U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed — 3/3

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Minorities are Cheaper

A 2014 study by a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley shows that minorities make up a greater percentage of inmates in private prisons than in their public counterparts, largely because minorities are cheaper to incarcerate. (It doesn’t say why. Are they more docile?) According to the study, for-profit prison operators accumulate these low-cost inmates “through explicit and implicit exemptions written into contracts between these private prison management companies and state departments of correction.”

An example of private prisons’ inadequate staff training leading to jail violence was reported by two Bloomberg News journalists, Margaret Newkirk and William Selway in Mississippi at the now-closed Walnut Grove Correctional Facility (WGCF). According to the journalists, the ratio of staff to prisoners in this prison was at times as low as 1 to 120. In a bloody riot in this prison, six inmates were rushed to the hospital, including one with permanent brain damage. During the riot, the staff of the prison did not respond but waited until the melee ended, because prisoners outnumbered staff at the time by a ratio of 60-1.

 Why Does the United States Have Millions of Prisoners?

Why do so many Americans deserve prison? Are they genetically determined for crime and mayhem? Is it something in the water? Are they just the worst people on earth? I’m reluctant to believe that. Something is causing them to be the way they are and preventing them from being honest productive citizens instead of misfits and social pariahs.

Could it have to do with being born and raised in a dystopian (as opposed to utopian) society? The United States is, after all, number one in the world in school shootings (and all firearms deaths, for that matter). It worships get-rich-quick entrepreneurs, speculators and deal makers, people who would rather grab than create.  (And what faster way to get rich quick than dope peddling?) Some of its citizens actually feel threatened by collective solutions whether it be environmental protection or universal health care–or even public schools–solutions that have immensely elevated people’s wellbeing all over the rest of the known world.

The United States is the world leader in home repossessions, in homelessness and people who live–and try to raise their families–in their cars. It’s a country run by an unenlightened conservative majority that prefers castigation to education, self-interest to solidarity. It’s every man for himself. It’s no wonder it gets lonely out there. People get desperate and inevitably get into trouble. And, thanks to mandatory sentences and other inhuman judicial and business practices many of them find themselves incarcerated for a long time, if not forever. Especially if they’re black.

The “natural” habitat of young American black men–the majority of the inmates in all U.S. penal institutions–is mean streets, inequality, penury, unfairness, violence and hopelessness. Could it be any other way? If the current President of the United States is a sociopath, how are the impoverished, uncultured black kids in the neighborhoods supposed to be models of sanity and civility?

It’a not clear how many Americans are aware of the extent to which President Obama was disrespected and boycotted by the Washington good ol’ boys for the mere fact of being black, but from this side of the Atlantic the disdain looked blatantly evident. Considering the treatment accorded the President of the United States, one can only imagine that  dispensed to young black drug offenders in the prison system, whether public or private.

Jill Filopivic Writes in The Guardian

I’d like to cite here a couple of paragraphs from Jill Filopivic writing for The Guardian, examples of how the American private-prison situation is seen by many people in the rest of the world.

“The privatization of traditional government functions – and big government payments to private contractors – isn’t limited to international intelligence operations like the National Security Agency. It’s happening with little oversight in dozens of areas once the province of government, from schools to airports to the military. The shifting of government responsibilities to private actors isn’t without consequence, as privatization often comes with a lack of oversight and a series of abuses. One particularly stunning example is the American prison system, the realities of which should be a national disgrace.

Some of those realities are highlighted in a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF). The ACLU contends the facility, which is operated by private contractors, is rife with horrific abuses.

The complaint lists a litany of such horrors: rampant rapes and placing prisoners in solitary confinement for weeks, months or even years at a time, where the only way to get a guard’s attention in an emergency is to set a fire. Rat infestations are so bad that vermin crawl over prisoners; sometimes, the rats are captured, put on leashes and sold as pets to the most severely mentally ill inmates.

There are many suicide attempts, some successful. The untreated mentally ill throw feces, scream, start fires, electrocute themselves and self-mutilate. The prison authorities deny or delay treatment for infections and even cancer. Stabbings, beatings and other acts of violence are common. Juveniles are housed with adults, including one 16-year-old who was sexually assaulted by his adult cell mate. Malnourishment and chronic hunger abound. Officers deal with prisoners by using physical violence…”

So don’t think that nobody’s looking.

Is There a Solution?

