7/15/2016

#172 Conservation, Conservatives, and Our "Children's Children"

Theodore Roosevelt reminded United States' citizens that, "We are not building this country of ours for a day. It is to last through the ages." Roosevelt was an enlightened conservative of the last century. Today, there appears to be no such animal in politics, particularly in Republican politics. Roosevelt took pride in knowing that he created the National Park System, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, and more than a dozen national forests. His opinion of wilderness was "You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it--keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all those who come after you."

Modern conservatives--more accurately described as right wing radicals--think they know better than did Roosevelt, nature, and even their gods. They believe they know when the world is going to end, since they are actively taking a hand in bringing on that end, and have no worries about the futures of their "children's children." They hope no such generation comes to be. Under the same delusions that allows radical Muslims to send their children off to school with a bomb strapped to their chests, Christian Conservatives are happily sacrificing the future of their children out of primitave superstition. The craziest of these radicals hope for a Rapture followed by Armageddon and have taken their gross biblical misreading and lack of historical context to new superstitious depths. The more common cynical right wing radicals are the basest of humans, without a care for their fellow citizens, let alone future generations. They just want to be as rich and powerful as possible without regard for future generations.

Teddy Roosevelt was, by no means, a far-seeing, futurist, but by today's poor standard of leadership he seems so. Roosevelt warned the nation that "We should not forget that it will be just as important to our descendants to be prosperous in their time as it is to us to be prosperous in our time." Roosevelt promoted and protected the nation's natural resources, he tried to contain the period's huge (for the time) corporate trade-restraint conspiracies, and he occasionally used the military to preserve world peace and stability. At the time, many thought that Roosevelt was a radical imperialistic militarist, but he started no wars, acted as a neutral arbitrator to resolve at least three foreign wars and revolutions, and used the build-up of the United States' navy to offset and balance the other world naval powers, particularly Germany and Japan. By today's poor standard of leadership, Roosevelt looks idealistic and farseeing.

The thing that Roosevelt and many of us know is that the banking class has no national loyalty. Their pledge is to money, not society. Money is, regardless of the claims made on its paper, not patriotic and flows as easily into one country as another. Today's powerful ownership class is completely aware of the long-term damage they have done to this country and they could not care less. If things get bad enough here, they can always move to one of their financial islands. If they completely destroy the US economy, there is always someplace where money is unashamedly welcomed and where cold cash can buy the luxuries and power they crave. To the rich, one location is as good as another until they completely spoil one so that is no longer true. Again, Roosevelt referred to them as "the most dangerous members of the criminal class--the criminals of great wealth." Today's radical right is controlled by the "criminals of great wealth" and their expressed "moral" motives are nothing but a mask for their real purposes; the pillaging of the national treasury.

As a nation, we're experiencing record movement of money. Canada has been flooded with US speculation, to the point that Canadians are reconsidering foreign ownership of Canadian property. Unencumbered by the conservative Canadian fear of speculation, Mexico is experiencing a similar invasion of US wealth. Even popular media and literature off-handedly refers to the "off-shore bank" account anytime anyone with money wants to escape taxes, financial responsibility, or insists on economic security. The last place a truly rich person would put hard cash is in a US financial institution.

Technical skills are leaving the US, also. While US companies and the leisure class are politicking for cheap immigrant labor, they are alienating the most skilled graduates of our technical schools. Of course, we're not losing any lawyers or MBAs, no one else would have them, but we are losing scientists, engineers, and manufacturing skills. These talents are the tools the nation will need to build the future.

It's important to remember that "the rich are different from the rest of us, they have money." In other words, the wealthy aren't particularly intelligent, creative, or insightful, they are simply lucky. They are, often, as dumb as Paris Hilton and as foolish. Business trusts have been terrible creations in the history of US business. While the rich who own and control those illegal collaborations have done well, personally, the businesses they have controlled have suffered. Their selfish interests are always short-term and short-sighted. Luck of birth doesn't always mean luck in life. Many of the inherited rich have found ways to squander their wealth and power, aimlessly and pointlessly. An incredible few actually intentionally spend their unearned wealth attempting to improve the country that provided that opportunity. The majority hire intelligent employees to manage their trust funds, inheritances, business and political interests. Those employees soon join the wealthy class and begin their own decay process.

TR campaigned for an aggressive inheritance tax, a social security system, unemployment insurance, an employers' liability law, natural resources conservation, and many other social reforms to protect the nation from the "criminal class." Those criminals were largely successful in subverting the Congress of their day, preventing Roosevelt from forcing them to participate in the democracy from which their wealth was derived. Today's Congress is an even cheaper purchase for the ruling class, but at least we can actually vote the bums out of office. In 1908, the Senate was "elected" by state governors, not by popular vote.

Every generation has its collection of "canaries in the mine" who warn that critical times lay ahead. Almost every generation has suffered critical times that could have been avoided if they had paid attention to their warning signs. The balance of world power is shifting away from the United States. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it will be if we allow the idle rich to squander the nation's resources in a generation or two.

July  2007

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