Money troubles galore. All of it affects our well being and our national defense.

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\\\Today’s New York Times is filled with economic news and war news and all of it seems to gravitate around the fact that we are at a loss to control or even completely comprehend the economy we find ourselves within. 

To state this simply, our national financial bottom line is a bit hazy and difficult to read or even see clearly.

     

This impacts everything else we do as a nation.  No one is in complete control here or even completely sure of what is going on.  That puts us all in danger, very real danger.  Tomorrow’s military hero is most likely going to be an MBA spending weeks with spreadsheets and attempting to discover funding sources for our enemies so that we can freeze their assets.  Maybe we should treat Wall Street abusers the same way.  What do you think?

The first story here is about our government attempting to track the Taliban’s sources of funding, which of course is tied into the funding sources of other groups determined to cause massive violence, much of it against us.  We could actually stop these guys with an army of auditors it seems.

Here is a story about the continuing plight of Americans who were at one time middle class workers and are now homeless people.  This story concerns a grandmother who at one time ran a homeless shelter but lost her home to the mortgage meltdown and now lives in a shelter herself.

I wonder why we are going to need to spend almost $669 billion dollars in FY2010 for a defense budget?  I wonder why we need to have over 300,000 American troops stationed in over 150 countries overseas when we could use that money here? Do you wonder the same thing?

In another story here the various energy cartels in the USA are battling each other and Congress now that a clean energy legislative mind set is beginning to take hold among Americans and their hold on energy monopolies could be seriously threatened in the near future. Odd and unique alliances are being formed between various energy industries and political parties, lobbying groups and other major players in the energy saga while old alliances like gas and oil are breaking up.

Of course, from a national defense point of view, it has been obvious since the Middle Eastern oil cutbacks of the 1970s that if Americans can ween themselves off foreign energy sources, our national defense capabilities are almost limitless.  We would be a power to contend with for the next 500 years if we did this, that is, produced our own fuel for all our needs. 

We have had almost forty years to work on this problem of our complete dependence on foreign energy sources and we are still struggling with this.  Don’t you find that odd? 

I mean, as an American veteran, don’t you wonder how we can go four decades heading into an ambush set up by Middle Eastern oil and gas magnates?  We knew full well that we were going to need more artillery as soon as possible almost forty years ago but we continue to move forward on a wrong heading, in the light of day, with economic snipers all around us, blithely lying to ourselves that we are safe and in no danger.

Who is giving the orders to proceed with this patrol into enemy territory without the proper support?

What has been the point of placing our own economy in danger so that a few thousand American energy cartel sheiks, khans and caliphs can siphon off billions of dollars while the rest of us suffer an economy here at home based on their shakey need to let these robber barons make more money by refusing to help us all dislodge ourselves from foreign oil. Why did we not solve this problem by the early 90’s?  What happened and why did it happen this way?

If there was ever a national security concern that Americans should have involved themselves to know completely, this is it. 

In another odd twist to this story, it turns out that the Energy Department does not track and force "truth in advertising" on power company appliance manufacturers that place the Energy Star sticker on their appliances, that is, they claim that their energy products and applicances save energy.  The story is here. 

Once again we seem to have compliance or at least "official blindness" of government regulators and enforcers with the sloppy or nonexistent regulation of the Energy Cartel. Did we not just go through this last Fall on Wall St.?  As always, we need to follow the money and ask, who benefits from this sloppy government enforcement?  What are the national defense implications of this?  What can we do about it? Why are we not doing it?  Who is in charge here? 

In a matter discussed in this story President Obama’s Administration signalled yesterday on the Sunday talk shows that he will postpone all decisions to send more troops to Afghanistan until the Administration is sure that there is a legititmate government in place in that country that we can justly support. Hallelujah!

Finally we are using the Old Bean for something other than a hat rack!

