May 21, 2021 Introduction
Solutions is the culmination of articles and observations that I have written and/or made over the past ten to fifteen years. The aforementioned-articles and observations pertain mainly to American culture, economy, civility (or lack thereof), equity and equality, but did at times extend to the world, when applicable. The catalysts for my observations came about when hearing tales of some theoretical world, as described by current and former political, social, economic leaders and more. The catalysts for the articles I have pinned, while stemming from the same sources referenced in the previous sentence were the seemingly apparent contradiction(s) that exist between any given leader’s words and what was observable in the real world: In 2018, claims like “The economy is doing great. . .” sound quite empty when 50 percent of the American work force makes thirty thousand dollars or less per year. America’s first black president receiving the Nobel Peace Prize before taking America from two wars (one illegal, immoral and unjustifiable) to seven wars . . . and the Nobel committee not rescinding their award.
Though, I have historically felt a certain bias toward one end of the political, social and economic spectrum, I believe that my current beliefs are relevant to a majority of Americans. And, while absolute proof of the allegations I set forth in this book may be improbable or even impossible to provide, I submit that a simple comparison of the words coming out of one’s current and favorite leader with the world in which one lives will reveal a stark divergence. Whether that most-favored leader be local, regional or national, skepticism of their promises, claims or assertions can only further a quest for the truth. Scrutinization of campaign promises, policies and voting records will only lead to better leadership that is more representative than the current offering.
One goal of this book is to open minds and eyes, so people can see clearly, without the fog of deceit we have had to endure for so long. For instance, when George W. Bush claimed his biggest hero to be Jesus Christ before starting the war in Iraq, far more Americans should have examined the evidence presented to justify war and questioned whether Jesus Christ would have attacked that sovereign nation or the Dixie Chicks for their opposition to that war. Jesus may have been his hero, but he was not George W. Bush’s role model. As proof of my claim, I dare anyone to find a passage in the New Testament where Jesus says to go to war even if the justification is based on a lie.
So, while reading Solutions, consider the following: Are the historical outcomes of either the words our past leaders have spoken or the actions they’ve taken been fruitful? Whether intentionally or not, have those words born out what they implicitly or explicitly promised? Have the actions resulted in the stated outcomes? Have the undeclared wars we’ve fought brought more security (physical, economic or spiritual) to America? In a word. . . No! We still have mass shootings every few months. More people fall into homelessness and poverty daily in America. We can’t even provide clean drinking water to large numbers of our society. In one regard, these wars more closely resemble theft than they resemble a means to a more secure America: Someone or some minority of someone is getting rich from the tax dollars we pay to create weapons of mass destruction that are used to bomb foreign lands or sold to countries like Saudi Arabia. I personally have not been enriched by those fat defense contractor dollars . . . Have you? I have however paid taxes into the 700 billion-dollar defense budget. As for our physical security, while I believe there is no way to definitively answer this question, I submit that any proponents of war would be hard pressed to provide even a weak “Yes” given that our wars have done little to nothing to secure those nations we have attacked. Whether started based on the accusation of weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian reasons, threats from other nations, has America’s adventurism helped the people of other nations? Forget nations (as in plural). Other than Israel, have we helped the people of a single nation? All I see are the mounting numbers of refugees scattered around the world due to American intervention in Iraq, Lybia, Syria and Yemen.
Adding to the argument against the effectiveness of America’s intervention around the globe is the fact that we have done little to nothing to strengthen those countries that are geographically closest to our shores and borders. Have we made countries south of the United States stronger? Have we made them impervious to future problems? Have we fortified them against the threat of socialist ideas like our own military, or our own system of primary and secondary education, or our own bank bailouts and corporate tax subsidies, national system of highways and state roads? Have we helped guide countries like Venezuela toward a system of Capitalism that benefits the people of that nation? Have we helped Mexico adopt an economic system that eliminated the desire or need for a thriving drug trade? The short answer is “No” because we all know that without genocide you cannot stop a philosophy, edict, religion or idea.
Okay, maybe I was being slightly facetious in the previous paragraph, but ask yourself. . . Has American intervention helped neighboring nations gain, maintain or regain independence or sovereignty or security? Have we made our neighbors inherently stronger or independent of whatever handouts we offer them these days? As to the question of whether America helps or hurts other nations in which we intervene, perhaps there are more nuanced answers than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but given America’s history, I personally have concluded that, rarely have we strengthened other countries when we decided to “help” them. When trying to list the true beneficiaries of the wars in which America has taken part, it is even difficult to conclude that this list would even include most Americans. Truth be told, if certain sources are to be believed, America has intervened in other countries as a means to fatten the wallets of private investors, while indebting the people of those nations we attack and our own citizens to the very same investors.
Now, given the economic and cultural turmoil America has caused over the years, shouldn’t we fear the possibility of other governments stepping up, whether openly or surreptitiously to gain access to our southern border? Our elections? Our government? Are these ideas farfetched? How thin is our army stretched around the world currently? How thinly stretched was the Roman Empire when it collapsed? Did the Roman Empire only face external threats from known enemies? No. The Roman Empire’s demise resulted as much from internal struggles as it did from external ones.
For this reason, I ask all Americans the following: Given the current climate in which we find America (with regard to our international relationships), do you feel honestly and properly represented by your government? Given the evidence and fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Bush knew this, does George W’s decision to attack Iraq represent your values, beliefs or desires? With fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 known to be from Saudi Arabia, does it make sense that we attacked Afghanistan but not Saudi Arabia? Was Obama’s choice to expand the two wars inherited from Bush into seven wars truly in the best interest of this country or the countries we attacked? And, if your answer to all of these questions was “yes” then I would follow up with the following: Do these extra wars seem to have solved all of the problems in the Middle East? Does the killing of millions of people in some foreign land sound like the country you envisioned for you or your children or your children’s children?
