Friday, September 24, 2010

The View From Here

When you walk in through the enormous bay doors you are greeted by a spacious work environment divided into areas by tall, wide shelves laden with product and supply. There's a heat sealer machine, a table saw that introduces the more expansive carpentry department behind it(including a data qued pneumatic scribe), and table space to accommodate four or five workers or more, if necessary. And this is only the bay. Through a generous doorway is the main sewing room where thirteen different sewing machines are set up as well as a computerized cutting table. This area can put eighteen people to work if need be, cutting, sewing, and assembling enclosures, Bimini tops, and other products for all manner of personal watercraft from jet skis to luxury yachts.
If you've gotten this far on the tour, you have started to notice the missing element in all of this: people.
In the bay there is one carpenter manning the station, a couple of outside installation technicians to digitize patterns, but not many others. In the sewing room a lone sewer is busy and a lone manager overseas what little there is to do.

This is not the future of one supplier to the yacht manufacturing and maintenance industry, this is now.
An eighty percent drop in employees, a bottomed out workload, and no real prospects for the future. Upstairs is the upholstery department where upwards of 15 men and women worked as sewers, tackers, strippers, and packers. Today there are four people total.

This is just one industry affected by the collapse of 2008. When the pundits talk recovery, we laugh. When the Dow goes up, we roll our eyes. When the government says we're moving in the right direction, we know better.
Generally, our industry, which is itself a bit of a niche in the overall market, is close to last in feeling the pinch when there's a slowdown. That's because we supply some big names in the yacht industry itself with components. As long as those companies keep building boats, we have orders to fill. Once things slow down, we know that the hurt has gone deeper than the first few layers of skin and is starting hit bone. How much they slow down only emphasizes severity.
Here's an excellent example: at one point in 2005-2006 we were producing exterior upholstery parts for eight models a week of one yacht, one company--aside from the other orders we were filling for that same client. We handled production for as many as 40 yachts a month.
Today, it is about 2, optimistically 3.

I've read lots of blogs and websites of late that talk about the economy, talk about the next round of "collapse", and all the ill that will come upon us. As far as I am concerned, it's already here. Yeah, I still have a job, but the tempo is barely there, the frustration is crippling, and when you see lay-off after lay-off, you have to wonder how much longer the company can stay afloat.
I told a friend recently, "I know why they call it a Depression--it's pretty damn depressing!"
I'm not out to naysay the town criers out there. They know their data. But instead of waiting for the "next" collapse to reach out and try to re-fashion our economy, we ought to look around at what is still standing and try to prop it up somehow. Does that mean more QE? Trade barriers? Duties on US goods produced overseas?
I don't know.
What I do know is that no amount of ingenuity or reinvestment is going to account for the 8-10 million jobs we need, or in any way change the consumer driven market that is the root cause of our problem. It's time to stop asking "What do I have to do make a million bucks?" and start asking "What do I have to do to move a million people?"
That's how I see it, at least.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Koch Brothers Facade

