The United States has been, since the Second World War, the world’s leading power. Our influence and our strength is beyond comparison in modern history. However, we have a $15 trillion debt, and this is clearly a major problem. Donald Trump and other conservatives will attempt to fix this by cutting programs deemed as unnecessary. In Trump’s new budget, the EPA loses 31% of its funding, and at least ten other departments receive cuts of over 10%. He also proposes cutting the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the National Institute for Peace, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program, as well as large amounts of monetary aid to FEMA, the UN, the World Bank, and the Department of Education, as well as cutting Meals on Wheels.
These programs are not just part of who we are as a country, they are part of the beating heart of the global order that the United States has constructed over the past 60 years. These programs not only link us with the Global Community, but they allow the United States to extend influence in vital areas, and have a good reputation in the rest of the world.
While these programs are not necessary to the existence of the United States, the benefits of the program outweigh the negatives. Fiscal responsibility is extremely important to the survival of a nation, however what nation would one live in without investments in art, culture, and education? When the Soviet Union won the first battle of the space race by launching Sputnik in 1957, President Eisenhower called for the students of the United States to dedicate themselves to math and science in order for the United States to beat the Soviet Union in space. Eisenhower invested in education, and considered it to be an utmost priority. Within 11 years, the US landed on the Moon.
Investing in the arts and sciences have made America the power that it is today, and cutting that funding is not only harmful, it is illogical. The United States spends billions of dollars on useless things like the PRISM program, the F-35 Program, and a multitude of other useless “defense” projects, and blame America’s fiscal problems on small aid programs like the School Lunch Program and Meals on Wheels that were implemented in LBJ’s Great Society.
It is absolutely shameful that the US Government would disregard the basic welfare of ordinary Americans while feeding the monstrous military industrial complex. The United States already has the largest and best-equipped military on Earth, and any increases in expenditures would be wasteful.
The United States will succeed when we have an educated and debt-free populace, something that the Republican Party leadership fails to understand. Trump’s budget does very little to address the real problems that America faces today, and we will suffer because of it for the next 4 years unless something changes in a radical way.
H.R.608, referred to as the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” is a bill that has received little attention outside of political circles, however the implications of it could affect American policy in the Middle East for a lifetime. Introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), it prohibits Congressional Funding of groups such as ISIL, Al-Qaeda, and Al-Shabaab, along with any other groups that have been assisting these organizations.
This bill is vitally important, and a piece of common sense legislation. The United States has extended itself too much in the Middle East, and we have a long history of funding groups with an extremist ideology. A classic example could be the funding of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, who were at the time fighting the Soviet Union, but later fought the United States after we invaded Afghanistan. An isolationist foreign policy hurts us all, however we require an enforced Moral Diplomacy that prohibits covert financial aid to military groups of any kind. The United States must not be seen as a foreign aggressor in the eyes of the Muslim World like we are now, or we lose credibility in the long run in the region.
I believe that Republicans and Democrats can unite behind the idea that ISIS is an evil organization, as well as other Islamic Extremist groups in the Middle East, which is why it is a logical idea that we stop mindlessly pumping money into a volatile and corrupt region.
A consequence of the Cold War was that the US Department of State and Defense began to view the world in black and white, where you either are a Communist or you are not. The United States funded some of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world simply because they fought against the Soviet Union.
The United States must have some kind of fiscal responsibility when financing foreign groups, whether that be in Latin America or the Middle East. There is a fine line between battling our enemies abroad by funding ideologically dubious groups or withdrawing completely, and we must toe that line in order to maintain a positive reputation abroad.
I am not advocating for cutting foreign aid, or for America to become an isolationist state, however there is a danger in overinvolvement abroad, and we must carefully study who exactly we are giving money to.
Many people consider the start of Capitalism to be the Industrial Revolution, or even the publication of The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. However, the origins of Capitalism could be traced back to the formation of the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company) in 1602.
