Chapter 5 - Programs and Policies:
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This chapter is intended to be a sort of travelogue for the programs and policies of chapter 4. It will attempt to fill in some of the why's and what-for's, the connections and general thinking, behind the specific programs and policies stated. In that sense, this chapter will follow as much as possible the chronology and order found in chapter 4.
For the last 50 years the United States has followed a Military/Interventionist foreign policy. Because the military has been an instrument in that foreign policy, veterans have gained an experiential knowledge unique to U.S. citizens. That knowledge takes two different forms and informs us in two different areas. One form is emotive and the message is about war itself. The other form is intellectual and the message is a factual/historical account of the way the U.S. has created its own wars.
We as a society have been indifferent, unable or loathe to hear those messages. Part of the problem in hearing the emotive message about modern offensive combat and what it does to people is that those veterans who have gained that knowledge are too young, usually 19 or 20, to be sophisticated enough to articulate that story. Another part of the problem is society's inability to hear what the veterans are saying. We simply have no cultural milieu, no categories in which the account of modern combat can fit. We, as a society, are not receptive to this life changing information, and even more, may not want to hear it.
What is the evidence that our society refuses to hear this message from combat veterans? A full 60,000 vets, as many as actually died fighting in Vietnam, committed suicide after their return, though they are not officially counted as casualties of that war. We did not, or could not, listen to them. Internalizing these rejections, and the emotive message itself, has resulted in alcohol and drug abuse, violence and homelessness for veterans. We incarcerated so many veterans that Vietnam veterans made up the largest minority population in U.S. prisons in the '70's and '80's. Factor in the half million Vietnam vets still suffering from untreated combat related PTSD, and our responding silence is deafening. This rejection is not unique to Vietnam veterans. It also applies to veterans from our other recent wars in Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Implementing foreign policy has given the combat veteran personal experience in how our country proceeds overseas. The intellectual message the veteran has for us is a fact-based historical account of our actions leading up to and during our last five major military conflicts. In brief, military interventionist foreign policy is often carried out covertly by the CIA/NSA and has poisoned the attitude of much of the world against the U.S. Employing dirty tricks, bribery, intimidation, assassination, and invasion by CIA armies or CIA-controlled armies, this foreign policy has created the conditions which have resulted in our military's last five major conflicts.
Political leaders are once again asking why the CIA didn't know some important body of intelligence like the fall of the Soviet Union, 9/11, or the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. To combat veterans who have been in or worked with CIA armies and assassins, the answer is simple. The CIA was originally, and still is today, a covert military organization. Any intelligence is simply a by-product of those endeavors.
The real questions to be asked of the CIA should be why it has its own armies, assassins, and weapons systems procurement programs? Why was the first soldier killed in Afghanistan in a CIA army? Why, when the Army's weapons are not lethal enough, are they able to bring in much more lethal versions that belong to the CIA? Ho Chi Minh's Vietnam, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Noriega's Panama and Afghanistan are all former CIA covert operations and former U.S. allies. Other countries which have suffered from our military/interventionist foreign policy include, but are not limited to: Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Cuba, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan.
I would like to expand on this notion with a little history of American combat since 1954.
In the early '40s, after the capitulation of the French to the Japanese in what was then called French Indochina, the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA's original name, chose Ho Chi Minh's Nationalist Vietminh Party to carry on the fight against the Japanese. The OSS funded, armed and supplied intelligence to the Vietnamese who undertook this war with the understanding that the U.S. would recognize their independence and sovereignty if a successful end was achieved. It was, and the OSS Station Chief, a U.S. Army Major, is shown with Ho during Vietnam's Independence ceremonies.
Because DeGaulle's condition for allowing the Marshall Plan to be undertaken in France after World War II was the U.S.'s help in retaking French Indochina, we threw over the Vietnamese and supplied, armed and transported French forces in their campaign to regain their old possessions. Because we were involved throughout this new war supplying arms and materiel, when the French were finally defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, we were easily able to pick up the struggle, which we did.
After Dien Bien Phu we can, with historical certainty, show the old paradigm of using the military for our country's defense is wholly superceded by the new paradigm of using the military as an instrument to bring about this country's governments' political and business ambitions throughout the world.
