Sunday, September 25

Lies We Still Believe

"War is good for the economy." For too many years we've accepted that this is true. And yet, clearly, in this moment, we have proof that war is killing not only people, but also the economy because of all the debt that has been amassed to support our military excursions.

In an odd sort of way we had a chance to elect a president in 1972 who promised hope and change and would have likely delivered on that promise. George McGovern stated in his nomination acceptance speech that he would have ended the war in Vietnam on the night of his inauguration. Sadly the American people and political operatives were more afraid of those people who were included in his campaign than with their better angels or wisdom.

Fast forward to 2011 and we have a president who continues wars without a real end because he is playing a dwindling deck of cards and it requires him to hold on to the families of military families while ignoring the families of the nearly 60 million people who are unemployed. But not just him, but those robber-barons who build wealth for themselves and select others while pick-pocketing from their own workforce.

As a result of the lie we still believe, it is believed that we don't have the wiggle room to make mistakes with what resources we do have and so the conventional wisdom is to reduce the national debt while families suffer, poverty increases, and the elderly and those approaching retirement worry about what will happen to their nest eggs.

There is a second lie we shouldn't believe, "What is good for business is good for America." Business is not a person with a mortgage, a health condition, or even with children who serve in harm's way. And yet we afford it the rights of personage.

America is a great country because of its people and not in spite of them. But we need a national leader who will stand with us and not with CEOs, bankers, and financiers. We need our president to say what needs to be said, there is a war, but it is between those who have ruined the financial markets and the rest of us.

War is not good for the economy, but paraphrasing what Walter Kelly the creator of Pogo once said, "We have seen the enemy and he is being treated better than the rest of us." We need to clamp down on grossly paid corporate employees and people whose sole earnings come from reinvesting long-held family assets. If the rest of us are seeing our incomes remain flat or declining, they should join us be being taxed for their greed or forced to put people to work by enforced investment. We have tried voluntary incentives, but that only creates a culture of going to where the grass is greener somewhere else.

Wall Street has failed us, it is time for Main Street principles to be applied. On Main Street, we all do well if we are all working and using what each other is able to make or do. Main Street fails when we forget about our duty to each other. This is something that the wealthy, the middle class, and the poor can agree.

We can no longer live in ignorance of truth. Wars don't make economies better. Business is not more important than what is in the best interest of the rest of us. I believe that effective government is being an enforcement tool to fix what private enterprise has no interest in doing; that is making sure that democracy works. Maybe this is a lie too?

No comments: