Over the course of your adulthood you’ve heard outrageous lies and not done much about them. Each time, by reacting with merely a shrug, you encourage the liar—here I refer to the politicians and the aristocrats who own them—to utter even more outrageous lies, syphon even more money from you into their bank accounts, and make life on Earth worse for more millions of people, even end life for millions of human beings.
During the last half century, some of the deadliest and most profitable lies that come to mind …
A friend of mine was on duty onboard ship when told to send out a radio message that contradicted the actual situation of the US naval vessel and all on board. He pointed out that fact to his “superior” officers. They pointed out if he refused, he’d be arrested, courtmartialed, and discharged without any benefits. He sent the message.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident “justified” the US invasion of Vietnam, which killed millions of Southeast Asians, most of whom were not communists but merely wanted to own the land they farmed. These are people who would have given anything to become the 51st state of the union. But America’s rulers preferred to attack them.
War cost billions, dollars that were paid by the many, received by the few. It marginalized peace activists and created heroes out of the thousands who could not stand up to their masters. The pawns of the military chose to deceive themselves. They repeated what the media and government told them—that they were defending their country, never mind that Vietnam never attacked America.
As with previous warfare lies, Weapons of Mass Destruction killed over a million—in oil rich lands—and cost over six trillion. Well, it cost you and me but those trillions further enriched insiders and the elite who needed not one more penny, already able to spend several lifetimes in total luxury. What if instead those tax dollars were given to the world’s poor, no strings attached? They’d take a step closer to joining the middle class and love America even more.
And for the obedient, what is “their country”?
* Not the land. Do they pick up litter? Drive non-polluting cars? Just living ordinary modern lives puts dozens of species of plants and animals on the brink of extinction … and beyond.
* Not their fellow citizens. Do they foster kids? Visit old folk homes? Stand against subsidies for tobacco, alcohol, and packaged food (the three biggest killers)? Stand for axing taxes on wages, sales, and home that burden regular people the most?
* Not their historical idealism. In the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Pledge of Allegiance and elsewhere, Americans claim to practice freedom, justice, equality and repeat the old refrain, “I may not agree with what you say but will defend your right to say it.” If only such conservatives still existed …
What does that leave as their country? Merely their government, which is the handmaiden of the ruling elite. Ironically, many who serve the state claim to be anti-government, even pro-freedom! Males who accepted conscription or volunteered argued that they were defending freedom, even though protesters risked their lives and conformists rarely exercised any freedom.
Some members of the US military bought tons of Southeast Asian heroin, sold it to blacks in American ghettos, trying to quell riots while worsening addiction (very anti liberty).
Other military officers used funds from drug sales to fund their own terrorists in Nicaragua who as before attacked poor peons who wanted to own the land they farmed, again falsely calling them communists. When caught, the US officers were not punished. Instead, one of the pushers drove to Congressional hearings on his crimes in a $90,000 Porsche, back when $90,000 was real money.
While the military dealt drugs, police forces waged the drug war, and other government agents lied about drugs. While they drank alcohol, smoked tobacco, and took prescription drugs, they criminalized marijuana—a cash crop for poor farmers. Their prohibition made some very vicious people very rich, pushed America farther down the path to becoming a complete police state, and incarcerated millions for victim-less crimes. It also transferred over a trillion dollars from you taxpayers to expenditure recipients.
Besides wars on drugs and on little nations, the US also lies about the dangers to ordinary Americans if Big Business goes bankrupt. They got away with bailing out Chrysler, United Airlines, the savings & loans, whole nations like Mexico. The IMF—which is backed by the US taxpayer—bailed out some Asian nations. All costly to the many and enriching to the few. All unnecessary for the many but supercilious excess for the few.
* Bailing out Chrysler derailed normal techno-progress to clean, efficient cars.
* Bailing out United meant containing the more efficient Southwest Airlines, owned not by investors but by workers.
* Bailing out the S&Ls failed; all are now gone yet the US economy still stands.
