They include the 45Committee, founded by billionaire casino oligarch Sheldon Adelson and Todd Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs; and the Koch Brothers’ groups, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners.
They’re not doing this out of love of America. They’re doing it out of love of money.
How do you think they got so wealthy in the first place?
As more of the nation’s wealth has shifted to the top over the past three decades, major recipients have poured some of it into politics – buying themselves tax cuts, special subsidies, bailouts, lenient antitrust enforcement, favorable bankruptcy rules, extended intellectual property protection, and other laws that add to their wealth.
All of which have given them more clout to get additional legal changes that enlarge their wealth even more.
Forty years ago, the estate tax was paid by 139,000 estates, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. By 2000, it was paid by 52,000. This year it will be paid by just 5,500 estates. Under the House tax plan, it will be eliminated altogether.
Why do Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of every other advanced economy? Because Big Pharma has altered the laws in its favor. Why do we pay more for internet service than most other nations? Big cable’s political clout. Why can payday lenders get away with payday robbery? The political heft of big banks.
Multiply these examples across the economy and you get a huge hidden upward redistribution from the paychecks of average working people and the poor to top executives and investors. (I explain this in detail in the documentary “Saving Capitalism,” airing next week on Netflix.)
All this is terrible for the American economy.
More and better jobs depend on increasing demand for goods and services. This must come from the middle class and poor because the rich spend a far smaller share of their after-tax income.
Yet the middle class and poor have steadily lost purchasing power. Partly as a result, a relatively low share of the nation’s working-age population is employed today and the wages of the typical worker have been stuck in the mud.
The Republican tax plan will make all this worse by burdening the middle class and the poor even more.
A slew of analyses, including Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation, show that the GOP plan will raise taxes on many middle-class families.
It will also require cuts in government programs that middle and lower-income Americans depend on, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
And the plan will almost certainly explode the national debt, eventually causing many middle class and poor families to pay higher interest on their auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards.
I don’t care whether the top executives of big corporations, Wall Street moguls, and heirs to vast fortunes salute the flag and stand for the national anthem.
But they enjoy all the advantages of being American. Most couldn’t have got to where they are in any other country.
They have a patriotic duty to take on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going. And Trump and his enablers in Congress have a patriotic responsibility to make them.
Similarly, at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, President George H.W. Bush—who didn’t even agree to show up until the last minute—declared, “I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the president of the world. And while I’m here, I’m going to do what best serves the interests of the American people.”
Monuments, Statues, Flags: The American Infatuation With Symbols
by John Lawrence
In the final analysis symbols are superficialities. Why should we spend our time and energy arguing about whether Robert E Lee on a horse should come down, whether Stonewall Jackson should bite the dust or whether Confederate Generals in general would cease to exist, monumentally speaking? Perhaps even those slaveowners George Washington and Thomas Jefferson should be repudiated and exorcised. Well then, you wouldn't have much of a country or a narrative about the pure and noble US of A, would you? You'd still have Ben Franklin and John Adams though. They weren't slave owners. We'd have to rewrite the story of America.
Rather than consume all our time and energy talking about superficial symbols, let us get down to the real meat of what's going on in the world today. Let's talk about living within our means - on an individual basis and on a planetary basis as well. Individual credit card, student loan and mortgage debt has never been greater. We're heading for another economic collapse in which the banks will probably get bailed out and individual debtors will get screwed ... again.
The planet cannot support 12 billion people living like Americans and not properly disposing of their waste products. We need to get on the bandwagon of renewable energy and leave fossil fuels in the dust. Everyone on the planet needs to be brought up to a decent standard of living even if it means billionaires might have to sacrifice a bit. People have to learn how not to be just consumers. Consumption needs to level out over all the planet's peoples. We need a college level course in proper waste disposal and recycling so shit just doesn't pile up in the oceans and despoil the lands.
Finally, guns need to be gotten off the street before the openly carrying congregation of the right carries off a putsch or a coup or takes power the way right wingers have done throughout history. Think it can't happen here? It just almost did with the election of Trump. Trump supporters would welcome a right wing takeover so they can make America white again.
We talk a lot about Patriotism, especially around July 4th, but we need also to take to heart its five basic principles.
First: True patriotism isn’t simply about waving the American flag. And it’s not mostly about securing our borders, putting up walls and keeping others out.
It’s about coming together for the common good.
