In a certain sense, retired politicians have it easy. If they’ve found a way to keep a relatively clear conscience, they have the benefit of tremendous insider experience—and all the ironclad authority that comes with it—and little actual responsibility. They can say what they want about what should be done, and make it sound real good, and all we can say is, Well, why didn’t you do that when you could have? But good-enough excuses always seem to be on hand. Easy-peasy.
It’s fitting, therefore, that Harper’s lent former senator, congressman, and presidential candidate George McGovern their “Easy Chair” column this month (subscription required). He put it to use with “A Letter to Barack Obama,” which lists a bunch of really decent ideas about what could be done to fix the country and, in particular, its economy. It dwells mostly with what’s probably the most obvious idea of them all—with the possible exception of campaign finance reform: cutting military spending. He cites his efforts, following Eisenhower’s famous warning, to hold back the military-industrial complex. Obviously that didn’t work. What we need now, says, McGovern, is
a new definition of “defense” that takes into account the quality of our education, the health of our people, the preservation of the environment, the strength of our transportation, the development of alternative fuels, the vigor of our democracy. These were the concerns expressed by the people who stood in Cairo’s Tahrir Square holding up their signs for more than two weeks this winter. Without guns, knives, or the use of their fists, they brought down the dictator who had exploited them for nearly thirty years.
He goes on to recommend the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the closure of US military bases in the Middle East (and probably in Europe and South Korea), a $500 billion cut in our $700 billion military expenditures, and taxation for the richest Americans (as Warren Buffett recently called for). Then he goes on to describe all that could be done with this money: high-speed rail, a new GI Bill, and the expansion of Medicare to all Americans.
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George McGoveern’s advice to President Obama is right on the mark. What if a million of us were to send copies of this letter to Obama? Lets let Obama know that Mc Govern’s proposala are what will make America safe and secure and put us back to work – and will get Obama reelected. Listen to George Mc Govern, not pursue the horrendous policies of George W Bush which are destroying our country (and Iraq and Afghanistan) and the soul of America.
Indeed. On that note, see you on October 6th!
Friends, during the Vietnam war, like my entire family, I voted for George McGovern. Ot was the first and the happiest vote of my life. If I could, I would vote for him again.
I think it is essential that the U.S.A. quit pursuing foreign wars.
And the best spending to cut is war spending. These wars, and this spending, actually hurt our country, rather than helping
I do believe it is important not to propose domestic programs that do not fit American conditions very well. For example, consider “high-speed rail.” Our country covers an enormous area, and the longest-distance passenger traffic, for the foreseeable future, will surely go by air. What the U.S.A. needs is rebuilt railways that can handle passenger trains at 60 to 80 or even 90 mph—-just as we had until the Sixties, when the interstate highway system destroyed our passenger train system. These fast trains, rnning at all hours of day and night, might also carry the mail and express traffic, just as they used to do. In this way, many cars and
and trucks might be removed from our overburdened interstate highways, at minimum expense. Small airports could be closed. And freight trains might also take advantage of the rail improvements.
Places without railroad tracks could receive connectng bus service, as is already done in California and several other states.
May our country and other countries be safe. Jeremy Mott