To anyone who has taken trouble to pay attention, we are the United States of Broken America, so much so that even the word ‘broken’ when applied to the United States of America has become a cliché. Except for the people targeted by the Bush and Obama Administrations to benefit from tax cuts and who can be loosely lumped under the heading of the “2%’ers,” i.e. those households making $250,000 a year up to umpty-billions a year, the people of the United States of Broken America are not terribly happy these days.
We are, of course, for the most part, materially comfortable enough, especially relative to the 3+-billion of our fellow planet-travelers who have not much more than a dollar and a piece of bread to get by on each day. We’re not in such a hunky-dorey state relative to the hundreds of millions who live in countries where people gladly pay their taxes to provide themselves and their fellow citizens with health care systems, public transportation, education, pensions, parks and somewhat more protection from rapacious corporations.
In the United States, most of us, it must be said, go about seeking our daily bread and conducting our daily business pleasantly ensconced in the velvet bubble that passes for daily life, a life filled with family and work concerns, commuting problems, human relationships in various degrees of value and success and, very importantly, entertainment and sports.
But again, to those who are paying attention and to even millions more who don’t, there is a certain sense of unhappiness, fear and dis-ease present in our lives. Is it the struggle of daily life that involves the pursuit not of happiness but the pursuit of money? Is it the often-cited breakdown in “family values,” perhaps caused by the uncertainty over exactly whose family we’re talking about: the Osmond Family or the Jackson Family? the Obama Family or the Joneses-That-We-Must-Keep-Up-With Family? the Family of Nations or La Familia?
What, I think, bugs most people is a feeling that our internal, natural compasses have gone awry. The more we rely on “social networking,” the less social we become. And the more distant we get from actual contact with other human beings, the more the feeling of emptiness grows. Anybody who spends any time looking at it also knows that we are also in the process of divorcing ourselves from the natural world around us. We have poisoned the air, the water, the ground and killed off thousands of species necessary for the chain of life to continue as we have known it.
Certainly contributing in a major way to our discomfort is the sense that the institutions that are supposed to provide us with some sense of security, guidance and assistance in the pursuit of our daily lives, have broken down. Whether you come from the always-ranted- about but totally ill-defined extremes of the “right” or the “left” or the “middle,” you know something is terribly wrong with our government in these United States.
Without discussing whether or not there really ever has been a true marriage between the interests of most of the people and the interests of those elected/assigned/appointed/employed by the government, we can all share in the feelings that must take place when a divorce is in progress, i.e. when those who once believed they could be partners find themselves completely at cross-purpose, always arguing, constantly complaining about a lack of interest in each other’s lives and all mixed in with a suspicion that one of the parties is seeing someone else and has replaced them as the object of their affection and passion.
But everyone stays together for, we tell ourselves, the sake of the children. It’s the children who will suffer if we release the perceived anarchy of a separation or a divorce into their lives. But guess what? With apologies to MJ (Jackson not Jordan), We Are The Children. We are the ones who need to make a better world so let’s start giving. Sorry, I got carried away.
That’s not to say, however, that we don’t need to stop acting like children, in particular, fearful children when it comes to changing our situation.
Here’s the deal: we either believe or we don’t that the Government should be, as the soon-to-be Steven Speilberger-ized President Abe said at Gettysburg, “of the people, by the people and for the people.” We either believe or don’t believe what President Franklin said about fear being the only thing we really have to fear, as in fear of changing our admittedly dangerous circumstances. And we either believe or don’t believe what President Ike said about the encroachment into our lives of a military-industrial-Congressional force that would (and did) forever change the priorities and purpose of the Government and, by extension, the people of the United States.
I remember an old ‘joke’ about a husband who states that in his household, he took care of the big important issues and concerns while his wife handled the smaller issues: “Yea, she takes care of the small things, like paying the bills, taking care of the children and the house, seeing that we are fed, etc. I take care of the important issues, like whether or not we should enter into arms negotiations with the Soviet Union, what kind of stance the country should take where Pakistan is concerned and whether or not Red China should be admitted to the United Nations.” (OK, so it’s a very old joke.)
A modern variation might go something like this: “We, The People get to be concerned with and think about the big issues of the day, such as whether or not Brangelina should adopt more children, whether or not Tim Tebow should start for the Broncos, whether or not Christine O’Donnell is mildly or severely disturbed, whether or not Lawrence O’Donnell would be a great contestant on “Dancing With The Stars,” and whether or not President Obama was born in East Tanzania and raised by East Indian astrologers before being secretly shipped at age 6 to his sleeper cell in Hawaii to await further instructions from the Worldwide Socialist Commune.
