Heading into President Obama's first State Of The Union address, his administration has launched a new effort to reduce the massive budget deficit that has America steadily and not so slowly spiraling into some sort of early 21st century trusteeship -- which would be administered, no doubt, by China.
What do you think would be a couple of wise, equitable and effective ways to turn the tide on our national balance sheet and forestall such a circumstance?
What if we pulled most of our troops and related resources out of Afghanistan and Iraq -- except for Special Operations types who could still do small-scale, targeted hunt-down missions against the truly bad guys, and Embassy protection forces that could shield our State Department people from any post-withdrawal chaos or attack. But pull out everything else out within six months. And cancel all the multi-million dollar contracts with the private "security" forces and contractors who've made such a killing in the region for years now.
Without quoting and crunching numbers with more zeroes than you could imagine, suffice it to say that such reasonable measures would not only take a huge bite out of our deficit, but we'd probably also be able to put an awful lot of veterans and unemployed Americans to work rebuilding roads and bridges, converting all our public schools and hospitals -- for starters -- to renewable energy sources...and so much more.
The masters and servants of the current military-industrial complex try to exploit fear and guilt in condemning any such accelerated and widespread withdrawal scenario -- claiming it would be tantamount to surrender, that it would throw the region into turmoil, risk American lives, result in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, destabilize the region and allow for the unfettered growth of Al Qaeda.
Except for the surrender part, which is despicable BS, the rest of that rationale has varying degrees of credibility. Hence, the six-month time-frame. If that is not enough time to get Middle Eastern nations and the UN to work together to help prevent a post-withdrawal disaster, then no amount of negotiation time will get it done, and no amount of occupation time will be able to impose a lasting peace.
So why not stick with a hard, fast and far-reaching withdrawal, freeing up billions of dollars for use in rebuilding our own country, and economy?
What about putting a price-tag on personal and corporate wealth accumulation? But do so, mind you, without interfering with anyone's shot at achieving the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" version of The American Dream; while still allowing people and companies who are already rich to keep getting richer and richer; but while also asking that in exchange for all the top-tier salaries, profits, dividends, and interest income they take out of our economy, there be a mandatory, no-loopholes-allowed "giveback" requirement -- in the form of high taxes that may sting a bit, but which will allow them to remain quite rich -- while helping reduce the deficit without taking a heavy toll on the poor and the middle class.
We're not talking about interfering with capitalism here, and we're not talking about penalizing people or small companies that work hard and finally start to make some big money. But that big money has as much to do with the opportunities presented by our society as a whole -- by local and national services, infrastructure, and by a relatively high communal quality of life that many Americans enjoy and most try to uphold -- as it has to do with the industriousness and ingenuity of those individuals and businesses who "make it big."
For those who do make it big, and even more so for those who simply inherit it big, why not ask for far more of a contribution to help maintain and uphold that communal quality of life -- to help keep all those elements that created such fertile ground for their financial success in good health, if not shared wealth?
For the sake of argument, why not increase tax rates significantly on individuals with annual incomes over one million dollars, and on corporations earning more than five million a year?
The wealthy, their defenders and protectors in politics and their advocates in the media, they always react to such talk by calling it Socialism, or by implying that they will stop spending, stop hiring and stop contributing to the economy altogether, thereby making the whole idea of progressive taxation backfire.
Do I have to tell you that these are scare tactics and lies designed to prey on the fears of vulnerable working people and to maintain a status quo that benefits only the wealthy and those at their service?
Trust me, America has had plenty of periods in its modern history where rich people and companies paid much higher taxes than they do now -- including the golden age (economically speaking) of broad American prosperity under Republican President Eisenhower in the1950's.
And you know what? The folks with the big money did not take their toys and go home, they did not stop spending, they didn't fire or stop hiring workers or flee the country. They just lived with a big price-tag on their big bank accounts and kept getting richer and richer anyway -- as overall productivity and spending soared, with low-income and Middle Class Americans getting a little more of a leg up in striving to achieve their own far more modest but no less worthy versions of The American Dream.