Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ron and Rand Libertarianism May Also be a Disaster

(originally published by OpEdNews)

If pure Anarchy or Communism is to work, the premise “to each according to his needs, from each according to his ability” has got to be a realistic premise.

Under each of these non systems, government will ultimately become unnecessary. Everyone will be equal. There will be no bosses and there will be no classes. Each person will share possessions as well as the responsibility for getting things done, even the most mundane and menial tasks.

The last thing that Libertarians would have you believe is that they’re anything like Anarchists or Communists. Libertarianism, as far as Libertarians are concerned, is a legitimate, responsible form of governance and the other two forms can only lead to chaos and probably totalitarian dictatorship.

In chapter 5 of his publication entitled THE STATE AND REVOLUTION, Vladimir Lenin writes, “From the moment all members of society, or at least the vast majority, have learned to administer the state themselves, have taken this work into their own hands, have organized control over the insignificant capitalist minority, over the gentry who wish to preserve their capitalist habits and over the workers who have been thoroughly corrupted by capitalism--from this moment the need for government of any kind begins to disappear altogether.”

Lenin goes on to say that the “fundamental rules of the community will very soon become a habit.

In its Statement of Principles, The Libertarian Party states that “…they (the government) must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life -- accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action -- accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.”

The Libertarian Party Statement of Principles also states that “The principle of non-initiation of force should guide the relationships between governments.”

It was quite easy to find sample quotations which reference Anarchism. In fact, it was too easy. It merely depends upon which type of Anarchism one wishes to reference.

Interestingly enough, while doing search for Anarchism, one finds hits for Libertarianism and Communism. One might say that Anarchism utilizes the best of Libertarianism and Communism or, depending on the point of view, the worst of Libertarianism and Communism.

Why, then, are Libertarians thought to be right of Mussolini and Communism left of Marx? Well, not left of Marx; sort of right there next to him.

The answer is in the fact that both Libertarians and Communists believe that a central government is either totally unnecessary or minimally necessary. Government merely restrains the freedoms of the individual. Rules of community will become a “habit” and non-initiation will, in and of itself, be strong enough to “guide the relationships between governments.” Human beings will lose any desire they may have to want more than they need, want what is fair or want more than the other person has. No one will go without because there will be no governing body to interfere with the ability to obtain anything at either no cost or the fairest of costs.

Tariffs are duties paid by companies for the privilege of importing their goods into another country. Although tariffs are very complicated financial instruments - that’s what the call such things these days - the truth is that Ronald Reagan and his administration put the final touches on eliminating tariffs which companies would have to pay to import products into the United States. Note that there is no link, no proof here provided. The reason is that tariffs are based upon the product in question, the countries in question and many other factors that economists use to keep the rest of us in the dark.

Reagan, being a “student” of Milton Freidman who said that the private sector can handle anything that humanity could ever want, wanted to make it easy for American manufacturers to have their products manufactured by people living in nations which make it legal to pay workers less than subsistence wages and then import them back into The FUSA with impunity.

This completed the thinning of the American labor herd, which was begun in the late 1970s with the advent of automation.

To look at this from another angle, as soon as the top executives of American corporations saw the chance to murder American labor, it didn’t give a second thought to pulling the trigger. It sort of shoots holes (no pun intended) in the theory that, left to its own devices, humankind will ensure that everyone is treated fairly, doesn’t it? As soon as American executives found that they could improve so called “worker productivity” and, consequently, increase profits, they planned to keep the extra profits for themselves. They could have spread it out among those American workers fortunate enough to remain employed, but chose to role in it like little piggies rolling in slop. They laughed and reveled and played with the profits like they were some sort of new transformer toys.

Let’s look at the Preamble to the Libertarian Party Platform:

“As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”

Yet, immediately following the above passage, the Preamble states:

“We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.”

Do these statements seem to be contradictory or at least dependent upon whose “individual’s rights” one is referring? In the case of the recent Rand Paul statement, the right of the property owner is obviously the object.

Could, however, an “individual’s rights” refer to the rights of individuals to enjoy the freedom to enter any establishment, public or private, that the remaining individuals in that society enjoy?

