Good Jobs, Militarism and Doughnuts

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source : Possibilitator, April 27, 2017

I’ve spared any regular readers, both of you, from any drainage from my mental swamp for over a month. No real fancy reasons, just The MUSE has not visited despite having completed several good new books and lots of activism. And despite the current absence of The MUSE I feel compelled to put down a few words after hearing another pile of crap on NPR this morning.

It was some trite reference to the proposed Trump tax overhaul that will create “good jobs”. I would love to hear what those in the Trump administration really define as a good job. For the Chamber of Commerce and its supporters it likely means jobs that pay as little as possible, which largely includes a growing trend of part-time and temporary work. Clearly, the takeover of higher education by the neoliberal faithful, has seen the increasing trend towards adjunct/non-tenured faculty. That lack of sufficient income coupled with non-existent job security make many a PhD a losing financial investment.

Of course, the 1% are doing exceptionally well with this formula, as the income gap between them and the rest of us grows, with no sign of slowing. If you don’t quite have a handle on how this has been happening I refer you to a quick, poignant, readable new book from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy. Whitehouse walks through a series of chapters assessing how the Corporate capture has exercised its control of elections, regulatory agencies, courts, and even the citizen jury. As a former Attorney General he’s experienced with their efforts at both state and federal levels. Based on this tome and his actions as a Senator I hope his name can someday reside in that mansion on Pennsylvania Ave.

Captured

I have spent a sizable portion of my time since my last blog entry immersed in both studying the hold of militarism on our democracy and organizing to push back against the unquestioned growth and expanse of the the U.S. militarization juggernaut. Where is the politician willing to question the unrelenting growth in military spending? Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation addressed part of this question earlier this week in her column Where is the Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders of Foreign Policy?  Prof. Rebecca Thorpe shines the light on part of the issue in her 2014 study of The American Warfare State: The Domestic Politics of Military Spending. Among other findings is pursuit of making rural and semi-rural areas dependent on military sector jobs and funding that then secures the votes of the elected officials that represent those areas.

The American Warfare State

Nowhere is this more evident than in my own backyard. Michigan two Democratic senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, along with every Representative from the state except Republican Justin Amash has signed on to a letter to the Pentagon begging for Ft. Custer (Battle Creek, MI) to be home for a third, but unrequested Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. The $3.2 billion dollar boondoggle, besides being unrequested is for s system that fails as often as it has been successful, and that’s even with the foreknowledge of when and from where a missile is being launched. The Union of Concerned Scientists recent report drills holes all through the arguments that such system isn’t worth the paper it is written on. But politicians need to bring home the pork, regardless of how it smells to the rest of us. Studies show that if you want to create plentiful and good jobs investments in education, green technology, infrastructure or health are significantly better options than military spending.

Rep. Barbara Lee, the only courageous congressional member to vote against the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) after the 9/11 attack has remained an almost solitary voice of reason. Unafraid to stand alone among her peers in calling out the propensity to use violence to solve conflict. Fear seems to be the modus operandi of the neoliberal/militarists who stand up and raise new fears if we don’t fall in line for their calls for more… more tax cuts for the wealthy, more military spending, more military bases (see the Nick Turse piece today on The US Military Moves Deeper into Africa, or more military actions.

Meeting with the staffs of our senators, and in one case a Representative himself (Rep. John Moolenaar)  all my elected federal officials seem to either buy-in to the American Exceptionalism mindset, or are too timid to challenge it and the militarization of our society. They are as Sen. Whitehouse makes clear – captured!

So, in a really fresh analysis of our many global challenges steps British economist Kate Raworth. Her new book based upon earlier  work she did with Oxfam not only briefly maps the growth of the neoliberal idea, she notes its many failures while offering a sober and hopeful alternative. Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist

Doughnut Economics

uses the simple graphic of a doughnut to help us realize that economics should ideally guide us towards the safe space between planetary and social boundaries. If we live outside either boundary we are destined for disaster, some of which we can see already.

Raworth doesn’t claim to have all the answers,  but her argument to redirect the economy to work for all of us without destabilizing the natural world systems that make life habitable is worth consideration by all. She builds on the economic theorists that preceded her and gives credit to many working in the field who have helped shine the light on the fallacies of the neoliberal economic model so much in control today.

Good jobs – jobs that proved a livelihood while nurturing the social commons and respecting planetary limits are the kind of jobs we need. If we did it right, we might all have to work a little less, enjoy it more, and remove the drivers that feed militarism and dominance in our world.

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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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