The Government takes care of all the other stuff, you know, the small stuff, like deciding how much we will pay for gas, food, insurance, satellite-dish hook-ups, medical care, national security and defense, education, housing and the like. And said Government which, it should be noted, has a symbiotic relationship with the private corporations that just by the merest of coincidences happen to provide the above-mentioned small stuff, shall decide just how much money we will all pay into this system that results, in the end, in the enrichment of a few at the expense of and sacrifice of a humane, sane, content and civilized life for the majority.
The Government-Business does provide some services, of course. Without an adequate if not fancy road and rail system, profits can’t be made. Without some kind of subsidized public education system designed to teach the ground rules needed for order in the workplace to those who can’t afford a private education, there won’t be workers competent enough to create the wealth the upper 2% need to maintain the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. Without some kind of apparatus to maintain and promote the interests of the private banks and financial institutions that so magnificently profit from both the good and the bad times – oh, excuse me, did I say that? I meant to say, “Without the regulation of the banking and financial institutions which have the power of life and death over the everyday lives of all of …” (Just a minute: I’m still laughing at that ‘regulation’ part. OK, I’ll continue.)
Without some kind of pension plan for the elderly retired folk, there wouldn’t be enough people alive to continue funneling hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to those who provide their medical care. So how very generous of President Obama to deliver another 30 million customers to private medical insurance and direct health care provider companies to keep those profits ‘a flowin.
And then, of course, we have the Big Daddies of Business-Government: National Defense and National Security and National Intelligence and The War on Terror and The War On Other Countries That Can’t Really Defend Themselves. These guys are the Professionals. They are the ones who, starting in the, believe it or not, the Truman-Eisenhower era, who have taught all the other industries how to stick that ‘ol Tax Teat in their mouths and never let go. In order to maintain themselves in profit and the rest of us in a National Security State of Fear and Terror, they have gamed the system thoroughly and completely. These entities have names: Raytheon, Boeing, Grumman-Northrup, Westinghouse, General Electric and hundreds more and have had hundreds of billions, nay, trillions, in profits flowing into their pockets. The Masters of War (for it is they!) are Masters also in Non-Accountability and Non-Oversight. Every year, thousands of billions of dollars flow from the American taxpayer – and we’re not talking defense contractors, oil companies, mega-construction companies or the like here, we’re talking you and me, brother and sister – into wars past, present and future and projects that guarantee a comfortable living for those who provide the wars. They need NEVER fear that our “representatives” (tee hee) in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives – with a very, very few notable exceptions — will every seriously question what they ask for or what they do with it.
Case in point and my all-time favorite: A few years ago, a certain Secretary of Defense held a press conference at which he announced that the Defense Department/Pentagon had…ahem…uh…(quote) cannot track 2.3 trillion dollars (close quote). You heard me: 2.3 Trillion dollars , not Korean won, not Indian rupees, not Hungarian forint or Oman rials, good ‘ol dollars. That’s a lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!
Now you might think that in a ‘democratic’ society, such an announcement might cause a little bit of consternation or that a brave Congressperson or Senator might have a word or to of grandstanding outrage to share before his or her comments could be buried. Nope.
Oh, there was a news story. On the CBS Evening News. (Thank you very much, CBS Evening News.) If you’d like to look up this story, please feel free to You Tube-it on the very date of the Secretary of Defense’s press conference. The Secretary’s name? Donald Rumsfeld. The date? September 10, 2001. Such a remarkable coincidence, wouldn’t you agree, made even more interesting by Mr. Rumsfeld’s later announcement that no investigation of the missing money could take place because of — just by another remarkable coincidence –“the loss of financial-management personnel sustained during the September 11 terrorist attack.” Funny how those Saudi terrorists knew exactly which area of the Pentagon to hit, i.e. at the farthest point from Rumsfeld’s office and at a point closest to the financial management personnel and computers. They must have had some research facility in that Afghani cave of theirs.
The Missing $2.7 Trillion story, like any other mention of the military establishment’s propensity for losing track of, mis-appropriating, over-spending, no-bid contracting, using private suppliers to provide materiel and support formerly by the armed forces themselves, are stories-non-grata in what is laughingly-called the ‘mainstream’ media. We know about Brittany, Lindsay, the Dancing Stars, the American Idols, Jerry Seinfeld, Prince and Prince William but the Missing Trillions and any other story that questions where the money goes are MIA.
The time for revolution has come. Not the violent kind, just the kind that we were promised in the original documents that were used to get this country going, flawed though they were.
