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Connecting the Dots; The Pervasive Economic Infrastructure of War

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Message Michael Richards
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I applaud the efforts of individuals and organizations in our community that are taking a courageous stand against international war and the domestic destruction of civil liberties in our present political milieu. Marching, candlelight vigils, and public demonstrations to support our troops by removing them from harm's way can be a first step, but without also working on deep systemic change, such efforts will prove to be fruitless on their own. After each major war ends, most marchers go home and the economic infrastructure's march to the very next war continues unabated. This will only change by changing the pervasive economic infrastructure of war and militarism.

It is important for all of us to do two things;

1. to educate ourselves and each other about the economic realities that have fostered war during all of recorded human history. Every war is a resource war from a drug turf war in a ghetto to an oil grabbing global Armageddon.

2. to "opt out" of the pervasive economic structures of war and "Empire" . We can start in our own communities to create alternative sustainable life support systems that we will build in place of Empire and the military-industrial/petro-chemical complex.

We have the opportunity to be the first generation of civilized human beings. To claim that our present society that's based on violence and war is anything less than savage is a mass denial of reality.

To make systemic change is not easy. It took the human species ten thousand years to get to our present dead-end quagmire of endless war and Empire building It will take one generation to turn around and go in a new direction. The word revolution simply means "turn around". We must realize that the present structures of Empire that operate the "military-industrial complex" have been built up progressively by Western Civilization over the last ten thousand years. What we now call "national defense" is actually making our world much more dangerous and unstable. As a result, our homeland is insecure. Intelligent methods of non-violent conflict resolution are a necessity to build a sane, stable and sustainable society. War must become obsolete for the human race to avoid becoming obsolete on this planet.

Our long march to our present stage in Human History of climate chaos, global war, resource depletion and environmental degradation has literally been a ten thousand year journey. We are now at the crossroads; do you want your children and grandchildren to survive? If so, then you must commit to dramatic systemic change during our present generation. We have 20 years to activate a global paradigm shift to a sustainable society. With global climate crisis on the horizon there are no second chances this time. This is the moment of truth in the human drama.

At this stage, the USA sits at the Pinnacle of Empire. More than 60% of our public funds go to support the economic war machine. We must realize how pervasive the economic structures of the military industrial complex have become in every city and state. Here in my home town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa the single largest employer, Rockwell Collins is hard wired into the military industrial complex. A huge portion, if not the majority of Rockwell Collins contract work is for military purposes. The other Rockwell contracts are for the commercial airline industry, an industry with one of the single largest carbon footprints on earth.

You cannot say that you are against war and global climate chaos without connecting the dots to see how those dots trace a path right to our own front door in our own home towns. This is in no way to point the finger at a company such as Rockwell... they are only one single participant in the 10,000 year march of the history of Empire that every one in Western Civilization has been engaged in. In the USA where each one of us consumes 32 times the energy and resources as the average citizens in the world, we are all equally responsible for the dead end we now face with global warming and resource depletion.

I only cite the example of Rockwell Collins, because as the largest employer in my home city, it perfectly illustrates the pervasive economic infrastructure of war, militarism and empire building. During a paradigm shift, we must all realize; "God forgive us, for we know not what we do." In a time of paradigm shift, what seemed right before can be totally wrong now, as we must face the need for radical change. The stockholders, management and staff of companies such as Rockwell Collins want their children and grandchildren to survive just as much as the rest of us. In fact, companies that have the intellectual and human capital such as Rockwell Collins can retool to provide the knowledge and capacity to build the sustainable systems of a new "Post Empire" culture. We have one generation to create a post-Empire, new sustainable economy.

Even Iowa agriculture has become one more appendage of the Military/Industrial Complex. The agricultural research legacy of Iowan Henry Wallace of Pioneer is now owned by Du Pont Corporation of Delaware that has the history of Vietnam napalm and a century of war profiteering to its credit. The agricultural know how and legacy of the Holden family of Williamsburg, Iowa is now owned by Monsanto of St. Louis that gave the world environmental disasters such as Agent Orange, DDT, Bovine Growth Hormones, GMO's and PCB's.

Cargill started in Iowa, but now controls a massive global reach from Minnesota. ADM is a huge Illinois company. Quaker Oats is owned by Pepsi of New York. Iowans are tossed a few bones as crop sales, salaries and local operating expenses, while the big guys haul the big bucks out of Iowa.

Agriculture has become very consolidated. The majority of economic control of Iowa Ag is vested with a few multi-national Empire builders that are headquartered outside of Iowa. Profits are deposited in East Coast banks, not in locally owned Iowa institutions. This seriously drains Iowa capital. Out of state companies are subsidized with your tax dollars. You are paying twice; with skyrocketing prices for food and energy and with your hard earned tax dollars. Each bioregion must re-localize our economy.

We have one generation to create a post-Empire, sustainable agriculture before we destroy our own land and water base. Not one single "empire" has survived in human history. Many collapse as they destroy their own ecosystems. Iowans must evaluate the direction our agriculture is headed. Soil and water is damaged as we export the majority of agricultural value out of state. Economics is simply the exchange of energy. With a cost of 10 petro-chemical calories to net 1 calorie of food energy, Iowa agriculture is totally unsustainable.

Since our agriculture is controlled by out of state empire builders, as we evaluate the total structure of Iowa Agricultural Economics, as a collective citizenry, Iowans are now relegated to a powerless "tenant farmer" status in our own home state. A vital democracy only works when active citizens control access to their own food, energy and resources. Iowa needs intelligent economic development way beyond petroleum, pigs, prisons and poker! A reality based economic science must include the long term environmental and social costs of any economic activity. Local farmers can best protect our land as they now wake up and reclaim control of Iowa agriculture. The Leopold Center at ISU, Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa Network for Community Agriculture are bringing Iowa's ag economy back home. A shift to local food production will capture the $4 billion dollars that Iowans spend to purchase food from out of state each year. This economic shift should now be our #1 objective for state economic development. An economy based on local self-reliance can ride the waves of global change that are now hitting our economy hard. Act now while you still can. The issues of political self-determination, peace, social justice, global warming and the environment all connect within one whole system in a sustainable economy. Our present linear/industrial economic model is the causal root of deep-seated systemic economic and environmental problems. All ecological systems become healthier with increasing diversity. Iowa agriculture now depletes diversity. Solutions will be provided by working together as an intelligent community to build reality based ecological-economic structures. Ecology and economy share the same root word; Eco simply means "home". Ecology is the study of our home environment. Economics, is about managing the resources of our "home". Our shared home is planet Earth. There is only one living biosphere.

Author Kurt Vonnegut suggested that we all "improve out own small corner of the universe." In our small neighborhood; Oakhill/New Bohemia in Cedar Rapids we are taking steps to build an urban sustainable village. Obesity and diabetes from commodity based, processed food results in billions of dollars of disease care costs that hit low income people hardest. Instead of handing out USDA commodity foods to low income families, were distributing fresh produce and seeds and teaching families how to grow real food in the our neighborhood in the central core/lowest income area of Cedar Rapids. This type of effort can take place in any community.

I invite you to join in with this timely work. Building the paradigm of a sustainable global society begins in each of our own backyards.

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Michael Richards is a life long innovator, entrepreneur and author. His most recent book is; SUSTAINABLE OPERATING SYSTEMS/The Post Petrol Paradigm (available on line at; Mr. Richards has presented as an author, speaker and (more...)
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