Second: Real patriotism is not cheap. It requires taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – being willing to pay taxes in full rather than seeking tax loopholes and squirreling away money abroad. Not just voting but becoming politically active, volunteering time and energy to improving this country.
Third: Patriotism is about preserving, fortifying, and protecting our democracy, not inundating it with big money and buying off politicians. It means defending the right to vote and ensuring more Americans are heard, not fewer.
Fourth: True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of their country and know the government is a tool to help us solve problems together. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve our government, not destroy it.
Finally, patriots don’t pander to divisiveness. They don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divisions. They aren’t homophobic or sexist or racist.
To the contrary, true patriots seek to confirm and strengthen and celebrate the “we” in “we the people of the United States.”
In the speech last week that put on hold his request to Congress to authorize the bombing of Syria’s chemical weapons sites, President Obama — no mean orator himself — faced a familiar orator’s problem. How would he end on a strong and upbeat note while announcing what was in fact a sensible retreat from his “red line” pledge dictated by clear and overwhelming evidence that both Congress and the public at large had no appetite for any more Middle Eastern interventions? How could he still defend America’s assertion of its role as the enforcer of the “civilized world’s” conscience even as he stepped back from the brink?
Other nations, of course, believe much the same thing, but not with the broad sweep of the claim of America, where we do things on a grander scale.
The words he chose nodded in both directions. “America is not the world’s policeman,” he acknowledged. “[I]t is beyond our means to right every wrong.” Then he added: “But when with modest effort and risk ” (something entirely impossible to guarantee) we can stop children from being gassed to death. . . I believe we should act.” But why us alone? That cued the final trumpet flourish. “That’s what makes America different,” said the president. “That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.” Pleased as I was with the outcome and its sequel so far, I couldn’t help thinking of George M. Cohan’s remark that “many a bum show is saved by the American flag.”
For there it was, the magic word, the popular core belief that we are the recipients of God’s special favor. Other nations, of course, believe much the same thing, but not with the broad sweep of the claim of America, where we do things on a grander scale. It is an essential truth, we say, that we are unique in history because prior to the modern age we had no history.
Our national origin myth is that the United States was born in a state of immaculate innocence. Voiced best in the nineteenth century by the popular historian (and loyal Jacksonian Democrat) George Bancroft it ran like this: The discovery of a “New World,” the Renaissance, the Reformation and the “Enlightenment” of the eighteenth century were all overtures to the grand curtain raising on the birth of the United States. One of our christening gifts was a “virgin” continent sheltered by two oceans, ours to possess without obstruction except for the inconvenient presence of heathen savages without the power to resist modern weapons. The other, even more important, was a blank slate, scrubbed clean of the crimes, errors and follies, the wars and oppressions of the past. We could create, unhindered, whatever government we desired. We could invent a national character for ourselves in whatever form we wished.
What might that be? For the Puritan founder of Massachusetts, John Eliot, we were destined to be a “city on a hill,” the eyes of all mankind turned on us as, in his words, “a model of Christian charity.” In the sweeping imagination of Tom Paine, victory in the American Revolution, would give us the freedom to “begin the world anew.” Fourscore and seven years later, Lincoln announced that the Union’s survival in the Civil War was vital to the entire world, because it was an experiment in democracy whose failure would cause the very idea of popular government to perish from the earth.
In those forms, exceptionalism had a positive face. It inspired the signers of the Declaration of Independence to risk their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. It nerved nineteenth century reformers like abolitionists or women’s rights advocates to fight on to victory in the face of contempt, hostile laws and physical assaults. It gave trade unionists the courage to defy the bullets and billy clubs of repression in their struggle for the equal rights to which America’s founding documents entitled them. To progressives it furnished the patience to persist for years in legal and political battles to make real the Preamble to the Constitution’s oft-forgotten promise to “promote the general welfare.” And it shone again in the peaceful struggle of the modern civil rights movement to hold America to its promises.
But exceptionalism has another uglier mask. Its hidden core of arrogance has often turned it into a kind of nationalism-on-steroids that carries with it imperial swagger, the itch to crush dissent at home, and a defiant statement to the world that we’re free to ignore what Jefferson called “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” Re-branded as “Manifest Destiny” it was used to justify unnecessary invasions of Canada and Mexico, the eventual establishment of colonies in the Pacific and a period as the de facto suzerain over the weak governments of the Latin American nations of this hemisphere.
