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July 3, 2017


Tomorrow we celebrate a misnamed Independence Day; we actually and officially became independent of British tyranny by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, not by the Declaration of July 4, 1776. I think that quibbles about times and dates in history are immaterial and that what new political and economic understandings are ushered into a new history of people and events on such dates are what should be our focus for discussion. Sometimes we trade one tyranny for another in the passing parade as we stumble on from day to day and year to year, which is my focus for this essay and up for discussion later in this piece. Our long trek from Washington to Lincoln to FDR to Trump has been quite a parade.

Washington was our hero of the day in 1776 and afterwards, being the only president who was elected without opposition. Our nation’s capital and the State of Washington were named after him. Can anyone reading this imagine that if Puerto Rico were admitted into the Union as a state that it would be on the condition that the new state must bear the name of the State of Trump in order to gain his signature? Foolish idea? It’s not so far out as you might think given his deep and continuing experience in sharing the pool with Narcissus and his psychotic need for adulation.

Of course, there is almost always the “loyal opposition” with which rulers must contend and sometimes the opposition is not so loyal. Thus Washington had his Tories, King George had his revolutionary colonies, the papal appointee Charlemagne had internal opposition, Rasputin and the Romanovs were assassinated and the Kennedy brothers suffered a like fate. Julius Caesar had his “et tu, Brute” moment while being stabbed to death by his political opposition and, as noted by Kurt Vonnegut of Dresden fame, “so it goes,” as though these and other such experiences (including the annihilation of Dresden while he was held there as a prisoner in WW II) are normal and to be expected.

It is not just history but how we view it and how we can learn from it without becoming captive to it that (in my view) should capture our attention. Thus we (again in my view) should take what is good and discard what is bad from history in forming policies for today, recognizing that the policies of today will themselves be subject to reformation in the future as events may dictate, such as, for instance, methods of production in our current transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age and how we are to keep Americans alive when automation does virtually all the work that humans formerly performed. Obviously there are enormous changes in such areas coming into view which must be accommodated and, like now, there will be the pro and con arguments by competing interests to be resolved.

The foregoing is background for today’s topic, independence for whom? The Republican Party of today has been captured by libertarian interests, libertarians such as the Koch Brothers, whose father was one of the founders of the John Birch Society, a far-right forerunner of current Republican policy to further enrich the rich and further impoverish the poor. Government’s role in this politics for the rich is to be minimal in this not so new nihilistic world they have created; government should only be involved in keeping order and protecting the property interests of the rich, so taxes should be assessed by government only for such order and protection.

Additional taxes proposed for any other purposes contrary to the libertarian pursuit of all the nation’s wealth and income is to be DOA when brought before their tea party and other bought and paid for politicians. Those who would expand government’s roles in policing markets, providing social insurance and healthcare to all the people etc. are to be ignored since they are all communists, socialists or other such enemies of freedom and free enterprise. In short, libertarians want all of the advantages that go with freedom in a democracy but none of the costs involved in having and maintaining our democratic institutions. They plainly exhibit no love of country; only of mammon.

All of such policies are sold to you and me under such propagandistic words and phrases as “freedom,” “liberty,” “justice” and other such catchwords, as though there is some God-given right for capitalists to pursue their greedy goals while being oblivious to the interests of the rest of us. We are mere widgets to be used or discarded in their drive to gather all of the assets this economy produces but without costs of acquisition, costs such as fair wages paid to their corporate workers.

What about our “independence?” Is independence only for the rich and corporate class and their moneychangers and paper shufflers on Wall Street? What about the grossly underpaid assembly line worker and those who labor in this economy to provide the income and wealth bought politicians then give away to libertarian interests? What kind of economic democracy does that system describe?

I say it describes tyranny. We are celebrating our relief from one tyranny but are now in the throes of another where libertarians are the new King George and we are the economic colonists as in the Yogi Berra’s observation of deju vu all over again except that this time it isn’t funny. Our greatest domestic problem today is, as I often lament, wage inequality, and unless we resolve it, our economy is at risk.

So, Independence Day? For whom? Those whose jobs are lost to automation? To outsourcing? Those who are sick and dying for want of healthcare? Whose voting rights have been suppressed? Who cannot afford to go to school? Who lost 22 trillion dollars in home equity and economic turndown during Bush’s Great Recession?

I think a government of, by and for the people per Lincoln should have a bigger role in helping people to help themselves rather than serving merely as an ATM machine for the few to continue their accelerated plunder of our resources, our labor and our democratic institutions under the cover of liberty, freedom and other such disguises for their greedy plans to effectively strip us of our independence while destroying democracy in the process. We are independent of the tyranny of King George, but are not free from tyranny. Have we of whatever color graduated from the plantation mentality of the libertarians or are we effectively still picking cotton for the massahs? Given the evidence, what’s your take this “independence” day? Are we free? I vote nay.     GERALD      E


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