Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An H-Bomb Love Sonnet: Part II

How to Quit Worrying and Love the Bomb
Part Two: H-Bombs as a Response to a Rotten Economy - A Bargain at Twice the Price! 24

It is no secret that the engine which makes it possible for a great state to fight wars, legitimate or not, is always its inherent wealth. With enough money we can create a military might suitable for any imaginable capability. The last Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill was for $108 Billion. What if we couldn’t borrow the cash to make such an appropriation?

If that were to be the case, we would have to determine just how essential such a war actually was to our national interests. Perhaps we could sell Alaska back to those recently prosperous Russians for enough money to continue our fight for another year! Is Iraq that essential to our national interests?

What is happening to our economy might very well turn out to be no more than a semiserious recession. On the other hand, there is a suspicious odor about this particular “collapse,” “correction” or “adjustment.” It might easily turn out to be a bit more severe than our memories of generally painless “stagflation,” “inflation” or “recessions” in the past.

No problem. We can rest assured that our Chinese bankers will be happy to reconfigure our debt payments, restructure our interest or, at least, give us a break until things improve a little. Those Chinese are famous for that sort of compassionate lending laxity. Maybe they would like to buy Alaska! A great idea, especially if they can be convinced to pay for it with something other than our dollars.

The financial burden of a great military, especially one with an appetite for irrelevant and expensive assets, is, simply enough, that it costs a lot of money. Unhappily, we have been “hollowing” out all the equity of our economy and turning it over to our billionaires in a brave act of unbridled capitalism (best termed national socialism). We have to suspect that these stalwart American billionaires might be a little reluctant when it comes to financing our extravagant and illogical military should an actual threat to national security arise.

Here we should consider a comparison to the Roman model during the times of that empire. The division of wealth was almost total. The rich, noble families held immense assets (Africa, Spain, Gaul) as a standing form of incentive to assure their loyalty to Caesar. Unlike today when such fortunes must be shielded from the public eye by apologies and deceptions, those Roman folks considered them to be strategic assets!

The compensation was very great for these noble families. They could and did finance their own armies and successfully pursued all sorts of expeditions to enlarge the empire. Of course, the looting involved in such military victories also enhanced their wealth, and to some extent, the wealth of the common Roman. Looking over all the territory, slaves and plunder, they would inevitably say “See, everybody wins!”

Our situation is a little different. First, we can rest assured that no matter how grave the insult to our physical country, these billionaires will continue to do just swell. Their view of our current economy is that profits will be handled capitalistically (15% capital gains tax) and losses will be handled socialistically (Bear Sterns bailout).

However, we must, here, recall that our expensive military is paid for by taxes on “earned income” while the wealth of the billionaires is generated by “unearned income.” Not only is the source stream of these separate types of tax revenues different, the destination of the tax money collected may as well also be considered separate.

As a consequence of this, we might experience a fiscal necessity to start lowering the expense, and hence the military capacity, of our armed forces. This is not to say that we would cease the purchase of all sorts of expensive, irrelevant equipment right away (a precipitous withdrawal). That sort of picky shopping might reduce some of our billionaires to the drudgery of the “earned income” category.

What such a change in policy would suggest is that we would have a continuously smaller and less potent military. Fewer tax dollars means fewer soldiers (but probably not fewer wars).

Here we come, once more, to the H-bombs. Oh yes, we wasted five trillion on stars wars, but we finally paid for those old ICBMs from the 1960’s! We now own them, free and clear! They are like roads and bridges and dams. Of course, the billionaires enjoy the nebulous advantage of the security they provide along with the rest of us “earned income” types, but they don’t own them.

Are the ICBMs really the right weapon to fight “The Global War on Terrorism?” Well, probably not, but they are a weapon we can afford, especially since they are already paid for, and Lord knows, we have plenty of them. And, “You have to go to war with the weapons you have, not the weapons you want.”

Get it?

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