* Bailing out Mexico meant transferring billions into their account in the New York Federal Reserve—a consortium of Chase Manhattan Bank and other major banks—where Mexicans caught nary a whiff of the money as it went straight to rich creditors. Exxon—like Chase also founded by oil and still owned by Rockefellers—told Mexico to forget about raising the price of their oil. Mexico obeyed and chose more debt instead.
As with previous bank bailouts, the latest one was not necessary but merely munificent. It let the big banks gobble up smaller ones and kept credit unions and community currencies from breaking out of their tiny niche. Plus the US Treasury and Federal Reserve gave and loaned $30 trillion dollars to US banks, global banks, US corporations, and global corporations, more money than your human brain can comprehend, enough coinage to stack up into a ladder to Mars. The equity firms who own banks and whom banks own claimed most of the mortgage business and became America’s biggest landlords.
Those bailout beneficiaries can pay back some of that by buying US bonds that pay more than the interest on their loans. Plus, insiders like Goldman Sachs, who helped orchestrate the financial crisis and who provides their executives to serve as the US Treasury Secretary, get a cut for handling the paperwork of the bailout. Iceland, OTOH, jailed its guilty bankers.
So far this century, we’ve been lied to about WMD, about borrowers not lenders causing the Great Recession, and about … covid? A fair question, given government’s penchant for dishonesty, with collusion by the media, and wildly ratcheted up subsidies to powerful entities hardly in need. Given those facts, we’d be negligent to not question the official line.
Under these contradictions, uncertainty reigns. My epidemiologist can beat up your epidemiologist. Some tell you to crawl into a cave, others tell you to triple your vitamin intake. The media emphasizes merely what the government says. Covid truly could be the worst contagion since the Black Plague.
But follow the money. The government did not dish out free vitamins, nor tax low-nutrition packaged food, nor quit subsidizing agri-business which now can undersell organic food. Instead, it dishes out trillions to the already rich who have nothing to do with public health. Perhaps rogue elements did conspire to create and unleash a virus. Or maybe government and its masters are merely not letting an ideal crisis go to waste.
Rather than act responsibly itself, government demands individuals follow protocol. If rulers are testing citizens to learn how acquiescent they are, nothing should deter bosses in the future. A frightened majority feels far from willing to question authority and lacks any strong attachment to freedom. If we lose however much democracy we ever had, we will have brought it upon ourselves.
To get to the bottom of covid, maybe a whistleblower will expose the truth, as happened about the Gulf of Tonkin, the WMD, the military dealers, the bailouts, etc. Meanwhile, we know plenty of official wrongdoing to push for fundamental reform. Especially now while people want it.
Say you wanted to silence the liars and put an end to bailouts and the slaughter of innocents. What would you do? Ironically, you’d not tell the truth; you’d tell your own lie. Well, not a lie, but a fiction. The human brain needs fiction more than fact. OK, you’d not tell a fiction but a story. You’d study social change and learn how religion persuaded our species that afterlife beats life itself, and excite people with the vision that life is our one God-given chance to create the reality we all want.
You’d propose what’d work. The only thing that’d work—a Citizen Dividend. If we all share society’s surplus—mostly the annual value of land and locations—that leaves none for a few insiders to hog and empower themselves to be the masters over all others. Dethroned aristocrats could still lie, but so few would listen that they could no longer manipulate the masses.
The majority would no longer be in denial about class and power. Rather, we’d be so excited by our material security and creative freedom, we’d be immune. The end of enslaving lies would be the end of history itself, and the opening of the next stage in the development of the human species.
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JEFFERY J. SMITH published The Geonomist, which won a California GreenLight Award, has appeared in both the popular press (e.g.,TruthOut) and academic journals (e.g., USC's “Planning and Markets”), been interviewed on radio and TV, lobbied officials, testified before the Russian Duma, conducted research (e.g., for Portland's mass transit agency), and recruited activists and academics to Progress.org. A member of the International Society for Ecological Economics and of Mensa, he lives in Mexico. Jeffery formerly was Chief Editor at Progress.org.