If I were the chairman of a college political science department, there are two things I would immediately do: (1) drop the word u201Cscience,u201D as it does not apply to what is essentially a normative field of study; and (2) have the introductory course in this department be titled u201CFollow the Money.u201D u201CConstitutional government,u201D u201Cchecks and balances,u201D u201Cdemocratic systems,u201D u201Cpolitical theory,u201D and other traditional course offerings, have no bearing on inquiries into the nature of modern government.
My wife and I watched the film Why We Fight, a wonderful expos of the military-industrial-congressional complex. With Chalmers Johnson and Karen Kwiatkowski providing clear focus, the present war system is revealed for what it is: a racket for siphoning money from the pockets of gullible people willing to be convinced of the presence of ever-evolving bogeymen who pose a never-ending threat to their lives. These u201Cthreatsu201D can, of course, only be repulsed by a strong government that (a) has sufficient police powers to detect their presence both at home and abroad, and (b) can generate weapons systems to u201Cprotectu201D Americans — and their hot tubs — from attack by these sinister forces. Boobus Americanus — like its cousin Boobus Britannia and other close relatives — has become so conditioned to both the concocted threats of the ogre du jour and to an omnipotent and omnipresent government scarecrow, that it is willing to surrender, without question, its wealth and liberty for the sake of u201Cprotection.u201D
To demonstrate the effectiveness of this shakedown racket, look at the Bush administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2007: $2.8 trillion in government spending, with $439 billion to be tossed into the national defense trough. This budget is twenty-eight times greater than the $99.9 billion budget proposed by President Kennedy, who did not want to be the first president to have a $100 billion budget!
Unfortunately, the budget will whiz through the collective sinecure of Congress with no substantial objection. The defense swindle has — by intention — metastasized into every state, thus assuring the support of senators and congressmen who do not wish to incur the wrath of u201Cwhat have you done for me lately?u201D voters. There will, of course, be the token objections to fringe government programs (e.g., National Endowment for the Arts, Public Broadcasting, etc.) about which a few millions of dollars will be deleted in order to allow the congressional rubber-stamps to bleat to their constituents about u201Ctoughnessu201D on government spending.
The conservatives will love this budget, as it promises major increases in defense spending while, at the same time, proposing cuts in Medicare and other welfare, foreign aid, and various other non-defense programs. I can imagine many conservative legislators urging even greater amounts for military spending, as if to confirm their super-patriotism. Those who resist such legal levels of looting — which will cost each American over $9,000 a year, or $36,000 for a family of four — will doubtless be condemned by Fox News tub-thumpers for being u201Cterrorist sympathizers.u201D
The liberals will find no objections to such runaway spending, seeing it as the opportunity to raise the ante for programs they hope to shove down the throats of Americans upon their return to power.
For every Ron Paul struggling to revive even a modicum of integrity to a corrupt system, there will be one hundred congressional pimps working to insure their corporate clientele favored rooms in the beltway brothel. With numerous untold stories of military-industrial corruption inviting their inquiries, members of the established media can be counted upon to supply diversions. Like the purple smoke or multi-colored strings of silk used by magicians to distract their audiences, television newscasts will continue their in-depth reporting on missing teenagers and bridegrooms; tunnels used to smuggle marijuana into the United States from Mexico; unsolved murders; and chickens that can play the xylophone. For truths of a more significant nature, you must turn to either the Internet or documentary film-makers.
It has been suggested, by some, that political systems grew out of piracy, with brigands — tired of having to chase the lootees — establishing permanent ports through which tradesmen would have to pass and pay fees. It should be evident to any rational mind that, contrary to the view that governments were instituted to protect property, wealth preceded political agencies; otherwise there would have been nothing to steal or control.
The state exists for one purpose only: to forcibly extract from people money that could not have been obtained in the marketplace. Coercive power is desired for no greater end than to exercise decision-making authority over others concerning money, and the resources that can be exploited for monetary benefit. References to u201Cfreedom,u201D u201Cdemocracy,u201D u201Cconstitutional principles,u201D the u201Cproletariat,u201D the u201Cgeneral welfare,u201D u201Clove of country,u201D the u201Cfatherland,u201D u201Cterrorism,u201D or any of an endless supply of bromides, are made for precisely the same reasons that underlie television commercials: to get you to part with your money. Beer ads promise you the u201Cgood life;u201D automobile commercials suggest that members of the opposite sex will fall in love with you if you are driving the new Belchfire 99X; even Viagra is peddled on behalf of the happiness of women!
If marijuana did not grow in the wild, but could be effectively monopolized by the pharmaceutical companies, do you think it would be legally opposed as a u201Ccontrolled substance?u201D In much the same way that Donald Rumsfeld changed from being Saddam Hussein’s close buddy to his nemesis, can’t you imagine today’s self-righteous anti-drug warriors — at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry — shifting gears to plead for the rights of the desperately ill who need marijuana to extend their lives?
Steve Kubby — who suffers from adrenal cancer — now sits in a jail awaiting trial, deprived of the marijuana which, alone, can extend his life. What conservative voices — for whom u201Cright-to-lifeu201D is their middle name — have demanded that the state stop depriving him of a substance that nature, itself, has provided? What liberals — who champion u201Cchoiceu201D whenever it serves their programs — have arisen on behalf of this man whose only wrong was to have contracted cancer? But if the drug companies were able to control marijuana’s supply — and thus able to profit enormously from the sick and dying — don’t you think his case would be pleaded in both Congress and the media on behalf of u201Cdrug policy reform?u201D
I recall, not so many decades ago, the case that Republicans and other conservatives made to reform the inefficiencies of government by incorporating business principles into government agencies and programs. The assumption was that businessmen, accustomed to the rigors of marketplace competition, could weed wasteful practices from government. The notion was an absurd one, as any first-year student of economics could confirm: the state operates on the basis of commands, not transactions freely negotiated with market participants.
But the institutionalization of absurdity is what government is all about, and thus has been created the military-industrial-congressional-mercantilist complex of which President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address in 1961. Taxpayers now routinely fund the unwanted costs of doing business: constructing sports stadiums, providing research and development funding, and paying for the bankrupt retirement programs of many corporations. Private corporations now run government schools and other prisons, and even conduct wars.
Even many libertarians — who ought to have known better — have been suckered into the u201Cprivatizationu201D racket. Privately owned schools, roads, parks, fire departments, security systems, and other alternatives to government systems, are to be encouraged and praised. But in the name of u201Cprivatization,u201D corporations have been brought in to manage state programs. To flesh out what this u201Cpartnershipu201D between the business system and government entails, take a look at what the mainstream media has become: a platform from which government agencies propagandize the public in the name of u201Cnews.u201D Far too many print and broadcast outlets have become like RCA-Victor’s dog, who sits before a megaphone listening to u201Chis master’s voice.u201D
If you would like further understanding of how Americans have the best government that money can buy, I urge you to see the Why We Fight film. On the other hand, if you prefer a mindset in which u201Cnever is heard a discouraging word,u201D turn your television to either CNN or Fox News: they might provide you with an update on the missing teenager in Aruba!
Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law.