Is this left purposely ambiguous? I submit that, considering the premise of most of the Libertarian Party’s ideology, the rights refer to those belonging to the owner, the moneyed class. Possibly it could be argued that the term “moneyed class” in many instances is an embellishment considering that some who own small businesses like restaurants aren’t actually wealthy. However, they are in control because they are the owners and those who are forbidden to enter their establishments are being controlled, at least as it pertains to entering those particular establishments.

Putting aside the fact that the so called “Founding Fathers” were, themselves, the moneyed class of their time, my personal interpretation of the passage from The Declaration of Independence which reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, the term “unalienable Rights” means rights with which people are born. People are born with the right to equal access to all accommodations offered to the public, whether those accommodations are privately owned or publicly owned.

I realize that The Declaration of Independence is not part of The Constitution, however, it can be looked at as sort of a preamble to the Preamble to The Constitution. The Declaration of Independence says to me, “These are the reasons why we’re cutting ties with the British Empire and, following our list of reasons, we shall write a constitution which ensures that our nation will not employ the unfair policies enunciated in The Declaration of Independence.” It’s a personal observation, admittedly, but one which I consider, if nothing else, at least legitimate.

Top officers of American based multinational corporations received an opportunity from the advent of automation and the virtual abolition of import tariffs to demonstrate what humankind would do left to its own devices. These people chose to keep the increased profits for the benefit of a few top executives of the corporations, to discard American workers like so many old dish rags and to export jobs heretofore done well by American workers to workers in nations which allow subsistence level wages, not to mention lax environmental and labor laws.

The argument has been made that these exported jobs have actually helped those in the slave labor nations by increasing their wages. It’s not that the wages haven’t increased. It’s that the point from which the wages were raised were so low that the new wages are still subsistence wages. Furthermore, the argument seems to be made as if to imply that the betterment of these slave labor nation workers played into why corporations actually sent the jobs to those nations in the first place. Call me cynical, but I find that hard to believe. Go ahead, you’re allowed to disagree with me. This is The Former United States of America after all.

Although some nation states have been referred to as “communist countries” throughout history, I submit that, in light of what pure communism is supposed to look like, there has never been nor will there ever be a “communist country”.

I’ve never even heard anyone even pretend that there’s been an anarchist nation state in history.

I do believe there have been Libertarian nations, but we refer to them as Fascist nations.

“Wait!” you say. “Libertarians believe in minimal or no government intrusion. It states that the only purpose of government is to protect the Mother Land or Father Land (I’ve yet to hear the phrases “Brother Land” or “Sister Land”, but that’s just me). We all know that Mussolini ruled over Italy with an iron fist and Franco didn’t spend a lot of time soliciting suggestions from Spaniards on how to improve his governing process.”

“You’re right,” I would reply.

However, I would remind you that both Mussolini and Franco did solicit input from corporations and that alliance, at least according to some antiquated, non corporate published dictionaries, was and is a mainstay of Fascism.

As an aside, I’ve referred to one of my favorite political talk show hosts on radio and/or TV in many of my articles. His name is Thom Hartmann. Ironically enough, my references have always been in the form of criticism. This reference is to the fact that Thom says that the difference between Progressives and Conservatives is that Progressives see people as innately good and Conservatives see people as innately bad.

This is an interesting observation as Progressives are usually behind initiating regulatory legislation and Conservatives are usually opposed to such legislation. This is an interesting observation as Progressives feel the need to mandate environmental conservation and Conservatives are willing to let corporations, or at least the people who run them, self regulate. This is an interesting observation as Progressives want universal health insurance while Conservatives want to leave it up to “the invisible hand of the market”, obviously manipulated by very visible people, to Ouija Board (a noun turned verb) the necessary financial decisions guiding the health of Americans.

I’d submit that, observing what people do when they’re left unattended with untold quantities of profits obtained from the backs of workers, they are innately narcissistic and self centered and unwilling to share. Hey, but who am I do question my favorite talk show host?

There are no Communist Party candidates running for office in 2010 of whom I’m aware and, if there are any such candidates, they have less than a snowball’s chance in the fictitious place referred to as hell of winning. The same can be said of Anarchist Party candidates.