When the racist juggernaut of the American mind rears its ugly head in the form of the Tea Party, it is easy for those who are ignorant enough to regard the ideas of justice and liberty as genetic  traits  to find some grounds for explaining this phenomenon. In the Koch brothers, a couple of billionaires who are dedicated capitalists and politically savvy, the deflating “left” we call the Democrats have found their scapegoats. It’s oh so easy to paint a target on a couple of foaming-at-the-mouth conservatives and say “It’s YOUR fault”, not only because you can hold up glossy pictures of these guys labeled “The Enemy”, but also because you can continue to hold to your schizophrenic dichotomy of “America” as you define it  and ignore that hideous beast in the mirror that is every deed and word and idea committed in the name of these ideals that are spun like thread into body bags and money purses for all those suckered constituents who think you really believe what you believe when you talk all of that "change” talk. One thing can be said for that rabid mob of pitchfork wielding flat-earthers we call the grassroots Movement, at least they know who ties their shoes.
Of course the Tea Party is racist rabble. There was no Tea Party when Bush was in office. In those glory days of shock and awe there was no balking at federal expenditures for carpet bombing, fingernail yanking, or the occasional stay over in a sponsor state that featured deep lacerations, electrocution, and simulated drowning as intelligence gathering techniques. Hell no! Look, if your skin is brown, you’re screwed, End of story. But when you get a wave of popular discontent  that ushers in a Black President, all bets are off!
“We want our country back!” was the early cry out of the far right. What the hell does that mean? Are you Native American? Indigenous Mexican? Hawaiian?
No, you’re a milky white middle class voter whose grand-dad hung guys like Barack Obama from tree limbs as a testament to God’s love for the racial purity of the United States. No kidding. Of course these folks don’t want a health care reform bill—whatever it says(and this is no endorsement for the Healthcare Reform Act, either—it is crap). Of course, they don’t know what it says, likely because they dropped out of the sixth grade after getting their cousin pregnant. Nonetheless, the xenophobic kneejerk out of the Dixie-dims and the Bible-belt promise breakers is no real surprise. White makes right as every straight thinking birther knows. And there’s another one, eh? The President has no birth certificate. He’s a plant. This goes way back to that night in Kenya when Obama’s parents plotted global supremacy via inebriation and spirit smoke, knowing that in forty short years their dreams of a unified planet under the strong arms of business capital and global finance would come to fruition!
But the Koch brothers? Yeah, that’s a typical Main Stream Media spin right there, conjured up by New York Times Magazine, then roundly devoured, digested, and smeared all over the television and internet for popular consumption. Why? Because it’s easier to think that two billionaires are responsible for getting the redneck barbeque bunch into the streets than an obviously collective consternation and unease at the prospects for future American economic growth.  After all, it’s not like the Contract From America has anything to say about the occupation of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the illegal spying on Americans, or the increased militarization of the United States. People, these are NOT issues. In fact, reading the “demands” from the Tea Party, one would be surprised to learn there are over 160 military bases outside the United States, or that our country does trade with other nations. In fact, one would wonder of the guys who pasted these points together into a Contract even understand how politics works in this country. It is a completely na├»ve set of planks, powered by the backwoods notion that good white folks can be taken at their word.
“Sure, I’ll sign your contract. Yeah, these here are some good ideas, sir! End runaway spending, stop the tax hikes, and get rid of that healthcare bill! Sure thing!”
