And, like any addict, we will say or do anything to get our next fix.
So when we don’t have a war going, we find a reason to start one. If we can’t find one, we make one up. Sound hard to believe? Look at our recent history.
When the war interests in our nation decided we needed to ramp up our involvement they created the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which a US warship was reportedly attacked without warning – forcing us into an all-out war.
This was a hoax, but it wasn’t revealed until some 58,000 US soldiers were dead and some three millions Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded.
Then there were the vaunted Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq that no one ever found. It’s a standard ploy. Make up something that will frighten and/or outrage the American public. Start beating the war drums. And voila, we’re in another war.
It isn’t just the 1% that are addicted, though they do make the most money off of war. Millions of regular Americans are also hooked.
The Defense Department’s $680 billion budget pays for over 3.1 million employees, both military and civilian. Another 3 million people are employed by the defense industry both directly, making things like weapons, and indirectly, such as supplying the materials and constituent parts to make the weapons. And the transport. And the food service. Or working in local businesses supported by a contractor’s location in a town. It’s big money at stake. Huge job figures. Which is why lawmakers fight tooth and nail for defense contracts in their districts and defense contractors spend hundred of millions lobbying for defense contracts.
There are military contractors and military bases in every state in the union. When we have peace and cut back on military spending every state and many local governments feel the pinch.
Contractors start laying off workers. Bases are downsized or even eliminated. And there is an immediate outcry from state and local governments. People without jobs don’t pay taxes. They not only don’t help pay the costs of government, they add to it in the form of unemployment benefits, welfare, increased visits to expensive emergency rooms when their healthcare runs out
From federal representative to town councils to union halls, all are as ready for the next war as any addict is for their next fix.
There is a cure for this war addiction.
In fact, we actually already know what it is.
Numerous economic studies have demonstrated that our economy could operated just as profitably by supplying the tools and technology needed to fight global warming, develop clean and renewable energy sources and restore the fertility of soils depleted of most of their natural fertility by decades of artificial fertilizer application in every-increasing amounts. But it will not be a quick change. We’re talking about a major re-tooling of America. And a major shift of the American mindset.
Can this even happen while we have such a profitable and nearly uninterrupted war economy in full swing?
Well, it’s in full swing for the super rich. And the just regularly rich. And for some professions and some unions. But what has this war addiction done for you lately?
Usually, addiction can’t be cured until the addict has hit bottom. So what would the bottom look like for America?
When I was a kid, a family could be supported with one income. General Motors was the nation’s largest employer and they paid an average annual wage of $50 an hour in today’s money.
Today, Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest employer and pays an average of $10 an hour. With no benefits.
For the lucky few, things are just going great. If they run a business that uses a lot of unskilled labor they can hire three part-time workers instead of two fulltime and pay no benefits and pocket a lot more money.
If some skill is required, they can find it overseas for a fraction of what they’d pay here.
But what about the average American? What about the sons and daughters of the people who built this country’s economy into the best in the world after world war two?
Blue-collar people have been feeling the squeeze for a couple decades already. Many have two or three part time incomes and one or two grown children still living at home.
Don’t you think we’re already circling the drain?
I do. But I actually think I see a way out.
Ending our country’s addiction to war and building an economy that is an engine for peace instead would be a long, drawn out process.
But the first step on that road is one that Republicans and Democrats actually agree on.
I’m not trying to be cute here, but I would like you to give some thought as to what you think is one change to our national politics that a sizeable majority of Americans of both the left and the right are in solid agreement on. More than most of them probably know.
This will be the subject of my next post.
Thank you for taking the time to listen.