If there is a way out, it’s not in plain view. Because in order to solve the prison problem you have to start by solving everything else, as all of the United States’s critical issues are interrelated: health, education, militarization, white supremacy, social programs, corruption in business and government (including legal corruption like gerrymandering and hard-cash lobbying, that legislators have legalized in order to write their own tickets), unregulated killer capitalism, guns uncontrolled, inequality on all fronts… That is to say, virtually all of the sick values that underlie a terminally ill society.

Just imagine yourself sitting on the tip of a massive iceberg with a paddle, paddling like crazy trying to turn it around 180 degrees. Are you optimistic? Neither am I.

Back to Part 1

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U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed — 2/3

 

Kids for Cash

U.S. Drug Issues Were Perverted for Many Decades by One Man

Please note: “Richard Nixon simply presented his stance in terms that appealed specifically to his conservative base.” Therein lies an eternal problem with right-wing politics. In order to appeal specifically to a conservative collective you have to simplify your message so that it can be understood by simple citizens, simple legislators and simple Presidents. This inevitably leads to simple solutions to complex problems. And it doesn’t always work.

If we follow the historical record back to the 1930s we find a man called Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, given carte blanche by fanatical F.B.I. director, J. Edgar Hoover, to criminalize drugs that, until then, had been considered medical and social issues. Anslinger remained in office for 32 years and perverted drug issues in the United States until the very end. It was Anslinger who turned cannabis into a crime–and big business–and helped to export the Americans’ puritan conception of drug problems and retrograde solutions around the world. This was the moment to regulate drugs, to help addicts (though marijuana is not clinically addictive) and to clean up American society, not to criminalize drug users and give rise to the illicit drug trade behemoth and the largest prison population in the world,

Coincidentally, It’s Also about Profit

The most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice cite 133,000 state and federal prisoners in private facilities, 8.4% of the total U.S. prison population. Over the past 20 years the Correction Corporation of America, the largest private-prison company in the country has seen its profits rise by more than 500% with the overall prison industry’s revenue topping five billion dollars in revenue in 2011.

Such handsome sums attracted the attention of big investors like investment banks and vulture funds. The appearence of big money also gave rise to large-scale corruption and morally repugnant practices. The most egregious of these was the Pennsylvania “Kids for Cash” scandal, in which two judges accepted million-dollar cash commissions from a private reformatory for sending juveniles to their facility, often on trivial charges. Many of these children, some as young as 13, were  subjected to successively extended sentences  under “indefinite probation” laws, winding up spending six or seven years in prison for schoolyard shenanigans. The heinousness of this practice merits more extensive treatment in another post which I will get to as soon as I can.

Market Forces Create Sleazy Prison Industry Interest Groups

Less theatrical but also outrageous is the lobbying carried out by the prison business. The influence of the private prison industry on the government has been described as the “prison–industrial complex.” The term reflects the rapid expansion of the US inmate population due to the political influence of private prison companies and prison supply businesses. The most common agents of the prison-industrial complex are corporations that contract cheap prison labor, such as construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, companies that operate prison food services and medical facilities, private probation companies, lawyers, and the lobby groups that represent them.

Before these programs, prison labor for the private sector had been outlawed for decades in order to avoid competition with conventional businesses. The introduction of prison labor in the private sector contributed to the cultivation of  the prison-industrial complex. Between the years 1980 and 1994, prison industry profits jumped from $392 million to $1.31 billion.

Private prison companies have been members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a public policy organization that develops model legislation that advances free-market principles such as privatization. Under their Criminal Justice Task Force, ALEC has developed model (just fill in the blanks) bills which State legislators can then use when proposing “tough on crime” initiatives. By funding and participating in ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Forces, critics argue, private prison companies influence legislation for tougher, longer sentences. Writing in Governing magazine in 2003, Alan Greenblatt states:

“ALEC has been a major force behind both privatizing state prison space and keeping prisons filled. It puts forward bills providing for mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes sentencing requirements. About 40 states passed versions of ALEC’s Truth in Sentencing model bill, which requires prisoners convicted of violent crimes to serve most of their sentences without chance of parole.”

In 2016 the U.S. Department of Justice pronounced privately-operated federal detention facilities less safe, less secure and more punitive than other federal prisons and announced the department’s intention to stop using them. Then Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and on February 25, 2017 the Justice Department, under the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, overturned the ban on using private prisons. It was another of the Trump administration’s grotesque steps backwards.