In this story that follows along the same lines, the Obama Administration scolded Wall Street yesterday on the same talk shows for a banking industry attitude that shouts "leave me alone!" now that the big boys within that industry are making big money again. But this is not translating into American employment as it was supposed to do.

This seems to be because these banks are not lending out the government money that they were given and they are resisting the Obama Administration’s efforts to pass new legislation to stop the abuses these same banks used these past two or three generations that got us into the mess we are in now.  Essentially they took the money and ran. 

The typical American is not seeing the benefit that his tax money has provided the banks and to make matters worse, the banks have the chutzpah to be fighting significant legislative change that would force a more open accountability and regulatory control of their actions.  Imagine that, Wall Street has snookered Main Street again!

What do you think we ought to do about this? Do you see this as "the American way of life" we are trying to transport with wars to Western Asia?  Is this what these kids are being told that they are attempting to defend over there?  How do you feel about that?

In this article we read about the rapid fall of the dollar against foreign currencies continuing.  But this is not all bad.  It makes foreign vacations very much more expensive but it also makes American goods much cheaper to buy overseas.  American exports are going up rapidly. That cannot be bad. I wonder why this is not translating into more American jobs?

In an editorial, the NYT is posting a column on the Obama Administration forcing super wealthy tax cheats hiding millions of dollars off shore to pay their taxes.  That editorial is here.

And in an Op Ed piece by Paul Krugman that we need to read and understand we have an opinion that the continued good fortune of America’s big banks without bleedover into providing good fortune for the average American can lead to very bad consequences for all of us.  That Op Ed piece is here.

Krugman ends his piece with this quote: "’Beyond that, we desperately need to pass effective financial reform. For if we don’t, bankers will soon be taking even bigger risks than they did in the run-up to this crisis. After all, the lesson from the last few months has been very clear: When bankers gamble with other people’s money, it’s heads they win, tails the rest of us lose."

In the end, he argues at least implicitly, without a strong economy upon which our national defense is based, we essentially have nothing to protect.  It does us no good to have large slices of our army, navy and air force overseas "protecting" American interests, if the average American’s share in this "economic strength" is miniscule at best. 

Does it make sense to you that we have kids all over the world "protecting" the interests of Wall Street and the energy cartels and the war industry barons while large portions of your family are out of work, underemployed or undereducated due to lack of available funding?  Does this sort of "national defense" make any sense to you?

And that is not all there is to it.  This all directly affects veterans, trust me on this.

Does it make any sense to you as an American veteran and possibly a disabled veteran that both the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees are holding never-ending hearings and doing never-ending research on establishing a Quality of Life (QOL) increase in compensation for our disabled veterans and that they are consistently dragging their feet? 

Nothing looks like it is going to be finalized for at least a few more years. I have actually seen correspondence in the last two weeks from senior members of the committees that strongly indicates this. They want to "do this right".  That is fine, but people are dying waiting for that money.

The members of these committees don’t seem to be able to recognize the urgency in getting this much needed increase in compensation legislated and flowing out to disabled veterans NOW.  After all, what is the rush? 

And roughly 650,000 veterans die each year.  How many will die while waiting for a QOL payment to be legislated?  How many underfunded and suffering disabled veterans will continue to suffer in poverty or near poverty while the congressional committees work at a snail’s pace to "get this just right"?

Of course, there are bigger funding problems to worry about, we are just disabled veterans, how much can we possibly matter in the grand economic scheme of things?  Do you ever wonder about where we stand on the pyramid of needs ?

Just asking.

CWO3 Tom Barnes, USCG (Ret.)

Addendum to this posting, added 19 Oct 09:

The Associated Press has posted an article today on AOL news essentially outlining the fact that we will be at historically high unemployment rates until at least 2014.  Much higher than historically normal unemployment rates may now be the new normal for our country.  The story is here.

Do you really think that considering this weak employment situation which is affecting our economic growth, that we can afford these continuing wars in Western Asia?  Don’t you think we need that money here at home?  Just a thought.

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