Cashing in on Fear

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source : Possibilitator, March 6, 2017

While it seems obvious to me, evidently it isn’t to many Americans. Donald Trump and other fear mongers among us are constantly trying to make us afraid of – immigrants, minorities, Muslims, LGBT, terrorists, criminals, axis of evil….ad nauseum. If they can sell the fear, we’re more likely to succumb to their proposed remedy – build walls, more guns, better locks, bigger armies and navies, yada, yada, yada.

I’ve been thinking along this line for a long time, but an article recently passed my eyes that put some solid data behind it in “Why Are People So Averse to Facts”  by Prof. Tristan Bridges from the website Sociological Images. The article posted last week discusses the claims of a certain President that crime is on the rise along with the data that shows the opposite. While of course the make believe world of this detached fellow is of interest, what I found more interesting in the piece was data from annual Gallup polls between 1989-2016 that showed the majority of the American public has consistently believed crime was getting worse when it wasn’t.

Interesting enough it was just a week ago that the very same author of the crime myth was selling another bag of fear around terrorism. This one comes with an additional $54 billion price tag, on top of the $600 billion we already spend on ‘defense’. The lunacy would be laughable if it wasn’t so harmful. If our major security concern is global terrorism why would one argue for building up a larger navy, adding 75 more ships to the 275 we already have floating around the world? Are nuclear powered submarines the answer to terrorism? This isn’t defense, it’s offense!!

Image result for navy

But, let’s not let any facts get in the way of protecting us from hyped up fears. Lockheed Martin, Boeing and their collaborators are happy to sell weapons to the US government or any other nation that buys the belief foisted by the Military-Industrial-Complex (MIC) that the latest weaponry and a larger military footprint will bring them peace and prosperity.

The US government even works as arms merchants for these purveyors of weaponry, greasing the palms of the buyer – whether the purchase be planes, landmines (we still haven’t signed the convention to outlaw them– one of only 35 countries out of 200), tanks, missiles, whatever. Note simply recent huge arms sales agreements with Israel and Saudi Arabia, and even more recently Vietnam.
Image result for landmine ban

Juxtapose these increases with the announced cuts to diplomacy and foreign assistance announced announced subsequent to the military build-up. Do the proponents seriously believe that we will defeat terrorism with more bullets and less bread? Do they think for a minute that we will win the hearts and minds of those who see us as global bullies as our military might becomes even more expansive?

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The National Priorities Project notes that the $54 billion that will be cut to pay for the expanded  militarism of this regime exceeds the entire budgets of the following:

  • Department of Homeland Security ($48 billion)
  • Housing and Urban Development ($38 billion)
  • Department of Energy ($30 billion)
  • Department of Justice ($29 billion)
  • Department of State ($29 billion)
  • Environmental Protection Agency ($8 billion)
  • National Science Foundation ($7 billion)
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($485 million)
  • National Endowment for the Arts ($148 million)
Meanwhile no mention of cutting the enormous waste in military spending, as noted by the Pentagon’s own study last fall that identified $125 billion in waste. Since the Pentagon is never audited, that figure is probably low.  Regardless the American public takes it all in without barely a whimper of protest, evidently convinced that the fear mongering of the MIC and their current White House champion is true.
If we don’t challenge the madness of militarism, we will insure the bullets and landmines we deploy under the guise of ‘defense’ will continue to harm innocent civilians. Meanwhile robbing both American families and our less fortunate of investments in true human prosperity.
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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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