July 11, 2014

Iraq and Oligarchs

This is a continuation of an article on the declining influence of the U.S. in the world

Iraq and Afghanistan
These wars are a disaster for the United States. Per Reuters in May 2013,
 “When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war's death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.”
The war was justified with inaccurate and sometimes false information delivered to the United Nations alleging Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Further there is no proof that anyone in Saddam Hussein's government had any involvement in the planning or implementation of  911. This war drained the soul of the United States and contributed to the world's, and our own citizens, lack of trust in our government and country. This is true within and outside of our borders. The frustrations continue today in Afghanistan. 

Combining Iraq and Afghanistan we have been at war for over a decade. This would never have happened if

our army was not a voluntary fighting force. It is much easier to tally the body count than it is to assess the damage done to the nations' reputation in other countries and here at home. We are no longer considered invincible to the rest of the world. We are no longer the "beacon on the hill" as described by Ronald Reagan. We are fallible. 

Oligarchs and money

Government has become big money and is a career path to becoming a millionaire in this country. 
“For the first time in history, more than half the members of Congress are millionaires", according to a new analysis of financial disclosure reports conducted by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.
“Of the 534 current members of the House and Senate, 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012 – up from 257 members in 2011. The median net worth for members of the House and Senate was $1,008,767.”
 The media tends to complain about big money controlling politics even though they are beneficiaries of the flow.

"Despite all the declarations that everything is going on the Internet, the biggest industry beneficiary of campaign spending is any business that works with broadcast media," said David M. Mason, a former FEC chair who now helps mostly Republican-related campaigns comply with federal and state regulatory requirements. "It's always been advertising for as long as we've really had good data on election spending." CNN, The Billion Dollar Election: Who Got Paid November 9, 2012

The solution to this problem is for the government to enforce regulations that would prevent our industries from turning into oligopolies and monopolies. Many on the right define a free market as one that is not
regulated in any manner by government. Even Milton Friedman, the conservative economist who many on the right consider the guardian of free markets recognized they need a referee.

The quote below is from the book Capitalism and Freedom written by Milton and Rose Friedman. Dr. Friedman is the economist who is quoted most often when conservatives are praising free markets and capitalism.
“But we cannot rely on custom or conscious alone to interpret and enforce the rules; we need an umpire. These then are the basic roles of government in a free society; to provide a means where we can modify rules, to mediate differences among us on the meaning of rules, and to enforce compliance with the rules on the part of those few who otherwise would not play the game.”
The only way big money is going to be removed from politics is by a constitutional amendment and as Supreme Court Justice Scalia points out in a three minute video clip on C-Span under our present system as little as 2% of the country’s population could block such an amendment. To get an amendment passed is not going to be easy.
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