Money For Empire, Suffering For The People
Congress continues to grind through disastrous gridlock in debate over necessary investments, but where no tension exists tells us exactly who and what this government serves
I’m sure you’re exhausted. I know I am. The back-and-forth between President Joe Biden and the best-senators-money-can-buy Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, all while Republicans watch with glee from the wings, has taken a mental and emotional toll. We’ve watched this movie before. We’ve seen where it goes. As news rolled out Tuesday that members of the party were beginning to advocate for means-testing and paring down of investments, it became apparent where all of this is heading.
When Biden began pushing his “Build Back Better” agenda, it was met almost immediately with calls from the Right of “tyranny” and “overreach,” the traditional means by which the GOP opposes literally anything its rivals propose with weaponized conspiracy theories. But the truth, of course, is that these proposals are as moderate and common-sense as they come. For the past forty years neoliberalism has required crushing austerity within the United States, ensuring that investment into infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other human projects has fallen by the wayside, creating an alarming gap between America, the supposed “leader” of the Free World, and all of the other industrialized nations. What is being fought over right now wouldn’t even bring us up to speed or erase the majority of the damage done as hypercapitalism has bled us dry in order to redistribute our money into the pockets of the wealthiest individuals and corporations.
The “debate” is preposterous. Manchin and Sinema are bought and sold several times over, the GOP has no desire to cooperate, and any accurate and honest coverage of this entire sordid instance has to focus on the fact that America, as a nation, as an empire, has put its pursuit of power and hegemony in the world over the fate of its people. So much so that even a mild and modest investment in their fates is now considered as both unnecessary and an impediment to further imperialism.
On September 21st Congress did something astounding: it passed a bill with unanimous support.
The HAVANA Act (Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks) first passed unanimously through the Senate, which is a veritable miracle these days, and then, after a brief pause, made its way through a completely complicit House. The bill that did the unthinkable by uniting Democrats and Republicans of all stripes addresses the mysterious “Havana Syndrome” that Americans stationed abroad have complained about for years now, a completely inexplicable, unexplainable “illness” that has left our diplomats, spies, and intelligence agents complaining about discomfort, headaches, and general anxiety.
It has been incredible watching news outlets attempt to cover this story as tons of words have been wasted trying to explain what appears to be a completely made-up problem that has been, through intelligence and military means, explained as possibly the result of an “energy weapon” that not a single scientist or expert has been able to identity. Some claim its a laser. Others microwave energies. Let me repeat: experts in the United States of America, the foremost superpower in the world, the driver of weapon technologies and offensive capabilities, can’t even begin to pinpoint exactly how any of this might happen.
And yet. Congress passed legislation unanimously to fund extra care for the “victims,” which apparently rest around 100 to 200 people, depending upon the story. This entire fanciful episode has spurred Congress, the most dysfunctional body in the world, to unite and push for these funds, no questions asked.
So this question must be asked: what is it about the fates and well-being of these few individuals that so outweighs your fate? My fate? The fate of this society? Why is it that even a meager investment domestically is the basis for an all-out legislative war while a blank check can be sent off to fight a problem that might not, probably doesn’t, even exist?
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Commissioned in July of 2017, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford is arguably the world’s most advanced aircraft carriers. With 25 decks, the capability of carrying over seventy planes, and powered by a pair of twin nuclear reactors, the ship stands as a testament to America’s engineering and its unparalleled ability to wage war.
The ship cost $13 billion dollars and is a floating piece of junk.
Since the carrier was introduced, one thing has gone wrong after another. Elevators and weapons systems have failed. The toilets stopped working. And it’s unclear whether it’ll be ready for deployment in the next few years. In its price and disaster, it is a unique symbol of the United States of America in the 21st century.
While America managed to survive the Cold War and create a global system of capitalism tuned to its advantage, the spoils of those achievements have been shared between the wealthy individuals operating the system of neoliberalism and the weapons trade, which has been the main export and focus of the United States. In carrying out the so-called War On Terror, we sought to create new inroads into mineral-heavy areas around the world, all while killing untold amounts of civilians, destabilizing societies, and maintaining our cruel austerity at home, this pursuit as a means of helping our corporations and making our weapons manufacturers and contractors exceedingly and obscenely wealthy.
The military we now sport is several times larger and more expensive than even our nearest rivals combined. We have built this machine not in the pursuit of defense, but in shaping global economics to our favor and in order to continue redistributing wealth from the bottom up. And we have hid it behind an awful lie: let us build empire and you will reap the rewards.
Like other empires before us, this arrangement not only intensified, but grew in leaps and bounds. As more and more wealth was concentrated into certain hands, those people re-invested their money into our government, by either buying and selling individuals like Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema or by running for office themselves. This has intensified a feedback loop of the Military-Industrial Complex, creating a death spiral from which we can only hope we might escape before it’s too late.
And, like other empires, America has completely neglected the needs of its own people in order to seek out riches and power. Your fate and my fate are completely inconsequential. What is important is the State, and by the State I do not mean the United States of America, at least not specifically, I mean the combination of the wealthy, the powerful, the corporations, and the financial and political interests that have combined to form a veneer of a country, a facade of a state. A body of impossibly greedy and selfish individuals and businesses that cannot stop themselves and require more and more funds and profit forever and ever.
When the calculus is made regarding these bills, these investments, the question is never how to make our lives better. It is how the very least amount of money possible can be spent in order to quell frustrations and present the illusion of a government that works on our behalf. What we are watching isn’t a negotiation so much as a calculation.
How little can be spent on the people to keep them from recognizing where the rest is going?