My last few articles about Basic Income almost wrote themselves… a sign to me (as a dense, carnal, keyboard interface for some mysterious inner lightscribe whom I’ve never gotten to know or understand very well) that Basic Income is a vital concept begging to heal the world. Of all the solutions out there, it’s certainly my number-one pick to fix America.
(A global population control program would be my number-two pick for healing the world—since no economy can flourish amid overpopulation—but it’s not so important here in the States, where population is fairly stable… at least for now. So, in terms of fixing America…)
My second pick? Restoring a tarnished American reputation.
After World War II, America seemed poised to usher in a new golden age of moral integrity, innovation, international support, and good will… joining with other countries to forge the United Nations, giving foreign aid to poor countries, spreading truth through an interpretive, investigative media… and then something shifted.
The US Reputation Today
Among the most corrupt. According to a recent article citing Voice of America statistics (which in turn are based on a Transparency International survey), the USA today has become one of the most corrupt countries in the world in at least 10 ways… not so much because Americans are more corruptible than anyone else, but because we have ample wealth that attracts ample corruption in tenuous economic times. Between political bribery and private lobbying, deregulation of banks, a bloated military budget, swelling private prisons, NSA spying, billionaire-controlled bias in the media, and other factors, the USA stands out in the sheer magnitude of its corruption.
(In fairness, the actual Transparency International survey places the USA only at number 19 out of 177 countries on the corruption list. [read more….] The article above seems to aim at the scope and magnitude of corruption here in the States, which carry it onto another scale.)
Biggest threat to peace. Today the USA is regarded by the rest of the world as the greatest single threat to world peace, according to a recent Win/Gallup international survey.
(In fairness, this poll that cites the USA as the most provocative bad boy in the global neighborhood also puts it at the top of the list of countries people would move to… [read more…] which says a lot about our noble-savage nature as human beings.)
In any event, there’s plenty of evidence (similar to the articles mentioned above) to suggest that fixing America will involve restoring its reputation in the world community.
The tarnished American reputation covers a lot of ground. Here’s just a small sampling…
- belligerent tourists in a cultured European café… (the Ugly Americans)
- profane and psychopathic (and glorified) Hollywood villains who deal drugs and blow up buildings in cinemas and on TV screens around the world… (the Anti-Heroes)
- emigrating evangelists who desecrate intimate local cultures and customs (the Missionaries),
- covert government operations that uproot foreign regimes, reduce societies to a shambles, and generally spread fear, anguish, and destruction (the Military-Industrial Complex)….
This could turn into a book, and I don’t have time to write a book this morning… so I’ll zoom in on what I think is far and away the biggest cause of America’s tarnished reputation: the last item on the list. Defusing the Military-Industrial Complex, which spreads fear and destruction around the world, would probably be the biggest single step toward restoring a good reputation.
The Military-Industrial Complex (MIC)
America’s military-industrial complex spins out of a relationship between the government, the military, and the industries that develop weapons and otherwise support the military. It grows out of a fear that we live in a hostile world and we need to protect ourselves.
Being fear-based, MIC has evolved into something more insidious than that. The military has become a tool of business and industry to browbeat other countries into submission… modifying their governments to be America-friendly and serving up their resources to hungry US industries.
The glaring example today is the oil-rich Middle East being churned by chaos. MIC involvement in the Middle East has grown steadily since World War I (read more… ) and reached a climax with the destruction of Baghdad by the Bush Administration and its links to the oil industry—a major component of today’s Military-Industrial Complex.
So, how can we start turning things around?
Well, here’s a start.
Currently the US spends more than any other country for military purposes.
Courtesy: SIPRI via wikipedia
Stop doing that!
Cut US military spending by two-thirds, and you’ll still be spending more than any other country in the world. And use that savings to help pay off the national debt and to kick-start a Basic Income program.
It’s not that difficult, folks.
Otherwise, the fear and testosterone that feeds MIC could start boiling over into something really ugly and bizarre.
Oh-oh, too late.
One of the freaks that’s spun out of MIC is a million-dollar monster truck called “MaxxPro,” developed for fighting in the Middle East.
It’s probably not suited for soccer moms, but as the Pentagon leaves Afghanistan it now has several thousand of these beasts sitting idle… and it’s giving them away… not just to countries like Slovakia, but to cops of Madison WI, Watertown NY, Bastrop TX, the Ohio State University campus… anyone who can pay shipping costs and justify a need.
Justify a need? Right. Maxx really isn’t suited for anything… other than a misguided desert war. (Read more…)
The whole idea behind Maxx (also called MRAP) sounds kind of idiotic to some people.
The people who make up the Military-Industrial Complex are not idiots… but fear makes people do idiotic things… such as paying billions of dollars for useless supertrucks… making stupid decisions for which they get a bad reputation… such as being called chicken-hawks—frightened men who strut and crow and break things to disavow their fears and to overcompensate for their weaknesses….
Case in point: recently retired Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who pushed for a perpetual military presence in the Middle East and the proliferation of Maxx-Pro… and who will probably be remembered as a poster child for MIC tomfoolery.
(I added the preceding paragraph to this article only after reading some of Robert Gates’s new book, Duty.)
Cutting the budget of the US military will be one huge step to ameliorating the fear that makes MIC the crazy guy that he is… and it will be one huge step toward restoring America’s good reputation.
Other articles in the Fixing America series:
Northern Europe Does it Right
1 The Problems
2 Basic Income, One Solution
3 More Thoughts on Basic Income
4 Wrap-Up on Basic Income and Wealth Tax
5 Basic Income and the Fertility Rate
6 Restoring a Good Reputation
7 Contending with Savage Forces
8 Being a Noble Force
9. A Comprehensive Solution
10. Marching Toward the End Time
11. The Destructive 1 Percent
12. Overcoming America’s Oil Addiction