Make America Great Again
By Howard Zinn and Christopher R Rice
In the fifties, schoolchildren all over the country participated in air raid drills (psychological torture) in which a Soviet attack on America was signaled by sirens: the children had to crouch under their desk until it was "all clear". As if wooden school desk would protect us from a nuclear attack. It was an atmosphere in which the government could get mass support for a policy of rearmament. The system, so shaken in the thirties, had learned that war production could bring stability and high profits.
In 1960, the military budget was $45.8 billion 49.7 percent of the budget. That year John F. Kennedy was elected President, and he immediately moved to increase military spending. In fourteen months, the Kennedy administration added $9 billion to defense funds.
By 1962, based on series of invented scares about Soviet military build-ups, a false "bomber gap" and a false "missile gap", the United States had overwhelming nuclear superiority. It had the equivalent, in nuclear weapons, of 1,500 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs, far more than enough to destroy every major city in the world-the equivalent, in fact, of 10 tons of TNT for every man, woman, and child on earth. To deliver these bombs, the United States had more than 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 80 missiles on nuclear submarines, 90 missiles on stations overseas, 1,700 bombers capable of reaching the Soviet Union, 300 fighter-bombers on aircraft carriers, able to carry atomic weapons, and 1,000 land-based supersonic fighters able to carry atomic bombs.
The Soviet Union was obviously behind- it had between fifty and a hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles and fewer than two hundred long-range bombers. But the U.S. budget kept mounting, the hysteria kept growing, the profits of corporations getting defense contracts multiplied, and employment and wages moved ahead just enough to keep a substantial number of Americans dependent on war industries for their living.
By 1970, the U.S. military budget was $80 billion and the corporations involved in military production were making fortunes. Two-thirds of the 40 billion spent on weapons systems was going to twelve or fifteen giant industrial corporations, whose main reason for existence was to fulfill government military contracts. Meanwhile, United States, giving economic aid to certain countries, was creating a network of American corporate control over the globe, and building its political influence over the countries it aided.
From 1952 on, foreign aid was more and more obviously designed to build up military power in non-Communist countries. In the next ten years, of the $50 billion in aid granted by the United States to ninety countries, only $5 billion was for nonmilitary economic development.
When John F. Kennedy took office, he launched the Alliance for Progress, a program of help for Latin America, emphasizing social reform to better the lives of people. But it turned out to be mostly military aid to keep in power rightwing dictatorships and enable them to break up unions and slave off democratic elections.
From military aid, it was a short step to military intervention. In Iran, in 1953, the C.I.A. overthrew the government and installed the Shah of Iran, who invited in American oil companies. In 1958, the Eisenhower government sent thousands of marines to Lebanon to make sure the pro-American government there was not toppled, and to keep an armed presence in that oil-rich area.
The country was on a permanent war economy which had big pockets of poverty, but there were enough people at work, making enough money, to keep things quiet. The distribution of wealth was still unequal. From 1944 to 1961, it had not changed much: the lowest fifth of the families received 5 percent of all the income; the highest fifth received 45 percent of all the income. In 1953, 1.6 percent of the adult population owned more than 80 percent of the corporate stock and nearly 90percent of the corporate bonds. About 200 giant corporations out of 200,000 corporations-controlled about 60 percent of the manufacturing wealth of the nation.
Fast forward to 2016, as things stand now, with federal taxes, state taxes, county tax, sales tax, property taxes, car tax, gas tax, phone taxes, etc. “They” take 4 months of our wages every year in taxes. For that kind of money we should have the best schools on the planet, right? But every year 30 to 50% of our kids get left behind. Let me repeat, taxes take 4 months of your wages away from you every year. That's true under Republicans or Democrats!
The U.S. was the largest creditor in the world. Now the debt is in the trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars transferred from the worlds richest and most powerful country. This is a form of destructive economic management at a level of graft and corruption that has NO parallel. There’s nothing comparable to that in history.
The national debt is in the trillions of dollars, even our kids will never see it paid off. As the administration and Congress argue over cuts in social programs, inequality in America grows more extreme each day. Even the great financial crash didn’t derail this trend. The richest 400 Americans, for example, increased their wealth by 54 percent between 2005 and 2010, while the median middle-class family saw its wealth decline by 35 percent.
It’s not the result of mysterious global forces, or technology, or China, or structural problems concerning the skills and education of our workforce. Rather, it is the direct result of policy choices made by Democrats and Republicans alike.
The U.S. policy (includes tax policy, financial deregulation, trade policy, anti-labor policy, and much more.) for the past 30 years has been aggressively dedicated to shifting income share away from the poor and middle class and into the pockets of the already rich.
Politicians can't even tell us what makes a citizen, so it's no wonder they refuse to protect America's borders for fear of upsetting a campaign contributor's labor pool.
Gangs run the streets of major (and minor) cities, most high schools, a growing number of middle schools, and if we believe the lie that they're not containable, we're just as stupid as 'they' treat us.
Drugs are available in and around every school, even your own neighborhood. If the government can not keep drugs out of a high security prison they certainly can not keep them out of your children's school.
We've allowed our country to be taken from us, for the benefit of the few and the total decimation of the vast many.
Isn't this the very thing we were supposed to protect our families from? In pursuit of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Politically, America suffers from a thoroughgoing default of the government on its responsibility to maintain a sound and honest monetary and banking order. Zero interest rates reward excessive unnecessary borrowing and immorally penalize saving.
