America, The Not So Beautiful

I have been reading some of the posts that started this blog. To be honest, the first articles I wrote for this blog were written before I ever thought of starting a blog. One thing continues to bother me about them. Perhaps I was a little unfair with the Middle East. Even considering I wrote that first blog post when the news was telling us that people in the Middle East were protesting and angry with America because a film made somewhere out west, I was quick to a conclusion that was American to the core.

“They are just ungrateful.”

What?! I mean, honestly! What should they be grateful for? Americans, at their core, lack any understanding of the outside world. We are convinced that we are the envy of the world, and that everyone, deep down, wants to be us. We are told by our education systems that those that despise the United States hate us because our divorce rate is near (or over) 50%, or that we listen to Rock and Roll and lead sinful lives according to different religions. We are told that “those people” view us as the embodiment of evil.

People actually believe that stuff. We believe, as a nation, that we are so perfect that nobody could dislike us, given the exception of fanciful, or “false,” religion. We could have never given the Middle East reason, good reason, to detest our very existence.

This is what I mean by the American perspective. America, for a long time, has been empire building. America put a different spin on this process though. Instead of conquering the world with our own political system, we have merely tried to conquer political systems that we don’t like, and replace them with political systems we find favorable. These favorable governments are typically thankful to the United States, because without the US, they would have not gained power. This leads to favorable legislation in those countries towards American relations, no matter the costs placed on the local populations and economies. Iraq is just one example of this “empire building,” just gone wrong.

America has been trying this, with success and and failure, for a very long time. Examples include Latin America (where we still retain Puerto Rico as an American territory), the Philippines, Panama (which belonged to Columbia), Hawaii, Cuba, China (Open Door Policy), Mexico (Manifest Destiny), and now the Middle East. This process has included adopting a self proclaimed “world view” that is at its very essence, American. Anyone, or anything, that disagrees with this world view is typically viewed as a major threat to global safety, and we apply force, whether through military force or sanctions, that can be crippling. Often times however, the innocent population bears the brunt of these sanctions, while those responsible still live in lavish conditions. This is exactly what can be seen in Iran today.

The consequence of our actions abroad, and how they effect global populations is fairly clear. People do not like us. People living in countries affected by sanctions, such as Iran, can clearly place the blame of their current conditions on the United States. This, combined with our shady activities regarding the regions only profitable resource (oil), has led global population and global governments to despise our global presence.

This is a basic political argument. “America, the world police.” If the world needs a “police,” America is certainly a good candidate with its wealth (perceived or real) and enormous military force and presence. But, if we are the world’s police, we are corrupt to the core.

We do not seek to protect the world. We seek to protect ourselves, defensively and offensively. Really, by any means necessary. We, as a nation, have done atrocious acts in the name of cheaper and more readily accessible resources. This has come in the form of cotton, sugar, oil, and more. Some even question the role of lithium ion deposits in the war in Afghanistan.

I am not advocating a smaller world presence, or even a larger one. Honestly, it probably does not matter at this point. The point is that the Middle East does not detest our existence because of our divorce rate. We have wronged the Middle East over, and over again. We have given the region plenty of reason to dislike us, and our government, democratic and fair as it is, has lied to us to make us happier with our lives, and ignorant as to how we have achieved such a luxurious standing while majority of the world has been left behind.

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Bigger Government and Tax Dollars

One of the most confusing bits of politics is figuring out where government actually gets the right to rule. In England, the right to rule comes from The Crown. God himself endowed The Crown with the right to rule and through it Kings and Queens. This is known as Top-Down Rule. In the United States, we do things very differently. Our government gets the right to rule from its people. We give up our personal sovereignty to the government so that they can, in turn, rule over us. With this being said, our government’s power is fairly limited to foreign, both against aggressors and building relationships with other nations to better protect ourselves against the aforementioned aggressors, and against internal criminals. Since our government is merely reactionary, it has little to no power against law abiding citizens.

But, we live in changing times. We live in a time that has seen unprecedented governmental growth. We currently live under a government that claims a third of the nations wealth as its own, and is showing no signs of slowing down. What else should a growing government do but to pass more and more laws in order to justify its growing existence? With the creation of more and more laws comes the nuance of a more difficult time remaining a law abiding citizen for its people. As I previously mentioned, government has little to no power over law abiding citizens.

