Sunday, October 17, 2010

My "Conspiracy Theory"

It seems like our country is in pretty rough shape - the economy is down, unemployment is up, and the general mood seems to be, "Throw the bums out." I have a theory as to how we got into this mess; technically I guess I don't think it's the result of a "conspiracy" as such, but I certainly don't think it happened by accident, mismanagement or just plain bad luck. I think it happened as a result of deliberate decisions by a very small group of instigators.

Some men - and maybe women, but I can't think of any - have enormous wealth; more money than you or I can even imagine, even more money than some pretty good-sized nations. They like to hold on to their riches and make even more, and at least a few of them, but certainly not all, view government - any government - as an obstacle to their accumulation of wealth and power. Since they have virtually unlimited financial resources they can spend obscenely huge amounts of money to influence governmental policies, especially the ones that affect their interests. But what would make them really, really happy would be to reduce the effectiveness of government to a point where it could not restrict their activities in any meaningful way.

I don't think it matters much which party is in power, as these men have enough money to influence any attempts to impair their operations either by legislation or regulation, no matter who proposes them. But they do seem to be more likely to support "small government conservative" candidates than their "progressive" opponents.

The presidential election in 2000 produced an administration which I suspect was very much to the liking of my fictional "conspirators." In George W. Bush they had a president who was very sympathic to their cause and, more importantly, was easily influenced by his vice-president, Dick Cheney. Cheney, you may remember, selected himself to be Bush's running mate, and if we are looking for the first "act in furtherance of the conspiracy", this may be it. Cheney is more than just sympathetic to the plutocrats, he is one of them. He travels in their circles, his interests are their interests. With Bush/Cheney in office, "the future was so bright, they had to wear shades." One of Cheney's first acts was to convene a group to determine the nation's energy priorities - you know how that worked out.

Then a terrible thing happened - terrible for the nation, terrible for its citizens, terrible for the world. But maybe not so terrible for my fictional conspirators, because on 9/11/2001 they were presented with a valuable commodity: a reason to take the USA to war in Afghanistan. War always benefits these men - it makes them richer, it increases their influence, and it detracts attention from their other operations. For them, one war is good, but two wars at the same time is a bonus. So they found a reason to invade Iraq. And we citizens weren't asked to make any sacrifice, unless we or our loved ones were in the armed forces - for most of us it was life as usual. (For the record, I don't subscribe to any theory that the events of 9/11 were caused by anyone other than a small group of Muslim extremists bent on destroying our way of life. I'm not saying the plutocrats were in any way responsible for events on that tragic day, but these are men who know an opportunity when one presents itself.)

So with the nation at war on two fronts, at a cost of billions and billions of dollars per month, it seemed like there was just one more thing to do to ensure government's effectiveness would be severely diminished for generations to come: enact a tax cut. And with that simple act, our fate was sealed. With our nation hemmoraging resources on two wars and with less tax revenue coming in, the government would not have enough money to fund all of its programs, let alone enact any new ones, without running huge deficits, and that's exactly what has come to pass. It did not matter who won the election in 2008; economic woes were assured for everybody except the very, very rich who of course just got richer. I don't think anybody could have changed the course of events after the second Bush/Cheney term.

So let me be clear: I think it's possible, maybe even probable, that the current economic and political state of our nation is the intended consequence of policies enacted by Bush/Cheney at the behest of a small but powerful group of wealthy individuals to advance an agenda that served their interests. Someone (Reagan maybe?) said he wanted to reduce government to a size so small that he could put it in the bathtub and drown it. The plutocrats, I think, have another plan to achieve the same result: starve government of the funds it needs for all of its programs, and the electorate will throw it out in protest. A government in turmoil is almost as good as no government at all.

Just so you know, this is my opinion only. I do not have any facts, other than generally available news accounts, to support my "conspiracy theory" and I am not accusing anyone of illegal acts. But still, when I ask myself, "how did we get in this fix, anyway?" this seems as plausible as any other explanation. So take it for what it's worth, or leave it.

Today is October 17, the date my late father was born in 1907. So Happy Birthday, Dad - I hope you are in a happy place.

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