Yeah, the healthcare bill that we mentioned earlier is certainly an affront to the good conscience of the American people, isn’t it? This “socialist” legislation was crafted by the most capitalist bunch of pro-market, feed us our customers and screw the formalities corporatists this side of Wall Street. If these knit-wits in the backwoods actually read the bill, they would know it is basically a hand-out for the healthcare insurance industry, a well-written scheme by which the pharmaceuticals, the HMO’s, and the good doctors are better able to strong arm the sick, the poor, and the elderly.  The only glaringly “socialist” feature is that it requires people BY LAW to carry health insurance, which means that health insurance costs, like automobile insurance costs in those states that make it a legal requirement, will become astronomical. When you have the law behind you, you can charge anything. If that isn’t capitalist, I don’t know what is.
But what gurgles under the pot lid in this festering stew of Caucasian malcontent above all is the color of the president’s skin. It is only casually acknowledged, seldom said outright, but whispered in the night like the murmurs of witchcraft that spiraled up out of smoking chimneys in the pilgrim invader foothold at Salem, Massachusetts. Whispers that he’s Black, he’s a Muslim, he’s not even a “real” American! To think this has anything to do with other than race is a grave oversight. To ponder whether such charges were ever levied against any former president is an enlightening exercise, because it lays bare the very soul of our nation. Isn’t it ironic that as Americans attempted to prematurely turn the page on race and equality, the Tea Party sprouts up out of the self-righteous indignation of a proud and bloodthirsty race that hasn’t anymore forgotten their victories than the victims have ever forgotten their crimes, and says “No way, man. Aint no Negro bein’ pres-dint on mah watch!”
Yet it says all that needs to be said--and so appropriately, so clearly, so plainly--that we are a horde of deformed, uneducated, Neanderthal psychotics who can hold only to our race and our pride and wield all the most powerful forces mankind has ever fashioned to keep our chains on all of these lesser races the world over, be they Asian, Latino, African, or Middle-Eastern.
What a wake-up call to the hundreds of ethnic minorities in the United States to know this. What a shock to all of those liberal lawyers and think-tankers to have to stare this in the face. What a loop for the millions of church-goers who keep claiming, ever so spuriously and with no evidence whatever, that this is a “Christian Nation”, a “Godly Nation”, that the United States is somehow this New Israel called upon to wipe the heathen from the globe and initiate the return of Jesus Christ to Earth. Really? This country? This haven of celebrated mass-murderers, rapists, thugs, gangsters, and thieves?  It is “us” that the Messiah is interested in?
The Tea Party is this, also, this corrupt contradiction of thought and deed whereby the religion that tells you to love one another is the same one that says “Praise the Lord and pass the ammo!” These same folks who marched on Washington to simultaneously wash away the stains of Martin Luther King, Jr and Barack Obama are the very ones whose Holy Book makes NO reference whatever to COLOR except in the case of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose hair is black like sheep’s wool, and whose skin is like bronze.  They stare us in the face, these Tea Partiers, because they are everything we never want to remember that WE are. We want to pretend, we want to play politics, we want to forget about all of those nasty little things we do to other people and chug along as helpless victims of global misunderstanding who simply yearn to have enough to satisfy ourselves. Is it our fault that oil is under Arabian sands or that the choicest fruits are growing where Latinos happen to live? Can you blame us for the tricks of coercion, manipulation, exploitation, and subversion when it’s SO DARN EASY? It’s not that we are a racist nation, really, it’s just that we’re “opportunistic”. So white people have a way of being more overtly opportunistic than other races, is that OUR fault? And so we grasp at anything that will shatter that mirror, block that reflection, and somehow “change” the image it evokes. And then suddenly, with minimal evidence, little journalistic integrity, and fingers doing the walking, we find Charles and David Koch. Praise God! For our prayers are answered! Take away this cup of mine own abomination and hide it amongst the skeletal remains of the multitudes we did sacrifice to the righteous will of our creator!
It’s good to have the Koch brothers. To paraphrase a popular saying, “Two billionaire campaign contributors can cover over a multitude of sins.”

