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November 09, 2009

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Military spending is stimulus spending. The sheer excess of military bases and weapon contracts was part of a bargain that kept us near full employment without ruffling the feathers of deficit hawks.

Health care, HSR, education and other infrastructure can be portrayed as "socialist", however, since this spending doesn't wave a bloody flag. America's hyperpatriots gladly accept government spending on condition that it intertwines their paranoia and tribalism.

Our American Way of Life is so couched in irrationalism and fantasy that a sane debate about our priorities is impossible. We'll scour the planet for fresh enemies to fear and combat in order to justify the spending. If they disappoint us in their flaccid malevolence, there are always the enemies at home: the cosmopolites, minorities, and socialists who undermine "real Americans".

Patriotism that commands the hatred of half our citizens is a strange thing but even that cannot be questioned. To do so is itself a sign of moral weakness and liberalism. Patriotism is muscular and ever-vigilant. To doubt it is to betray it.

"Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong."
-- James Bryce

"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them!"
-- Albert Einstein

Along a parallel track, another organization that is attracting record numbers of applicants, at least here in Arizona, are the police forces of various localities. They are organized by strong unions that give their members good pay and benefits. (More "socialism".) And similarly, the profession is an unpleasant, stressful, and sometimes dangerous one.

One difference is that the excess of recruits allows the police to (theoretically) take the pick of the crop, whereas the military is more like a government work program which virtually guarantees anyone without a serious criminal history (and even sometimes with one, given recent manpower shortages) an income with benefits.

It just happens to be a government work program that sends you to third world nations that don't threaten our national security, to get your legs blown off, instead of sending you out to clean up communities (trash, graffiti), build affordable housing, cut fire breaks in forest areas which haven't been properly managed because of the lack of funding and manpower, and countless other quiet but necessary works that would concretely improve quality of life and society at large.

President Obama had been scheduled to leave for his overseas trip tomorrow November 11th) but apparently it has been postponed a day. Not that I am expecting any, but from the standpoint of conspiring parties (within the government itself, I hasten to add) that would be a fine time for mischief.

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