Green New Deal
I endorse the policies of the Green New Deal Coalition:
Voting and Democracy
The legal situation we have in this country can be stated as: you have the right to vote. You have no right to have your vote counted.
Here in Connecticut what has become of that is your vote WILL NOT be counted if it is at all inconvenient.
Do you really want to let that situation go unchallenged?
I know that my votes have been "inconvenient" since 1980. I wrote all the names of the electors for John B. Anderson into the little write-in space of the old lever voting machines. My stepmother was a Republican challenger at the polls that year. after she came home she told me I was the only voter who properly wrote in for John Anderson. (She recognized my handwriting.)
The Hartford Courant reported that no votes for John Anderson were cast in Glastonbury. My vote was inconvenient. It didn't go any farther than the polling station.
Four years ago, I walked into my polling station knowing full well that the Green Party had registered write-in candidates with the Secretary of the State's office. I was greeted by a rather large loud poll worker stating, "There are no write-in votes in Connecticut."
I corrected him.
He insisted there were none, and I informed him that there were in fact write-in candidates registered with the Secretary's office and they were running in elections that were being voted on at that polling place.
He dismissed me out of hand.
I plan to bring the dated copy of my registration form given to me by the elections division and show it to the registrars in my town. If anyone wishes to show a copy of the documents to the registrars in their town, I'll gladly let anyone copy or digitally photograph the documents. [Download a copy here.]
Remember, there was a man named Iosif Dzhugashvili, born in the old Russian Empire, who made the observation "Who voted does not count. Who counts the votes does."
For those of you who don't know, Dzugashvili adopted the name Stalin.
So, if, like me, you want real democracy: Make your vote count. MAKE THEM COUNT THE VOTE!
If we spend public funds on an artillery shell, the best we can hope for is it will sit in an arsenal in storage until it deteriorates into uselessness. That is the best possible outcome. It is an economic dead end. What economists call an "unproductive investment," it adds nothing to the overall economy. That is one of the biggest problems I see with our economy over my lifetime.
We have been cycling through booms when the federal deficit was large and busts when it was small. It is my belief that we will never be able to break this cycle unless we start spending on "productive investments."
Military spending is never a bargain. If you spend $10,000 on that artillery shell, you get no return. If you spend that $10,000 on a machine tool, in the hands of a skilled operator any number of useful things can be fabricated. Anything useful added to the economy contributes to the economy. If you spend that same $10,000 on fixing potholes, people spend less time commuting to work, spend less time and money repairing their vehicles, are less stressed and less fatigued, and are more productive. All of that has real economic benefit.
I was told the fast attack submarines built here in Connecticut cost two billion dollars. That $2B investment nets about 17,000 jobs. If that $2B were spent on education, it would net about 50,000 jobs. The submarine costs millions to operate and maintain, and after it becomes obsolete we have the expense of decommissioning a radioactive war machine. Expense after expense. In economic terms it is worse than a dead loss.
The people who build the submarines in Groton, the people who build the helicopters in Stratford, the people who build the fighter jet engines in East Hartford are among the most talented and skilled fabricators in the world. We have not even tried to find economically productive activities for them to engage in.
They can make anything that is made out of metal, plastic or fiberglass. If we could get them making something like wind turbines, we could lessen our fossil fuel consumption and provide renewable energy for industry, education, and domestic consumption. That would be a very productive investment.
Economics, Part 2
In his last speech as President, Dwight David Eisenhower intended to warn us about what he saw as a “Military, Industrial, Congressional complex.” The military wanted their hardware, industry wanted the contracts, and Congress was the place to get both. So they made it in the best interests of Congress to be part of the team. They did that with the promise of jobs.
Here in Connecticut multitudes cheer when a contract for fighter jet engines comes to East Hartford. The First Congressional District is pleased even though there are no new jobs, they just get to keep the old ones. At the same time, the company awarded the contract is in court because it is eliminating jobs here in Connecticut protected by a union contract.
There are multiple problems with this situation. Like the artillery shell I used as an example earlier, the best you can hope for with the fighter jets is that they are never used for their intended purpose. Unlike the artillery shell, they do not sit on a shelf in some armory. They gobble up money in fuel, maintenance, and highly skilled pilot time until they are sufficiently obsolete to be retired from service. Worse than an economic dead end, they are a money hole. A fighter jet adds nothing to the economy, but continues to take. How is that for an unproductive investment?
Beyond that, military spending does less to create jobs than any other public investment I know of. For one billion dollars of defense spending I'm told we can expect 8500 jobs. Contrasted with the same spent on education: 22,000 to 26,000 jobs. If you spend that money on an engine lathe, you automatically create one job opportunity for a skilled machinist. If that machinist makes tools, everyone who uses those tools becomes more productive. The economy becomes more efficient. And an engine lathe can cost about the same as an artillery shell.
The biggest problem is the interaction between the major players. Industry has seen to it that contracts affect as many Congressional districts as possible. So when the folks in the First District of Connecticut are pleased that one of our Congressmen brought home the pork, so are 43 other districts. So the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex started with 44 votes in the House and as many as 88 votes in the Senate. That is how the “Complex” works. It has become an economic addiction.
Like most addictions, it ends up costing more and more. Our economy cannot, in my opinion, sustain the continued unproductive, and at times counterproductive, spending on military equipment and bases around the world. The environment certainly cannot sustain it. Military spending contributes a large percentage to problems from excessive fuel consumption to high level radioactive waste we still don't know what to do with. That is even without hostilities.
The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex has been a gravy train for many for almost seventy years. But it is unsustainable. There are far more reasons to stop the excessive level of defense investment than there are to continue it. The gravy train is out of steam and worse, the engine is already over the cliff. Time to get Connecticut's economy out of the baggage car.