The Problem with (the) Peace (Movement)
I attended the Peace Protest last weekend at the National Mall in Washington, DC. (This is NOT a shopping mall but the irony is inescapable). I went to see the Bellrays and Wayne Kramer perform and was lucky enough to see Joan Boaz play a Bob Dylan song and Jello Biafra MC the affair as well.
Non-violence and not sending the youth of our poor to die abroad is something we should and can all support. Imperialism (and associated mercantilism) was declared dead by Adam Smith in 1776 and by the subsequent failure of colonization in Africa, Asia and elsewhere . Yet it continues despite our not too distant failure in Vietnam and the current U.S. President declaring as a candidate that he would not use U.S. troops for nation-building nor drop bombs on foreign countries. All of which he did of course within three weeks after assuming office.
The problem with the protest is that it turned into a self-parody of the left, a hate-filled, indignent Bush-bashing fest. It is like the speakers forgot that the urban poor (eg the Katrina evacuees) and our military-industrial complex were not created by the man himself. When a noble cause, like non-violence and a non-interventionalist foreign policy, gets mixed-up with domestic policy (what alternatives did John Kerry offer and was he elected so werent the people just whining and/or just appealing to the lowest common denominator devisive political herdism ?) the focus is diffused and the cause becomes mired.
The "left-wing" (and the right for that matter) in the U.S. must soon enough realize - before the whining gets worse and even more destructive - that our problems with the urban poor are economic ones caused by bad government policies and not too little spending to make the end-results of these bad policies even worse.
To solve the "urban problem" we should, 1) legalize drugs which will remove the illicit profits, allure and related-violence, 2) get rid of the minimum wage which will allow the marginalized and less productive, due to lack of skills, drug or alcohol problems or workforce non-participation patterns, get jobs, 3) get rid of rent controls and restrictive zoning laws which will allow more housing for the poor and 4) cut taxes and spending for social programs so that people will be able to help their neighbors directly instead of the government pretending to help indirectly.
And yes, we should also cut back the military-industrial-security complex so that we have a more vibrant, positive and peaceful economy with productive job prospects for the nation's poor as alternatives to wearing a uniform.
Just as an aside. Michael Moore and his attack on Bush was mentioned by Joan Boaz, a lovely person, as opening the eyes of the protestors to the corruption of the Bush administration. This may or my not be true. But I did see Bowling for Columbine which was a well-made and thoughtful if cynical movie. The denouement of that film is when Moore declared victory that Target was to no longer sell bullets as the result of his social activism. All this means is that someone else will sell the bullets, and make more money doing so as they will have one less competitor.