All American soldiers killed in combat since 1954 have died unnecessarily and unjustly. All those wounded, either physically or psychologically, have been cheated out of great portions of their lives because of the misguided notion of U.S. politicians that all decisions made by other cultures throughout the world, as to how they choose to set up their societies, are subject to U.S. approval. If our government doesn't approve, through the application of force by the CIA or our military, we will attempt to change it. Obviously for us, and for the rest of the world, this has been a catastrophic policy and needs to end.
Panama, along with most of Central America, has been controlled by the U.S. military and the CIA since we first dug the canal. Noriega's mistake was to think that he truly was the leader of Panama, and that he could cash in on some of the lucrative drug trade that was passing through Central America. A former Marine I know says that in his ten year career in the Marines he went to Panama and put Noriega in power, and then went down and took him out again.
To understand Afghanistan we must go back to the early and middle '70s when Henry Kissenger was trying to figure out a way to give Russia their own Vietnam. Contrary to most people's understanding of when we became involved in Afghanistan, (most believe we went in after the Russians invaded), Henry bet that if we armed the anti-modernity warlords in the mountains, they would attack the modern secularists in the cities and the Russians would invade to protect the cities. That is exactly what happened and history has marched on, with U.S. support of the mujahadine fighters and even the Taliban, all the way to 9-11. We reap what we sow.
Iraq became our ally after the Iranian hostage crisis, although the CIA first hired Saddam as an assassin in 1958 and orchestrated the coup which brought the Baath Party to power in 1972. We funded, armed, sold precursors to WMD, and supplied Iraq with intelligence all through the '80s in their war against the Iranians. It was only when Iraq had views of an expanded empire, and received mixed messages from the State Department about that endeavor, that they made the mistake of trying to annex Kuwait and we once again had to reign in a monster of our own making. Iraq II follows and is still ongoing.
For obvious reasons, both for political leaders, and for our citizens' sense of who they are in the world, this message from veterans, that we have been fighting our own creations, is very uncomfortable. But, as the Berrigans are fond of saying, we can't just protest against each individual war, we must change the underlying structural behavior of our nation which creates war in the first place.
One behavior we should discuss is the history of our country's use of 'just' and 'moral' language when talking about war.
War is death and destruction, mayhem and terror. There is nothing that happens within a war that can have anything to do with 'just' or 'moral' language.
There are many different kinds of war. There are wars of aggression, conquest and revenge. There are wars for material goods, markets, raw materials, energy sources, food, and water. There are genocidal wars, religious wars, racial wars, wars of honor, national interest and national security. There may even be wars that are necessary. A war to defend the land you live on from an invasion might be one, but there can never be a 'just war' or a theory using 'just' or 'moral' language to say it's okay to fight a war, or to talk about actions within a war. Fighting a defensive war has nothing to do with 'just' or 'moral', but fighting a defensive war might sometimes be a 'necessary' action to save your life and those you love. I contend that although war is sometimes 'necessary', it is always outside of what we normally consider human moral action.
There is nothing 'just', either, about war for those people, typically males between the ages of 17 and 35, who must actually fight it. Why they individually of their society must fight a war, or why their generation must fight a war, can never be justified in relation to those who don't have to fight. Even in today's so-called volunteer armies, the volunteers are mostly from the lower socio-economic classes who see the military as an occupation to better themselves and don't typically enlist to be killed. Those fighting will always die unjustly. A war that is necessary to defend one's land doesn't need any jingoism or convincing to get people to fight. Most people will fight to defend their kin and what is theirs. The adoption of Universal Service for all citizens of this country would lay the groundwork for that to happen if the need ever arises. I will have more to say on Universal Service later.
The logical argument against a 'just' or 'moral' aspect to war is this: if we allow rules or conventions for war, we ritualize that behavior. By ritualizing or justifying with rules when a war is okay, or when certain actions in a war are okay, we create an institution of war within society. Because institutions seem to have a life of their own, we would never be able to rid ourselves of war.
By considering war always outside morality, or amoral, I think we can allow war to be discussed in its reality, with positive steps towards its decline.
By having no conventions (war in reality), all people of a society will be responsible for its prosecution or consequences. This would result in a quantum leap in individual peoples concerns and stakes in a war involving their society. In essence, there would be no protections for any individuals. All would risk all.