Private Prisons Are Not a Bargain

A 2001 study concluded that a pattern of sending less-expensive-to-keep inmates to privately run facilities artificially inflated their cost savings. A 2005 study found that Arizona’s public facilities were seven times more likely than private prisons to house violent offenders and three times more likely to house those convicted of more serious offenses. A 2011 report by the American Civil Liberties Union point out that private prisons are more costly, more violent and less accountable than public prisons, and are actually a major contributor to increased mass incarceration.

This is most apparent in Louisiana, which is finally number one in something. It has the highest incarceration rate in the world. And it houses the majority of its inmates in for-profit facilities. Marie Gottschalk, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that the prison industry “engages in a lot of cherry-picking and cost-shifting to maintain the illusion that the private sector does it better for less.” She notes that studies generally show that private facilities are more dangerous for both correctional officers and inmates than their public counterparts as a result of cost-cutting measures, such as spending less on training for correctional officers (and paying them lower wages) and providing only the most basic medical care for inmates.

Go to: U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed, Part 3

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U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed — 1/3

.And That’s Not the Worst News

From the very beginning of the rise of private prisons  in the United States in the 1980s it seemed to me that something was inherently wrong with mixing prisons and profit.  It reeked of exploitation of the most defenseless members of society, people who are imprisoned, especially when those people are children. It seems only natural to me that the degree of success of the prison business is a function of how much profit can be increased by shaving important factors like staff numbers and training, medical and food services, education programs, job training, etc.

My suspicions proved to be right. Despite the legal requirement to match the standards of public prisons, private facilities have failed to maintain the same level of safety and security, according to declarations by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates on August 18, 2016. This statement provided fuel for an ongoing effort to have private prisons banned, or at least discontinued. Yates was later named Acting Attorney General of the United States by President Donald Trump and subsequently dismissed by him on January 30, 2017 after his team had decided to give priority to investors in the lucrative incarceration business.

The Americans Learned It from the Brits

American private prison traditions go back a long way, actually originating in Britain. After the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), deprived of the possibility of transporting convicts to the American colonies the British began housing them in prison ships moored in British ports. In the modern era, the U.K again leads the way. Wolds Prison opened as the first privately managed prison in the UK (and in Europe) in 1992. Today all UK prisons are privately run and all of them are legally required to turn a profit. But after a critical report regarding a privately-operated jail, the Labour party’s shadow justice secretary said they would be inclined to take control of for-profit prisons if the industry competitors had not met deadlines and rules imposed upon them. The chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick, recommended the creation of a government takeover contingency plan.

“It’s not delivering what the public should expect of the millions being paid  to run it.” said Sadiq Khan, a Member of Parliament later to become the mayor of London, “I see no difference whether the underperformance is in the public, private or voluntary sector… We shouldn’t tolerate mediocrity in the running of our prisons.” Khan continued: “We can’t go on with scandal after scandal, where the public’s money is being squandered and the quality of what’s delivered isn’t up to scratch. The government is too reliant on a cosy group of big companies. The public are rightly getting fed up to the back teeth of big companies making huge profits out of the taxpayer, which smacks to them of rewards for failure.”

The abuses in private facilities on the American side of the Atlantic are also historic, beginning in the post-Civil War South. Labor was scarce after the slaves were freed so “convict leases” were issued to plantations and businesses to supplement their work forces, a system that smells of slavery, and survived till the early 20th century. Coincidentally, today the majority of private prisons in the U.S. are in the South, coinciding roughly with states associated with the rich American tradition of lynching.

The War on Drugs and Creeping Privatization

The privatization of certain non-custodial prison services–medical and food services, vocational training, transportation, etc. has been standard procedure in the U.S. for a long time but it wasn’t until 1981 when President Nixon’s War on Drugs, with its more frequent and longer prison terms, gave rise to the necessity for additional lockup facilities. It didn’t take the private sector long to identify the business opportunities. Their foot in the door was the takeover of the management of the prison in Hamilton, Tennessee by the Correction Corporation of America. Prisons soon became big business and private companies were building their own prisons and filling them with drug offenders and other convicts.

Nixon’s War on Drugs has been intimately linked to the exponential growth of the American prison system, both public and private, into the largest prison population in the industrialized world with 698 people incarcerated per 100,000 population. (The U.S. is topped only by miniscule island country of the Seychelles out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with a population of 94,700 and an incarceration rate of 798. In all fairness they have to deal with pirates from all over the world, for whom they have built a special prison.)  But how does a modern, industrialized, technological, educated, democratic, Christian country like the U.S.A. become the world’s biggest jailer in absolute terms: 2.2 million prisoners?