Saturday, September 18, 2010

National Emergencies and the Secret Government

        On September 10, 2010 President Obama extended the National Emergency With Respect To Certain Terrorist Attacks until September of 2011, this being the ninth time the emergency has been extended since it was originally declared by President Bush on September 14, 2001. Each National Emergency must be extended annually by a notification to Congress, though it is the job of Congress to meet and decide when and if an emergency should end. In this case, the emergency can only be nullified or continued by the president because the authorization of use of force is included here.
   What does this mean?
    Officially, it means that sufficient conditions exist both domestically and internationally to warrant those policies, initiatives, and powers being extended to help safeguard the United States against terrorist attacks of any nature. Unofficially, it means an open-ended extension of such provisions as the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the warrantless surveillance operations of the NSA, extrajudicial assassinations of suspected terrorists, and the oft-forgotten detaining of several hundred “enemy non-combatants” at the Guatanamo Bay concentration camp. These are all by-products of the attacks on 9/11 that killed 3,000 Americans and destroyed four buildings and four aircraft. However, they may also be deemed indirect results of the attacks since all of these provisions seem to have found their authority in the declaration of the National Emergency With Respect To Terrorist Attacks. This act, it should be noted, followed the authorization, on the morning of September 11, 2001, of Continuity of Government provisions as outlined by numerous executive orders. As any number of dedicated conspiracy theorists can attest, the Continuity of Government provisions essentially set up a condition of martial law while likewise initiating the “secret government” at Mount Weather, a mirror of the functioning government that operates in its stead in the event of an actual emergency. To what extent this “secret government” supersedes either Congress or the Constitution is unknown—literally. The fact is, no one who is not authorized to know the extent of its powers can know legally what they are, thus what is created is a kind of vacuous space between the obvious and the unknown.
     Whether this “secret government” has been activated or not is a serious question nonetheless. One need only examine the provisions to understand the seriousness of the situation. It would mean that there is no Constitution, no Bill of Rights, and no legal foundation whatsoever to safeguard the rights of the people of the United States. Thus the question of the National Emergency, the Continuity of Government provisions, and the “secret government” are absolutely essential to knowing where we stand with regard to ourselves, our rights, and our government as a whole.
      For this reason it is necessary to review what we know to be true about the actions, laws, and provisions set forth by the current and former administrations. To that end, we will examine the concept of the “Unitary Executive” as defined by the Bush administration, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the sprawling national intelligence apparatus that has ballooned since 9/11.
       As regards the concept of the “unitary executive”, this idea has a place in the Constitution. It’s basic premise is that the Executive Branch has all of the authority it needs to do what the Constitution says it should do—execute the laws as passed by the Legislative Branch: Congress. If any law is challenged as to it’s constitutionality, it is the Judicial Branch in the guise of the Supreme Court who decides on the legality of the said law. In that vein it is easy to see what and why the “unitary executive” is. Basically, if the president is charged with executing laws by way of himself and the various departments, it makes sense that he should have all legal authority to do so. However, such a provision does NOT provide for unlimited power for it’s own sake. This should be obvious to any Constitutional scholar. The limits on the authority of the president and the executive branch are the Bill of Rights, the powers of Congress, and the powers of the several states. Clearly the Founding Fathers did not create a system of checks and balances in order to vest unlimited authority in the seat of the president. That any president would decide to reach that broadly, especially George Bush with Dick Cheney in tow, would indicate that they envisioned some authority greater than that of the constitution giving them such allowances. Such an authority would be, in essence, the emergency powers granted them by the declaration of a national emergency, this made possible by the COG(Continuity of Government).
     Armed with these powers, the executive proceeded to present to Congress various underminings of civil liberties in the form of the USA PATRIOT Act, which basically gave full license to whatever actions the president needed to take against “terror”. This included warrantless wire-tapping and electronic surveillance of US citizens. Likewise, it gave the government the power to interfere with and manipulate markets and banks as it saw fit. Thus we not only see the source of the Federal Governments right to put armed Blackwater mercenaries in New Orleans after Katrina, but also the grounds for taking action when the financial crisis occurred(and it’s occurrence is itself a result of federal actions, actions that clearly made the crisis worse). The ideas behind the Toxic Asset Relief Program and the measures taken to curtail what appeared to be imminent financial ruin had everything to do with both the provisions under the Patriot Act and the powers under a national emergency, which only makes one wonder to what extent the cart is before the horse. Add to this President Obama’s assertion that the government has the right to target and assassinate any threat, even an American citizen, and the implications of living under martial law become very clear.​index.php?context=va&aid=10473 
   Finally, the immense intelligence community that has grown since 9/11, as reported by the Washington Post in it’s story Top Secret America, indicates a level of intrusion, surveillance, and obscurity that seem to indicate something other than simple intelligence gathering and analysis. There are 1271 government organizations involved, 1931 private companies, and 17 million square feet of office space built or being built all over the United States To what extent is this massive, 840,000 person behemoth a substitute government? As far as the Post article is concerned, we don’t really know, and attempts to find out are thwarted by lack of clearance. Thus we have again a vacuous space between the obvious and the unknown.​america
     It would appear from the evidence above that there is indeed a secret government operating. It looks like the Constitution has been suspended indefinitely, or least until this national emergency actually ends. In the meantime, it is worth recognizing that much of what our government has done in the past nine years has been, technically, legal.
    Bush declared president by the Supreme Court in 2000.
    The 9-11 Terrorist Attacks and the resulting "coup d'etat" in 2001.
    The invasion of Iraq in 2003.
    Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath in 2005.
    The financial crisis in 2008.
    The Swine Flu scare of 2010.
    This series of disasters is bewildering, yet each instance has some kind of governmental abuse or exploitation in it's midst. They operate in a fog, but it is a legal fog. They have trampled on all of our rights, but they have done so by the rule of law. After all, since the Constitution allows for executive orders, and executive orders allow for national emergencies which allow, in turn, for Continuity of Government provisions, who am I to argue? What is disturbing, however, is the absolute silence that our people, our media, and our representatives have on all of this. No one seems alarmed. No one seems concerned. No one is riding through the night on horseback yelling “The Feds are Coming! The Feds are Coming!” Even now the alarm bells everywhere are saying that the current economic crisis is about to get far worse. Yes, the Titanic hit the iceberg, but only now is the ship breaking up and beginning to sink. I wonder, as they sat around those tables drinking that coffee and making their plans, whether the Project For A New American Century envisioned all of this. It is indeed the American Century so far, but not at all the way I would have imagined it.
    Still, I hear those cargo planes every day. One after another they take off and land at McGuire Air Force Base, bound for the Middle East or coming back, powered by fuel that is dwindling in supply and paid for with money that continues to lose it's value. The war goes on, the economy gets worse, the money disappears, the fatcats stashing their bundles while the poor struggle to make it through another day, all while we twitch under the awesome power of a beast so big we know we can no longer control it.
    Maybe that’s why it is so quiet.
    Everyone is too afraid to speak for fear they will be heard.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Put Your Nose in the Air, Determine Where the Herd is Going, and Head in the Opposite Direction