If actions within all wars, including defensive wars, were considered immoral or amoral, we would create no positive role models, no heroes, to be aspired to. This would, I think, hasten the demise of war. Those people who might have to engage in a defensive war would not be considered immoral, but rather would be amoral/necessary actors.
I still have war but I don't have arguments about who's right. Everyone is always wrong. I believe that is a positive step towards war's demise.
Well, what can we do? We can start by abolishing the CIA and the NSA. We can bring our military home from the 130-plus countries they are currently in and cut their budget in half. We can let the State Department conduct foreign policy through diplomacy. We can fully fund the United Nations and all its programs.
To do those things we will have to take back our political process. Like it or not, the political realm is where we make our national decisions. Because money and corporate interests now control our politics, and because the Supreme Court has concluded both that money is free speech, and that corporations are people, those two rulings must be changed in order to have true campaign finance reform, and to be able to regulate politics. Those of you in non-profit organizations, you who, more than most others in our society, educate yourselves and pay attention to what is going on in this country, must find a way to use your collective voice in the political arena.
People must care about their country in order to put forth the effort to accomplish these things. All too often, Americans sense of freedom is a freedom from. Free from duties and responsibilities. Free from government. To re-instill a sense of ownership of our country, and all that that ownership would entail for an appropriate sense of rights and duties, we should have Universal Service for all citizens. Today we can spend our whole lives seeing and interacting with only those who think and look like ourselves. Universal Service, through working for your country, would instill a sense of ownership of the country in people and bring back all the positives that accrue from working with others in the melting pot.
Finally, end Military/Interventionist Foreign Policy. Quit using the military as an instrument of foreign policy and let future veterans return to the honorable role of defenders of our land and its people.
I am employed in the wastewater industry. I have worked for companies in the collection area (sewer pipes), land application of manure and bio-solids, and treatment. I work with municipal, industrial and agricultural entities. I have also been around pigs for 56 years. This gives me a unique perspective on the transition from farming to what now passes for farming, namely petro-chemical/industrial agriculture, especially as it pertains to CAFO's or in this case specifically hog confinements.
We live in a state where even though we know it is immoral to poison your neighbor, it is not illegal.
Because corporations and land grant universities, such as Iowa State, wholeheartedly embraced the transference of industrial technologies to certain sectors of agriculture, family farmers are once again caught in a dilemma not of their own design. We have unwittingly loosed an environmental disaster upon ourselves. We have inadvertently adopted parts of the sewer industry's technology for our hog confinement systems without the federally required safeguards or the end sewage treatment process. We have taken a system used to transport raw sewage and inappropriately adopted it to raise meat for human consumption.
Iowa used to be a land that naturally filtered water, making it pristine,
healthy and safe for people to use and drink. Because of the introduction of
petro-chemical/industrial agriculture, including using hog confinement systems,
Iowa alone now contributes a full 23% of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico
through agricultural and industrial runoff from our rivers and streams.
There are hundreds of studies that have been done on the effects of hog confinements on people and animals over the last 45 years. Ironically, because some studies to set human limits for gases were done on pigs, we know that animals are susceptible to the same diseases from confinements as people. There may be an argument about the science of those studies, but there can be no argument about the government's own studies culling hospital records, pre- and post-confinement introduction into a community, which show clearly a tripling of those illnesses generally associated with exposure to hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia. These are a direct result of the constant venting of those poison gasses into the neighborhood and the contamination of the sources of water. Add to that, records which show human mortality from hydrogen-sulfide four times higher in Iowa in agriculture than in the wastewater industry, and a need for public health protection from confinements becomes obvious.
In logic, there is an argument: if a=b and b=c, then a=c. If hog confinements and sewer pipes both are closed structures, if they both have untreated fecal waste in them generating the poison gases hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia (and the 140 other toxic chemicals that are created in the waste because it is stored and not composted), if the diseases and deaths from those gasses are the same, if you need constant ventilation to survive in either of them, then confinements and sewer pipes are the same. People are essentially eating pork raised in a sewer, and neighbors of confinements are living next to an unregulated poison producing technology.
In contrast to this technology, a byproduct of raising hogs in a traditional setting, and in modern deep-bed hoophouse set-ups, is a safe compostable and composted manure which when applied to fields greatly enhances soil nutrients and helps build and maintain healthy humus.
