Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years of Foolishness

What a tragic anniversary--that today marks five years of war-for-nothing. Sure, today's protests in downtown DC opposing our involvement in Iraq will get slightly more than the usual scant coverage on the evening news, but after that, what?

A recent article in The Nation, "The Iraq War is Killing Our Economy," (via Alternet) describes the sickening siphoning of money down this war drain, which makes me wonder whether the cynical intent of the our involvement there is to shrink the non-military sector of the government to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub, to paraphrase conservative ultra-strategist Grover Norquist.

Unfortunately, inducing anorexia in the federal government is having the side effect of putting the rest of the economy out of kilter, because the relationship between government and the private sector, which conservatives are loathe to admit, has been a symbiotic one in the years following World War II, as have all Western nations since that time, as Richard Nixon aptly (but reluctantly) remarked, "We are all Keynesians now." Conservatives have been trying to sidestep that truth ever since, to the detriment of American society, and subsequently, the economy.

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A recent local example of conservative meddling, in unfortunate opposition to the public good, concerns the stalling of the extension of Metro to Dulles, in the Washington Post article, "Letting the Market Drive Transportation," (via Today's protests, and the traffic conundrums they create, perfectly demonstrate, if inadvertently, the great need for increased infrastructure investment in public transport. The article details the lengths to which upper level political bureaucrats, motivated by a desire to increasingly privatize the transportation sytem as a way to decrease congestion, rather than upgrading public transportation.

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Where could the frenzy of privatization lead us? How far can a nation fall when services that used to be considered a public trust become privatized? One unfortunate answer comes from Patrick Elie, in an interview with a Canadian journalist in Haiti Analysis, describing the extreme extent of privatization in that country, of formerly public resources being turned to private hands. Suffice it to say that Haiti's situation is so dire that dirt cakes are actually on the menu for many people in that nation.

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