The Elephant

It is clear enough that America is broke.

It is equally clear that our country desperately needs public investment in so many neglected areas — housing, infrastructure, health care, you name it.

Is equally clear that government has grown to be an all-encompassing monster, threatening our rights and devouring our substance.

Most depressingly clear is that no one in public life is willing to mention
the elephant in the living room. Why are we broke? Why are so many crucial needs going unaddressed? Why has government grown to such threatening, overwhelming proportions?

The answer is simple and obvious, but politically unpalatable. War, and the preparation for war. In a word, the costs of empire.

Our so-called defense budget is nearly as large as that of the entire rest of the world combined! There is no conceivable national interest that could require 5% of the world to equal the armaments of the other 95%. Those costs become necessary only when you attempt to police the world, when, in short, you consider yourself a hyperpower, and bankrupt yourself in the process of trying to live up to your own paranoid fantasies.

War, it has been said, is the health of the state. The state, it has been
said, is the enemy of the citizen. I accept both those propositions. So when you are broke and when you are deprived of your rights in the name of security, put the responsibility where it belongs — on military commitments disproportionate to our strength, and on imperial ambitions inconsistent with free republican government. Ultimately, either the empire will win or the Republic will win, but we can’t have both.

Think about this, the next time you hear politicians dancing around the
question of why we are broke and insecure.

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