In every sector in America where these confinement conditions exist, except in agriculture, the controlling laws are the federal 'Confined Spaces Regulations'. Since these federal laws already exist, the Iowa DNR and our local Board of Supervisors, through the Home Health and Safety Statutes, need only adopt them to protect people in the agricultural/rural sector in Iowa.
Even though the above paragraphs deal specifically with hog confinements, the same arguments can be made in the area of chicken and now dairy confinements, as well as the large feedlots that exist today. To implement a change to pasture raised animals as I have indicated in chapter 4 would be fairly easy. It would entail understanding and setting up bio-regional food systems so that the transportation would not be too great. It would entail import tariffs to protect our farmers. And, we would need to revisit our government agriculture programs with an emphasis on raising our food and fiber crops in a sustainable and environmentally enhancing way.
Part of those ag programs should be in the form of simply creating new soil. Technically, according to environmental engineers I work with, we are now farming subsoil. What this means is that the biological systems (bugs in the soil) no longer exist that have been directly responsible for converting waste back into useable food for plant uptake. This results in animal waste passing through soil and ending up as pollution in our water rather than staying in the soil as a food source for plants. Animals on pasture or in deep bed systems, cover crops, fiber crops that are cover crops and need no fertilizers, and crop systems such as Wes Jackson's perennial polyculture are ways to help build soils and provide food and fiber at the same time. Laura Jackson maintains that by simply returning to the kind of farming that was done prior to 1954, we would cut pollution from agriculture in half. Those farms had more crop varieties, rotational systems, and on-farm animals to produce a steady supply of composted manure for fields under cultivation.
What crops we raise not only have consequences for our environment but also can have a large impact on whether or not a region has a manufacturing base. Because 26,000 different products can be made from hemp and because its bulk would necessitate its use locally, whichever section of the country allows it to be an agricultural product first will also have a leg up setting up that manufacturing base.
The discussion about agriculture is ongoing. My links page will connect you to many people and organizations which go into much greater detail about where we should go and how to get there.
What happens if we rebuild our railroads on a local/regional basis using modern technologies? We would facilitate local/regional markets which would include growing food and fiber and the manufacture and processing of those products locally. We would be putting people to work on large infrastructure projects. We would be creating a local/regional manufacturing and processing base. We would be able to tear out dams and locks on rivers which now service barge traffic; that would allow our rivers to return to a more natural state doing all that we know rivers did before we started trying to control them. Our highways would be less congested with semi's and be safer and more leisurely for personal travel. We would be creating a national rail system which could be used by those entities that have started using rail for local travel to hook up to a national system. We would be using large public works projects to stimulate the economy by putting people to work. We would be repopulating the rural areas because of the local/regional nature of the food and fiber processing and manufacturing base. We would be creating food and goods independence for our country by providing for our own needs rather than depending on imports. We would be helping to recreate the middle class which has suffered from so many food, fiber and manufacturing needs being met by offshore entities. This seems a much richer mix of things that happen when compared with the notion of just lowering taxes to try to stimulate the economy.
As was briefly touched on in chapter 2, it seems the transition to a hydrogen-based economy is not only necessary in that we will run out of oil someday, but also something we must do if we are not to do irrevocable harm to the environment and put our very ability to survive as a species in jeopardy. This oil based energy system, as I have mentioned, is not something that we have actually chosen but something more along the lines of a natural transition. It now, though, is getting to be something that must be a political choice because of all the foot dragging being done by the entrenched energy corporations and the present government. The energy companies have seemingly taken over our political system and are writing laws to their advantage over other forms of energy. Energy companies, through advertising, are making it appear that the transition to hydrogen is a far off wish. In reality, the transition is upon us. If we would nationalize our transmission lines so that all who wanted to be involved in creating energy could be (and would be fairly), and if we could get our best minds working on these technologies, we could be exporting to the world the ability to run their societies on renewable energies. Right now we are the number one exporting nation in the world of death and destruction technologies in the form of military hardware. Think of the different standing we would have in the world today if our exports were the knowledge and technology to have a clean sustainable agriculture and an energy system based on clean burning hydrogen. Think also of all the bloodshed which would be averted if every country could get their energy from the sun and wind. It would be a paradigm shift of monumental proportions.
