“Turn, turn, my wheel! The human race,
Of every tongue, of every place,
Caucasian, Coptic, or Malay,
All that inhabit this great earth,
Whatever be their rank or worth,
Are kindred and allied by birth,
And made of the same clay.” – Keramos, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Every time I have occasion to see this line from this great poem, I pause to ponder its deep meaning. Are we humans all really made of the same clay? Were the Spanish who ravished the Meso American Indians in the New World really made of the same clay as the Aztecs who inhabited Tenochtitlan now known as Mexico City? Was the gold that Cortez and his soldiers with tin hats astride horses, took from the Indians really in the name of Almighty God and the Catholic Church? Did all the Aztecs that Cortez burned alive with fire truly drive the devil out of the savages that remained? Or was it just an excuse, an elaborate ruse to take by force (because they could) the riches of the Aztecs and blame it on the Indians who were not saved by the same God, the same grace that the European invaders were?
I saw much of this gold in Madrid’s Museo de los Americas. The finery of the Indian goldsmiths was beyond compare, and I am certain my imagination was playing tricks on me as I viewed these elaborate and exquisite pieces of gold art through the thick glass. Some pieces in my mind seemed to be deep and dark with a hint of red. I wondered if the red tint and hue of these gold objects taken were forged together with all the blood rendered in the gold’s capture by the Conquistadors in Cortez’ party of Spanish marauders. Funny how your mind plays tricks like that.
And in essence were the Aztecs and the Conquistadors all “made of the same clay?”
Or was there a significant pecking order defined by who had the most weapons, the most soldiers, and the most power and might to subdue and conquer other members of the human race who were weaker? In short, are the more powerful of the human species better than the meeker humans they seek to conquer and plunder? Shorter still, is might right? Were the Conquistadors, armed with guns, horses, canons, and friars to save the savage souls in the New World, better human beings than the Indians? Were they more deserving of a good life of riches, plunder, and domination than those they attacked and conquered? Are some humans more equal than others? It seemed to be the case when stronger countries throughout the ages exploited other countries for their land, their riches, and for their life’s blood. Many peoples and great nations collapsed as a result aggressor nations who attacked them and took their land and natural resources. Many excuse this historical phenomenon as being the way things are. And will justify it with phrases, like “That was so long ago, much too difficult to think about.” So are the strong and the weak really all made of the same clay? I confess that I do believe in Longfellow’s assertion that yes we are, and will all return to the same clay. But while we are here, it seems undeniable that the gatekeepers of the human race are those with the most power. Every other class of human being shrinks to insignificance when it comes to the power of guns, armies, and gold.
Today America is the most powerful and richest nation in the world. Despite our burgeoning $15 Trillion Dollar Debt (all caps for such an incredulous amount of debt) many other countries, e.g., in Europe are worse off financially. As our illustrious Fed and Ben Bernanke print more dollars, inflation is growing silently like a cancer to render our purchasing power nil post haste. Yet the world continues to lend us money to finance our ever-growing debt. Why? I truly do not know, but I think it is because they know that we can kick any other countries’ butts if push ever comes to shove, like in a stand-off war (but if nukes explode all bets are off). That is why I believe that countries will continue to buy our Treasury Bonds at close to 0% interest at least for a while. We are perceived as being fully capable of attacking and occupying Afghanistan and then Iraq for years, pay for the wars with borrowed monies we do not have nor can never pay back.
We don’t see ourselves the same way the rest of the world does. We are viewed as aggressors who will not hesitate to attack another country even on bogus charges of having weapons of mass destruction pointed at American cities. That Conquistador ability to whup ass is why countries support America and want us on their side. With our unmanned drones alone we can do tidy and quick surgical strikes from afar and kill whoever needs killing (black hats of course, propaganda notwithstanding). The Saudis may hate us for our Westerner ways, but they love us for our protection. Most other countries find it in their best overall interests to befriend us rather than be enemies with America. They have seen our “shock and awe.” With boots on the ground in more than a thousand countries, Trident Nuclear Submarines, and air weaponry superior to all other nations, we are a pretty formidable sight for sore eyes. The only thorn in our side is terrorists who can strike unaware, any place, and at any time. Even though our financial bucket’s got a hole in it we, at present, are to be feared if you mess with America.
Many of the companies Ike warned us about have come home to roost like no-bid vulture contractors. Whenever you got a war to fight (real or contrived) there is the piper to pay. America must use companies who manufacture planes, bullets, guns, sophisticated software for weapons systems, ships, tanks, and food and shelter for our boots on the ground. So many contractors who are paid for services and weapons rendered to Uncle Sam do not have to bid on jobs. There is no competition because there is no bid to compete with. How does that happen? Well, the way it seems to happen is that a corporation or its officers or both make mega donations for the candidate of their choice who holds a seat in Congress and or the White House. The company then convinces Uncle Sam (wink, wink) that they and only they can do a certain job or build a certain airplane, you get the picture? Uncle Sam then says okay, then you get the contract….no bid necessary. Just send us a bill.
What amazes me is that nobody other than former Senator William Proxmire seemed to read the invoices. He thought it ludicrous that Uncle Sam bought half a million hammers for $500 apiece and 400 thousand toilet seats for $600 bucks apiece. I did too. But where was taxpayer outrage at such skullduggery that got America $15 Trillion Dollars in debt? Why was there no outcry from the taxpayer who now has to fear losing his Social Security and Medicare that he has faithfully paid into all his working life by his taxes rendered to Uncle Sam? Nobody remembers Senator Proxmire or his Golden Fleece Award. Nobody raised hell when he expressed outrage at our no-bid contracts given to war corporation cronies of Reagan and the Bushes, either. Nobody cared. Yet all the members of the Board of Halliburton, and Erik Price of Blackwater notoriety got rich and we the taxpayer funded their exploitation of the American Government, unaware. At least I knew nothing at the time of George W. Bush contracting at 4 times the normal pay per uniformed US soldier the private militia under the exclusive control and beckon of the President. I didn’t think a president had the power to enlist a private militia. Still don’t. Blackwater received a cool $1 Billion the first year George W. Bush used them as protectors of US Embassy personnel in Iraq. Wow. What a cool no-bid contract that was. You got to wonder how much Prince donated to the Bush reelection campaigns each and every year. Were these companies and people who ran and owned them made of the same clay as the Reserve soldier who had to fight these wars of big profit for the no-bid contractors and their candidate of choice who would serve as hatchet man? So was Erik Prince and Blackwater made of the same clay as Billy Bob’s Hunting Club of Del Rio? And I wonder what Erik Prince contributed to the GW Bush reelection campaign each year Prince was owner of Blackwater. Are we all made of the same clay? Are we all equal or are some humans more equal than others?
Just when you thought it would be all better it gets worse. In 2011 Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Alito, and Chief Justice Roberts ruled that now campaign contributions would be unlimited in terms of how much you could give to one candidate. Wow. That really puts it in our faces. If you got the most money you can buy a vote, moreover a government that is just fine with pushing all the wealth over to the rich side of the room. They don’t even need to hide it now; it’s all legal. You got the money, just run and elect who you choose, bought and paid for, no worries.
In Part II we will examine the works of Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Scott Walker, Newt Gingrich, and the dethroned “Hammer” Tom Delay and how easy it has become now to screw the working man and take away all his social programs that help him and his family. And (wink, wink) give them social program tax dollars back to their rightful owners: the bloody rich.