Curiously, both the benign and the sinister interpretations — the Jekyll and Hyde versions, we might say — have something in common, too long and too commonly neglected by our mythmaking historians. Neither of them is true. We have never been as “original” as they claim.
Democracy was not invented here. Neither were capitalism or Protestantism, the distinguishing characteristics of the first British settlers in North America. Even as colonies we were part of a trans-Atlantic culture. Our books and arts, our faiths and our economic practices were imported mainly from Great Britain and Western Europe. The first simmers of revolt here rested on the colonists’ demand for “the rights of Englishmen” gained in the mother country by uprisings a century earlier that had beheaded one king and deposed another. The elite among our Patriot leaders were familiar with the works of the French philosophers who were busily undermining the intellectual foundations of their absolute monarchy. James Madison, often called “the father of the Constitution” for his heroic labors in the Convention, like many fellow members was familiar with the theories and performances of republics in ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy and the Swiss confederation and Dutch republic of their own time. Knowledge like that guided their own choices among the political and practical deals they had to make as, in your own words, the great charter was “hammered, reasoned, shaped, argued, cajoled and compromised into being.”
As for creating a government on a blank slate free of crimes and errors? No way. By 1787 it already had a century and a half of slavery and the theft of Indian land inscribed on it.
That’s not to deny the radicalism of the American Revolution, or the early existence of new and especially American habits of speech and forms of art. Voting into existence a people’s government — even with a limited electorate at first — was a daring leap into unknown seas, bordered by powerful nations still ruled by hereditary absolute monarchs and aristocrats. We were as much a novelty as the new plants and animals that our frontier exploration parties kept bringing home — a process, it’s worth remembering, also going on in other newly “discovered” parts of the world.
But 1787 was two and a quarter centuries ago. The democratic ideal, if not the practice, has long perched its banners over most of the globe. Our own democracy is no longer a lusty infant, but one of the world’s oldest, plainly suffering plutocratic and imperial dysfunctions and in need of a thorough popular overhaul to reclaim its genuineness.
The version of exceptionalism now peddled by tea party fable-makers has already done our economy noticeable harm. It convinces too many. It turns upside down our supposed hospitality to innovation by attempts to seal us off from learning anything from other, younger democracies. Improvements in health care, education, energy conservation — name your cause — are dismissed out of hand as “socialism,” bent on destruction of “the American way.” That kind of head-in-the-sand obstructionism is what we used to deplore in what we called “backward” parts of the globe. And what a useful tool it is for keeping the rich beneficiaries of our current unequal status quo in the top-dog position!
The damage that “unique” America as Dr. Hyde, fortified by a super-sized military establishment, has done is huge. Where once we independent-minded Yankees scoffed at “heel-clicking Prussian militarism,” the media and political establishments of today brag of our “superb” armed forces, while reporters covering Pentagon press conferences, as well as congressional committee members, struggle to outdo each other in deference to the beribboned generals who appear before them.
The international consequences are even worse. At a time when we need the world’s friendship and cooperation, the exceptionalist mindset licenses administrations of both mainstream parties to override the sovereignty of other nations in the interests of our own safety. Think of drones aimed at terrorists (so identified in secret by us alone) in neutral Pakistan or “allied” Afghanistan that take the lives and homes of nearby or mistakenly targeted civilians. Mere “collateral damage” to us, we ignore the scope of their tragic suffering. Think of CIA kidnappings on the streets of foreign cities under the very noses of their own police forces. Think of the symbolic impact of our refusals to sign international treaties banning the use of land mines or child soldiers, or of the special exemptions we demand from prosecution by local law authorities of crimes committed against civilians by our military personnel in the countries where we have bases established. What kind of self-portrait are we painting?
True, almost all nations commit offenses against common decency and common sense in the mindless fervor of war. Our country is not the only sinner or possibly the worst. But “We’re Number One” hyper-patriotism is simply the collective self-admiration of empty minds. It’s not what the American Revolution was fought for. Not what Tom Paine and Lincoln had in mind. The Declaration of Independence only says that we were seeking “the separate and equal station among the nations of the earth” to which the laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitled us.
That’s why I believe that it’s time to let exceptionalism become a creed outworn. It has lingered too long for whatever good it has done. But won’t that bury its positive and creative side?
