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"Looting and the Social Contract"

Recent events have made clear the intentions of the extreme conservative movement, which has temporarily taken over the Republican Party, which has temporarily [we hope] taken over the entire Federal Government. The intentions are to rescind The Social Contract.

Jean Jacques Rousseau, way back in the period of the Enlightenment, wondered what was going on in human groups. At first our groups were like extended families. As they became larger, they were clans, and then tribes. Authority rested in a strong man -- the chief, the king, the dictator. Individuals obeyed the strong man because they were afraid of him, or didn't and rebelled because they weren't.

Rousseau's Enlightenment ideas are contained in his book, called simply, THE SOCIAL CONTRACT. He states that humans band together consciously and willingly, in order to accomplish certain tasks, which no one of us can do alone. That banding together for a purpose is the social contract.

One of the plainest statements of this, in reality and not just in theory like Rousseau's book, is the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America. "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." School children used to have to memorize it. Justice, domestic tranquility and the general welfare are important and worthwhile goals. We agree to be taxed, so that these goals can be achieved. We assign leaders, experts hopefully, to make decisions in order to bring these goals into reality.

But here come these reactionary conservatives, bad-mouthing the government, saying "government is the problem, not the solution," and laying waste the bureaus and agencies that are designed to bring about justice and domestic tranquility and the general welfare. For twenty-five years they have been trying to undo the Social Contract. They mock "bureaucrats." They want to "starve the beast," meaning the government itself. They laugh at the idea of universal health care. They get rid of experts and unfund the agencies that employ them. They have made "welfare" into a mild cuss word. They despise and fear science.

The result of this is that we have two disasters on our hands, which no one in or out of government knows quite what to do about.

[1] The deliberate, made-in-USA quagmire in Iraq. We watch total incompetence flounder. There is no attainable goal, no objective. What are the soldiers and National Guardsmen supposed to do there? Take that bridge? Take Pork Chop Hill? No. Stay alive -- that's all the strategy that's left. Firefights simply create new enemies.

[2] The infrastructure here at home. The experts have been warning us for decades. But now our attention has been captured -- not a bridge here or there, one at a time, but an entire city gone, probably irretrievably.

This deliberately weakened government can't handle it. As to Iraq, the experts warned that we needed from the beginning more troops than were sent to do what was originally planned. All the lies about what the objective really was -- secure those oil fields -- added to the problem. Now it's too late to correct the error, because there aren't any more troops, and there won't be more.

And here at home, government agencies in the hands of political hacks who don't believe in government anyway can't handle the natural disasters that keep coming. The two problems are strangely linked by the fact the National Guard and its equipment were in Iraq, trying merely to stay alive, instead of in Louisiana, where there was work to do.

What shall we do now? Here are some blunt suggestions.

Stop the war.

Divert the weapons of mass destruction portion of the Pentagon Budget to homeland infrastructure.

Bring all troops back to the homeland. Close all overseas bases. If we can't get along with the rest of the world, try harder -- firefights don't help. Defense must be defense, not theft of other people's oil fields.

Rehire the experts. Fire the appointed political cronies.

Shoot the looters -- no, wait! That term as it is used now has confusing racial overtones, not unlike the word "criminal." But not all looters, and not all criminals, are black. The real serious looting has been going on before New Orleans sank under the waters

No bid contracts are the butt of jokes in Iraq -- much of Halliburton's money never crosses the ocean at all. Watch the pending looting of the "rebuilding" of New Orleans. They have already arranged that the actual laborers who will do the work will be paid less, and the contractors will loot like mad.

Notice how the budget of FEMA has been folded into "Homeland Security," which cares far more about "terrorism" than any threat of natural disaster, and wastes huge quantities of money trying to outguess terrorism. It amounted to looting.

Look at the pork in this country. Some of it is quite ridiculous and perhaps harmless except as wastefulness. But we have a huge chunk of it right here in New Mexico, which is not only shameful, but dangerous. A new generation of atomic bombs, homemade right here in Albuquerque and Los Alamos, not as a deterrent -- you can't deter suicide bombers by threatening to kill them -- no, these are for real serious use. And it is all pork. That's why our Senator Domenici is so in favor of it. It is a form of looting.

Look at health care in this country -- well, you hardly can any more -- it's hardly there at all any more. The HMO's are looting medicare in ways that are remarkable. The citizens don't know it, and don't believe it, when told. If a medicare patient is enrolled in an HMO, that HMO collects from Medicare, more than $400 PER MONTH, whether any medical professional sees that patient at all or not. And the people who answer the phone at the HMO are there to make it difficult, utterly frustrating, for the patient to get near a doctor. It is looting.

That medicare reform bill which was supposed to provide the drugs elderly patient have come to need is a form of looting. The pharmaceutical companies are free to loot from the government and from the ailing elderly.

These conservatives came into office saying that the government can't do anything right. Now they have been in office since 1980 -- and they have demonstrated that what's left of the government after they have gutted it, indeed cannot. FEMA is no accident, no case of "What happened?" FEMA is exactly what the conservative movement intended to have happen.

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Copyright © 2005 Harry Willson

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