It is a ceasefire, a temporary cessation of hostilities. Why? Perhaps there is a need to recast strategy, to count the dead, to repair bulwarks, and to sharpen knives. I need to assess this war and determine if anything has been gained, if the aims are still true.

When did it begin? One could say at conception or at birth or when a level of self-awareness was reached. Was it any specific age, or did I just come upon the realization one day? Going from my own perspective, it was definitely being waged in earnest after 1983. For my adversary, I can see that I had excused battles in the past on account of race and circumstance, only to reflect later that these were indeed the first shots fired. I was chased home from school by the colored kids in kindergarten and first grade and spurned or ridiculed by the Jewish kids in Lakewood. I was looked down upon for my poverty, my uncleanness, and my stature in Point Pleasant and in Santa Cruz. I lacked direction, purpose, and any spark of self esteem. There were so many factors that contributed to the war, to its spawning, to its continuation, to its depraved sense of revenge and retribution that at times I was literally overwhelmed by my own burdensome inadequacies. But once I determined that I knew my enemy and that my enemy knew me, it was on. I can almost exactly pinpoint that moment or at least the context of it.

Sixth grade history was where I first learned about the Japanese internment camps. Why this was a trigger exactly, as opposed to any others, has to do with being in school in Santa Cruz. There, in California, you learn California history first, which means you learn about the missions that were built in various west coast towns, you learn about the Native American tribes, and you learn about the states geography. It isn’t until later that I learned something about United States history, and when I first found out that thousands of Japanese-Americans were systematically rounded up and put into concentration camps, it didn’t change what I felt, but instead reaffirmed it. It was as if the scales dropped and I could suddenly see that I was not a solitary victim, but that my enemy, who I now knew to be no single class, no single race, and no single facet of government, was the entirety of all that was American society and that I was but one of countless victims. I realized that I was at war with the United States of America on every relevant level, and that that war had been going on long before the day I was born. When you are outcast, when you are kicked aside literally and figuratively by your own neighbors, classmates, family, and peers, you take a perspective that the average individual never has. You are on the outside looking in, and from that vantage point you gain an appreciation for the dimensions of that society. Aside from that, you discover that all the laws and rules and traditions of that society do not apply to you. Sure, they are there, but when you have been effectively thrown out you tend not to internalize sentiments like patriotism, loyalty, honor, and justice as being attributes of a system you are a part of. Rather, you take these as your own, and on your own terms. I don’t need the Bill of Rights to tell me what I am allowed to do. I am allowed to do whatever I want because I am the enemy of the society. I operate within it as an adversary, not as a compatriot. All of these flag wavers with their red, white, and blue and their glorified pride are aliens to me. They are not “real” people but simple caricatures from a cartoon. The cartoon is comedic at best, the story banal and humiliating, the plot predictable and lame.

