The Register-Star March 18-19 weekend edition contained two front page stories featuring U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro. The congressman was the special guest at the Lincoln Awards Dinner honoring the services of Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Flaherty. Both articles, by Jammel Cutler, contain ample quoted passages by both Flaherty and Molinaro.
It is fitting that Mr. Molinaro would be invited for such an occasion, and not only because the Columbia County Young Republicans put on the program. As a United States Representative, Molinaro is an extremely important political person for the county — let’s say the important person for the county — as was Antonio Delgado before he left to become a relatively unimportant person for the state.
As a person of importance his words carry a great deal of weight, and it is hoped that they are chosen intelligently and wisely. Because he represents us, we should be listening carefully. With this in mind, some of his thoughts might not ring true for all ears.
The subject of income and wealth inequality came up, and he addressed it. More accurately, as far as one can tell from the context of the article, he avoided it. You see, not everyone thinks that inequality is a pressing problem. No problem means no solution, and therefore no need for progressive taxation. I can say “progressive”, and not “more progressive”, because what we actually have now is “regressive” taxation.
The article points to a White House finding from 2021 that the wealthiest 400 billionaire families in the country paid an average tax rate of 8.2%, this against the common taxpayer paying 13%. The more you make, the more you get to keep of what you make. Well, if you concentrate on this statistic, you may not only begin to see the unfairness in this inequality, but how and why that unfairness is bound to increase.
Molinaro says, “I don’t think America and the federal government have a revenue problem. They have a spending problem.” I guess he means that there is no need to raise revenue by increasing taxes on the very wealthy — because — the government can simply spend less of its money. In this he is perfectly correct. That will take care of the problem for everyone except the people who derive some benefit from the programs that have to be cut. The working class.
The 1%, and to a lesser degree the 9% under them, do not rely on social spending for their general welfare. The bottom 90% constitutes the vast majority of the “general Welfare” that the preamble of our Constitution is charged to promote. The reason why the 1% can pay so small a percentage on their income — while still getting to keep their wealth mind you — is very simple. The 99% do not make the rules.
But the subject at hand in the Lincoln Awards program was, of course, the military, the only true institution to retain positive trust by Americans. Even police no longer register positive trust.
The military is a perennial favorite. Americans have never had a reason to fear or hate their military. It has never taken over the country. Its place in the hierarchy is one level of blame below that of government, which calls the shots. This removes it from the crosshairs throughout our imperial history. No connection is made between America’s aggressive foreign policy and the agency that carries it out militarily.
But it’s more than that. We seem to like both. We glorify war. Americans are infatuated with military conquest, so it really wouldn’t do for politicians to make the connection for us. Safer to wear the flag lapel pin and salute all our fighting forces.
Here’s Molinaro. “American servicemen and women are by far the bravest and most charitable the world has ever known…They have always been a force for good and have sought to bring peace.”
Regarding the first pronouncement, think for a moment about what would be required to arrive at a conclusion like that. Both metrics involve beliefs, neither of which is possible of being measured, yet we’re supposed to accept that they are. Since the statement is completely devoid of content, there must be another reason for it. Flattery. But the worst kind of flattery. Self flattery. He’s not saying Norwegians are the bravest and most charitable. He’s an American saying it about Americans.
Regarding the sentence extolling our goodness and peace-bringing nature — the masquerade — the US has a ruthless foreign policy, but it’s only admitted that certain “mistakes” have been made. That’s admitted because, heck, anyone can make a mistake. Well, you don’t get to 400 military interventions by mistake!
We do not have a clean history. No imperialism ever has. But thanks to public dissent (and Daniel Ellsberg), the Vietnam War ended. We’ve not been very successful at ending anything since. The only lesson Congress learned was to eliminate the draft. That took care of public dissent.
At a time of public reflection 20 years after our invasion of Iraq, it’s well to remember that public dissent could not overwhelm majority opinion in favor of attacking. Even as the public loathes the US Government, it adores its military. For the first time in history, the invasion was brought to home viewers live in prime time. It was a source of pride. For some. Temporarily.
Twenty years later, it’s no longer controversial to claim that our servicemen and women did not act as a force for good, nor were they seeking peace. It’s safe now to tell a different story. They were made to seek pacification of the population which is what happens when you occupy a country. Made, I say, that one level of blame below that of government.
Not all service members wish to be thanked for their service, and let it go at that. Some are actively engaged in exposing the reasons why we fight. Capitalism is always engaged in conflict, inevitably generating wars. WWII was an intra-capitalist war between the capitalist states of the United States on one side, and Germany/Japan on the other.
The battle is for control of the world, which means control of the world economy. That’s what our imperialism fights for. We fight for the freedom to command the world economy. This differs in style from what is more pleasing to hear, that we fight to protect our freedoms here at home.
Does what we are doing in Ukraine right now have anything to do with protecting our freedoms? Or is it to damage Russia, no longer socialist any more than the former USSR was truly socialist?
United States foreign policy has a negative ideology. Anti-communism. It has served it very well. Americans buy it. The American people know that we must be on the vigil about any shards of socialism showing up anywhere. The marines must fight it in Grenada.
The ideology may have to come into the shop for a nomenclature change because our two major enemies, Russia said to be socialist, and China said to be communist, both practice forms of state capitalism. It’s really intra-capitalist conflict like WWII.
The next time you hear a politician bragging about how much they support veterans, and veterans’ organizations, ask if they support Veterans For Peace. Odds are, if they’re at all familiar with it, they’ll say they’re not true patriots. And you know what? With a suitably narrow definition of patriotism, they may be right.
James Rothenberg, of North Chatham, is a member of Veterans For Peace.
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