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June 12, 2011

Scissors Beat Paper, Guns Beat Butter

          Scissors Cut Paper
Paper Covers Rock
Rock Breaks Scissors
                  People want Butter
Industry wants Money
Guns Beat Butter

Speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1953, President Eisenhower said,
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children . . . This is not a way of life at all in any sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

It's a statement of how far we've moved (been moved?) that today a politician with Eisenhower's perspective would be branded a radical liberal.

Somehow, we are explicitly at war in four countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen. Pakistan and Somalia don't count, in the same way that Laos and Cambodia didn't count unless someone you loved died there.

We no longer care about such archaic concepts of declaring war. We no longer use a draft lottery to share the burden equally across society; we allow the economy to staff the army, and outsource a lot of the offshore work. We no longer go to war ourselves; we send Nato or a Coalition to war, but we provide the money, machines, and men.

Our taxonomies change with each war. We had the Great War (the War to End All War). Then we came into World War Two, and we created the retronym WWI to help us make sense of things, and to give full credit to the Treaty of Versailles.

Some pundits consider that the Cold War was World War Three; we certainly spent enough money on it. Supposedly the Cold War (aka WW3) ended when the Russians spent themselves into ruin; if we are always ready to fight the last war, you'd think we'd be ready to avoid spending ourselves into ruin.

Now we're in World War Four, but I think our new perspectives may give us new terms; Roman Numerals are so 1985.
  • WW 4.1 is Afghanistan
  • WW 4.2 is Iraq
  • WW 4.3 is Libya
  • WW 4.4 is Yemen

The only people that American policy is working effectively for is the military-industrial complex. We are, as a nation, engaged in a period of perpetual war and participating in a permanent war economy. It's a racket.

Domestically, the Corporations are winning, and the Citizens are losing - both economically and politically. We have a group of entertainers and hacks running for political office that make televangelists seem trustworthy.

We give our children single-shooter games to prepare them to for the next round. We line up at airports and train stations to have our papers checked and be searched. The government monitors our communications and has watch lists. We endure hardships and give up national wealth to support industry and the Homeland. I would go further, but I try to respect Godwin's Law.

I miss Eisenhower. I miss the successful war-fighting general who understood the military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC).

What/who are we fighting for? Are we/they winning? How can you tell?


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