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This weeks article is an excerpt (Part 1) from my book "Solutions..."

The Government only moves slowly for the 99 percent.”

In the United States of America there are three branches of the federal government. These branches are there to provide checks and balances against any one of them getting too big for their britches. What happens, however, when all three branches get too big for their britches as they collude in ways beneficial to themselves? What happens when all three branches start pumping out millionaires instead of humble, retired public servants?

As stated previously, there are three branches in the Federal Government of the United States of America:

First, there is the legislative branch, Congress, a bicameral legislature that consists of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each state is represented by two senators, while the number of Representatives varies depending on the size of the population of that state. Amongst all duties of Congress there are the responsibilities of writing laws and declaring war. Congress also holds the purse strings of the Government.

Next, you have the Executive branch, the Presidency, a one-man show, which amongst its duties are vetoing laws, waging wars that Congress declares, enforcing laws of Congress, executive orders and more.

Finally, you have the judicial branch with the Supreme Court being the highest court in the land. This branch is tasked with determining the validity and Constitutionality of the laws passed by Congress and executive orders enacted by the president.

While this is a very simplistic view of these three branches and their respective duties, it should suffice for our purposes here because it is not my intention to provide a course in social studies. This book was written to provide reference . . . a starting point for those who are wondering why they seem to have less control of their lives and futures.

Now, as for all that hostage talk, let’s look closer to determine whether this is hyperbolic (exaggerated) or not. I guess the quickest way to make this determination would be to list some of the things that impact the most people’s lives and figure out whether those 545 people in Washington D.C. acted in the interest of the rest of us or not. So, let’s just start off with one that not only affects us here at home, but millions of people around the world . . . War!

As a side note: Although America is bombing countries all over the planet, most of which most Americans have never even heard of, America itself has NOT declared war since 1941. That’s right, America has not officially been at war since World War II, because the branch of our government that has the right to declare war has not done so, since we fought the axis of evil. Oh, almost all presidents have kept the American war machine going for close to six decades (fifty-eight years to be precise), but America has not been officially at war since we defeated Hitler.

So, we’ve been attacking dozens of countries since 1945 but been at war with not even one. Does this sound like the will of the American people? Well, let’s take a minute here to try to figure out what happened. Maybe those countries had it coming or maybe they were planning on attacking the United States. I do, after all continually hear a lot of talk about preemptive strikes. There must be something to this claim. First, however, let’s look at one of the oldest attacks America made after World War II . . . China. During the Korean War, the North Korean leader Kin ll Sung caught American and South Korean forces off guard and pushed into Seoul. Rallying his forces and the South Koreans, General Douglas MacArthur pushed the North Korean forces all the way back to the North Korean, Chinese border, at which point the Chinese attacked to defend their borders. So, we attacked the Chinese because they were defending themselves from the threat they perceived as coming from American encroachment. This one I can see being argued either way, but let’s consider why we were helping South Korea in the first place. Was North Korea an existential threat to America? Yes, because as we’ve seen from North Korea recently, they are actively developing a nuclear missile that could reach American shores. So, yes, this conflict seemed a logical and wise course of action, and it did make sense (as related to America’s future safety) for the US to assist South Korea. Did American leaders choose other conflicts as wisely, however? Let’s look.

In 1954, Jacobo Arbenz, the president of Guatemala recognized all political parties (including the Communist party), and he nationalized 1.5 million acres of land (including land belonging to his own family) to create a more equitable society. Some of the land returned to the People of Guatemala was held by an American business called the United Fruit Company. In response to Arbenz patriotism, the CIA bombed Guatemala’s capitol, sending Arbenz into exile and leaving 100,000 Guatemalan dead in its wake. In this instance, one is hard pressed to see any benefit to the American Public or the nation of Guatemala. This could never be considered a Humanitarian effort, because it cost the lives of so many. In the end, the only benefactor appears to have been a company . . . The United Fruit Company. This would be an example of America capitalism at its worse . . . but not its last. Let’s move on.

In Cuba, once Castro overthrows the Batista regime and becomes prime minister, the United States makes several attempts to weaken Castro if not remove him from power all together by utilizing embargos and even alleged assassination attempts. The American public had a great fear of the Communist threat that Cuba represented, so it’s not hard to believe that our government had the full support of many American citizens.

In 1965, America attacked the Dominican Republic for fear of the possibility of another “Cuba” in the hemisphere. This I could still see garnering support from the American population, given the fear of the Communist threat. Provided no other evidence was presented, it still appeared as if our leadership was acting according to the will of the people.

For brevity, the following is a list of some of the countries we’ve attacked without declaring war since 1945. For this list, I’ve left out those countries that America potentially bombed but the details surrounding these attacks are in dispute.

