nation building

June 30, 2003

Many people have pointed out to me that America is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Iraq. We’re doing things like setting them up with a national health care system, rebuilding roads and schools, etc. Basically, we’re establishing an entire country’s infrastructure while things here at home are going from messy to messier.

This got me to thinking that maybe I was all wrong in my initial opposition to invading and occupying countries.

It occurs to me that there are other countries that could benefit from our democratic ideals and our cash. One in particular comes to mind.

This country’s economy has millions out of work, and millions more toiling at jobs that pay too little to support their families. The health care system is so weak that tens of millions have nowhere to go but the emergency room when they become ill. Many children in this country enter into adulthood never having learned to read. The national debt keeps climbing, which denies these illiterates a future. Corruption at the top is rampant. The environment is toxic and headed for terminal destruction. And at the same time, this country exports poisons throughout the world. The country is ruled by a junta that took power with the support of less than twenty-five percent of voters. After it launches two wars in two years, the other nations of the world agree that a preemptive strike against this country is both fair and necessary.

Any idea which country I’m talking about?

Imagine with me, if you will, what an invasion of the U.S. would look like.

Under the leadership of Joint Chief of Staff General Wesley Harding, a million American and coalition troops are amassed for assault by air and sea, with land-based armies attacking the length of the Canadian and Mexican borders.

In his speech prior to launching the invasion, President Bush promises all Americans that we will welcome the troops as liberators, waving and singing songs to the tanks as they come rolling in. He also promises a very low body count. The American press is invited in, embedded with the troops. The foreign press is told to just watch the whole thing on CNN.

As promised, the actual invasion of the United States takes even fewer days than the invasion of Iraq, and with fewer casualties. The only real resistance comes from some very weird groups in Montana, which are easily defeated by massive air power.

Corporate headquarters across the country are simultaneously raided on the fourth day, and all executives are sent to internment camps in Texas and Idaho for questioning. Not immediately addressed is the question of how many of them will be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and nature.

A group of very wise people from around the planet is put in charge of the nation-rebuilding effort, promising free and open elections as soon as they can figure out how to hold free and open elections in the face of gerrymandering, special-interest money and other oddities not covered by the Constitution.

A first priority in any invaded country is the health of the population, so the invasion forces immediately create a national health service with wellness clinics in every city. At each clinic, American medical personnel receive greater responsibility and more money to help the populous.

At the same time, The Committee on Restructuring insists that prescription drugs be made affordable for everyone, and so the costs of all pharmaceuticals are regulated. The pharmaceutical companies scream about this, but nobody is really listening to them anymore.

Immediately, environmental specialists go in search of toxins and poisons. Finding the air quality dangerous to life, they put in place all sorts of emission controls on factories and motor vehicles, then begin the construction of a workable, nationwide mass transit system. The car manufacturers yell, but nobody is really listening to them anymore.

The best economists go to work and come to see the devastating consequences posed by the country’s huge deficit. Their solution? To raise taxes on the rich, who hold such a vastly disproportionate amount of the country’s wealth. The rich cry and rant, but nobody is really listening to them anymore.

It soon becomes apparent that success with this nation-building stuff requires a collective commitment to young people. A collection of illiterates with baggy pants is not going to be able to sustain democratic institutions for very long. This requires even more aid than we have given Iraq, so experts from around the world are brought together to restructure the country’s public schools so that they actually educate children. It is a radical, if not revolutionary, idea, but most people accept it. Class sizes are cut, and old, decrepit buildings are torn down and replaced by new structures designed to enhance learning. Again there is a lot of yelling and screaming from those who once held the title of educator, but nobody is really listening to them anymore.

All in all, this post-hostilities phase of the invasion is working out pretty well, but then the rebuilders have to work on writing a constitution and rebuilding a fair and democratic government. When they look at the old constitution, they decide it is pretty good but needs a bit of tweaking. They develop several minor amendments, including one that makes it illegal to give anything to anyone running for any office. The other makes the federal, state and local governments responsible for equally funding all candidates. They make an addition to that amendment to tax the rich just a little more during election years.

The rich are screaming, but nobody is really listening to them anymore.

Next, the commission has to figure out what to do with the reigning Bush administration. Having found every kind of weapon of mass destruction spread out all over the United States, the U.N. decides that it is no longer okay that the U.S. is the largest arms dealer in the world. And so, with one law, they end the American business of arms exporting. The arms dealers are pretty fired up about that one, but no one is really listening to them anymore.

Since the entire infrastructure of America — highways, bridges and railroads — has been neglected for fifty years, the commission puts anyone without a job to work fixing them.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops lays siege to Washington, D.C., by surrounding the city and demanding that the Bush administration surrender unconditionally. President Bush keeps sending emissaries to ask just what is meant by the term “unconditional.” Meanwhile, Bush faces a range of serious charges, including war crimes, conspiring with giant corporations to steal and cheat the American public, murdering Mother Nature…the list goes on. The president, vice president, cabinet and most members of the senate and congress are charged with high treason by virtue of their overwhelming and unrelenting lying.

But while the charges are being prepared, the Bush Administration secretly escapes from D.C., its members reported to be hiding on a beach resort in Argentina.

Of course, there is a tremendous concern about the cost of reconstruction. But a look at the outrageous corporate profits and salaries of America’s CEOs, especially those in petrochemicals and arms manufacturing, helps the experts realize that simply by nationalizing these industries, the whole country can be rebuilt without taking any more from taxpayers. There’s just that much cash floating around among the ten percent of the country that owns ninety percent of its resources.

During the entire invasion, not one U.S. soldier is killed, though some are shot at by those weird people in Montana. Unlike in Iraq, the people of America really do greet the invading troops with open arms.

See, this nation-building idea may not be all that bad…we just need to try it here at home.

As the Fourth of July approaches and we plan celebrations of our country’s founding, we need to also remember our imperfections.

There are those of you who may hear me making a call for a new American revolution. If you have that thought, well, you’re right.

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