Thursday, September 4, 2008

Political Myth Making

Myths are not something of the past. They are embedded in our beliefs and visible in our culture, and without a critical education they are often taken for granted. One of the greatest myths in US culture has been that political conservatives favor small government. Except for a small but significant group of libertarians, this idea is patently false. Political conservatives may use the rhetoric of big government to disassemble social investments, but that does not stop them from desiring government largesse and social control.

As imperialists, conservative politicians have expanded government both in size and in social control. The US empire now has 730 bases in more than 50 nations. It also has some form of military presence in more than 140 countries. The US military budget exceeds $400 Billion per year and military costs, past and present, amount to more than half of all federal discretionary spending. More than 40% of all military spending occurs in the US (Russia and China spend about 6% apiece). The numbers are even more significant when one considers the number of corporations and workers who rely on government contracts and who have a vested interest in this empire.

Government surveillance, body searches and limitations on the right to assemble
are now a way of life in the US; many US citizens accept this intrusion as part of the post-911 environment. At the state level, conservative politicians push to fund prisons rather than public colleges. With more than 7 million people under criminal justice control at one time, the US is becoming a land of the guards and the guarded.

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