Friday, August 26, 2005
The NeoCons: Weapons of Mass Destruction - Another in the series
There has been a lot of talk over the last four years about Weapons of Mass Destruction. George W. Bush has ascertained that under his desk is a WMD clear zone.
While it is nice that George W. was able to handle that hazardous assignment on his own, evidently without the immediate and hands on guidance of Karl Rove, the issue of WMD still haunts America. And as with all such issues we need to examine the facts, as opposed to the burblings of rhetoric that we are normally fed by this administration.
Weapons of Mass Destruction exist; they are poised and pointed at us in America, endangering our families, homes, and lives. Those weapons are wielded by fanatics who represent the gravest danger that America has ever faced.
The confusion has been in who those fanatics really are. You can not disarm them if you are looking at the wrong people.
By this time it is clear even to the most credulous that Saddam Hussein, a very bad person who did horrific things, not only did not have the means to deliver WMD to America he had no wish to do so. Remember, he politely asked permission from George W.'s father before invading Kuwait. Saddam had enjoyed a cooperative relationship with various segments of America's government over the last twenty years and was not just about to mess up a good thing that delivered gold toilet bowls and other benefits to him and his cadre of followers. Saddam is no religious fanatic – though fanaticism is part of the story here.
This is a story with a long history and to really understand it we need to take a walk back in time. The story does not start in the Middle East anyway. It starts in Pennsylvania with money owed to a professor eking out his inadequate salary by doing a little outside consulting in 1854. The project was determining if Rock Oil could be used to illuminate homes and businesses; the growing population having created a demand that was raising the cost of whale oil.
Eventually Professor Benjamin Silliman, Jr. was paid his $526.08 for the report he had contracted to write for America's first oilmen. When the money was in hand he delivered the report. He knew otherwise he would not be paid; no matter how valuable the information those he had dealt with had not instilled in him a sense of trust. He was all too right; honor and the petroleum industry have proven to be like water - and oil.
The report was to create what we today know as the petroleum industry.
What had been viewed as a nuisance, tainting water and soil where it seeped to the surface, became black gold.
Over the next fifty years the quest for oil would send men to every corner of the world and spawn business practices that relied on deceit, manipulation and outright violence. The principles of those involved owed more to war than to commerce.
Many of us know parts of this story, and that the first anti-monopoly law in the United States was created as a direct response to the practices of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. You may think that is old history, but as with many events in history, the waves of causality continue today.
The impact of fouled ethics on business practices in America owes much to the example set by the petroleum industry.
Oil was attractive because of the money it brought and because of the money it would bring. The practices of the Oil barons became accepted as business as usual, perpetuated by business and government in other arenas.
Coming to full maturity in the age of Progressivism government and the new kinds of business created by the advances in technology integrated the structural assumptions of collectivism, seeing every problem as one best solved by centralized information and supply paid for by individual users in small incremental amounts over time. Government started to refer to these as natural monopolies, regulating possible competition out of existence to the benefit of a few.
Think about filing up your gas tank; think about paying your electric bill; think about paying your phone bill. Think about the services you receive from government, presumably paid for through the taxes you really would rather not pay at all.
An income stream has been created; one that shoved a tube in your arm and just kept sucking.
Odd, when you consider for how long we have had the technological means to do it so that you kept that money in your own pocket. Or not odd. When a train of events are studied and tell a consistent and logical story that explains all of the facts no matter how unlikely it seems at the outset that is the truth. Occam's Razor cuts through the bullshit every time.
The light you read by, the fuel in your car, the water in your toilet, and other specific needs you have come to think of as necessities available only through these means, all of these put you in a food chain for wealth accumulation and you are the source of the wealth, not the beneficiary.
I probably sound like a radical liberal. Far from the case. I am a market individualist who studied what happened and gulped. I am a registered REpublican, have been active in the Republican Party for many years and was previously a Libertarian. Libertarianism, the Movement of which I am still a part, contributed to the problem.
I have been telling others in the Movement for a good long while now that it is time to confront what has happened and start the process of cleaning up the mess. But most of them are too invested, meaning that they either make their living from one of the institutions who benefit from the status quo or that they cannot emotionally afford to believe it. You know, the deer in the headlights phenomenon.
I am not so invested. My only meaningful investment is genetic; I have four living children I want to inherit a world where freedom is still possible.
