Hi all. A quick history lesson. Which American president wrote the following: "Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
"These truths are well established. They are read in every page which records the progression from a less arbitrary to a more arbitrary government, or the transition from a popular government to an aristocracy or a monarchy."
I bet you Seth Grossman knows the author's name. It is President James Madison, in his "Political Observations" April 20, 1795. From the framers of the U.S. Constitution to Wendell Wilkie to Dwight Eisenhower, there runs a chord of suspicion of a too-strong and too-powerful military. (The Madison quote was from Rachael Maddow's book "Drift".)
Here's what Ike said: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road. The world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron" (from US News website, Sept. 30, 2011).
But the United States hasn't learned. Except for President Carter's term in office, when we were at peace, perpetual war has been an accepted condition that we live with. With no draft, having a volunteer military limits the effect of war on our people.
The fiscal cliff is the big worry of the day. Congress might have to work through Christmas Day. Yet had Congress spent 20 percent less on the military from Ike's day until now, there would no fiscal cliff, assuming that Congress did not blow the extra 20 per cent on nonsense.
All of the whining in D.C about cutting spending on “entitlements," and there is not a whimper of a mention of the biggest entitlement of all: the military budgets, also known as corporate welfare. We have a military that costs us trillions of dollars, and for what? We have thousands of nuclear weapons we will never use. We have planes and tanks built to fight the last war. No, Congress wants to cut Medicare and Medicaid, and refuses to tax the very rich a little more.
As I write this Friday afternoon, the horrific murder in Newtown, Conn., dominates the airwaves. Enough is enough. It is well past time to reopen the discussions on guns and gun violence.
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