At the time, world exploration was in its infancy, and it was customary to finance a single expedition to explore Indonesia, Africa, Sri Lanka, etc. However, the Netherlands created a single company, known as the Dutch East India Company, which had the able to declare war and govern itself through a 17 member board. The people of the Netherlands were able to invest in the Dutch East India Company, so Dutch East India Company was the first publicly traded company in the history of humanity. It created a monopoly on the Spice Trade in the Indian Ocean, which was an extremely profitable enterprise, and by 1648 the Netherlands was wealthier than every other European Nation. The Dutch East India Company had no rivals in the Netherlands, and was state-sponsored, they could rely upon the Netherlands for funding. Basically, the Dutch East India Company was a state-sponsored company that could declare war, and was a sovereign entity in itself, and was the first public corporation in history.
The Dutch East India Company eventually bankrupted in 1799, but there are some important things that can be gleaned from its existence. First, it shows the dangers of giving a corporation the powers of a sovereign nation. The duties of the state at the most basic level is to defend and empower its population, while the sole duty of a corporation is to profit. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however this means that what the corporation chooses to focus on is not what a government would.
Second, it shows the need for responsible management of corporations by the government, and reasonable amounts of regulation. Because the Dutch East India Company was so closely tied to the Netherlands, they felt immune from financial and legal penalty, and as a result they massacred and enslaved thousands of people in Indonesia in the search for profit and for natural resources.
Finally, the Dutch East India Company shows that a corporation must survive without government assistance. If a corporation can only survive through government revenue, this corporation is not fit to exist, since it brings no value to the taxpayer. The Dutch East India Company received millions of Guilders in financial aid from the Dutch Legislature, and this state-sponsored attitude for the private sector only stifles competition and raises prices.
Even though the Dutch East India Company went bankrupt in 1799, it is an important reminder of the dangers of mixing the public and private sectors, and gives us a poignant reminder of why corporations are not states.
Albert Einstein described insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The American attitude towards Capitalism could be described as such. Throughout our history, the United States has been marked by periods of great economic turmoil, like the Panic of 1837, the Panic of 1873, the Panic of 1907, the Great Depression, the 1973-75 recession, and the Great Recession of 2008. These periods are economically tumultuous, and were generally created by the mistakes of the banks and the bourgeois class. In addition, all of these economic troubles hurt the poor mostly, and the banks were bailed out by the government, most recently by TARP.
There are inherent deficiencies in the economic system of the United States, and the booms and busts that we experience will continue to exist until drastic action is taken. These cycles have not hurt the rich because the rich continue to exert influence in the United States Government. For example, the Central Pacific Railroad spent $200,000 in Washington to get 9 million acres of free land, and $24 million in subsidies from the government. This was for the transcontinental railroad. The bribes and subsidies have only grown larger, the United States paid $426 billion to Wall Street Institutions in order to “solve” the Great Recession.
The United States Government has been too friendly towards Wall Street due to the amount of money that they can invest in our government. This incentivizes Congress to ensure that the highest in our society can continue to exploit the middle-class and the poor, and continue to profit off of taxpayer money.
What is required is a return to the Keynesian System of the 1950’s and 1960’s, a period of unrivaled prosperity in the United States. This is not a “socialist” concept, rather it seeks to extend public services and benefit everyday Americans.
The United States will prosper when the middle-class expands, and the greed and excess of the upper class is curbed. For far too long we have favored the interests of the economically powerful over the interests of the many, and this is inherently anti-democratic and un-American.
It is incredibly clear that capitalism is by far the most efficient and effective economic system, however it only works when it works for everyone, not just the 1%. Capitalism has allowed the United States to become the power that it is today, however this path was paved by the struggles of ordinary Americans who toiled and fought so that one day we can have a better future.
The United States damages itself when it allows corporations and the rich to subvert the will of the people, and this is seen by rising income inequality, and the increased power of the rich over the government and those in power.