.

Go back with me, just over a century, as Mark Twain offers a word or two

There are many Senators whom I hold in a certain respect and would not think of declining to meet socially, if I believed it was the will of God. We have lately sent a United States Senator to the penitentiary, but I am quite well aware that of those who have escaped this promotion there are several who are in some regards guiltless of crime–not guiltless of all crimes, for that cannot be said of any United States Senator, I think, but guiltless of some kinds of crime.

Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.

…the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

Congressman is the trivialist distinction for a full grown man.

All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.

Some things change and some remain the same

The cause is always man’s common inclination not to become involved.

But consider the costs—and I do not mean the common costs, but the personal share of every American’s indebtedness. In 2020, the gross federal debt in the United States amounted to around 80,885 U.S. dollars per capita. If you are an average family of four, with the usual strain of home mortgage and sending a couple of kids through college, consider the fact that your family share of the national debt is 323,540.

Good night and sleep well. Your military industrial complex is wide awake, with its hand in your wallet on the dresser.



Image Credit: Voice of America

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