It’s about Original Sin

An article by Emily Dufton in The Atlantic in 2012,  The War on Drugs: How President Nixon Tied Addiction to Crime, traces the recent history of the criminalization of drugs. She says,

“The issue of drug addiction has long straddled the line between being framed as a medical, political, or moral issue. Richard Nixon simply presented his stance in terms that appealed specifically to his conservative base. Andrew Hacker, in his 1973 article On Original Sin and Conservatives,’ summed up the ‘personal-culpability’ argument succinctly when he claimed that conservatives believe that ‘man is infected by the virus of Original Sin…’

“This is precisely the ideology that underscored all of Nixon’s drug war policies and allowed him to present himself as the moral solution to failed liberal initiatives. It was a delusion to assume that we could cure social problems that are, at root, lapses in moral judgment and the mark of original sin. The addict doesn’t need to be cured. Rather, he needs to be contained before he can do any additional harm. Launching a war that emphasizes forfeiture and “no-knock” drug busts over rehabilitation or treatment is the most logical outcome of this reasoning, one that we’ve endured since 1971.”

Go to: U.S. Private Prisons Have Failed, Part 2

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Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 2/3

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Three-Day-Old Fish

So when my conversation with the South American Gentleman turned to my old classmate, I asked him, “What’s Old Friend up to these days? Is he still at the Ford Foundation?”

“No,” said SAG, “he reached a very high position in the Ford Foundation, but then left them and went to work for a Washington think tank.” He seemed impressed with OF’s near miraculous ascent.

“I’m not surprised,” I said, “I always suspected the Ford Foundation was a CIA front organization. It seems logical to me that he should go from there to a ‘Washington think tank’. Doesn’t that smell to you a bit like three-day-old fish?”

“Oh no,” protested SAG, “the Ford Foundation does very valuable work around the world, nothing to do with the CIA.”

The Poor Man’s Think Tank is Google

The following day SAG and his charming wife came out to our house for lunch and a visit to Maureen’s etching studio. We drove them back to their hotel and dropped them off with effusive goodbyes. The Ford Foundation/CIA question continued to gnaw at the back of my mind, however. Back to Google, where I pop in: “Ford Foundation, CIA,” and come up with 809,000 results, which seemed to me rather a lot for a relationship that didn’t exist. I didn’t read them all. I didn’t need to. Just the first half dozen told me what I needed to know.

One of the principal whistle blowers is James Petras, retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of sociology at Binghamton University, SUNY, NY, who wrote in a 2001 article:

The Ford Foundation’s history of collaboration and interlock with the CIA in pursuit of U.S. world hegemony is now a well-documented fact… The Ford Foundation has in some ways refined their style of collaboration with Washington’s attempt to produce world cultural domination, but retained the substance of that policy… The ties between the top officials of the Ford Foundation and the U.S. government are explicit and continuing. —James Petras in “The Ford Foundation and the CIA: A documented case of philanthropic collaboration with the Secret Police.”

According to Petras:

The CIA considers foundations such as Ford ‘The best and most plausible kind of funding cover.’ The collaboration of respectable and prestigious foundations, according to one former CIA operative allowed the Agency to fund ‘a seemingly limitless range of covert action programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, universities, publishing houses and other private institutions.’ The latter included ‘human rights’ groups beginning in the 1950s to the present. One of the most important‘private foundations’ collaborating with the CIA over a significant span of time in major projects in the cultural Cold War is the Ford Foundation.

Ford Foundation/CIA, Like a Horse and Carriage

As it turns out, for more than half a century the Ford Foundation has been up to its neck in sinister CIA oobleck. From their big donations to the CIA-front Congress for Cultural Freedom and former Foundation president Richard Bissell’s relationship with DCI Allen Dulles in the 1950’s to their funding of anti-leftist human rights groups which focus on attacking human rights violations of U.S. adversaries, the Ford Foundation has worked as an extraordinarily effective CIA meta-front in the business of financing other CIA front organizations.

Coming soon, Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 3/3

Read the whole story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 3/3

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American academic, Joan Roelofs, in Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003) argues that Ford and similar foundations play a key role in co-opting opposition movements:

While dissent from ruling class ideas is labeled ‘extremism’ and is isolated, individual dissenters may be welcomed and transformed. Indeed, ruling class hegemony is more durable if it is not rigid and narrow, but is able dynamically to incorporate emergent trends. Roelofs reports that John J. McCloy, while chairman of the Foundation’s board of trustees, ‘…thought of the Foundation as a quasi-extension of the U.S. government. It was his habit, for instance, to drop by the National Security Council (NSC) in Washington every couple of months and casually ask whether there were any overseas projects the NSC would like to see funded.’ Roelofs also charges that the Ford Foundation financed counter-insurgency programs in Indonesia and other countries.