Not necessarily. We don’t need that particular prop in order to believe that as a nation we should hope to realize the ideals of justice, individual dignity, decency and mercy embodied somewhere in almost all the world’s religions and secular codes of law from ancient times–if not always achieved, at least as goals to aspire to. This would not be the “isolationism” with which critics of our imperial overreach are now being charged. Rather, the effort to design a new moral compass for international relations in a world whose peoples are now more interdependent than ever. One that does not need the “leadership” of a single super-power–not even the United States.
I have no naïve dreams of armies vanishing overnight. But the unchecked violence of our times must be somehow reduced before it destroys any hopes of a decent future for humanity. If the United States would take an active role as a partner in the process, rather than an armed dictator of terms from a lofty perch of morality, it would go far towards restoring the admiration the world long felt for us when our military establishment was tiny and our practice of democracy was robust. Think what fine speeches could be woven around that essential truth.
Bernard A. Weisberger is a historian who has collaborated on several television series with journalist Bill Moyers, including A Walk Through the 20th Century and Report from Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention. They are now working on The Fighting Spirit: The People vs. The Gilded Age.
Recently I publicly debated a regressive Republican who said Arizona and every other state should use whatever means necessary to keep out illegal immigrants. He also wants English to be spoken in every classroom in the nation, and the pledge of allegiance recited every morning. “We have to preserve and protect America,” he said. “That’s the meaning of patriotism.”
To my debating partner and other regressives, patriotism is about securing the nation from outsiders eager to overrun us. That’s why they also want to restore every dollar of the $500 billion in defense cuts scheduled to start in January.
Yet many of these same regressives have no interest in preserving or protecting our system of government. To the contrary, they show every sign of wanting to be rid of it.
In fact, regressives in Congress have substituted partisanship for patriotism, placing party loyalty above loyalty to America.
The GOP’s highest-ranking member of Congress has said his “number one aim” is to unseat President Obama. For more than three years congressional Republicans have marched in lockstep, determined to do just that. They have brooked no compromise.
They couldn’t care less if they mangle our government in pursuit of their partisan aims. Senate Republicans have used the filibuster more frequently in this Congress than in any congress in history.
House Republicans have been willing to shut down the government and even risk the full faith and credit of the United States in order to get their way.
Regressives on the Supreme Court have opened the floodgates to unlimited money from billionaires and corporations overwhelming our democracy, on the bizarre theory that money is speech under the First Amendment and corporations are people.
Regressive Republicans in Congress won’t even support legislation requiring the sources of this money-gusher be disclosed.
They’ve even signed a pledge – not of allegiance to the United States, but of allegiance to Grover Norquist, who has never been elected by anyone. Norquist’s “no-tax” pledge is interpreted only by Norquist, who says closing a tax loophole is tantamount to raising taxes and therefore violates the pledge.
True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve it. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve the U.S. government, not destroy it.
But regressive Republicans loathe the government – and are doing everything they can to paralyze it, starve it, and make the public so cynical about it that it’s no longer capable of doing much of anything. Tea Partiers are out to gut it entirely. Norquist says he wants to shrink it down to a size it can be “drowned in a bathtub.”
When arguing against paying their fair share of taxes, wealthy regressives claim “it’s my money.” But it’s their nation, too. And unless they pay their share America can’t meet the basic needs of our people. True patriotism means paying for America.
So when regressives talk about “preserving and protecting” the nation, be warned: They mean securing our borders, not securing our society. Within those borders, each of us is on our own. They don’t want a government that actively works for all our citizens.
Their patriotism is not about coming together for the common good. It is about excluding outsiders who they see as our common adversaries.
The economy is out of recession since it is actually growing and not contracting. Yet job growth compared to the baseline of 100,000 new jobs a month just to accomodate the growth in the labor force is actually negative. There were 83,000 private sector jobs created in June. That means that actually there were 17,000 fewer jobs created than were needed just to stay even and so a net job loss. However, the economy is still expanding so what's the problem? The rich it seems have been presuaded to do their patriotic duty and consume more thus making up for the poor suckers who can't keep up their pace of consumption because their jobs went down the tubes. As long as the rich consume more to make up the difference, the economy will continue to expand and GDP will continue to grow since it is based 70% on consumption. It's the least the rich can do since they don't want to have their taxes raised, something that might make the government more solvent and provide funds for job creation.