My first Legislative program states: "I would introduce legislation to pull out of all trade agreements, because globalization is simply another term for colonization, and because the best help we can give to developing countries is to allow them to develop their own food production and manufacturing systems without competition from abroad."
Our agricultural assault on developing countries is in its second phase. The first assault was in the form of petro-chemical, capital-intensive farming. Labor was replaced by inputs. Inputs were controlled by corporations and capital was necessary to farm in this model. As was the fact here in this country, this contributed to a large movement of farmers to urban centers in third world countries. Many people who formally fed themselves as farmers were now a burden on the state. Urban populations that were not a result of natural progression or state planning became a problem. Because of adopting the petro-chemical model, agriculture became a polluting sector of the economy rather that one that was formally within a natural, biological, reproducing and sustaining system.
The second assault on third world agriculture, and those farmers who have so far been able to stay on the land, is now proceeding through the use of subsidize crops. The result is much the same as in the first wave with more people being pushed off the land because the price of subsidized grains is cheaper than what the indigenous farmers can sell their surplus for. The resultant urban problems due to more migration are beginning to be reported and appreciated. The ability of countries to supply their own food is being lost. Third world governments, as can be seen in some African countries rejection of GMO grains, and the shift to left leaning governments in recent South American elections, are now beginning to understand, and react to, what is happening to them through this modern day colonialism.
Our agriculture has polluted other countries, has resulted in mass migrations to urban centers, and now threatens those countries ability to maintain an indigenous source of food. This doesn't fit well with the self-serving mantra of "we feed the world" so much in vogue in the agricultural states in the US, and so much of a part of agri-business's assault on our own economy and agricultural practices.
What is taking place in Central and South American, and here at home, in the name of the 'Drug War' is nothing short of a national travesty. Since losing Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, very little information is making its way to the public about what is going on in this war. We are spraying chemicals over large areas resulting in the wholesale destruction of vegetation and biological systems necessary for the ability of people to raise food. We are subjecting local populations to chemical poisoning, condemning them to shortened lives full of health problems that no one knows what to do about. We are pushing multi-national corporations agenda's while hiding all behind the disguise of a war on drugs. We continue to worsen the political turmoil by supplying military hardware to those entities who go along with our agenda whether they are currently in power or not.
If we were truly worried about drugs, we would simply do what we did with alcohol in the 1930's, we would legalize them. This would result in taking the crime and money out of the drug trade, allowing medical intervention where needed, getting good social programs working on substance abuse where it is necessary, providing cash crops for cash-strapped farmers, and emptying our prisons of almost half their population who are non-violent drug offenders. The medical community would benefit through being able to treat people with drugs that are now outlawed, even in cases where medical studies have shown them to be the most effective and harmless treatment.
Before I end this chapter I would like to say a word on Social Security and
One-Payer Health system. We know that these are budget busting items in the
way that most people look at them. We also know that to change them so that
they work is akin to socialism (seemingly a dirty word) for most Americans.
They do not need to be budget busters and socialism is an excepted fact in Americans
lives today, they just might not be aware of, or want to admit to, it.
Social Security was in its inception an insurance program. It insured those who worked their whole lives against the possibility of being destitute in old age. It has somehow become an entitlement program over the years. It should be returned to an insurance program, fully funded. Since so much of people's income is from capital now, and those people if destitute in old age want the safety net too, Social Security should be moved from taxes on wages to the general account. All income should be taxed for Social Security. To return to the insurance against bad luck, we should means test to see whether a person really needs Social Security payments to stay above the poverty line.
A One-Payer Health system would save 30% just in administrative costs. And,
300 million people is a pretty big insurance pool to spread around the risk.
By paying upfront for health care by getting people to understand how to live
healthy lives, we would save enormous sums on the back end by not having sick
people. We could still have boutique medicine for those things that are considered
electives and would be outside the normal range of basic health care.
If we are a society, we should want the benefits that accrue to a society from having a healthy and informed citizenry. With all the pollutants that go along with this petro-chemical industrialized economy (which we subsidize), it should be considered a right to know what may affect you and what can be done, or you can do, to keep yourself healthy.
This chapter has dealt with some of the topics raised in chapter four but
not all. If I haven't commented on a subject you wanted me to, or thought I
might, please contact me or invite me to come and talk about that subject with
you or your organization.