Korea (1950 to 1953)

Cuba (1959 to 1960)

Cuba (1961)

Laos (1964 to 1973

Vietnam (1961 to 1973)

Cambodia (1969 to 1970) More bombs dropped than the whole of World War II

Grenada (1983 to 1984) UN General Assembly termed it “a flagrant violation of international law”

Nicaragua (1979 to 1990) though denied by some, I’ve included it in this list, because this one included the Iran-Contra conspiracy, which had grave consequences on Reagan’s “War on Drugs”: Something that has allowed for the growth of modern-day slavery in America. (Source: Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow”

Lybia (1986)

Panama (1989 to 1990)

Iraq (1991)

Kuwait (1991) Due to bombing of Iraq

Bosnia (1995)

Sudan (1998)

Afghanistan (1998)

Yugoslavia, Serbia (1999)

Iraq (2003 to 2011)

Lybia (2011)

Following is a list of countries we’ve bombed in the past and continue to bomb as of the writing of this book:

Afghanistan (2001 to present)

Pakistan (2004 to present)

Yemen (2004 to present)

Somalia (2011 to present)

Iraq (2014 to present)

Syria (2014 to present)

Niger (unknown start to present)

Now, all of these bombings were supposedly carried out in the interest of the United States, but is it in the best interest of the United States to have killed 1.3 million people and spent four trillion dollars doing so, especially without the consent of an informed populous or even an informed representation (Congress) of said populous. In retrospect, would most Americans have chosen to sacrifice so much money, time and lives for the perception of safety for which such actions were supposedly carried out? Do Americans feel safe in America? Do we feel threatened by countries on the other side of the planet? Do we feel safer, as we alienate so many of our supposed allies by ignoring the will of the international community?

Could this blood and treasure have been put to better use to secure the sovereignty of other nations, the economy and safety of other nations as well as that of the United States and the liberty in which so many Americans take pride? Let’s see:

1,400,000,000,000 (1.4 trillion dollars) could have paid for a college education for every person in the country. Actually, only eighty billion (a mere 5.7 percent of 1.4 trillion) could have gotten the job done and there are estimates that for every dollar invested in a college degree there would be a return of an average of seven dollars. So, for that initial investment of eighty billion dollars, we could be seeing a revenue (taxes collected for higher paying jobs) of 560 billion dollars. Instead, what did we get for the 80 billion dollars that would have gone to college as we dropped bombs in other countries? I don’t know. Do you? Hell. I don’t even know who to ask to know or whether there is a person or agency that can provide the Return on Investment (ROI) for the bombs we’ve dropped since 1941 or let’s just say since 9/11.

What about Healthcare?

If America had put some of the trillions of dollars spent on war into healthcare instead, how much would we have lost? Oh wait. We actually wouldn’t even have had to take money away from the military budget to maintain a Medicare for all programs. You see, the money that individuals or families pay now for their insurance premiums would go into the system instead. This would be possible because the pool of insured would be so large, the annual tax for Medicare for all would be less than the annual cost of premiums for private insurance and the co-pays currently required. Some estimates state that the average family would save approximately 3,800 dollars per year on their premiums alone and another 5,100 dollars if deductibles are factored in for any given year. This, however, does not serve the desires of the wealthy, so universal healthcare is out of the question. More on this later.

Let’s consider Security?

After bombing several countries for the past fifteen plus years, do we feel any safer here in America? I for one, do not. I actually feel less safe because of the threats that I believe have been made probable by the actions of our military. Now, before I move forward, I do not want my words to be taken as any kind of disrespect for our service men and women. In all honesty, I believe that it is our political leaders and military leaders who are disrespecting those who serve in defense of this once great country. Our elected officials and military leaders (and us by extension) have people dying on both sides of every conflict that we are told is for our benefit. And while I’m all for things that benefit the United States, I am not nor ever could be for those things that cause harm to others for our benefit, especially when those benefits only reach the smallest of cohorts, the rich.

So, given these few examples, I wonder how most people feel about the way that their country represents them around the world: Do the citizens of other countries look at America as a great example of Democracy, or is it perceived as that craven place where the people have no clue as to what countries their tax dollars pay to bomb? I wonder, if informed and asked, would most Americans choose to bomb all the countries that America has bombed and is bombing to this day. Given that almost 50 percent (half) of all wage earners in America only make $30,000 per year on average would most be inclined to spend another million or billion on such single-use weapons or any weapons for that matter. Would most Americans vote for a military budget which is greater than the military spending of the next ten countries combined? As a sidebar, I would like to point out the fact that most of those other ten countries are located much closer to the very threats that America continuously bombs. Maybe that’s why, other than Israel, America is the biggest target in the Middle East. It’s as if we’re not being told the truth about why so many countries around the world hate America. Maybe America isn’t being properly represented by those who say they have our best interests at heart. I know that I for one do not feel properly represented by the bombs we sprinkle so freely about the planet. I know that those bombs don’t represent the feelings I have toward people around the world.

As for the “preemptive strike” argument, it holds little water for me. When the groups that grow out of our preemptive strikes are worse than those meant to be stopped or contained by said preemptive strikes, it is time to question the validity of such actions. It’s like slapping a beloved bar owner, because you heard he was going to kick you out later. Now, I know this anecdote might not make that much sense, but isn’t that appropriate?

