Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lying States: Libya and the United States

“No U.S. leaders dare to tell the truth to the people. All their pronouncements rest on a mythical assumption that ‘recovery’ is around the corner. Implicitly, they say this is a normal recession. But this is no normal recession. There will be no painless solution. ‘Sacrifice’ will be needed, and the American people know this. But no American politician dares utter the word ‘sacrifice.’ Painful truths cannot be told.” 

"Why has this been a lost decade? An answer can be found in one simple comparison: How Dwight Eisenhower and his successors used the cold war and how George W. Bush used 9/11. America had to face down the Russians in the cold war. America had to respond to 9/11 and the threat of Al Qaeda. But the critical difference between the two was this: Beginning with Eisenhower and continuing to some degree with every cold war president, we used the cold war and the Russian threat as a reason and motivator to do big, hard things together at home — to do nation-building in America. We used it to build the interstate highway system, put a man on the moon, push out the boundaries of science, teach new languages, maintain fiscal discipline and, when needed, raise taxes. We won the cold war with collective action.

"George W. Bush did the opposite. He used 9/11 as an excuse to lower taxes, to start two wars that — for the first time in our history — were not paid for by tax increases, and to create a costly new entitlement in Medicare prescription drugs. Imagine where we’d be today if on the morning of 9/12 Bush had announced (as some of us advocated) a “Patriot Tax” of $1 per gallon of gas to pay for education, infrastructure and government research, to help finance our wars and to slash our dependence on Middle East oil. Gasoline in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, averaged $1.66 a gallon."

Although I don't always agree with Thomas Friedman and what he has to say, this is a column I like. It is worth the read, despite some deficiencies, such as, Friedman's rather innocent characterization of the how the U.S. used the Cold War to build up the nation at home. And Friedman left out one of the most important elements of this use of the Cold War by leaving out any mention of the civil rights movement. As Nixon said, with his inimitable crassness, we needed to end segregation because it left us open to charges of racism by the communists. Not that segregation was wrong......rather that ending segregation was needed as something like "an act of war." Amazing. Also, if Friedman expects Obama to be "honest" I feel for his naivete. Obama is part of the problem, not part of the solution because he is one of the oligarchs as he has shown over and over and over again. Still, this is a column that should make us think about why things are so bad. 

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