You know what a bunch of Ivy-league frat boys in Washington really is? They are the same television show as the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), with the cartoonish characters, the false bluster, and the staged animosities and skirmishes. It's all for show and none of it is the slightest bit real.
They just go home to their estates and their dynasties during congressional breaks and be smug. Their dreams are completely materialistic and they give no acknowledgement of the damage that their failure to perform their jobs does to the masses of their countrymen.
Our elections have become a bazaar for special interest and corporations, our representatives are merely middlemen and women between the self interest of corporate America and the law making process.
Part II (How to) Make America Great Again
By Christopher R Rice
What can we achieve and how do we achieve it?
1.) THE DEFICIT
I think that we should start with a simple one, deficit spending. Because a broke man or a broke nation can never be great (again). I know that if I continue to write bad checks eventually the long arm of the law will catch up with me and I'll face jail or even prison time. So why not make deficit spending illegal? If the politicians need to spend more than what they have brought in then let them hold a special election, plead their case to the public and ask for a tax hike. Allow the citizens to decide. If the voters pass the new tax it will prevent deficit spending. If voters reject the new tax, politicians will be forced to stay within the budget.
You can not be great without a decent education. Americas public schools rank at the bottom when compared to any other industrialized nation. Germany, Japan, France and Canada all spend half of what America spends per student and their children are better educated. It is past time to scrap the American public school system and start over.
Students need: smaller class sizes / fewer students per class, modern schools / books / curriculum, better trained teachers, lower tuition, better / modern classes, more college prep, more scholarships / grants, less police state, better mental health services and more.
No nation can be great if it expects its middle class to pay for the poor who usually don't pay taxes and pay the taxes of the super rich, who have tax loopholes and offshore bank accounts. As long as the US government expects the middle class to carry this burden on its own America will always be in debt and never be able to be great again. End corporate loopholes once and for all or forever be swamped in debt.
When this great nation was first conceived, they separated church and State. Today, we need to separate corporations and the government. Any nation corrupted by lobbyist and special interest is not a great nation. As long as Americas elections are not free and fair we can not possibly hope to be a great again.
It was a Supreme court decision that granted corporations the same rights as citizens. This has spawned lobbyist and the complete control of our electoral process. The first step is to strike down the Supreme court decision. Then return corporations to what the founders intended, State chartered.
After 9/11, America should have secured her borders but Bush and Cheney took corporate donations to keep our borders wide open (as did many Senators and Congress members, remember the Z-Visa? Sponsored by Tyson Foods. This is unacceptable and even the general man has grown tired of watching our national security being sold-out to the highest bidder.
Outsource every job overseas, downsize and then give these same corporations a tax break called 'free trade' so they avoid paying any taxes, anywhere. First, outlaw tax breaks and loopholes for companies that close up shop here and move overseas. Stop rewarding bad behavior. America will never be great again until everyone that wants / can work, has work.
America can not possibly claim to be a great nation if we continue to lock up more of our own citizens than any other country on the planet. 46,000+ American citizens are currently serving time for crimes that they did not commit. 1 in 3 Americans are arrested by age 23. This is not justice. The only solution is to train a professional police force that doesn't see the American public as an occupying army. Or as Hillary Clinton called some citizens "Super Predators." The only super predators among us are pedophiles, but our government keeps releasing them back into society with no warning so they can re-offend. This is unacceptable. And should not be tolerated.
We must re-separate the three powers of government. The federal government under Ronald Reagan created mandatory sentencing. This is in direct violation of the Constitution which separates the powers of our government between Congress, the White House and the courts / judiciary.
Drugs are more potent and cheaper than when America started this war on drugs. No matter how much we spend, the bodies keep piling up. Prescription pain medication now kills more people every day than heroin and cocaine combined.
To think there isn't a better way would be delusional. First there should be a rehab on every corner and free services to anyone asking. How else can America end this problem if the people that really want help have to be put on a waiting list? You can buy drugs and alcohol on every US street, why not a rehab on every street. That's how you fight this.
This is a no brainer. Most of our public schools were built back in the 1950s, the AC doesn't even work anymore. We need to build a modern state-of-the-art school system. Roads, dams and highways obviously are in need of repair. Many hospitals are out-of-date and need to be replaced.
Roads need to be widened to accommodate a growing population / workforce so we aren't stuck in traffic every day of the week.
Accomplishing these eight things I believe would transform America.
A nation that's not in debt, that is well educated and has free and fair elections can't help but to be a great nation.
America needs to spend less money on "defense" and more money taking care of our veterans. ( IG report: 300,000 vets died while waiting for health care at VA) America is surrounded by two large bodies of water, the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans protect us better than any missile defense shield.
Spend less on prisons and more on education. Spend more on prevention and less on incarceration. For every dollar spent on prevention in the federal budget, we save eight dollars.
But the Republican and Democrat parties have no interest in solving any of these problems or any other problems we face because they created them in the first place. Follow the money! If we want to 'Make America Great Again', it's up to us, you and me.
No one else profits from a strong America more than American families. Either we take back what is rightfully ours or we lose it forever. The choice is ours.
Thank you for your time. I hope that my history lesson didn't bore you too much. Now, lets roll up our sleeves and get 'er done...
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"In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares." --BBC television special