This is what Reagan really felt about you.

Conservative, free market dogma states that taxes are always bad and always restrict growth. On the other hand, the more money you have in your pocket, the faster the economy will grow as you spend those dollars on goods and services. Lower taxes always and everywhere means greater growth. Arthur Laffer put the idea into econo-speak in the 70s. If you feel like reading the Wikipedia entry (written by a freemarketeer) you can see how scientific sounding defenders of this ideology are. They have spent the better part of 30 years developing ironclad, mathematical proof that taxes are inherently stifling to growth. Alan Greenspan gave the lie to this pseudo-scientific nonsense last Thursday when he said ““The whole intellectual edifice [supporting supply-side economics] collapsed in the summer of last year.

Conservatives are also distressed over entitlement programs. They think anytime someone gets something for nothing it upsets the balance of the universe and will lead to disaster in the form of a financial collapse. But conservatives suffer no cognitive dissonance when going into debt for items like war materials. The Reagan mantra that most conservatives take as dogma tells us that national debt is OK as long as it serves the purpose of expanding American military might. They believed growing deficits were no problem as long as they grew in line with GDP growth. But what happens when GDP shrinks? Those who called themselves conservative were in fact merely speculators, selling the American public a feel-good snake oil of tax cuts and artificial growth stimulated by huge spending outlays on the military. Since Reagan we have borrowed against the future rather than grow the economy. We sold out our future buying worthless items like bombs and planes.

And who picked up the tab? The Chinese and other foreign governments who bought our debts. And when they feel like making us pay them back, they will be able to command any terms they wish. Soon we will be the ones working in Chinese Wal-Marts for any amount of pay, just to work off the crushing debt our fathers bequethed to us, a debt they incurred to indulge in their fantasy of worldwide dominance.

You have sold yourselves into slavery by voting for conservative politicians. For the last thirty years you believed the devil when he told you it would be different this time.

Do not let this happen again. Get invoved in politics on every level, from voting, to volunteering, to arguing with anyone who tries to spew economic supply-side nonsense. Whoever is elected president must raise taxes, particularly on the biggest robber barron beneficiaries of the last 20 years. The new president must slash spending on the military, and that means withdrawing not only from our foreign wars but also from our foreign bases. Sell the new embassy in Baghdad to the Iraqis and vacate the region. Close our bases in Europe and Asia. Slash military spending first and foremost.

America has produced the most interesting kind of political reactionary: the xenophobic militarist. These are people who would bankrupt themselves and their grandchildren in order to maintain a wasteful, bloated standing army. They see themselves as citizen soldiers (many of whom have never fired a gun at another human in war) whose think their job is to punish “non-hackers” (i.e. foreign policy realists) while “projecting force” abroad. Meanwhile they would oblige all non-hackers to pay the war debt, while these latter day over-men reap the benefits. These people must be argued down at every opportunity until they are too ashamed to admit they ever thought you could borrow money to fight a war.

The first policy the new president should implement is a foreign service requirement for all Americans from ages 18 to 25, spending at least two years in humanitarian service abroad. Cuts in military spending will easily pay for this program, and it might be possible to 1) drag those who fantasize a return to the 19th century into the 21st, and 2) gain the intellectual and cultural capital that we have lost self-indulgently in the last three decades. Americans must relearn how to engage with the world. It will take humility, something rare among us since the end of World War II, but the benefits would be huge.

The second policy the new president should implement is an energy Manhattan Project. It should be as radical as possible — a 90% reduction in fossil fuels by 2025. As Michael Pollan has forcefully argued, that means moving from petro-agriculture back to solar agriculture. It means raising the tax on automobile fuel so that gas in never less than $5 a gallon, and it means using whatever money governments have left over after paying off our crushing debts to building infrastructure. Tear up unneeded highways and build a comprehensive rail system across the country. Make sure that every new building private or commercial can generate its own energy through sun or wind power. Now is the time for the 21st century to stop being science fiction and start being a daily fact.

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