Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4 2014. Let me explain why we need a war—and why our next war needs to be with Sweden.

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarreled with him?

Blaise Pascal

Did I hear you right? Are you seriously arguing in favor of war?

It is quite clear that the U.S. needs to be at war with someone—virtually permanently.  If you don’t have a war, weapons don’t get used, there is no rationale for making more, and the economic stimulus that the Defense Budget provides, withers on the vine. 

In addition to that,  just so you know, nuclear weapons go weird. Entropy kicks in. They get old and moody and degrade. That is not a word that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It means they rot and become unpredictable. Where nukes are concerned, uncertainty is not a good thing.

Peace linked with degrading weaponry is no way to fire up an economy. Defense spending is the kind of stimulus you need—and for that you need war. We don’t need a world war—too risky, too destructive. China has too many people and has stolen too many of our military secrets. No, what we really need is a manageable, comfortable kind of war.

I though we didn’t believe in economic stimulus. Besides, we keep on saying government stimulation of the economy doesn’t work.

Of course, government economic stimuli work. Virtually all the economists interviewed about the stimulus that stopped the Great Recession agree that it worked well in that particular case—though probably should have been bigger.. But, we don’t want to admit that it worked because then the Democrats get the credit. Instead, we want all the money to be spent on defense.

But surely that is a stimulus too?

Yes it is—but we don’t call it that. We call it “having a strong defense” and Americans approve of that. In contrast we have been extremely successful at conditioning the public to hate stimuli—and government stimuli in particular.

Are they that gullible?

Yes. Besides they are conditioned to react a certain way from birth. We just have to press the right emotional buttons—and we’re very good at it. In fact, without propaganda, there wouldn’t be a Right Wing or a Republican Party. Most Americans don’t agree with us on the issues. However, we reframe the issues so that they vote against their own interests. We deserve to be rich. We are extremely smart.

Besides, Americans expect us to be at war. It has become integral to the American Way of Life. It makes us feel powerful and superior even while our personal situations are crumbling—though not yours and mine, of course. If ever you had lynched an underdog, you would understand. You just feel better by proving your superiority. And the dead don’t answer back.

The MICC—our Military Industrial Congressional Complex—is integral to growth, and nothing boosts the MICC more than war. It provides jobs, obscene profits, stimulates the financial sector because it encourages massive borrowing, and allows wage and price controls which mean workers can be kept in line.

Price controls?

They can be massaged if the right administration is in power. Corporate profits were excellent during WW II—though both corporate and personal taxes clawed back a significant proportion. But, times have changed since then. Corporate taxes are out of fashion now—and needless to say we rich don’t pay much tax. We buy politicians instead.

War also kills a useful number of the underclass, sort of thins them out.—never a bad thing—and as for the injured, it offers a prodigious boost to anyone remotely involved with healthcare.

Good grief! Soldiers are mostly extremely young. An injured soldier represents a profit opportunity for the next half century—longer given the right technology. Wounded warriors may be one of the best ways yet found to stimulate an economy. Hell, a quadriplegic could yield a million a year—and much more if blind or affected by gas. These guys are gold mines that don’t require digging—and keep on giving—and war just churns them out.

But the data—of which there is plenty—indicates quite clearly that investment in defense is vastly les productive than almost anything else. In essence, it is dead money. It builds structure and hardware to no purpose.

Quite true as a generalization. Entirely untrue in the particular. In the context of the public good, of course defense is a lousy investment. But it makes we members of the MICC a great deal of money. Think personal—and be much comforted. Of course war is bad for the general public—but it’s terrific for us. And, what else counts?

Why Sweden?

Well, it’s small for a start—so we can’t lose—only 9.7 million people. Secondly, everyone knows it’s socialist—so it will be easy to demonize. Americans don’t know what socialism is, but they think it is roughly the same as communism—so, by definition, a threat to democracy.

True, we don’t have democracy any more—but people think we have—and that is all that matters.

But the real point is that reconstructing Sweden after we have defeated it will be much easier. Americans are terrible at nation building—yet look how well we did with Germany and Japan. We succeeded there because the locals are highly educated and have terrific work cultures. In contrast, both Afghanistan and Iraq are basket cases. The lesson is clear. We need to leave dead beat areas like the Middle East alone—and only go to war with developed countries. Besides, they have better road systems so are easier to invade. The U.S. Army doesn’t do so well off-road any more. Like all Americans, they prefer the comfort of a road trip in a wheeled vehicle. Tracked vehicles are too much like hard work.

But what has Sweden ever done to us?

It’s a downright existential threat to the current American Business Model. They are doing better than us under just about every heading you care to name. They actually know how to make capitalism work in a way that benefits everybody. They actually practice “We The People.” It’s not just a slogan. They are showing us up. If word gets out that there is a dramatically better economic system out there, our current cozy form of crony capitalism won’t endure. However, word probably won’t get out because we control the media and Americans aren’t interested in foreign news anyway. We’ve conditioned them not to be. I mean why should any red-blooded American give a fig about the European Union.

But surely we’d be better off declaring war on Germany. It’s a direct competitor—and, historically it has been an enemy. Be easy to cast it as an enemy again?

Err—we might lose.






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