There’s some sweet music coming out of the fiasco on Wall Street and its pending bailout. It’s a tribute to the American presidential electoral system that neither candidate is willing to enter into a serious debate over our economic future.
As an article in The Washington Post points out:
Given the drama on Wall Street, economist of all economic stripes say the candidates’ reluctance to adjust to the new landscape, as well as their focus on such peripheral issues as lobbying ties to Fannie Mae, are turning the campaign into a sideshow. The sheer size of the bailout could give the next president political cover to address long-festering problems, such as the burgeoning costs of Medicare and Medicaid, yet neither of the men vying for the job has shown an interest in taking advantage of it, they say.
To which I say, “Thank God!” The last thing America needs, at this point in time, is a serious discussion about our economic future. It is sufficient to blame Medicare and Medicaid for our problems and leave it at that. Once again, the media reduces a complex and nuanced problem to a single sound bite a simpleton could understand.
By blaming our “burgeoning” health costs, we direct attention away from the real anchor that is dragging us down, the cost of maintaining our empire.
There is a reason no politician or economists dares even question our empire. Andrew J. Bacevich, in his book, The Limits of Power, describes what he calls our National Security Ideology, which consists of four “core convictions”:
· History has an identifiable and indisputable purpose in that “history is an epic struggle, binary in nature, between ‘oppression which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right.”
· The United States has always embodied and continues to embody freedom.
· Providence summons America to ensure freedom’s ultimate triumph.
· For the American way of life to endure, freedom must prevail everywhere.
“Freedom”, of course, doesn’t mean democracy, even though the word trips lightly from oligarchical lips. There is but one freedom our military behemoth defends, and that is the freedom to maximize profits.
This ideology has become so completely engrained into the American psyche that the public wouldn’t dream of questioning the necessity of a trillion-dollar-a-year defense establishment, no matter how impoverished we become.
Military power is a paradox. The more a country has, the more insecure it becomes, which feeds into a need for even more military power, which creates an even greater sense of insecurity, etc.
Given this chronic sense of insecurity, our leaders will watch the public’s health decay before giving up a single one of our useless weapon systems. And nary a murmur of protest will come from the public because of its conviction that a strong military is what has made us the richest country in the world.