We know, for sure, thanks to the media’s continuing to give Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for the US Senate from Kentucky, free air time, that there is a Libertarian dressed in Republican clothing running for office. If he’s elected, his influence will basically be the same as his father’s influence has been on American foreign and/or domestic policy. It will be the same as that of Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee. In other words, it won’t exist.

However, if the media, as it has done with the Pauls, continues to treat the Tea Party Movement (do I have that politically correct?) in the same perpetual open forum process, can we not at least give some credence that there may be a Ron or Rand at the top of the Republican presidential ticket in 2012? For, as much as President Obama has gone back on so many of his promises in the short time he’s played the present day version of “Queen for a Day” and as much as he’s been so blatantly obvious (or obviously blatant) a puppet of The Corporacracy, the president still looks more like a winner than most Republicans who are in that psychedelic spotlight at present. In fact, we’ve recently had a son following a father in that theatrical role with but one presidency separating them. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a father-son ticket in 2012? To put it politely, this would most likely be more exciting than any sexual experience any member of The Tea Party Movement could have ever imagined in his or her wildest dreams.

One thing that I believe is certain about the Pauls is that they are not part of the political theater. They mean what they say and that, in conclusion, is what frightens me more than anything else.

To friendship,
Michael

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.” - Mark Twain


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Follow-Up to Arizona Article

The news outlet for whom I work, OpEdNews, has recently strongly suggested to authors that they should be the first to comment on their own articles. The Editor-In-Chief of OEN, Rob Kall, insists that this will “prime the pump” for further comment and help increase the popularity of article. Hey, Rob’s the boss and I, therefore, believe him. I’ve always believed my bosses (whether I did or I didn’t).

At my age, I don’t write to impress an English teacher. I write because I believe that’s how I can best help make changes in the world. I write with the idea of either influencing another or, if I’m convinced that my thoughts and/or approach aren’t the best, to make changes in the way I think.

Consequently, increasing the popularity of any article I write would naturally be something that I’d want to do. So, I, as suggested, made the first comment to my article.

If anyone wants to add any further comments, feel free to do so. You can find the article at “Arizona, My Personal Assessment of Some Obvious Facts”.

However, I’m not sending this out to solicit comments for my article. I wrote my pump priming comment and, as I read it, it dawned upon me that it would be an appropriate stand alone follow-up to the article. It’s in this spirit that you are now receiving it.

By the way, even though I’ve tried to steer clear of run-on sentences in the past with mixed success, if read with the passion I possessed while writing this article, I find the run-on sentences to be good tools.

And so the comment begins:

This (Arizona’s march toward ethnic cleansing) is just more proof that teabaggers don't know the difference between capitalism and corporatism.

This is just more proof of their unbridled enthusiasm to be against anything “the other side holds dear” rather than learning what they’re against and making up their own reality show drenched excuse for a collective mind.

Many conservatives say that Americans are too lazy to work, no matter that the jobs have been pulled out from under them. I don’t believe that’s true. I think many Americans are too lazy to think. I know damn well that, as long as they have people like Limbaugh and Beck and Insanity giving them their thinking orders, they’ll remain too lazy to read.

This is just more proof that many Americans will work as hard as they can against their own best interests.

This is more proof that Western Europeans took a perfectly good land away from competent gatekeepers and, in a mere 390 years, killed off the responsible keepers of the land, ruined the vast majority of that land, expanded to other lands in which they had no business being and ruined many of those lands and killed many of their inhabitants and have become whiny, self-centered, materialistic, narcissistic hypocrites whose main goal is to increase and hoard personal wealth and to turn their backs on anyone who may be in need while talking about christian values, family values and the value of owning an arsenal of guns with which any one of them could have defeated both the north and the south in The Civil War.

This is more proof that the democratic capitalism experiment that’s been tried in The FUSA has been a dismal failure because democratic capitalism, the way “capitalism” has been played out in The FUSA, is a contradiction in terms.

