Monday, March 21, 2011

Spending Money: Evil or Stupid

Stupid or Evil?  Libyans burn a US Dick Mac

There is a misconception among people who call themselves "conservative" that those who do not call themselves "conservative" are opposed to America, our Constitution, our defense, and our very way-of-life.

In reality, the opposite is generally true: those who call themselves "conservative" often have absolutely no idea how the Constitution works and what it says, or what America has meant to the planet for the past seventy-five years, or how the world would look if we "went back to the original" meaning of everything they use to slander non-"conservatives" (the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Bible, etc.).

My experience is that all Americans support the defense of our country, its legal documents, and our way of life. Unfortunately, those things are different for different people, always have been, always will be. These differences are alive and need to be nurtured not quelled.

There was no unanimity about the Constitution at the time of its ratification. In fact, the vote to ratify the Constitution lost in Rhode Island, and won ratification by only a handful of votes in a number of states. So, the patriots that won, shaped, and formed did not agree about how the Constitution should exist. Similarly, the Bible was written by a few guys who had some ideas, and various Churches have changed it to suit their needs over the centuries. These documents were and are shaped by the societies in which they exist. Eighteenth Century America was very different from Twenty-First Century America, and we can't go back.

As a non-"conservative" I understand that taxes need to be collected and spent for many different things that have made the United States the protector and arbiter of Western Civilization. Those who would say that money can't be spent the way we've been spending it seem to think that we will maintain our place at the lead of the West and can also refuse to spend the money that keeps us there.

It is not just military might that keeps us at the head of the pack; it is also our growth and sophistication as a society, the nurturing of ideas, and the progress made by our thinkers and scholars (not our television stars and nationally treasured drug addicts). By spending money on military strength we are able to defend our allies and weaker neighbors, which keeps them beholden to us, keeps us ahead of them, keeps us in charge. By spending money on infrastructure, we become the envy of our neighbors, ally and enemy alike; and by eliminating poverty and illiteracy, we create a society that makes the United States the premier destination for everyone looking for a better way of life.

These things work together.

Military might can't exist without infrastructure, and infrastructure can't exist without smart people to develop, maintain, and improve it.

One hundred years ago, people came to this country for a better way of life. Today, people do the same thing.

Seventy-five years ago, we became the most powerful military in the world, which made out country safe for people to come here.

When immigrants got here, we had a society worth building.

Today, "conservatives" would have us continue spending billions on the military and nothing on infrastructure and society. Note that we spend $10,000,000,000 (ten billion dollars) per month on the war in Afghanistan, but don't seem to have the money to pay for our municipal janitors' retirement fund. We can lob $68,000,000 worth of missiles into Libya in the matter of a few hours, but we don't have the money for firehouses, community health centers, or a public broadcasting company.

So we have to topple Gaddafhi. Fine. This will ensure that a small number of Texans (the most un-American people in the country) control even more of the world's oil. We are spending the money to help US industry. We are spending a lot of money doing it. I am OK with that.

We should also be spending money on our schools, teachers, firefighters, janitors, streets, parks, airports, communications, and education. And we should be spending more money, not less, as time goes by. And the billionaires who benefit from our military overthrowing Libya should pay more taxes than a street-sweeper - a lot more.

No matter how much the "conservatives" want to believe we can have a powerful military without a powerful society, they are wrong. And those who persist with this reasoning are, like the people in the picture above, either evil or stupid. You decide.

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