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The Five Greatest Threats To America

Updated on January 5, 2014

5. The Military Industrial Complex

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex," warned Eisenhower in 1961 when he turned the reigns of power over the nation responsible for the largest economic engine the world had ever seen to a new president at the opening of a new decade.

The military industrial complex, is a triangulation of fiscal influence between bureaucracies responsible for the demarcation of the defense budget, campaign finance and lobbying, and the corporations responsible for the production of machines of war. Described sometimes as an, "iron triangle," it is easy to see that wealthy corporations with the capital required to sustain a career in politics influence those politicians and their bureaucratic spending and foreign policy in a way that will continue to grow their profits. This often results in, "pork barrel," spending on military equipment that is utterly unneeded like the 2,000 Abrams tanks that rolled off of assembly lines directly into the Sierra Army Depot, a place where tanks go to die shortly after birth. The army does not want, has not asked for, and does not need any more tanks and yet still congress allocates an exorbitant budget for tank production annually.

The U.S. spends half of the world's international collective defense budget every year (between 700 Billion and 900 Billion roughly). This is more than half of the government's yearly spending. Much of which is still going to reproduce machinery to fight the cold war. One is tempted to at least employ the argument that at least it produces jobs, this was certainly true during WWII during which the hounds of war dragged us out of the depression. But,like so many manufacturing related jobs most of these jobs have gone overseas leaving the benefits of this en-devour in the hands of a few already obscenely wealthy CEO's.

It can be effectively argued that a forth point has been added to this corrupt polygon, the media, especially since one of the political parties has acquired a media mouthpiece that masquerades as news. The narrative presented on these, "fair and balanced," programs is one paid for and constructed by the same titans of industry that stand to make money off of defense spending and the narrative is always one of fear thus garnering popular support for our needlessly, grotesquely swollen defense budget.

Further, the production of all these bellicose resources, gives the united states the unique means to intervene in every skirmish world-wide. We have in a sense become the world's police-officer because we are the guy on the block who has bought the most guns. This intervention costs us both trillions and the absolutely priceless, the lives of our young citizens.

4. Twenty-Four Hour New Networks

Journalism is not what it once was. With the advent of cable and it's installation into nearly every American home, news networks must work harder and harder for their audience share. This breeds a journalistic culture of sensationalism, hyperbolic opinion, and fluffy entertainment. The result as poll after poll has shown is not only a uninformed news consumer but a miss-informed new consumer.

In the decades previous to these declines in standards, the news was a relatively sponsor free, uninterrupted nightly (something like a) public service. The major networks detached from the business as usual ratings grab game in order to fulfill the essential duties of not only dispensing accurate objective information to the public but further ensuring that we had an informed electorate.

With the corporate investment in the twenty four-hour news cycle, journalism has lost all sense proportion and accountability, hitting us with sensationalist nonsense that not only obfuscates basic truths that align with reality but creates narratives that abandon reality completely. If a well-informed populace is indeed necessary for a functional democracy then this decline in standards is disconcerting to say the least.

Was Citizen's United a Good Decision?

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3. The Citizens United Ruling

This 5-4 supreme court decision has completely deformed the process of running for political office. To learn more about it in depth see my separate hub, "What is The Citizen's United Ruling?" In a very rancid nutshell, the decision throws out all the common sense rules of quid pro quo that forbade labor unions and corporations from donating to political campaigns. With the absurd conclusion reached, that corporations are people and therefor entitled to free speech, the only floodgates that even ostensibly separated corporate interests from political legislation vanished over night in the 2010 ruling.

If corporations are now people then they can form PAC's and Super-PAC's (Political action Commitees) to further their interests. Since money equals message saturation, corporations can now actively sponsor the reelection of politicians that are so to speak, "in their pocket," or at the very least owe them a big favor. The result is legislation that is good for corporations and bad for actual people.

The most simple way to describe the landmark decision that was "Citizens United," is as the legalization of unlimited bribery of politician's by corporations. The Federal Election Board has safe guarded us from this obvious non-starter in the pursuit of balanced, appropriate, and populous favored domestic and foreign political policy, but has been rendered impotent by this massively partisan ruling.

2. The Tea Party

This new-breed of Republicanism is imbued with the fatal flaw of dogmatism. These dogmas include the belief that government doesn't work and is unnecessary, a belief which they deftly reinforce and bring to fruition through the election of increasingly ignorant, bigoted, and recalcitrant congress people that refuse to legislate in relation to reality.

