What Can Be Done?
By Michael Mannion
Recently, the Washington Post began a series on the secretive world of unchecked surveillance in which uncounted (literally) billions of dollars are poured into corporate coffers. And last week, the website WikiLeaks released over 92,000 pages of secret documents through The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel telling what is, and has been, really going on in Afghanistan
Also last week, the Republican leader of the House said that the US cannot afford Social Security and other "entitlement" programs as well as war. Therefore, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, health care for children, and other social programs all must be cut drastically to pay for war on "terrorism."
The word "Terrorism" now plays the role today that the word "Communism" played in the past. All kinds of useless and damaging behavior is justified when it is claimed to be necessary to fight "The Terrorists."
There are now over 800,000 people in the USA able to classify information "top secret." And they classify many millions of documents a year. For every dollar spent on Freedom of Information Act requests, about $150 are spent on secrecy. Each of the 100,000-plus soldiers in Afghanistan costs $1 million-plus per year to keep abroad to fight who for what? Top US officials estimate that there are about 50-100 Al Queda members in Afghanistan. What is going on?
(Pssst...Ssssh...Don't tell the public...There are vast oil and gas energy reserves, and mineral deposits, that corporate interests crave.)
How do our "leaders" plan on paying for this? By cutting social programs.
Recently, investment banker and former Clinton Treasury official Roger Altman was quoted in The New York Times as saying that the "tension between President Obama and the business community" can be resolved only if he and his allies are willing "fix Social Security." In this instance, "fix" means " slashing Americans' retirement security.
In all likelihood, the American people will either actively support this and/or passively accept it. The comedian George Carlin addressed this years ago in a routine.
And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your f #@*ing retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this f @*#i ing place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
Today, Americans sit passively as a small segment of society becomes more powerful and the economic security, privacy and freedom of the majority erode. The American people don't lift a finger as trillions are poured into War Without End. They complain but do not act, as those who destroyed much of the world economy become richer than ever. What a mess--yet how to fix it?
Irrational man and woman of today, motivated too often by repressed anger, fueled by ignorance, side with those who are exploiting them. History demonstrates that pathological passivity chronically erupts into socially destructive actions, harming those who engage in it and support it the most.
This public ignorance is willful. Ask people about entertainment celebrities, sports stars, new consumer technologies--they are quite knowledgeable. Ask them to name the nine Supreme Court justices and what decisions they are making about curtailing our individual rights while promoting corporate power--blank stares overall.
This willful irgnorance, unconscious irrationality and repressed rage can doom us all. How does irrationality and ignorance manifest itself? Two examples:
1. When the Bush tax cuts went through 7-8 years ago, creating trillions of dollars of today's deficit, about 20% of Americans (60 million people) favored these cuts because they believed they were among the top 1% in income!! How out of it can you be?
These tax cuts are set to expire but the push now is to extend them for years to come or even permanently. Why? Today, 66% of the benefits of the tax cuts from 2001-1007 went to the top 1% who own 83% of all stocks and over 40% of all wealth in the US. The bottom 50% of the public owns less than 1%.
Oh, I nearly forgot! There should be more tax cuts for the top one-tenth of 1% . Why? Because these tax cuts create jobs! Isn't that obvious in today's economy after years of tax cuts! Look at all the great jobs!
2. When the nation was lied into war in 2003, the majority of Americans believed these lies. The public was told the Iraq war would cost the taxpayer nothing. It would be paid for entirely by the US selling Iraqi oil. This lie, too, was eagerly believed. The Iraq War will eventually cost $2-3 trillion. The Iraq-Afghanistan wars account for trillions of dollars of the US deficit and are paid for with borrowed money. But not a penny will be cut from war and war industries. Why not?
And these wars still go on, year after year, far longer than World War II, squandering the lives of innocent people, soldiers and civilians alike, as well as wasting the funds needed for vital concerns at home. Where will the money come from?
The Democratic-Republican "Government Party" believes the funds should come from Medicare, Social Security, unemployment compensation (which workers and employers pay into every week!), education, infrastructure repair, environmental protection, and every other basic human need. The Government Party refuses to cut the $700 billion Pentagon budget; the $100 billion intelligence agency budgets; the $35 billion annual tax breaks for big oil; and much more. No, the only place to cut are in programs that provide vital human services.
The key question is this: Why are 299,000,000 Americans allowing a few thousand Americans to transfer the vast wealth of the nation, which they, the majority, create through their daily work, to about one-tenth of one percent of the population. The problem is not in the ambitious few who exploit the ignorant, confused, pathologically passive and helpless many. The problem--and solution--resides in the many.
As in the fable of the scorpion and the frog, the top 1% in income in the USA are riding the backs of the public across the pond. In the tale, the scorpion convinces the frog it is good for both of them. And we know how that story ends.
What do you think can be done?
Michael and Trish
Center for New Knowledge
Saturday, July 31, 2010
What Can Be Done?