With failing infrastructure and schools should we be spending so much on one-time use bombs dropped on other countries to save those other countries? With good-paying jobs replaced by jobs that increasingly only pay poverty wages, should we be training foreign soldiers around the world to defeat combatants we are responsible for creating in the first place?
When Congress can add another 100 billion dollars (on top of the over 500 BILLION DOLLARS we already spend) to our military spending without Republican or Democratic Leadership asking where this extra money will come from, should we be questioning where the sixty to eighty billion it would cost to send people to public college would come from? Should we ask how we are going to pay for a better healthcare system that would cost the American people (at a minimum) two trillion dollars less than the current healthcare system? The answer to all of these is “YES”, but the conversation should be an honest discussion with fact and figures provided by EXPERTS on both sides of the discussion. We should question the cost of sending anyone to college for free just as we should question the cost of killing people in other countries. We should question everything our leaders tell us. Not only because some of them lie, but because some have opinions informed by others with agendas that are counter-intuitive to a sustainable and healthy America and world.
Does increasing inequality, homelessness, poverty, ignorance, war sound like the America that best represents your beliefs? Do you feel that you are living in a fair, just or even humane society?
If not, keep reading. If you have decided to read on, you will find that this book is divided into three main sections. The first section is “Assumptions” and, as its name suggests, it details assumptions that I have made pertaining to the various issues addressed within. These assumptions are all very subjective and understandably open to suspicion, scrutiny and debate. My intention is not to imply that I am the authority on any of the topics covered. This section is instead meant to serve as a means to breach a subject and provide a baseline from which to begin an exploration of each topic.
In the next section, “Requirements”, I list the things I deem necessary to affect change. Be they a mindset, system of beliefs or physical and tangible changes, I discuss what I feel necessary to avoid the pitfalls and traps into which people have fallen when seeking substantive change. In this section, I offer justification for skepticism of and a rationale for greater thresholds of entry for new members to any cause, group or organization seeking change. I do so because throughout history there have always been voices of dissent. It was after all dissenting voices that led to the creation of this nation. The problem today (as it was in the past) is that far too often, voices of true dissent (whether intentionally or not) have been silenced, obscured or distorted through means of deception or by being co-opted by the opposition. As examples, I present Occupy Wall Street which sought to address and expose excessive greed that is harmful to the economy. While the Police pepper sprayed the protestors, the news demonized the protesters as lazy hippies. Do peaceful protestors deserve to be pepper sprayed for fighting for a more equitable America? As a second example, I submit the protest against the North Dakota Access Pipeline (NoDaPL). Remember when it was discovered that the company laying the pipeline hired a man to pretend to be a protestor and to fire on the police.
For this reason, I provide “Requirements” that could serve as guidelines or ground rules upon which all arguments in the book will be based, providing these ground rules should in no way be perceived as set in stone. Consider instead that they should serve as a baseline that can be adapted to suit the changing times or upon which new ideas can be considered for thoughtfully as they are debated.
In the third and last section “Solutions”, I provide my ideas and proposals as well as the ideas and proposals of others to resolve the biggest issues we face as a nation today. These ideas and proposals shall also only serve as guidelines upon which to begin the conversation necessary to move us all toward a more fair, equitable and sustainable future. America is falling apart from within and without and it feels as if most of us are watching its demise complacently. Complacent may sound like a harsh criticism until you consider the fact that so many of our elected officials have been in office for decades, their own fortunes improving dramatically while ours flounder or dissipate.
At this point we should impose unwritten term limits and get rid of leaders who have overseen the collapse and demise of America. Viewed another way, we should no longer settle for leaders who control a system that has wrested control away from those it was tasked to represent. With wealth inequality and poverty wages collapsing America’s standard of living, wars collapsing America’s reputation around the world, pharmaceutical companies peddling opioids to the point at which they must also sell drugs to combat the constipation that accompanies opioid addiction, we need to stand in defiance of the Status Quo. With banks foreclosing on homes that fell into the cracks of an illicit, fraudulent and failing economic system, should we allow white collar criminals to walk free after stealing millions of dollars? I don’t think so, and my hope is to provide a means to end such injustices in the following pages.
According to our leaders, there is little to nothing that we can do to avoid the problems we face. Maybe this is true or maybe they’re lying as they line their pockets. Maybe we should get to the bottom of this mystery. Maybe we should move the country in a completely different direction instead of taking incremental steps that only seem to cause us to sink further into a quagmire of debt, death and greater tax cuts for the rich.
My hope for this book is to share my belief that it is time to wake up the masses and look to the many for ideas; to present suggestions and opinions as to which paths would serve our collective best interests; to, not only direct, but inform and empower. It is long past the time of complaining about the system. It’s time to insist that we, as a nation, take responsibility for how we are perceived around the world, to be accountable for our actions and the actions of our leaders and to force those leaders to act in our collective best interest.
Maybe a little more transparency is required. Maybe the honesty of Phil Donahue, the Dixie Chicks, Ed Schultz, Bernie Sanders, Jimmy Dore, Kyle Kalinski and more is needed. Maybe we should look to their past and current examples to realize a possible way out of the spiral we find ourselves going down these days. With that in mind. Let’s get to the solutions.