James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's About Power

Israel's strikes against Hamas in Gaza has undoubtedly stirred up the emotions of everyone sympathetic to one side or the other. And it provokes questions: what should the U.S. response be? What should President-elect Obama say?

But these are the wrong questions, because they're made under the false assumption that the U.S. government has anything like the "national interest" in mind. Or that government in the United States of "of the people" and "for the people."

I could point to two instances that disprove the assumption:

  1. Hemp prohibition. From paper to fuel, hemp products would open new industries while lowering the price of goods and services. All government prohibitions are wrong, but most at least have a reasonable-sounding justification, such as "protecting the children." But there is no justification for hemp prohibition, no reason that remotely makes sense. So one can only conclude that its only purpose is to protect some industries from competition. And if the government is this contemptuous of the public good on this issue, how can we reasonably assume it acts with "good intentions" on any other issue? If they outlaw industrial hemp for corrupt reasons, then it is almost certain that they outlaw other things, such as addictive drugs, for equally corrupt reasons and not for the reasonable-sounding reasons they state.
  2. Corporate income taxes. The system is completely superfluous. In a country where there are personal income taxes, then corporate profits will go, one way to another, to stockholders. They can report this income themselves. This means the time and expense corporations must spend complying with the tax code are nothing but a drag on the economy, and they pass on these costs to the consumer in the form of higher prices. But this does not matter to the government. The corporate tax structure is the means by which they can control not just for-profit entities, but non-profits as well. If no organization had a "tax status" because organization were never taxed, then the government couldn't give out favors in the form of tax breaks. And, lo and behold, any organization would be able to speak or write freely without jeopardizing its tax status. Corporate income taxes are not about government revenue or the public good, they are just a means by which government can control much of civil society.
In light of this, what are we to say about U.S. policy toward Israel and Palestine? If our government took our country's security concerns seriously, it would pledge neutrality over the conflict in that speck on the globe, which is no larger or more populous than New Jersey. And it would cease open and covert aid to both sides. Palestinian civilians wouldn't get killed by weapons paid for by the U.S.

But this isn't how the U.S. government works or thinks. For our politicians and bureaucrats are driven by power and influence, not the good of the American people. Aid to Israel is about controlling Israel to some degree. Aid to international agencies and to other countries is for the same purpose. The motive is not compassion or solidarity with foreign peoples, but rather to control them and their affairs.

Were it not for the fact that the U.S. is paying for Israel's battles, this conflict wouldn't concern us. Whenever violence erupts, I neither defend nor criticize Israel. I just wonder how things would play out if it wasn't for American financing and meddling.

Because it is driven by the acquistion of more and more power, the U.S. government simply does not act in the interests of the American people. How then, can we expect it to do the right thing in the Middle East? And why would we think Obama will be any better?