At the turn of the last century a battle went on between the collective approach to supplying our needs for the power, water, food, and all of those other necessities and self reliance. That battle took place in a world that accepted Progressivism, a utilitarian philosophy that accepted and asserted the need for centralized government control as necessary to all of the decisions each of us make.
The Democratic Party is still playing the music for that song though most of the leadership knows the score. That is why it, too, is morally bankrupt.
The other view, the one that was used by America's Founders that assumed that individuals and communities could do nearly everything on their own, lost its holding action. By then Classical Liberalism, the term used to identify that set of values, was morally bankrupt having spent itself into that condition over the previous century. It had by inaction and inconsistency destroyed the vision that people could do it for themselves.
From a revolution that affirmed the inherent rights of each individual it compromised itself into ignoring the rights of blacks and women. In doing so it made itself irrelevant. Eventually, no matter how lovely the rhetoric, people understand the underlying reality and look around them for tools that will work.
When the Classical Liberals of the 1800s said, “All Americans are equal,” and yet refused to demand that women and blacks have those rights secured through the Constitution they said to all who lived and saw that their ideas did not work.
Women lost confidence in the ideas that had sold America on the desirability of Revolution.
As America approached the end of the 1800s those who saw the problems created by ignoring universal human rights looked for new tools and adopted Progressivism.
Individualism had failed. Now collectivism would have a turn at bat.
This search for different tools took place in a world that was on the brink of enormous changes. The choice of structure for government would dictate the form business would take.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s electric power was being generated. A debate went on between those interests who wanted AC, alternating current, and DC, direct current. Direct current cannot be transported over long distances. AC can. AC won. The capital investment in power lines and generation equipment was far larger. So was the potential for profit over the long term.
It makes perfect sense from the point of view of those investing. Make the entry cost low for a return over a long period of time. When you see that alternate means for creating energy are becoming available act to ensure they do not become viable.
Solar energy systems for heating water and power generation have existed since the same time. Their development has not remained static; but the advances in technology, patents and applications, have in large part been bought up and suppressed by, surprise, petroleum companies. What they do is true, no matter how unlikely it seems.
Environics and other studies of how people can 'get off the grid' of power and other collective costs have been in existence for generations. The environmental movement and the women's movement were both co-opted because their essential individualist message was dangerous to the Petro Elite.
The Environmental Movement went first. The original movement had looked to a future of 'off the grid' alternatives that left individuals paying less, using less, and living more organically. The take over came in 1970 on the occasion of the first Earth Day. The enormous energy poised to flow into better solutions was redirected from the Earth Day set on the Spring Equinox and celebrated at the United Nations to one that was highly commercialized. The commercialized version was funded by large corporations.
Women lost their battle when the ERA failed to be ratified. It was actively resisted by political operatives like Phyllis Schlfley, funded again by corporate interests.
For the major corporations who did the funding this was just a necessary move to ensure that the incomes stream previously mentioned would not fail.
When you have enormous economic interests at risk you take all steps necessary to ensure those interests are protected because if you have nothing to sell you have no income stream. As a correllary, controlling the lives of people who then, in the view of the 'suppliers', were viewed as the headwaters of the stream that fed their reservoir became of immediate importance.
The same mind set can be seen reflected in government. Bigger and more intrusive, adding laws and more laws that increased their control over the lives of individuals. To name just one, the effect of the War on Drugs has been to destroy uncounted lives, turn America's inner cities into toxic wastes where it is not safe to live, and criminalize hundreds of thousands of Americans. Who won? Government. The infrastructure thus built and justified is an enormous cost that also generates government jobs and revenue. Asset forfeiture for those accused of having drugs transfers wealth in the tens of millions every year. Who profits? Those within government.
Collectivism fails because it does not allow the power to stay with the people; all people are individuals first.
George W. Bush was born into a family business. All of his life he has used oil and government to achieve his ends. When he says that his core constituency is the Petro Elite you should believe him, it might be the only time he is telling the truth.
You cannot invade another country without some kind of justification. If it is not going to happen you see that it does anyway.
The Petro Elite, sitting on patents that could have shifted us over to alternative energy knew their supply of crude was running short a long time ago. They cast their eyes on what was available.
