Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Strength At Home = Strength Abroad

We got a bit of a late start on our blog today.  We found ourselves preoccupied with a shooting at our old high school. No big deal!  It’s just another senseless act of gun violence that has become commonplace in this country.
The president just finished his third news conference of the year.  As expected the first question was about Syria. 
The president is on record as saying that regime’s use of chemical weapons would “cross a red line” in terms of his administration’s response to the violence that has taken the lives of over 80,000 Syrians.  There is now some evidence that the Syrian regime has in fact used chemical weapons against its own people.  So reporters naturally want to know precisely what the president intends to do about it.  The president said that he is still looking for verification that chemical weapons were in fact used.  He was unwilling to be specific as to the options he is considering.
The fact is the president’s options are extremely limited.
The neo-cons, led by Senator McCain are rattling their sabers for war.  They claim that the president’s unwillingness to step into the Syrian fray will embolden Iran and North Korea to defy the international community’s orders to disarm their nuclear capabilities.  They claim that the president’s reluctance to engage Assad is creating a power vacuum that our enemies are more than willing to fill.  They claim that as leader of the world’s lone super power he has a moral duty to intercede.
But this country is in no position to enter into another war…and the president knows it. 
Not only is the nation war weary; but our military has been stretched to the limit.  And with an aging population, crumbling infrastructure, an ineffective school system, high unemployment, historic levels of poverty and $16 trillion dollars of debt  he has to wonder how can he justify spending another $2 billion a week to blow the hell out of the Syrians?
All of which brings us to the point of today’s ramblings.
Our foreign policy is directly linked to the health of our domestic economic condition.  As long as we are suffering economically we will forever be at risk on the international stage.  Yet in spite of this obvious state of affairs we do nothing to fix it.
The key to a strong economy is a strong middle class.  Yet we stand back and watch as our rich get richer while the middle class gets poorer.  According to every single study we researched; since the economic recovery began the top 1% wage earners have enjoyed a 28% increase in their average income while the remaining 99% of Americans have watched their incomes fall by an average of 7%.
Not only does this disparity in income continue to grow but the reckless business practices that brought about these economic problems continue as well.
For example, we were told that we needed to bail out the banks to avoid another Great Depression.  We were told that the government bailed out the banks under the condition that they lend that money to small businesses and homeowners.  We were told that systems were put into place to guarantee that the reckless environment that flourished before would never be allowed to raise its ugly head again.
But the banks used that money to reward their CEO’s and shareholders.  And the sins of the past were never repaired and rarely punished.  Wall Street flourishes while Main Street suffers.
Why…because the banks are deep into the pockets of the politicians. 
Don’t believe it?  Take a look at www.OpenSecrets.org.  This website tracks where our politicians are getting the money for their election campaigns.  Bank America, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo head the list.
The system is rigged to favor the rich.  The politicians, the ones with the power to change things, would rather see the country suffer than risk a politically difficult vote.  Gridlock is preferred to democracy.  We have $89 trillion in unfunded obligations.  46% of those living in New York City are living below the poverty line.  Not one US airport can be found in the top 25 rankings in terms of efficiency, cleanliness and security.  The list goes on and on.
The country wants Washington to fix the problems we have here at home and let someone else worry about the Syrians. 
Winston Churchill once said: “Americans always do the right thing…after they have tried everything else.”
We are not so sure that is the case anymore.  We seem to stumble from one manufactured crisis to the next with no clear long-term plan.
We are in an economic mess, and anyone that doesn’t believe that this condition has a very real effect on our foreign policy does not understand how the world works.
If we want to be strong internationally…we have to be strong at home first.       



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