Sarah Palin was recently seen holding a sign that said, “Let’s Party Like It’s 1773!” Really! Sure, Ms. Palin, that’s a great idea. We can borrow ourselves a King or why not the Queen of England, come to think of it. We can reinstitute slavery and child labor and be governed by rich, white property owners. We can begin anew the process of the ethnic cleansing and/or dispossession and/or removal of Native Americans. We can have taxation without representation…oh wait a minute: we still have that! Yeah, let’s go back to those good ‘ol days when men were men and women were …were….well, suppressed, silent, powerless, voteless, degraded and all the rest. (Since Sarah could never become President in such a world, she might be able to get a job sewing the “A’s” to be put on certain women’s frocks, eh?)
No, the revolution I’m talking about is the revolution of change that Barack Obama said he represented when he was running for President. (By the way, if anyone sees that Barack Obama around anywhere, could you please tell him that a lot of people are looking for him. In a friendly way, of course.) Sadly, the ‘Fox and Friends’ image of Obama,i.e. the man turning our country over to Big-Spending, Big Taxing, Big-Regulating Government has a slight hint of truth about it in the sense he is turning hundreds of billions of dollars over to the private corporations that profit so magnificently on providing such health care as they do provide, not to mention raising the amount of money the military establishment receives and continuing the wars they so desperately need to continue profiting, and by propping up banks and other financial institutions responsible for criminally creating the disasters that resulted in a continuing recession .
We don’t need a continuing recession we need to start a new revolution. I believe that that change can come through changing the ‘old war horse:’ The Constitution of the United States of America.
The Amendments proposed in my article could contribute, I believe, to significantly and profoundly changing the way We The People conduct our business in this society and go a long way toward rectifying the profound damage more than one hundred years of control of the government by Business of Profit has done.
The People – you know, the people that Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, the George Bushes, and Barack Obama have never invited to the White House (though they were always happy to visit their homes and business at election time!): those people whose lives have been destroyed by the loss of their jobs in the Wal-Martization of the country and indeed the world; those people who have lost their entire savings in order to pay for decent medical care to save the lives of themselves and their families; those people who are totally unrepresented in the “hallowed halls” (as in “Halloween”) of our legislatures, both city, state and federal; the people who have children that cannot afford to attend decent schools in order to get decent jobs to provide decent livings to themselves and their future families; those people who have been handed a bad deal in life – something the rich and comfortable have no patience for until it happens to them – such as blindness, a serious illness, a disability of some kind…
A little while ago, there was a bit of a kafuffle over an Obama trip to Asia. The (what else is new?) hysterical rantings of the right-wing crazy machine – yeah, crazy like a Fox – about how the trip was going to cost $267 million an hour with Obama bringing an entourage of 3,456 (including the press and the camels) requiring 456 military ships and food wagons in support, etc. were,of course, absurd and false, but, typically, the real scandal of the trip went virtually unreported, which, when you think about it, was probably the intention of the phony reports no matter what the source.
Accompanying the President was a group of American citizens who have always expressed a desire to visit a foreign country but could never afford it. They are average, working-class citizens who helped the President get elected but now, because many of them are unemployed, disabled, financially wiped-out in the housing crash and have no place to stay, have a chance to travel with the President and share in the excitement of a President performing his Foreign Affairs responsibilities and giving regular folk, as the President likes to call them, a chance to witness their government at work close-up.
Oh, I’m sorry that last paragraph was intended for a comic novel I plan to write some day. In actual fact, the President will be accompanied by a group of people called CEO’s. These gentleman, for all but one seem to be anything other, run corporations, to wit: Boeing (“Boeing is a recognized leader in providing and supporting large-scale systems that combine sophisticated communications networks with air-, land-, sea- and space-based platforms for military, government and commercial customers around the world.” (Translation: they sell machines and programs designed to kill people around the world.); Honeywell (among other things, they make UH-60 Blackhawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters designed to kill people); United Technologies (They make lots of interesting things, many of which are designed to kill people. One particular gentleman accompanying President Obama, Louis Chenevert, recently received, you will be happy to hear, a wonderful award from the Ethics Research Center. (“Ethics is…and must remain, the foundation of the United Technologies performance culture,” Mr. Chenevert said.). Also along for the ride, The Cohen Group (started by a former Secretary of Defense to “provide global business consulting services and advice on tactical and strategic opportunities in virtually every market.” (Translation: they sell machines and services designed to kill people to anybody who is willing to pay for them and they will enlist the United States Government and the President of the United States to help them do so.) I guess you get the idea.
It’s pretty clear, I think, that we cannot count on President Obama – for what I am sure are very good reasons he found out once he actually arrived in the Oval Office, but ones we can only guess at – to accomplish any of changes he campaigned on.
The Constitutional Amendments, proposed in my prior article, would undoubtedly involve a horrendously difficult, frightful, frustrating and maybe even decades-long struggle. Many, many people, would need to get on board. I feel, however, that they are worth pursuing or at least discussing.