To protect the people and secure their rights

Liberty and Democracy are not opposing ideas. The political center is where all change is made. Let's embrace reason and civility.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Fringes of Empire

It is no secret.  Half of US discretionary spending is on "the military", and this spending has allowed the US to dominate world politics since World War 2.

America has been a colonial power since well before that, but it wasn't until WW2 that we made the transition to "superpower".  And while the US is certainly not alone in the suppression of billions of people around the world, it certainly dominates the game today.

But this little article isn't about all the big players, it's not even about democracy in the US.  I'd like to talk about you, and me, and the world we have come to expect when we wake each morning.

You and I, as US citizens, are living the American Dream.  The oil from the world flows to the US, gets refined and distributed, and you pump it into your gas tank.  You probably complain from time to time about how expensive gas has become.

As a human being, you probably have some empathy for other people throughout the world.  You're probably distressed when you hear about massacres, injustices and trillion-dollar war budgets.  After all, it's not your fault that these things are happening.  It's not your fault that we invaded Iraq and hundreds of other forgotten places around the world.  I'm sure you'd vote to change that too.

Have you considered, though, what the effect would be of a major military withdrawal of US forces from its commitments, hot and cold, around the world?  Have you considered what would actually happen if the US "defense" budget was cut by 50% and we stopped the wars, stopped supporting dictatorships, and stopped providing military force for the US version of the East India Tea Company?

That's right.  Bitch now about gas prices, but recognize that it is US foreign policy that makes it possible for you to budget your daily life back and forth to work, and the store, and to visit your friends and family.

So much of the worlds' resources flow to the US.  It's just a fact.  It's not because we're awesome, or we're divinely gifted, or somehow superior to the rest of the world.  It isn't because we are "free".

Is it possible to have the advantages of colonialism without the moral cost?  Would you be willing to live in a world where all that oil did not flow to the US?  And what would you say to the billions now on the fringes of Empire?

Thanks for all the fish!  (Hitchhiker's Guide)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Power to the People?

The Draft issue has raised its ugly head, yet again.  I was looking at old protest footage from the early 70s with an audio track of Lennon’s “Power to the People”.  Inspiring.   Compare that time with our time today.

The left was the spearhead the 60’s movement.  When Abbie Hoffman organized youth rallies to burn their draft cards, they were chanting phrases like “hell no, we won’t go”.  The protest wasn’t against the draft, per se; it was against the war and the military industrial complex. 

In the early 80s after the LP collapsed under the weight of debt from the Clark/Koch campaign, my college friends in Delaware decided to keep building the “movement.”  We came across an anti-draft pamphlet written by Jeffrey Hummel (compatriot of Murray Rothbard), made a new cover with the SLS logo on it (Students for a Libertarian Society… a play on the 60’s “SDS” anti-draft movement), and photocopied hundreds on a school copier and passed them out all over the U of D campus.

Thinking back, the argument we put out wasn’t “hell no, we won’t go”, but that “the draft violates the 13th Amendment”.  We held a few small rallies against Reagan’s draft registration.  We argued that the draft, as all compulsory service, was the foundation for “statism”, blah blah, blah—you get the picture.

Point is that the left burned draft cards in protest to the war and the military industrial complex, and modern C4L rallies of Ron Paul scream to our youth about the Constitution and the merits of Anarchy.  So does the entire right wing, when it suits them.

The radical left was always for a draft—and not just for military service.  It is seen as a way to make military service “fair” and not just for poor people.  It is the citizen army concept that pre-dates Das Kapital by 2000 years.  Nixon took away their thunder by declaring the AVF, All-Volunteer Force, which serves the military industrial complex just fine.

A recent email by Alan Grayson, whom I consider a true patriot, outlines the logic of the radical left and causes me to question their vision.  Yes, it makes sense that 2 trillion spent on wars could fund a new CCC in all its modern, multi-branded forms.  However, taking the model of Bureaucracy to its logical conclusion, in my opinion, is no better vision than that of the neo-libertarian anarchists of today.

I remain against compulsory service, and I remain against any draft.  But more importantly, I remain against the wars and the military industrial complex that has blighted our planet and enslaved our people.  Government should protect the people.  The only “national interest” is the people under protection of our sovereignty, not the private ventures of capital and ambition.

As with Ron Paul, I’ll go so far with Alan Grayson to include stopping the wars and ending the military industrial complex.  I’ll even go further and praise Grayson for his stand on the public option and for single-payer Medicare for all.  But recruiting 2 million workers for the Peace Corp, and the This Corp and That Corp, all those new uniforms!  Sorry, too “Starship Troopers” for me.

You want to bring jobs back to the US?  Raise tariffs to 35%.  Bam; done.

You want alternative energy to thrive?  It would happen naturally as America was cut off from oil.  After all, that’s what the wars are really about, aren’t they?  Add our military budget to our energy consumption and you have a good idea what oil is REALLY costing America.

Yes, I want fairness in the current income tax code.  Instead of “tax credits” which benefit the wealthy and force middle class investment into narrow directions such as “real estate” or “education”, a single deduction of $40,000 for all citizens would be much more “fair”, with a linear rate after that.  Thus, a person making $50,000 would pay x% of $10,000.  No write-offs for depreciation or tax havens.

Simple and fair.  And I haven’t discussed the Currency issue yet J

Yes, I’m with Grayson on the Banks issue too.  I’d like to be on Ron Paul’s side, since I would also like to “end the fed”, but any serious look at his proposals to do so are just wrong, wrong, wrong.  Grayson wants to regulate the banks, and I’d like nothing more than to haul their CEO’s into public court, committee hearings be damned!

Then again, Alan Grayson isn’t campaigning on every college campus in America.  Ron Paul is.  Who will lead the rebellion of America?  Whose policies will rise to the top?

Look around and see.  Look at the Middle East today, look at the Mediterranean Basin, from Algeria to Israel to Greece to Spain.  Look at Indonesia, and South America, Mexico.  Look at what corporate and banking interests have done to our world.

Egypt still has no democracy as of this writing.  It is being run by a junta, financed by outside “national interests”.  The people rise against corruption and are left with what?  Somalia?  The very Libertopia that Ron Paul ultimately advocates?  It is that world, not Grayson's, that will come to pass over America and across the Earth.

Unless we stop them, here at the heart of darkness, America.