A further tea-party dogma is that taxing anyone at any time is bad, no exceptions. With corporate taxation now all but nonexistent (see section number three) and tax rates for all but the wealthiest Americans at all time lows, a strategy sold to us based on the pseudo-scientific principles of supply-side economics and the fiction that marginal tax increases on the wealthy will deter them from doing business and stop all job creation (see section number two).

And the tenet of faith that I find most disturbing; the dogmatic rejection of information, intelligence, and science, in favor of a folksy down home-brand of common sense that can be found in and based upon nothing but traditional conceptions of family values. How the interaction of the family informs anyone of macro-economics, military history, or foreign affairs has not yet been demonstrated. But the exact antithesis of this proposition has been well-established by the muddled dross that, seemingly of it's own free-will, ejaculates from the mouths of tea-party Republicans on a daily basis.

The rejection of all things scientific and academic for the adoption of ideology and ignorance, may make the average American feeling a bit less insecure, but ironically is leading us all toward a precarious precipice over which we may tumble leaving the U.S. in a state of antiquation and irrelevance.

1. Gerrymandering

I may have saved this for the coveted number one spot, because it is the most direct and blatant hijacking of the spirit and letter of democratic consent of the governed, that no one talks about. Gerrymandering is the redrawing of congressional district lines to ensure the reelection (or sometimes ousting) of the incumbent.

It is achieved through,"Packing and Cracking." That is packing voters of one type into one district to eliminate their influence in other districts and cracking up like voters into many districts in order to deny them a voting bloc sufficient to effect elections.

We have gerrymandering to thank for a congressional approval rating in the single digits and concurrently an alarmingly high rate of retained incumbencies resulting in the consummate career politician. Such a politician has one focus, their next reelection, and the rest of their efforts go toward passing corporate friendly legislation to the many PAC's they are beholden to.

If you doubt the efficacy and prevalence of gerrymandering in keeping bad politicians in office simply look at a congressional district map of nearly anywhere in the country. These districts split up counties, cities, time codes, urban and rural areas, and every other logical way you might hope our congressional districts might be determined. The resulting meandering, absurdly demarcated districts take on such ridiculous shapes to serve only one purpose, the purpose of the party that controls the area, specifically the purpose of getting that person reelected.

The Penn. Federal Districts laid over the Penn. Counties
The Penn. Federal Districts laid over the Penn. Counties

Summing Up

It was hard to whittle this list down to five, and I'm certain I've neglected some of the panoplies of socio-political problems we face. Just off the top of my head other issues that might have a sure place on this list are; the drug war; The FED; the absence of a socialized health care system; The Patriot Act; systemic racism and white privilege; crumbling domestic infrastructure; etc. We have no shortage of problems. And the only way to begin addressing them is to begin constructing an accurate narrative about those problems. Unfortunately, the age of information seems very much to also be an age of misinformation. How do we begin to move in a coherent direction? I'm not sure, but the movement must come from a united front with ideas and solutions that conform to the realities we face rather than the narrative we are provided by corporate sponsored media.

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    • profile image

      Mateen 2 years ago

      Well I guess I don't have to spend the weekend fiigurng this one out!

    • cjhunsinger profile image

      cjhunsinger 3 years ago

      adam

      Although my original post was about your article the last three were not. The last two were in reference to "wrench". Its not always about you adam. With reference to your article--you might read my original post. I do believe, "America has Died" , but for some very different reasons.

    • adamschwartz profile image
      Author

      adamschwartz 3 years ago from Syracuse NY, USA

      I'm sorry are you people reading the hub I wrote? Where did I mention Hitler, ethnic cleansing, Jefferson or Andrew Jackson? And if you read my hub as anti-U.S., or anti-constitution then you really need to learn something about nuance and intent. I'm simply highlighting the things that are obfuscating, or rendering inert the beautiful mechanism that this country once was. I'm not criticizing America, I don't hate America, I'm criticizing the things that are directly linked to the sad decline of the U.S. on every social index by which we rate societies. If you really can't appreciate that difference then your part of the problem. The fairy tale of enduring American Exceptionalism is kind of indefensible when we have 2,000,000 people in prison, have a health care system rated 37th internationally, etc.,etc.,etc.

    • profile image

      mbuggieh 3 years ago

      wrenchbiscuit:

      Your comment claiming that Hitler modeled this "final solution" after what you call a "successful campaign of ethnic cleansing carried out by Andrew Jackson" and assorted Founding Fathers is entirely faslse and entirely inexcusable.

