What are the truly monumental problems facing our society and how do we fix them? I dealt with one, Global Climate Change, in my previous HuffPo post. Just a 5 cents/pound carbon dioxide credit (or tax) is all we need to save Planet Earth and Humanity. At this writing, there were 64 comments, and while most were supportive, a few just did not get the point. I was using sarcasm and fear instead of almost useless pure logic.
On this Independence Day when I am clicking this article, I thought it was particularly appropriate to take a closer look at the second most important issue: war and peace. When I worked for U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga, considerable effort was extended towards legislation for the U.S. Peace Academy. Sparky, who earned a Purple Heart in the European Theater, actually still had a piece of shrapnel in his leg. He felt that if the Nation had all those war universities, why not a U.S. Peace Academy to train emissaries for goodwill. The best he could get was the U.S. Institute of Peace.
We lament the inability for Democrats to work with Republicans in our Congress, but national defense is a strange political beast. Clearly, Republicans, supported by conservatives and the military industrial complex, favor spending more money on defense. Democrats like to help the common folk, and in the $60 billion war funding bill, tacked on $20 billion of domestic goodies last week that will cause considerable heartburn in the Senate. A filibuster, even, has been threatened by Republicans.
This same bill fought back an amendment seeking withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. President Obama threatened to veto the bill if this measure was included. Stay with me here. President Obama and General Petraeus agreed that American troops, conditionally, will begin transferring responsibilities to their Afghan counterparts in a year. The House amendment which put those words into a deadline was pushed by liberal Democrats, and beaten back by Republicans, with the aid of Obama. Are you as confused as I am? There is a nuance here that defies normal politics or common sense
To some degree, this is all linked to the budget and the world economy. Do we spend more money now to insure against that double dip, or do we curtail spending to reduce the national debt? Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman advocates borrowing and spending more to avoid a third depression (in case you missed it, the first one was the Panic of 1873 and the second that Great Depression of 1929). President Obama is of the Krugman school and was somewhat rebuffed when the G8 Muskoka Declaration last month chose to slash spending.
Very few still remember that when President Ronald Reagan assumed office in 1981, the Second Energy Crisis placed him in almost an exact economic position as Obama, and the Congress gave Reagan a $750 billion stimulus package. In 2010 dollars, this equates to nearly $2 trillion. Thus, Krugman's additional trillion dollar stimulus plan to the original $850 billion spending measure only reflects a history that worked.
However, the world and American people have more recently taken a thrifty turn. As more than half our Federal budget goes to the military, and we have no obvious enemy (there are only a few thousand terrorists worth worrying over) into the long term future, why not cut our defense outlays? This might be the ideal moment in time to lay the foundation for a more peaceful world of tomorrow.
I have said this before, in my original HuffPosting, "Well, Barack, We Have a Problem...," and "The Ten Percent Solution." To summarize, President Obama goes to the next G8 summit, and pronounces a Gorbachev-like bombshell: America will reduce defense spending by 10% this coming year, and will continue to slice 10% every year if you all do the same. In just a very few years, military spending will be minimal and the world will be at a higher level of peace forever.
This is the 10% simple solution to peace. Before you make any inane comments, click on those articles to appreciate that Russia is getting feeble and China will also become old before it gets rich. The U.S. will be supreme for a long time to come, and those war funds can better be applied to cure Planet Earth and enhance the fate of Humanity.