The largest reservoir of oil still remaining in the world sat under Iraq. America is paying for a war intended to keep that oil out of the hands of the French, who had just signed a contract with Saddam to pump, and put it instead into the hands of the Petro Elite , George W.'s core constituency. We can be sure they are not happy with the fact this is not working as smoothly as they hoped. But that has not stopped them from planning more wars against the other top oil reservoirs, er, countries.
Another George, our first president, left office warning us to avoid entangling alliances. He meant with other governments, never imagining that corporations would grow to be larger than most foreign powers.
The next part of the story is happening to you right now.
After having gotten control of the supply of various necessities in their hands, government and the Petro Elite noticed something annoying. It cost a lot of money to fulfill those commitments. That cut down on the profit. What if, they imagined, we could slide out from under the costs and still get the income? That is the NeoCon wet dream, or nightmare, we are living today. That is where Libertarianism enters the equation.
Nearly every American is now familiar with the terms, privatization, outsourcing, deregulation and the spin-offs in policy tools that shift the accountability for the supply and quality of services paid for, especially those paid for under the forced mandate of government. Remember the deregulation of the power companies in California? Billions of dollars were whisked out from under the noses of people. The money did not evaporate, it found its way into the pockets of those who had orchestrated the move. No one has made restitution and probably never will.
The aforementioned tools began their lives within think tanks generated by the Libertarian Party as ways to transfer control back to individuals. None of us in the Movement imagined that accountability would be uncoupled or that individuals would be left paying twice. That is, however, what happened.
And the game continues. The Movement for individual rights and responsibility eventually embraced utility theory which justifies limiting liability.
Today, another cadre of Petro Elite has persuaded Congress to limit their potential liability if and when Liquid Natural Gas causes any one of the many toxic meltdowns its present form of transport makes likely. Ask yourself, if those companies did not think it possible or even likely would they bother to buy enough Congressmen to make sure they had bought this curious form of insurance? Even today congressmen do not come cheap.
Imagine, being able to incinerate New Orleans or Housston or Boston or Santa Barbara and not having to pay a penny in reparations if the LNG you are moving creates a series of explosions taking out the whole city. Now that is some deal. Instead, the event would be treated as a 'natural disaster' and surviving residents would be accepting starvation gruel from FEMA and Homeland Security would make sure they liked it.
We are on the grid, all of us, and getting off will not be easy.
So what does this have to do with the Weapons of Mass Destruction I mentioned at the beginning?
A WMD is one that destroys all in its path leaving in its wake death and famine that could go on for generations. There is only force on earth that truly meets that definition. It is not nuclear weapons, those are being used now in the form of depleted uranium in Iraq and causing hideous suffering but they are small potatoes because they are just one weapon. The WMD are those who buy the depleted uranium from the owners of nuclear power plants so that the owners need not worry about disposing of it safely; instead they sell it to the US government to use in weapons. Who but a NeoCon could come up with such efficient death? Any weapon, including nuclear weapons is less destructive that the NeoCons.
The NeoCons are weapons. They are making war on America. They are destroying our institutions, our ability to trust our elections, our courts, our elected officials and our rights as individuals to assert any reasonable control over our own lives. The Earth, the only place we have to live, is being subjected to stresses that are changing the environment we will leave our children.
In Crawford Texas George W. Bush built a 'ranch' house that is off the grid using just those technologies so carefully kept from general usage by those same Petro Elite companies from his core constituency. The Ranch depends on no outside source for water, power, gas, or communications. George knows what is coming. He is, after all, the ultimate insider.
The question is, will Americans see soon enough and do what is necessary to change course. Because it is still possible. The solutions are there.
The real fanatics are the NeoCons; they are fanatics for power, which isttheir only real religion. Organized religion in the form of the Religious Right they massage for votes and the fanatic Muslims are used to build the straw man needed to keep us in line. Both are just tools.
We need to distrust everyone who chooses to be in politics. If the perks attracted them then they cannot be trusted. Look to the local and adopt the means to get off all of the grids. It can be done. We need to relearn the community values of helping your neighbor and accepting help when needed. Think about what your children are learning and make sure they grow up knowing about their rights as enumerated in our founding documents. Make sure that government secures those rights but that they are inherent and predate all government.
At the same time return to paper ballots counted and accounted for only in the neighborhood by those you know and trust. Take responsibility for making it happen; the process of rebuilding the community is part of the cure.
It can be done. And, as with all revolutions, it can be lost. The future is up to us, win or lose, and those who curse or bless us will be our own children and grandchildren.