The fact of the matter is that private sector employment will continue its downward trend simply because it's government policy to export jobs. So waiting patiently for the economy to "turn around" is like waiting for Godot. It's not going to happen unless radical changes take place in the relationship between government and the market place. Ross Perot was right. Ever since NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and various and sundry other free trade agreements, there has been a "giant sucking sound" of jobs leaving the American economy for places in the world where labor and raw materials are cheaper. It only stands to reason that most Americans cannot continue to consume at the same pace they did when they were actually employed. That is why the rich must step up to the plate and consume more. The gap between rich and poor has never been larger, taxes have never been lower and its their patriotic duty to make up the difference in consumption if they don't want to pay more taxes and now that the lower middle class can no longer be counted upon to consume.
It used to be that the US imported cheap natural resources from Latin America and then made manufactured products here and then exported those products abroad. The poor peasants that extracted the raw materials in Latin America were paid a pittance and American workers were paid decent salaries. Now the manufacturing is done elsewhere, the workers are paid less and profits for the corporations are commensurably greater. Profits created abroad tend to stay abroad in offshore secret bank accounts where they can escape taxation which is leading to the collapse of municipal and state governments. Eventually, it will lead to the collapse of the Federal government as well as it will no longer have any money or willingness to prop up the economy as it has done for a year now with automobile and housing credits. But it will always have money for war as long as the rest of the world remains willing to loan us the money.
What needs to be done obviously is to restructure the whole economy getting rid of the vast expenditures on the military machine and reducing it to the basics of actually defending the US Homeland instead of pursuing military adventurism abroad. The "free trade" aspects of government policy need to be revisited with an eye to actually creating and protecting domestic jobs and making imports from abroad more expensive. Tariffs were the largest source of federal revenue from the 1790s to the eve of World War I, until it was surpassed by income taxes. So for most of US history the Federal government was actually funded by foreigners wishing to import into the US economy. This actually fostered job creation in the US by 1) keeping taxes low and 2) making domestically produced manufactured goods salable at attractive prices. Today the US is subsidizing foreign competitors and US corporations who wish to use cheap foreign labor and import the finished goods back into the US. They locate their factories wherever labor is cheapest. They also have better access to cheaper raw materials. Cheap transportation by container ship makes it more profitable to import into the US market than to build factories here and to employ American workers. Labor for the products that can't be manufactured abroad is supplied by illegal immigrants who will work for sub-minimum wages and not complain for fear of being deported.
The Chinese model, where government is deeply involved in the private sector, is gaining ground over the US model of hands off by government and laissez faire economic practices. There is the obvious contradiction that laissez faire has done nothing to create jobs although it has added to the corporations' bottom lines. Deregulation not only led to the financial collapse of 2008 but also to the oil gusher in the Gulf which is destroying the environment. The capital not collected by the government in the form of taxes has not been put to productive use by the capitalists who have retained it. Instead, higher returns have been sought in the financial sector. The financialization of the economy has replaced the productive deployment of capital which might be involved in job creation with higher returns expected from the deployment of capital in the casino economy. Hedge fund managers and private equity leveraged buyout specialists have made money not by investing in productive pursuits but by gambling and ripping apart already profitable companies that had been actually producing manufactured goods until they were taken into bankruptcy by the private equity firms.
The rapaciousness of the bond markets and other financial experts and quants has diverted intelligent young college graduates into the financial economy in pursuit of making money from money rather than from the manufacture of finished products. The best and the brightest are going into finance not creating or being employed in businesses that manufacture products. In many cases the financial sector is duping their clients instead of serving them. In collusion with the hapless rating agencies such as Moody's and Standard and Poor's, the big banks like Goldman Sachs had worthless garbage rated as triple A investment grade bonds and fooled pension funds all over the world into buying them. Then they turned around and shorted their own products thus reaping billions when the bonds and the underlying subprime mortgages defaulted. You can read all about it in an excellent book, The Big Short, by Michael Lewis.
So what to do about restructuring the economy? 1) Cut the Pentagon budget by 50%. Eliminate most foreign military bases. 2) Come up with creative new ways to tax the rich. As Al Capone said, "I rob banks because that's where the money is." Similarly, government has to go after funding sources where the money is, and right now it's in the financial sector and among wealthy investors. 3) Institute a financial transaction tax. 4) Establish an industrial policy which establishes, shelters, husbands and grows companies which employ American workers and don't export jobs. 5) Build a domestic industrial base based on replacing the oil economy with a green economy. 6) Establish a fair trade policy replacing free trade. 7) Make sure a social safety net is in place to ease the transition of workers in the military-industrial complex to jobs in the green economy. 8) Emasculate lobbyist control of Congress. 9) Establish publicly funded elections with free air time. 10) Invest in the American people rebuilding the nation at home instead of spending fortunes trying to build nations abroad.