      As is your entirely suggestion---your libel, that Jefferson was a pedophile.

      Your hatred of America is extreme and unfounded, and as noted above, destroys any argument that you offer.

    • cjhunsinger profile image

      cjhunsinger 3 years ago

      wrench

      Your extreme bias and unfounded hatred of something destroys any argument you may have. Please provide a better form of government then that outlined in the US Constitution. I would enjoy an intelligent response, if you can leave the rant behind.

    • wrenchBiscuit profile image

      Ronnie wrenchBiscuit 3 years ago

      cjhunsinger

      The European Colonialists took away the freedom of the Indigenous and the African,and replaced it with what,The Bill of Rights? They stole the wealth that they now call their own and named it what ,Democracy and Freedom?Adolf Hitler modeled his final solution after the successful campaign of ethnic cleansing carried out by Andrew Jackson and many other "Fathers of Freedom", including the pedophile Thomas Jefferson.This article at the very least moves toward the light,whereas your apology for evil only illustrates how accustomed many Americans have become to the darkness.It appears that you are the most uneducated of all.

    • cjhunsinger profile image

      cjhunsinger 3 years ago

      Some excellent points, some intermixed and convoluted. I am not a Tea Party member, but I am very much aware of what the Tea Party is and is not. Your uneducated rant regards the Tea Party is just that and degrades your whole message.

      If what is, is wrong, then what is right?

      You promote socialized health care, are you then espousing socialism as a cure for the socialism that is destroying this nation. Can you point, in history or in present context, to any nation, any political philosophy that has brought more to the human race then that nation founded on the principles of individual freedom and free enterprise?

      What political principles would you promote other then those contained within The Bill of Rights that would greater benefit mankind. The freedom to achieve is the embodiment of those rights. Would you take away that freedom for for the advancement of the hive?

    • profile image

      Sanctuary 3 years ago

      You could have gone a lot further on this one. Try a currency system that has no real value and is the greatest Ponzi scheme on Earth. You mentioned Democracy but we are definitely not that. Our leaders are not elected by the people for the people by any stretch of the imagination. They are bought and chosen by those with money to support their agendas and then we vote. Capitalism only works when people have jobs and are paid well. Instead we pay people over seas to increase profits for a few who play the stock market all day, while the fed keeps giving them money. In reality are Capitalist society is creating Socialism since they do not want to pay taxes or people in this country. This of course brings up the next greatest threat missing on your list. In the next decade or so all are great American companies will soon be rebranded and owned by other nations and we will be competing against ourselves. Making your citizens work for 5 cents a day was definitely worth it because China got everything they ever wanted for free. The last time I checked the military industrial complex were the only manufacturing jobs left in America. I also noticed a typo, you said there were News networks. I have not seen any on television in years.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You make some very good, thought-provoking points. I can't disagree with your list, especially your choice for #1, which is probably the hardest one to change.

    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Behr 3 years ago from NW PA

      Very interesting hub indeed! I have a relative who is highly involved in the local tea party movement and I have great concern. So if the conservative right wing is central in the movement, many would call themselves Christian. It is my understanding that Christians are not commanded to be anti-government ( "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" - Jesus Christ) and the anti-government theme appears to be the fire that keeps this tea pot boiling.

    • ziyena profile image

      ziyena 3 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

      Totally disagree with you. I'm not a TeaBagger, nor a Christian, and DO not believe in any socialist system, but I do side with a strong military and capitalist system ... other than that, a pox on both houses and hope to Hell that Libertarians take over and then everyone is happy .... Christians, Muslims, Gays, straights, women's rights, and black and white, polka dot and purple ... nice attempt at showing your views on the article and voting UP because it was thought provoking, but as I am, stuck in my ways, not convinced :)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      This should be read by every American citizen, so that everyone can understand the problems that will not go away if we fail to understand how these problems were created and by who, and VOTE accordingly.

      Voted up, UAI and shared.

    • wrenchBiscuit profile image

      Ronnie wrenchBiscuit 3 years ago

      Great article and nice lead pic.In fact,it caught my eye before the headline.I carefully read through the text several times.Useful information and well written.

    • profile image

      mbuggieh 3 years ago

      Excellent points---a breath of fresh air!

    • PaulGoodman67 profile image

      Paul Goodman 3 years ago from Florida USA

      You make some great points and definitely agree with you!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      This is great! Everyone should read this. Voted up, BAUI, and sharing with followers. Pinned to my 'Political' board.