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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
Ahh, the United States – shining beacon of democracy and human rights, and the world’s largest arms dealer:
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States plans to export $46.1 billion in weapons this year, nearly doubling its 2010 figures, officials said.
During the fiscal year 2011, which ends September 30, Washington expects the sales of equipment and military services through its Foreign Military Sales process to grow.
About 79 percent of these exports are financed by client countries and organizations, with the remainder funded by US aid programs.
In case you missed that last bit, U.S. taxpayers will be graciously donating some $9.6 billion in order to provide weapons to impoverished nations around the globe, which apparently constitutes “aid.” Who needs food when you can have guns?
And then there’s this gem:
Several nations participating in the NATO-led air campaign on Libya have thus contacted the DSCA to replenish their stocks of ammunition depleted by the operations.
Weapons manufacturers were apparently experiencing a surplus of goods, so what better way to generate market demand then to start another war?
And what is quite literally the money quote:
In all, over 13,000 contracts are currently underway with 165 countries for $327 billion, according to Landay.
No one can accuse the U.S. military-industrial complex of putting all their eggs in one basket. There are 192 member states in the United Nations; the U.S. is providing arms to all but 27 of them. If the world is an increasingly violent place, it’s not hard to understand why.
It is, however, difficult to understand why the U.S. population allows this to take place. Why do we allow so much of our intellectual and material wealth to be devoted to the propagation of weapons and war? Our priorities as a society are greatly skewed towards self-destructive tendencies.
Consider for a moment some of our most profitable industries: arms manufacturing, investment banking, and of course health care and pharmacology. Weapons manufacturing has absolutely nothing constructive or beneficial to offer to the human race, investment banking only serves to enrich a lucky few while sabotaging the rest of society, and the health care industry actually profits from human illness and suffering. These three fields draw many of the sharpest minds on earth, and yet not only do they offer nothing to benefit the human species, they actively contribute to thwarting our development.
Where might we be if our priorities were reorganized? If the best minds of a generation were devoted not to death, destruction and profiteering, but to curing diseases, feeding the poor and developing renewable energy sources, what might we be able to accomplish?
Consider also the vast human potential that has been wasted in utterly meaningless tasks. How much time and effort has gone into devoting our twenty different brands of toilet paper? What might have been accomplished had that same effort been directed towards a more meaningful endeavor? How much money and brainpower is being wasted this very moment in order to market yet another brand of dish detergent or corn flakes?
It is difficult to envision a more inefficient society than ours. We expend vast sums of money and time on developing wholly unnecessary items and propagating the means of death. Meanwhile, those who actually contribute to society are afforded only modest recognition and remuneration. Compare a teacher’s $30,000 salary to the investment banker’s $3,000,000; which one has provided the more valuable service?
One of the most fundamental problems with our society is that we tend to view complex issues in simple, black-and-white terms. Democrats are good but Republicans are bad. Communism failed (according to the common view), so therefore capitalism must be superior. A free market engenders innovation and progress, so socialism must encourage complacency and sloth.
The reality, of course, is hardly so straightforward. The most basic foundations upon which our society is founded are gravely flawed, but in our simplistic world view they are considered beyond the realm of reflection and repair. The issue has already been settled, or so we are led to believe from birth. And so we are doomed to an existence of mediocrity and widespread suffering, until the inevitable collapse. Only when people have lost everything will they finally consider another way.