The Patriot Act is a Misnomer

It’s hard to believe that the loss of liberty America has experienced over the past decade is a necessary evil when it simply feels evil. How can, what feels like a punishment against a citizenry adequately protect that citizenry? Something so grand in scope as the Patriot Act requires the backing of the nation but this series of laws is losing ground as its true nature is exposed. And, as time goes by, our leaders will find its effectiveness more difficult to prove. If the loss of our Fourth Amendment rights (Google them) isn’t enough to instill resentment than the revocation of our First Amendment rights should. When our government spies on us all without justification, we should be able to voice our dissent and air our grievances. And, when they spy on us nonstop while mass shootings like those that took place at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Majory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Texas, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando or the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut still occur, perhaps we should abandon intelligence gathering programs that fail time and time again.

With such dismal records as implied by the aforementioned mass shootings, shouldn’t we end and replace our current surveillance system with one that actually stops bad guys with guns? Put another way, the programs listening to our every move do not produce their intended outcomes and should therefore be put out to pasture. The failures of our current spy programs and by extension current leadership are highlighted with each and every act of domestic terrorism and hatred that occurs. To those who would do us harm, this not only signals that we have no viable means to thwart any attack they may be planning, but that we don’t even have a plan to remedy the situation.

Whether a mass shooting was conducted by a lone, crazed gunmen like Stephen Paddock, who bought thirty-three weapons in a twelve month period, or Dylann Roof who should not have been able to buy a single gun or the mass shooting is carried out by a married couple like Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, they all represent events that should have been prevented. While ideally, this should hold true at all times, it should especially be born out in a surveillance state in which all rights and privacy have been stripped from every person. Instead, Americans get an ever-increasing reduction in liberty: Obama signed the NDAA which eliminated Habeas Corpus, which completely eliminates the right to feel secure against an oppressive government, and a stifling of the freedom of speech.

The first allows authorities to illegally search and seize your home and the second denies your right to complaining about this illegal search and seizure. All of this happening while mass shootings increase in scope and frequency. . . As the most uncool, uncouth and unintelligible president EVER would tweet… “Sad”.

One additional point I would like to make about the real-world failures of America’s internal spy network is that, like the continual mass shootings that take place in the United States, our enhanced surveillance apparatus is unable to stop all the internal leaks about their immoral, unjust, unconstitutional and possibly illegal activities... Ironic, wouldn’t you say? They fail at getting information in and they fail at stopping it from getting out.

Now, let’s look at the math. Let’s see, in 2014, it cost 6.5 cents per hour to spy on everyone in America.

Now, for ease, let’s eliminate the number of people under the age of eighteen years-old. That would be approximately 75 million kids, which leaves approximately 249 million adults and young adults upon which to spy. At 6.5 cents per hour, that would be over 16 million dollars per hour. While I would agree that the following is a stupid assumption, let’s assume that they are only spying on us one hour out of the day. That would mean that our government, the same government that we pay for with our taxes was spending 16 million dollars every day to watch what we’re doing in 2014, which would add up to around 6 billion dollars per year for a grand total of approximately 17 billion to date! No, that can’t be . . . Let’s see. There are around 328 million people in America now. Around 74 to 75 million are below the age of eighteen, so I removed them from the number of people being spied on to get 249 million adults being spied on at a cost of 6.5 cents per hour. Now, if our government only spies on each one of those 249 million people one hour per day that would cost 16,185,000 dollars (16 million) per day. With 365 days in the year, that 16 million dollars adds up to 5,807,525,000 (just shy of 6 billion dollars) and if this cost has gone on for three years (2014 to 2017), that would mean we spent 17,722,525,000 dollars (17 billion dollars) to SPY ON OURSELVES! And mind you, this is if we only spy on one another for a SINGLE hour out of the day! So. What was the result of this self-scrutiny or involuntary introspection (as I imagine some security agency might describe it)? Mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting. Oh my God! Maybe we should spend ten cents per hour to spy on one another, or maybe a whole dollar. Maybe we should spy on each other every second of every day and preemptively strike our neighbors to mitigate any possible future threats.

Or, or, or, maybe we don’t waste that much money on a surveillance system that is obviously doing little more than alienating us all. Maybe we spend that money to improve the lives of those people who feel betrayed by the home of the free, land of the brave. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would rather spend my tax dollars on feeding the hungry, housing the poor, educating the youth, insuring the sick or making movies that contain no super heroes. How “free” can we be when someone is watching our every move? How “brave” is a nation that must monitor every action of every person at every moment?

Now, the preceding only addressed the loss and cost of loss of privacy that the Patriot Act has brought to the American people. There are more issues that the Patriot Act causes than solves, but I leave that up to the reader to research. My goal here is simply to point out that we are paying for the virtual prison that our supposed leaders built around us. STOP PAYING FOR YOUR OWN INCARCERATION!

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