Occupy Language - A GreenWatch Special Section
-by Jay Burney
It often seems that humanity is dissolving into a boiling melting pot of greed, hatred, and violence. War has existed unceasingly for decades and generations and has effected every living thing on the planet. War is unsustainable form a social and environmental point of view, and yet it seems to be one of the prime strategies of economic development strategies.
There is a rigorously defended definition of this term that demands that a war profiteer is any individual or organization including a personcorporation that “improperly” benefits by selling weapons, services or other goods to parties at war.” That begs the question, “what is improper”? Legally that has been defined in a variety of ways. However, in these days of escalating privatization, increasingly virulent mushroom clouds of secrecy, and the rise of declining accountability we are going to go out on a limb here and call it what it is. Is there ever a justification to profit from war making? I say no. If there is profit, it is inappropriate and damned the lawyers, it is profiteering. Let the pejorative fall where it may. I will boldly stake out the position that profits gained from war are unethical. Language counts.
Private profiteering from war is a long established wealth creator. In fact, it is probably the prime wealth creator in the history of the planet. The Rothschild’s, the Fords, the Bush’s are just a few of the family’s whose names and wealth runs through the successful continuation and prosecution of war.
It must not come as news to you that war has economic benefits for certain portions of the private sector. Conservative estimates of the cost of the Iraq war, which began a decade ago, are 3 trillion American taxpayer dollars. Others have estimated that the cost of that war will exceed $6 trillion. A trillion is a lot. One trillion is a thousand billion, or a million million.
Some of our best-known corporations were built on the backs of war profiteering. These include Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrup Gruman, General Dynamics, General Electric, CCAI, Triton, Bechtel, Aegis, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and an open ended no bid contract awarded to Dick Cheney’s Halliburton.
During the past two decades, the growth of private contracting has increased at the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and the Department of Homeland Security.
American World War II General George C. Marshall was famously quoted as saying “A democracy cannot fight a Seven Year War.” Has democracy changed?
Since World War II most of the Fortune 500 have engaged in defense contracts or have otherwise benefited from taxpayer funded Defense appropriations. President Eisenhower in his farewell Presidential speech warned us against the growth of the “Military Industrial” establishment. For the first time in our history he said, “we have now created a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions”, and “its influence is felt in every city, every State House, and in every office of the Federal Government”.
To borrow a phrase, some we know, some we do not know, and some we know we don’t know.
Oddly enough the United States does not even have a functioning system to track war costs and expenditures. The GAO, Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office, Pentagon Inspector General, and others, have complained loudly that the US lacks even a basic method to account for where the m I am shocked, just shocked.
Some, including the increasingly important and relevant Occupy movements think that much of this social disintegration benefits the 1% at the top of the economic food chain, while discarding the remaining 99%. It is really hard to ignore that argument. The occupy movements around the world, which include among other things the wiki leaks movements, expose on an almost hourly basis the hidden power and manipulation of the plutarchs that sit increasingly less comfortable in that 1%. What are plutarch’s you might be asking. Interesting question.
Plutocracy comes from a greek word: Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos and it means wealth. It implies a ruling class of wealth. A Plutocracy is a government run by the wealthy class.
Another word that we hear a lot more of lately is “Oligarch”. Again a word of Greek Origins. It is a form of power structure in which the power rests with the elite class distinguished by a ruling class of royalty, wealth, family, commercial and or military strength.
Let us then come to know that when we hear the term economic growth it is often thrown together with sustainable development.
This latter term is an oxymoron. Especially as it is coupled with a political economic system that is so fundamentally distorted by wealth gained by war profits. You may think that any growth is better than no growth but lets see how you feel when that war machine sets you and your family in its sites. Because, given the ethics of war and the ethics of profit, it surely will be finding you. Language counts. And so does our ability to think through a seemingly impossible situation. Do it while you still have time.