January 24, 2012

Throwing stones only breaks stuff....

I recently engaged in an interesting thread on Facebook that has inspired this posting;specifically, from one Ian.

This is not an attempt to denigrate Ian in any way. His comments galvanized my thoughts, and I thank him for that. I hope I've understood him correctly. (If I haven't, Ian, please tell me.) My take is that Ian believes "the entire U.S. is populated by right-wingers" and both major political parties have sold out to the money interests. Additionally, he praises Europe's approach to similar problems and says the U.S. pursues recent "policies that would have made Stalin blush."

As I drafted my reply to his postings, I found it too long for my liking for Facebook. Thus, this blog, a sort of "open letter" re Ian's comments.

So. Ian....

I agree with much of what you say. We indeed have a lot of problems in this country. On other things, though, I respectfully disagree.

First, I assume your comment re Stalin is hyperbole. To actually believe that is, I'm sorry, absurd. That's all I'll say on that.

Continuing, indeed, we must get the taxation system straightened out. The health-care system certainly could be improved, as well. However, I don't think our problems are as dark as some paint them, nor as bright. I don't believe we should blindly follow the "European model" (my quotes, not your's) to solve our problems. Europe has its own brand of troubles.

Our nation is unique and as such needs unique solutions. It was founded on individual freedom and initiative and based upon the belief that all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That doesn't mean that I have the right to your earned wealth simply because you have more than me. (That seemed the purpose of the Occupy movement, but that's another topic.)

Some would have us shift wealth to the point that everyone gets something for nothing. We've operated under that misconception far too long and, unfortunately, it's an impossible scenario. Such a state becomes welfare/socialist and, if let grow unpruned, removes incentive, thereby killing individual initiative.

If we learned nothing from the shredding of the Iron Curtain, we should have learned that.

Does this mean that we should keep muddling along, bickering and accomplishing nothing? Certainly not! Name-calling, intolerance and ridicule only destroy; not build.

We've come to rely on Uncle Sugar too heavily since the days of FDR, and we have become too lazy and complacent. That's led to our electing lazy, complacent leaders with no moral compass who embrace, if not the moneyed interests, at least the goal of remaining in office forever. And we've allowed them to be fiscally, socially, morally and politically irresponsible without holding them accountable.

They lie and equivocate. They squander our wealth with the intent of pleasing everyone, with no thought to the nation's future. And we Americans, wallowing in self interest, let them.

Now, however, I see a groundswell of discontent with the status quo. People have begun to wake up, have gotten frustrated with what they've seen and have gotten involved. As caring Americans, we should celebrate that involvement, not ridicule their ideas or slander their intent.

I don't agree with everything the Tea Party puts forth, nor do I believe everything the religious right expounds. As someone moderately conservative and a Christian, I certainly strongly resent being characterized as "right wing." Likewise, Democrats and Republicans, I'm sure, resent being painted as "long-haired, hippie-type pinko fags" (Charlie Daniels' lyric) and mean-spirited fat cats, respectively. Stereotypes are easy to wield, but no more valid than racial slurs. (We all know them, so no need to list them here.) It's all hateful.

My belief is that Middle America is filled with folk who are hard-working, God-fearing, patriotic and family-oriented. We may tend towards conservatism, but by no means are we lynch-mob Bible-pounding isolationists. We may have made the mistake of trusting the foxes to guard the hen house, but I don't think that'll be a problem any more. I hope we've awakened.

Finally, Ian, I agree: I think both the established parties have failed us, and our government is long overdue for a general housecleaning. But let me add one more thing:

When I entered the U.S. Navy in January 1968, I did so thinking I might just expatriate when my hitch was up. In my particular job, I visited eight countries in Europe and the Mediterranean, plus the Caribbean. Most of those places, I lived on the local economy, so my outlook was less colored by the military. Several of them were nice, but I found nowhere that made me think living there was better than in the USA. And I looked hard. Why do you think we have an immigration problem? Our nation has its warts, certainly. But it's the best place to be on this planet, I have no doubt!

I enjoyed our interchange, Ian. Thank you.

I pray America'a citizens, no matter where they sit on the political or social spectrum, aren't content just to bellyache, point fingers and not try to make life better for all of us in these United States

...Then maybe we can all dance....

1 comment:

Ian Moone said...

I call myself ian moone but i am no one.

First, you suggest that my comparison of recent US policies to Stalin is absurd, but that is because it is easier to hide your head and say "it can't happen here" than to see the reflections of gulags in the US torture centers at Guantanamo or Bahgram Airforce base.

Org to assist victims of torture, including victims of US torture:

The Spanish don't seem to think that the US is "above" torturing people, but the US refuses to cooperate with international investigation into their torture:

In addition to torture at Guantanamo and Bahgram, the US is apparently maintaining torture bases in Eastern Europe and in Africa:


the Center for Inquiry says:

"These methods of torture were used by totalitarian dictatorships before and during World War II, and were widely condemned by the civilized world. We now find that they were used by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld team with impunity, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. These acts were illegal and those who used or condoned them should be held accountable."

But, no one has held Bush (et al) accountable. Indeed, Obama has expanded all of these programs and no one has uttered a word in official protest.

The notion that America is somehow exceptional is a delusion. At the end of the day, Capitalism is an authoritarian system of resource allocation which runs directly counter to the egalitarian principles upon which the country was founded. All men cannot be considered equal when one man makes a living by begging for food on the freeway in Los Angeles and the other man has the ability to devastate the economy of Washington State if he so chooses (like Bill Gates does, for example and like he threatened to do by relocating Microsoft out of the US if the government did not drop its anti-trust suit against Microsoft which is why every Windows machine STILL comes with Internet Explorer installed).

The US was not "founded on individual freedom." The US was founded on theft of land, genocide of Native Americans in order to acquire land and resources for raw materials to ship back to England, and the enslavement of Africans in order to provide a cheap, reliable workforce. American "freedom" was always predicated on the enslavement and subjugation of others and, I'm sorry, but that is not "freedom" at all.

The conclusions you draw about the problems of the welfare state and socialism are not based in any sort of quantifiable reality and are mostly the result of propaganda. Norway, Sweden and Denmark are all "Social Democracies" where taxes are high, social services are vast and expansive and where labor unions exert controlling influence on the economic policies of the state. Norway, Sweden and Denmark are all, consistently, in the top 5 countries listed in the UN's quality of life index. Indeed, Norway was number 1 last year and Norway is a "socialist" country as far as policies of wealth redistribution go.

I think your take on the state of the US government is also misguided. You seem to perceive incompetence and lack of conviction where I see deliberate attempts to obfuscate intentions in order to secure personal profit. People complain so much about the economy today but no one at Goldman Sachs is complaining. No one at Lockheed Martin (the guys who make the Stealth Bombmers) is complaining. No one at Halliburton is complaining. No one at Exxon is complaining. The narrative you just offered is a convenient myth that applies a superficial analysis to a situation which is then used to invent petty blame (e.g. accusations of "laziness" when the truth is far more insidious) which obscures the extent to which true evil is being enacted in plain sight.