It stands to reason that if a government, one much like our own, wanted to gain more power, even absolute rule, it could do so by making it almost impossible for its citizens to obey the law. Once a reactionary government, like our own, can deem most of its population “criminal,” it has to means to exercise absolute rule over its population through punishment or the threat of punishment.

One thing that seems to ring true, is that people who live free and easy lives become complacent when it comes to their government, and that is fairly easy to understand. When things are going well, it is easy to assume your government is doing everything right, even if the government is merely riding on the success of its previous endeavors. This seems to be the case with the United States. World War II made the United States richer than it could have ever imagined. Before being dragged into the war itself, the United States became the largest firearms distributor the world has ever seen. Economically, the United States grew almost vertically from 1950 to the 21st century. It is absolutely no coincidence that the United States pulled out of the Great Depression during WWII and saw the largest half century of growth following its end.

As time progresses, the United States seems to be having a more difficult time trying to ride on its previous successes. This is evidenced in its financial struggles. Few people choose to acknowledge the possible severity of the current financial recession. The truth is that before utter financial collapse, in the form of the Great Depression, there were many economic dips, or recessions, that served as a warning for what was to come. With the US government doing everything it possible can to encourage fiscal growth, the minimal growth that has been seen should be alarming. With all of the governments efforts, it is barely staving off fiscal decline.

So, what is different? What has changed that might be behind this financial issue? I would suggest that it is the government itself. To be more specific, the size of government seems to be at fault. The growth this country went through in the last half century made progressives more fervent in their attempts to redistribute wealth, and made the wealthy more willing to help the poor. Now that the country is having financial issues, the wealthy are having a tougher time being willing to forfeit their money for the poor. This is often characterized as “greed” instead of sound financial stewardship, and because the poor have been able to rely on their help for so long, they are angered by the notion that the wealthy should not have to help them.

As our nation becomes more and more progressive, a term typically mischaracterized as “liberal,” our government also gets bigger and bigger. This happens as a result of agencies being created to help those in need. The more people who the government employs, the more of the burden government becomes to its tax payers. The notion that these “greedy” wealthy people are unwilling to help those in need is over simplified. It is not simply helping those in need, but also paying the salaries of those hired within whichever governmental agencies that want to take more of their money through higher taxes to help “those in need.”

All of this is not to say that progressivism is wrong, or incorrect. No, I would simply suggest that there is an imbalance. Most political views and practices have importance and do some form of good. Conservatives are important because they preserve traditions worth preserving. Liberals, in the traditional sense, are good because they defend liberty and embrace change, and progressives have done things like reduce racial and sexual discrimination. Woman’s suffrage would not have happened without progressives. All of these political views serve some good, and nations thrive when there is equilibrium between these views. When imbalance occurs, which I would suggest has, countries begin to tear at the seams. Wealth and success become demonized, which in turn makes the wealthy not want to help those that demonize them for their success, which leads to even more demonization. As this cycle continues, a widening gap between rich and poor emerges as the topic comes to the political forefront leading to a shrinking middle class.

So, how can we fix this problem? What can we do in order to stave off this cyclic motion creating a greater divide between rich and poor? I would suggest that the solution will not be found in taking money away from the rich to give to the poor, as this method only seems to make the rich less likely to want to help the poor and keep the poor, well, poor. Helping the poor is clearly a good thing, but until legislation is passed that helps lift the poor out of poverty, we will merely be helping the poor to stay poor. The progressive’s ultimate hunt for equality in the area of financial redistribution is contradictory at best. The notion that TAKING more from the rich to GIVE to the poor is somehow equal is bogus, and nothing short of an “end justifies the means” abridging of liberty.

If we are to believe the notion that money circulation equals good, and we know that American infrastructure is on the decline, why do we not employ those who would otherwise qualify for food stamps to repave our roads and maintain our bridges. Then the rich would at least be able to reap the benefits of their tax dollars through the better infrastructure they would inevitably use.