Bob Feldman’s long article, Alternative Media Censorship: Sponsored by CIA’s Ford Foundation? offers more spine-chilling details of how these two “philanthropic institutions” work together to advance the gringo agenda in the alternative news media. Feldman’s article explains in part why haven’t we read about this FF-CIA collusion before, even in the freak press. He writes on the Questions Questions website:

The multi-billion dollar Ford Foundation’s historic relationship to the Central Intelligence Agency is rarely mentioned on Pacifica’s Democracy Now / Deep Dish TV show, on Fair’s Counterspin show, on the Working Assets radio show, on The Nation Institute’s Radio Nation show, on David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio show or in the pages of Progressive, Mother Jones and Z Magazine. One reason may be because the Ford Foundation and other establishment philanthropic organizations subsidize the Establishment Left’s alternative media gatekeepers/censors.

See a fascinating diagram of this insidious “gatekeepers” phenomenon at the bottom of this page.

It’s a Pleasure and a Privilege to See Through You, Ford Foundation/CIA

Back to OF and SAG: Is it even remotely possible that SAG, an ongoing recipient of Ford Foundation funds for his human-rights work around the world, is unaware of the half-century-long carnal relationship between FF and CIA? If he is aware of it, why does he deny it so emphatically? If he isn’t, what’s wrong with him? Is he one of the individual dissenters who were welcomed and transformed, in Roelofs’ words, by the Ford Foundation and the CIA?

In any case, it has been a privilege to observe even marginally the machinations of the formidable Ford Foundation-CIA two-headed Orthrus, the philanthropic dog, and to confirm my suspicions regarding OF’s true colors, which explain, at least in part, his rapturous ascension to a high position in a septic think tank, to sit at the right hand of Power.

.Read the whole story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 1/3

orthrus

The Sin, Not the Sinner

A few years ago I received an email from a South American gentleman I had never met. He said that he and his wife were coming to Spain on vacation and that an old friend of mine had recommended that they stop by Granada to visit us. I was bemused because more than 30 years ago we decided that this “old friend,” admittedly a guy I had grown up and gone to college with, was probably a CIA agent, and we haven’t had any contact with him since. I won’t tell you the names of the South American gentleman (SAG) nor the old friend (OF), as I’m not so much interested in discrediting them personally as describing the intricately devious world they operate in. The Spanish say, “You name the sin, not the sinner…” (“Se dice el pecado, no el pecador…”)

SAG Loves to Travel

Before SAG and his wife arrived I did a Google search on him and discovered that he had been since the early 1970’s an eminence in the South American human rights movement, was even imprisoned there, and that he remains active promoting the cause around the world. This work took him on a dozen trips to different world capitals last year. When they arrived we picked them up at their hotel in Granada and drove them to our favorite village restaurant, where SAG insisted upon inviting us. We were both struck by his cosmopolitan air, his charm and erudition, his excellent spoken English, and the tasteful gift of flowers his wife presented to Maureen. SAG was surprisingly up on everything from the primary elections in the United States to contemporary art and the films of Stanley Kubrick, from which he could quote whole paragraphs of dialogue. In all he seemed quite a formidable person.

He only made one remark that struck a dissonant chord in me. When I asked him about his views of the 1973 Pinochet military coup in Chile, he replied that it was a result of “the excesses of idealism.” I was too embarrassed to ask him to elaborate on that cryptic remark, though it seemed quite clear to me that he was blaming on the victims the Chilean army’s bloody coup against a democratically elected government and the subsequent repression that took many lives and ruined many others.

OF Has a History

A bit of background on OF: When we graduated from MSU in 1965 he went into the Peace Corps and was sent to Latin America. I worked in PR for a year before being drafted into the army. When OF left the Peace Corps he went to the University of Chicago to take a PhD in education. Did this make him one of the notorious “Chicago boys?” I suspected as much. (I am reminded of Alden Pyle, the character played by Brendan Frazer opposite Michael Caine’s Thomas Fowler in the 2003 film of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American.) Shortly afterwards OF surfaced in the Ford Foundation, working in Latin America on “educational and human rights issues.” When he came to visit us in Granada around 1974 he had recently left Chile in the wake of the coup. He was later to go back.