And so I waged war. I went at odds with anything and everything about that society. I instinctively took whatever was touted as good and knew it was bad while taking whatever they called bad and seeing to what extent it was good. I was not lazy about this. I learned a tremendous amount about United States history, about world history, and about peoples, governments, cultures, and belief systems. This war taught me to question everything I was told, to be suspicious of those in power, whoever they were, and that as soon as someone or something was being applauded by the ignorant masses to scrutinize it to its deepest and darkest roots. I was skeptical of everything and so I became cynical, sarcastic, cruel, selfish, and stubborn. I led with my sword at all times, waiting for the ambush, waiting for the bomb. And after all of this, when I came to a point where I could lower my sword, wipe my brow, and sit down easy with my back resting against a wall, I realized that all of these fears and doubts were well-founded. I realized that despite my reasons and the factors that contributed to it, this war was just. This war was true. This enemy I had discovered was every bit as evil as I had ever imagined, if not more so. This society of the United States should be fought against, should be challenged, and should be overcome by the will of those who oppose it because they are just in their opposition. Like every human society it is fickle, crude, bigoted, petty, discriminatory, greedy, vain, pious, and ultimately empty. It is a reflection of the very soul of humanity, and that reflection is one of all that is dark, horrid, and evil.

Thus, whenever popular opinion put a stamp on an issue, I first refuted it and then investigated. Whenever a song or movie or artist or “thing” was being cheered by the multitudes, I set myself against it. I was not always correct, but I was always just on account of my purposes. If I am not them and they are not me, what they love I must hate, and what they hate I must love. Well beyond standard education this was the case, and was the reason I took to reading Napoleonic history, to studying Black Power and appreciating it, and to understanding not only the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s but also the Far Right Movement of the same period. The critical point came in 1990 when I was working for my friends father at an auction. In a box of books I came across Revolutionary Notes by Julius Lester. It was a compilation of articles he had written between 1967 and 1969, and the introduction alone solidified who and what I was at that time.

“Revolutionaries are not born. They are made by taking the suffering of the oppressed and making it their own.”

This was my introduction to the Left, to the anti-Establishment groups, radio stations, and voices. I learned and read of Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, George Orwell, Huey P. Newton, and Ernesto “Che” Guevarra. Ironically, however, this was likewise another group. I had officially joined only one group ever in my life that was “political”, and that the John Birch Society. I have since left them, right after their mailer was emblazoned with the World Trade Center attack. The idea of immediately using this horrible attack as a money-maker was sickening. I had similarly canceled my subscription to Z Magazine when they refused to take me off of a mailing list was sending abortion rights information to me. Nevertheless, I was turning poet, and around that time I was regularly reading publicly, waging the war, shouting down my enemy, and undermining his position. I would not allow myself to become officially connected to any group or movement. I could consider myself an ally, but never a "member". As much as there are millions who are set against the very things I am set against, they are not me, and I am not them. I am an army of one and I needed neither recruits or to be recruited.

And then, six months after 9-11 happened, I married a woman I have known for many, many years. The war continued, of course, but today, with four children, a mortgage, and a salaried position at a manufacturing company the conflict has been largely defensive. I am 40 years old now. Some would say I am a very part of this society I am at war with, and in some ways it is true. But for some time it has been more of a low-intensity conflict. It is time to weigh the battles, consider the casualties, and see, after this ceasefire, in what direction I am to go in next. Whether or not I “win” is, as always, irrelevant. It only matters that I know my enemy and know myself—as Sun Tzu would say—and thus have a better chance of success in my operations. But whether I charge forward or fall back, outflank or echelon, there will always be this Society vs. Me.

This is my enemy. This is my war. This is my story.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Who Says "Freedom Isn't Free"?

This often conjured idiom has been thrown around quite liberally ever since, ironically, the US government felt the need to advance unjust wars in the Middle East. It is used as a sign of gratitude to the military servicemen who “risk their lives” so that we can “remain free”. Aside from the dubious assertion itself that somehow the mass slaughter of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan secures our liberty, the phrase itself rings along the lines of a Third Reich slogan crafted by Goebbels. It is often used by those who care nothing for the inherent bedfellows of this “freedom”, that is Justice, Righteousness, and Liberty.

One cannot insist that “freedom” is being defended when the aggressor is that state which is depriving others of freedom. It makes no sense. I cannot storm into my neighbors house, rape his wife and kill his children, and proclaim that I am defending my freedom by doing so because he poses a threat to me. Indeed, if a sufficient threat exists, one consults an authority who can readily diffuse the situation and find a way to ease whatever conflict there is.

