Archive for January 12th, 2010

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Who Will Make the Bullets?

January 12, 2010

We buy items from all over the world.  The global market has truly brought the price of goods down.  A quick look at products, such as televisions, shows this to be the case.  Ten years ago a 36 inch TV cost around $700, now a set with a quality not dreamed of then, is yours for $350 – about half the price.  If you judge by that alone, we receive better value for the products we buy.  What is the true cost?  Not to us individually, what does it cost us as a nation?

Of course, one has to look further back to see a time when televisions manufactures prospered in the United States, but at one time, they did.  There was a time, before World War II, most of the products we purchased where made here.  Having that ability gave us a national power few understood then and even fewer do now.  Oddly enough, the one man who understood it best lived in Japan.  His background was not in manufacturing though; Isoroku Yamamoto’s background was in Japan’s Imperial Navy.  Yamamoto was the commanding admiral that planned the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Yamamoto went as far as to publicly state war with America was ill-advised.  After his successful and stunning attack, Yamamoto is quoted as saying “I fear all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.”

Yamamoto came to understand the manufacturing might of the United States while he studied at Harvard.  He understood that when America converted its peacetime industries to military production, no force on earth could withstand it.  He was right.  Almost all industry ended up manufacturing products to support the war effort, factories that made brass buttons converted to making ammunition.  Remember the television makers, they made walkie-talkies and radar units.  The auto industry made tanks and jeeps.  Aircraft companies turned to warplanes.  Even the food supply played a part, ever heard of “meatless Tuesday?”  It is the practice of giving up meat one day a week to feed the solders and sailors.

As we accept more globalization, keep this point in mind – each manufacturer we buy products from overseas, is a manufacturer we do not have here.  It is one more stab in the heart of our ability to manufacture products at all.  It is one less button company we can convert to make bullets in time of war.  While no right-minded person hopes for war, only a fool does not prepare for it.  The cost of giving up our industrial might is much higher than a job or some price point at the check out stand.  It can cost us our country and our future, if a war the size of World War II comes again.  Need proof, just look around – next time, who will make the bullets?

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Tea-Party Run Over by Bus

January 12, 2010

The Boston Tea Party remains an icon of the American Revolution.  It speaks to our independent nature as well as our demanding a voice in any government body that levies a tax on us.  It is only natural for current Tea-Party Protesters to associate themselves with it.  As easy as this connection is to understand, it is only a connection at its surface.

The Boston Tea Party was an event, not a movement.  It was the culminating action of various groups that opposed the Tea Act of 1773.  That act established a monopoly over the sale of tea, for the British East India Company, in the American Colonies.  Before the Tea Party took place on the night of December 16, 1773, in other cities, including New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston, citizens prevented the taxed tea from unloading.  In the case of Charleston, SC, they unloaded the tea but left it to rot on the docks.  In Boston, Governor Hutchinson prevented tea ships there to leave without unloading.  The destruction of the cargo was a direct action to thwart the Governor.

The connection between this historical event and the various groups today assumes a false theory of history – the colonists opposed paying taxes.  In truth, they did not, they opposed a lack of say in the matter.  Tea-Party groups today oppose specific government spending, while American Colonists, as British subjects, protested a lack of representation guaranteed them in the Bill of Rights of 1689.

Furthermore, whatever the original intent of modern-day tea parties, conservative pundits have usurped the movement for there own purposes.  While there is much to oppose with current government actions, the Wall Street bailout for one, the goal of the right-wing conformists is to return control of the government to the very people who created the mess in the first place.  Vehicles like the Tea-Party movement unwittingly play to this end.

If the intent of the Tea-Party movement was to address the concerns of America’s middle class over inequities, how can the people who “threw them under the bus” speak for them now?  The financial mess today rests at the feet of conservative leaders like Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey.  They both support efforts of the Tea-Party, some say they are even behind its formation.  Whatever the truth, the Tea-Party movement today has nothing in common with Boston Tea Party.

In the end, conservatives have used the Tea-Party movement successfully.  They have created in it a confusing mash of ideas that key on divisive issues rather than offer meaningful ideas to better the nation.  The conservative bus ran the movement over.

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