Coming soon, Ford Foundation/CIA: Two-Headed Philanthropy – 2/3

Read the whole story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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Permanent War Is Bad for You

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But It’s So Good for Business; What Can We Do?

I wonder if the American dedication to permanent war over the past quarter century worries you as much as it does me. And it’s looking more permanent every day, as if the country had developed a bellicose addiction. It comes in colors: black ops, pre-emptive strikes, war by false flags, war by proxies, mercenary wars. What to do about it? I’ll do what I normally do, write it up, in the vain hope that someone will at least notice the absurdity and injustice of the situation.

I’ve got some specific concerns regarding this “Permawar” business.  Permanent war means victims every day, victims of all flavors, young and old, saints and sinners, most every type of person in fact, except politicians and war profiteers. I do want to include soldiers in this list of victims. They are, after all, human beings, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, all with families, dreams and ambitions to lose in a war. And most of them don’t want to be there in the first place.

Then there are the elderly and children, the utterly helpless. Yours are safe at home for now, but theirs are daily exposed to the biblical wrath of American military might at the hands of GI’s, U.S. “contractors” or neighboring proxy killers on the ground. Or they are victims of the even-more-sinister remote death from the sky delivered by troglodyte mannish boys playing video games in Nevada.

The Effect on the United States is Devastating

I’m also worried about the kickback damage done to the Americans at home. War is expensive. The twelve-zero sums that finance the forever wars have to come from somewhere. They come from the domestic budget, and don’t leave much money for anything else. This is why any European country has better roads and bridges than the United States. Between the defense budget (“defense” being an Orwellian euphemism, of course) and the refinancing of the country’s biggest banks and finance companies, the American lower and middle classes were pauperized. Their poverty begat a deficient education system which begat inequality, which begat delinquency and the largest prison population in the world.

That’s another issue that is seldom mentioned by “responsible journalists,” the fact that most of these wars seem made to order for arms manufacture profiteering. Does the mass media live in another dimension that doesn’t permit them to see certain aspects of the permanent war game? Permawar is a hedge-fund manager’s dream: an unending stream of parasites to be parasited. The reconstituted banks, meanwhile, have ascended straight into heaven on the backs of their investments in the arms-of-mass-destruction business. (You’re not going to pretend that cruise missiles and nuclear bombs aren’t “arms of mass destruction,” are you?)

One is tempted to wonder if the Permawar Machine wasn’t created purposely by a group of demented plutocrats to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich–The Trickle Up Machine–which they, never to miss a chance to exercise their fine sense of irony,  dubbed benevolently the “Trickle Down Machine.” So it goes.

Self-Censorship on Auto-Pilot

It also strikes me as uncanny that scarcely anyone over there who writes or speaks on the subject in the mainline American media ever mentions the fact that most of these senseless wars are about “the enemies'” strategic natural resources, the main (but far from only) one being oil. “What about Afghanistan?” you ask. “They don’t have oil wells.”

That’s true but, according to surveys done by the United States Geological Survey  a decade ago, Afghanistan sits atop a trillion-dollar lode of gold, silver and platinum, as well as significant quantities of iron ore, uranium, zinc, chromium, tantalum, bauxite, coal, copper and natural gas. Some experts have suggested that this impoverished, war-torn Himalayan country might also be on it’s way to becoming “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”, thanks to vast deposits of the raw material used in phone and electric car batteries. In all it amounts to an Aladdin’s cave just waiting to be plundered. This article from The Independent (August, 2017) highlights President Donald Trump’s interest in the subject.

Small, Important Voices

The most compelling comment on this lamentable situation comes not from the all-powerful American mass media, but from the humble blogosphere. Here’s a moving paragraph from a 1915 blog post by Jase Short entitled The Permanent War on Afghanistan-A Personal Reflection:

“9/11 and the war on Afghanistan woke me up to the situation in the world and made me who I am today. But what is shocking is that … the people of Afghanistan have been subject to the same violence for 14 straight years. They do not have the privilege of shrugging their shoulders or enjoying the emotional distance of screens. They are there when the daisy cutter bombs hit, when the hunter killer teams collect their grotesque trophies of human body parts, when killer robots massacre wedding parties. Caught between the occupation, its local agents, and the Taliban itself, these are the people whose lives have been turned into instruments of global politics.”

I wish I had said that.

Read the full story in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.

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