On a global level, we call such an authority the United Nations.

Freedom isn’t free? Really?

And yet it was Thomas Jefferson who insisted that man has the “inalienable right” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. These are God given rights, he asserts, and not rights handed down or allowed—nor defended—by a federal government. Certainly the principle that our nation operates under is the “idea” of freedom, but to what extent this actually manifests itself is certainly doubtful. Rather, we are assessed taxes, fines, conditions, and licenses in order to pay homage to federal and state authority. We are, in a sense, charged for whatever allowances our government makes for us, and our taxes seem to be paid in assurance that the government will leave us alone. Is this what is meant by “freedom isn’t free”?

Of course not. As much as it is evoked as a gratitude to sacrifice by the military, it conversely is used as a hammer against those who would argue the justification for continued wars of aggression, as if these people were ungrateful for the military. Worse still, it implies that my own day-to-day exercise of my God-given rights I somehow owe the military for. If I drive my car down any road I choose, I should thank the military for this? If I shop where I choose, eat what I please, read what I prefer, or think whatever thoughts I feel like, this is something I could otherwise not do without the armed forces?

The role of the military in the context of “Freedom Isn’t Free” thinking becomes removed from the reality of the situation. The situation is this: that the armed forces, the Department of Defense, are the very muscle behind the power of the federal and state governments. The threat of the use of force is evident and has been displayed on numerous occasions. The Bonus Army was none too quick to assert that “freedom isn’t free”. They knew damn well it was, and no one should say otherwise. So when the military came charging in, guns blazing, and drove these pensioners from Washington, D.C., it was clearly not the freedom of those men that was being secured.

The military is the guard dog of the government, which is, in turn, the hand-puppet of big business. To attempt to say that really the military is here to defend our own rights and liberties is to completely misunderstand the entire history of the United States. The American Civil War, for instance, was not fought to end slavery, though that ran a close second. The Civil War was fought to deny the freedom of succession to the Confederacy. In most cases in US history, the military is employed for the purpose of undermining, restricting, denying, and eliminating the freedoms of people, especially those people who resist the US business model for the world(see Philippines, Nicaragua, Panama, Vietnam, Mexico, Cuba, et. al).

Let us be clear, when calling on God and calling out “freedom”, that if freedom isn’t free, it only exists because of the taxation of millions of American workers. It is paid for by the sweat of the construction worker, the blood of the fisherman, the toil of the miner, the steelworker, the assembly line hand, the cook, the cleaner, the doctor, the lawyer, and every individual who must involuntarily surrender a percentage of his earnings to the State, Federal Government, Disability, Unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare. If freedom isn’t free it is because it is on the backs of the protesters, the defiant dissidents, the poets, the philosophers, the social workers, and the free presses that research the truth, record the facts, and preserve an unseen, unacknowledged history that lives beneath the bloated rhetoric of bureaucrats, bigots, and buffoons in business suits and Congressional campaign committees.
The sacrifice is that of the common man and woman whoes courage is getting up everyday to mundane and unfulfilling labor, to traffic jams, to police cars, crowded streets, cold eyes, and incompassionate multitudes. They sacrifice for the love of their children, the sanctity of their households, the security of their persons, and the betterment of their lives. Yet we find that government surveillance, satellite monitering, internet spying, and general suspicion by the very system we are paying for is targeting us everday as well. Where then is the gratitude? How can the DoD expect our thanks on one hand but be collecting data on us on the other? Are we the enemy? And if we are, how then do we owe any gratitudfe at all to those who sacrifice in order to allow this Beast to continue violating the very rights these soldiers are supposedly protecting?
No, my freedom is my own. All men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If the paltry infringments by King George were enough to drive the colonists to open revolt, what is it today that is taken from the common man and given to bankers, corporations, and conglomerates? My freedom is my own, as my body is my own, my thoughts are my own, and my life is my own. I owe no soldier for my existence, nor will I be brow-beaten into believing so.

Freedom IS free!

It always has been.

One need only express it to see whether or not the authorities actually believe in it.