The probability of any of the above happening is near zero. Instead, the US will probably come to tolerate a 10% nominal unemployment rate with a real unemployment rate hovering around 25%. Just as free trade created a poverty class in Latin America, a new neo-feudal poverty class is already being created in the US. The rich will have to shoulder the patriotic duty of taking on the burden of increased consumption previously shouldered by the middle class, who will just be able to eke out a living, in order for the economy to expand. The homeless will take to the streets and public parks until the public parks are fenced off due to a lack of budget to maintain them. The rich who don't frequent public parks will say good riddance to them. Increasingly, public institutions will be privatized and the former middle class will be marginalized, quaking in their boots, grateful for a few crumbs from the tables of the rich. There will be just three classes: the rich, the poor and the desperately poor, just like in the rest of the underdeveloped world.
What is patriotism? Is it just saluting the flag, singing the national anthem, getting choked up when the US wins a gold medal at the Olympics, stuff like that? All these expressions of patriotism are merely lip service. They are insubstantial. Or is it patriotic, as George Bush said, to go shopping? Hey, it's Memorial Day. Be patriotic. Go shopping. In a "me first" society, the values after "me first" are my family first, then my town or city or high school first, then my state first and then my country first. So real patriots don't actually put their country first; they put themselves first. Their quest for the "American Dream" is a quest for individual enrichment while they give lip service to "patriotism."
Real patriotism should be the quest to make the country a better place for the people living in it and by extension to make the world a better place for the people in it. Supporting the military is not necessarily patriotic if the military is engaged in activities that are destroying the planet, overthrowing democratically elected governments, supporting military dictatorships and fighting wars of aggression. (See "A Short History of US Overthrow of Democratically Elected Regimes or Why the Rest of the World Hates Us".) Patriotism is speaking out against such militaristic endeavors. On the other hand, World War II was a patriotic war because it stopped wars of aggression by Germany and Japan. It was one of the few "good wars." Certainly the Spanish American war was a put up job. World War I was a disastrous excercise in patriotism in which young men were just itching for a war in which they hoped to attain glory and be home for Christmas. It didn't work out that way.
The US government for the most part has foreclosed opportunities to be truly patriotic. Those opportunities would be to help construct things instead of destroying things, to help build infrastructure instead of destroying infrastructure, to enhance the environment and ecosystem instead of destroying it, to eliminate disease instead of creating it. Good deeds are left to private charity. Why? A government engaged in good deeds would be truly worthy of support and that would be truly patriotic. When a government's only activity is militarism, it's not patriotic to support such a government. When a government devotes the lion's share of its resources to the military, it is not caring for its own people or creating peace in the world. When a government cuts off support for the unemployed, it hastens their absorption into the destitute class. When a government is working to build peace in the world, participation in those kinds of activities is patriotic. The Peace Corps and AmeriCorps are two vastly underfunded programs which are truly patriotic. When the budgets for programs such as these exceed the budget for the military-industrial complex and patriotism is defined not in military terms but in terms of how much good America and her people are doing, then patriotism will be a valid notion. When the "me first" society becomes a "we're all in this together" society, then patriotism will be a valid sentiment.
This is from the AmeriCorps website:
In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act, which established the Corporation for National and Community Service and brought the full range of domestic community service programs under the umbrella of one central organization.
This legislation built on the first National Service Act signed by President H.W. Bush in 1990. It also formally launched AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage Americans in intensive service to meet the nation’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.
The newly created AmeriCorps incorporated two existing national service programs: the longstanding VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program, created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).
Patriotism as now defined is based on militarism. Patriotic displays are expressions of militarism. Love of country is expressed in jingoistic terms: "We're number one!" Instead, war and militarism should be thought of as necessary evils instead of exalting them. The goal should be to eliminate them while at the same time building the foundations for peace and prosperity in the world. There should be opportunities for those who want to serve their country by eliminating poverty, building infrastructure, saving the environment, curing the sick and extending helping hands to the underserved and downtrodden.