Proposed Twenty Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
"No person having been a member, official or aide of Congress or the Executive branch shall be compensated, outside of the federal government, for any advisory activity, directly or indirectly given, intended to influence any executive or legislative policy of the federal government."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Has the U.S. Government Outgrown Our Ability To Affect It?

I've placed a post here which I wrote for the Boston Globe website discussion section.  I titled the discussion "Have New Englanders Considered an Independent New England?"

It has been prompted by my many years of observing national politics, exasperating experiences with local and state governments in Georgia, and more recently the massive failures of economic stewardship by the federal government; the latter of which provides the primary argument for the topic.  And, though this post was directed to the six states we think of as New England, it is has applicability to any region in the U.S.

POST:

I fear my topic here shall be a lightening rod for knee-jerk reactionaries, but it is a subject worthy of deliberation.

There are varied reasons for prompting such, but the most compelling is likely that which ends up moving people the most, and that is economic survival.  First, let's not forget that men, as well as women, in New England broached this very subject less than 24 decades ago.  So, I say to those who wish not to even entertain the idea, you are following the precedent set by many a Tory and Loyalist of the Colony of Massachusetts, who thought it folly and madness to think of leaving the British Empire, then the world's wealthiest nation and, arguably, its strongest military power. 

We first must dismiss the modern notion of the secessionist movements in North America, to which we've been exposed.  They've largely consisted of disaffected political groups whose most distinctive rationale for their movement has rested more on social and cultural grounds, and little, if any, on economics.   That isn't to say that social and cultural differences are not important in setting political divisions, but they must be stark and pervasive to bring about major political upheaval for their own sake.

At the founding of this country, our knowledge of markets and our need to tend them as a people was still in its infancy, as were our expectations of our government as a provider of services.   The joint action and collaboration of the thirteen British colonies in America in declaring their independence and fighting to attain it was a necessity, as the British government was not given to relinquishing profitable expansionist endeavors.  The continued union, of the now sovereign states, after winning their independence was in large part seen as a necessity to provide a defense against foreign aggression.  The political and economic power of the states at the beginning of their new country was likely more akin to the existing European Union of today. 

Since that time, massive growth has occurred in the role government plays in our lives.  In conjunction with that growth, control of its economic elements has moved well away from the state governments to a federal government, now overseeing 50 states.  It's not unreasonable to believe that such a pervasive role by the federal government was never intended when the, then independent, states acceded to a union.  This is not meant to applaud or disapprove of any particular government activity at the federal level, nor suggest a states' rights argument.  It is intended to bring up the subject of size, though it is not the only subject to discuss here.

The U.S. government's fiscal business is enormous.  And yet, the element of fiscal responsibility is not there.  A discussion on size, and how it adversely impacts fiscal responsibility would take more space than I have here; and too, I am not wholly convinced that size alone is the principle culprit. 

Yet I do know, the political structure we began with and have evolved into has destined us to our current economic ills.  Given the significant percentage of our collective wealth put into the hands of the federal government, the massive expectations we have for that government and our dependency upon it to protect our markets from the ills of unfettered capitalism, we are imperiling ourselves by giving little attention to the methods by which we choose those who direct the government.  

Our electoral processes and legislative structure are ill suited to safely handling such a massive government.  It will take many generations for this nation to collectively assess and be willing to make the changes necessary to safely govern in our age.  Though no political system is perfect, Europe has progressed far ahead of us in this area.  Canada too, is yearning to make changes, and is only 1/9 the population of the U.S.

There are certainly other reasons which can be cited to justify an independent New England.  And, such a nation would be no small instance, having what would be the tenth largest population in the EU, the tenth largest in the Western Hemisphere and more populous that 2/3 of the world's sovereign nations.

If only John and Samuel Adams were here; what would they think?   

-RLee

Friday, June 25, 2010

Obama's War, 2009 -

On January 20, 2009, a potentially pivotal point was reached by the American people as they legally handed over the command of their military forces to a newly elected President.   Three days earlier Carlo Robinson and Ezra Dawson awoke to the routine of their day at the end of which each had taken their last breath; their bodies struggled but succumbed to the damage caused by bullets and shards of metal.

Carlo and Ezra were not gang members in Los Angeles or Chicago, they were not fallen prey to the inane turf battles and egotistical machinations of young men.   More insanely, they were dressed in the colors of a much larger gang, naive pawns in the politics and egotistical machinations of old men.

Carlo Robinson, age 33, and Ezra Dawson, 31, arose to their last morning, ever, in Afghanistan, likely a place they'd never heard of only a few years before.   Their families, friends and communities, no doubt, made the best of their losses, taking comfort in the nominal and automatic accolades given to those who perish in the colors of the American gang, no matter the reason.

Occurring when they did, their deaths should have stood as an important break line in America's foreign interventionist policy, ending a period of gross abuse of power by the nation's chief executive of the previous eight years.  Had I been handed the reigns of our military might, I'd have only regretted that I'd not had it sooner so that I could have brought Staff Sargent Robinson and Specialist Dawson home alive.  

It is frustrating writing here on the tragedy of America's indulgence in Afghanistan.  For me it is so blatantly obvious, that it begs the question, 'What is to be gained by pointing it out?'   If there are those who cannot synthesize the facts, which they can well see, to reveal reality, what more can be said to present it to them?

It is understandable that America felt compelled to perform a police action on foreign soil, but staying to police the neighborhood afterward or to supply the foreign government with an army, which they themselves haven't the support to assemble, makes America's role in Vietnam look like an intellectual masterpiece. 

Since November of 2001, after the bases of al-Qaeda were destroyed and its members scattered, Afghanistan has been a war about America's internal politics.   As there was no one to make a formal surrender, there was no 'V-Day' celebration to be had, thus the egos of America's testosterone laden population had not been fully satisfied and its politically insecure leaders find it safer to continue the combat until there is some point at which victory can be declared.  Such is the predicament in which a politically insecure Barack Obama finds himself.

We are bereft of wise and courageous leadership, for which we are, each day, destined to fill another body bag and build another coffin and fold up another flag, all while waiting for that V-Day which will never come.   In perhaps five years, during his final term as President, maybe Obama will decide enough is enough.   We will leave Afghanistan and the Afghans will become whatever their collective will produces, our presence having made zero difference.   Only the politicians and the war industrialists will have benefited.