Paula Orloff: The bomb empire — a true fable
Once upon a time there lived an emperor who ruled over the land of the United States of Ameritz. It was a big beautiful land, blessed with naturally good climate and diverse riches.
This ruler was called Emperor Golden, which reminded his subjects of the glowing golden stars of their red, white and gold flag which, in turn, reminded the subjects of the glowing golden hair of the emperor.
His subjects deferred to him partly due to his personal piles of gold that dazzled them. Few knew his gold was ill-gotten from great buildings constructed with other people’s unpaid or low-paid labors. Few knew that many of those buildings were built on crumbling foundations that the emperor was allowed to abandon without compensating his lenders. Few knew because the emperor didn’t deign to show his subjects the accounting books. This emperor was also able to keep relative calm in his kingdom by impressing the masses with protector bombs, dubbed “patriots,” that had golden stars painted on their pointed tips. The emperor (and his predecessors) built a wondrous variety of bombs that they touted far and wide.
Few knew about the waste, fraud and abuse of the bomb empire because the compliant town criers didn’t report it, for they had connections with the bomb makers. Some subjects surmised there was waste, fraud and abuse but said nothing for fear the emperor’s guards would think them unpatriotic.
To build this ever-growing bomb stash, the emperor showered billions upon bomb makers, who in turn reaped billions and showered some back. To keep his subjects from complaining about their personal predicaments and the bomb waste, the emperor dispensed a paltry amount of their taxes for food coupons, low-paying jobs, emergency health care, and Band-Aid schools, roads, and transportation. All the while the emperor and his enablers agonized about taxes for such essentials.
Consider a few wasteful bomb woes in a parallel real world:
The GAO in 2017 assessed the decades long F-35 fighter program at $1.4 trillion. It has ongoing cost overruns and design errors. Many say it’s obsolete.
Across presidents since 1996, the military spent $8.5 trillion that is not accounted for (8/11/2013 Fiscal Times).
U.S. military spending is more than the next seven countries combined.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2017 unanimously opposed Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase in Pentagon spending. They called for moving the funds to human and environmental needs. However, with bipartisan vote, the war industry received an additional 100 billion tax dollars.
Back to the emperor: He periodically exploded bombs in distant lands proclaiming their beneficent protectorate qualities. That’s the fraud and abuse part of his bombing bombast (along with more waste). Note, his predecessors liberally engaged in such provocations as well.
Consider fraud and abuse woes in a parallel real world. We have been lied into numerous tragic wars with the help of mainstream media. Consider just three:
The Gulf of Tonkin incident, Aug., 1964, precipitated U.S. direct involvement in the Vietnam war. Two U.S. ships were supposedly attacked by North Vietnamese ships, except the attack didn’t happen (Wikipedia).
The first Gulf War of 1991 got Congressional and UN approval in part from the tearful testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl in October 1991, widely promoted in the corporate media. She reported Iraqi soldiers invaded a Kuwait hospital and threw babies out of incubators. The story was fabricated with coaching from PR firm Hill and Knowlton.
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was authorized with falsified government evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. We’re still there. Thousands of U.S. soldiers and many more Iraqis are dead, not to mention the devastation, dislocation and refugees. One wonders about other current threats.
Back to the emperor: a child hearing of the monetary and human costs of creating, stockpiling and exploding untold bombs, cried, “The emperor has bad bombs.”
Then some of the subjects began to grumble and demand that their taxes be used more wisely and humanely.
They agreed with the real world David Swanson, who said, “The way to peace is … not slick demonization of one side … but cease fire and actual aid …”
They considered Martin Luther King’s warning that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
What do you think happened next ?
Paula Orloff lives in Nevada City.
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