This is more proof that national sovereignty is in the last steps of giving way to corporate globalization and, if it’s not somehow miraculously stopped, our “posterity”, to use the word of The Constitution, will be singing anthems to corporations before sporting events in the future and places of worship will not be Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Islamic or Mormon, but will be Hewlett Packard, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Goldman-Sachs, AIG, Bank of America, etc.

For you believers, you followers of those violent and hate filled books, to mix metaphors, your golden calf has come home to roost and you’ll have no Moses to square you away this time. There won’t merely be one bush burning this time. The whole planet will burn and, while it’s burning, the CEO of some corporation or some corporate sycophant masquerading as a politician will be fiddling that corporate favorite “Accidents Happen”.

To friendship,
Michael

“I think the world is run by 'C' students.” - Al McGuire

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Arizona, My Personal Assessment of Some Obvious Facts

(Teagbaggers, Don’t Let the Facts get in Your Way!)
(originally published by
OpEdNews)

It seems as if the people of Arizona have been deluded into believing that “illegal immigrants” are why they no longer have jobs.

What we have to teach people, if it’s within our power, is to go into a local Lowe’s or Home Depot or some other corporate store. Stand near the cash register and look to the left and then to the right. Look at the aisle identifiers hanging from the ceilings. Note that the contents of the aisles are written in both English and Spanish.

Ask people, “Do you really believe that those who risk their lives coming across the desert into The FUSA have that much influence over American corporations? Do you really believe that these people warned corporate America that, if they didn’t put documentation in their stores in Spanish as well as English, they’d refuse to sneak into this country?”

If they have any inkling of an open mind – and I realize that’s a stretch – they’d see who the real culprits are. People from poor oppressive countries wouldn’t come to this country if they had no reason to come.

So, if corporations didn’t take advantage of their illegal status by paying them dirt wages and refused to hire anyone who wasn’t an American citizen or at least legally in this country, there would be no reason for people to put so much at risk to come here.

Maybe then you can start to talk to them about how Western Europeans obtained the land that they now call The United States of America. They not only stole it violently from people who’d been living here for centuries, but decided they needed to violently steal land from a sovereign Mexico as well. Arizona, Texas, parts of California and a few other states and territories were already inhabited by Hispanic people. One would think that, once Western Europeans violently took those territories over, they would have had enough compassion to allow the people to maintain their own language and culture.

Western Europeans had been living in an almost constant state of violence for thousands of years before they came to this place and it was embedded in them.

Be careful. There’s a new empire developing over here or over there and, sure enough, the new empire would attempt to expand by using might to conquer areas that had been sovereign before that new empire had even come into existence. It didn’t matter, though, did it? The new empire didn’t own all of the natural resources it needed and it was going to be damned if it was going to compensate another nation for what it needed and/or wanted.

Of course I’m not saying that indigenous peoples all over the world didn’t battle with one another. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for corrupt tribal leaders in Africa, it would have been much more difficult for Western Europeans to institute and rely so heavily upon the enslaving of Africans.

However, what makes me believe that indigenous people in Africa or in what is now The Americas weren’t nearly as violent as Western Europeans is the simple fact that their weaponry wasn’t as technologically advanced as that of the Western Europeans. Consequently, the Western Europeans ultimately violently defeated indigenous people wherever they encountered them.

If we look at some of the tools indigenous people had, some of the dress they wore, some of the governance they used, we can debunk anyone who would say that nothing indigenous peoples had was as advanced as what Western Europeans had. No, Western Europeans spent a great part of their wealth improving the tools of warfare, much like the present Former United States of America.

Of course, the conquerors tried to assimilate the conquered into their culture because they knew that if the conquered were to maintain their own culture and/or language, it would be easier to conspire to regain their freedom and autonomy.

This brings us right back to Arizona. People who have the most right to call themselves “Arizonans” or whatever the Spanish or indigenous name of the area was originally, if it, indeed, was different, are being told by people who don’t come close to having that right to leave, preferably, and if they don’t leave, to give up their own identity and become as much like the “new” arrivals as possible. In fact, in the case of Arizona, the “conquered” are almost being asked to change the color of their skin even though people with that color of skin were there before the blanched conquerors showed up.

I’m not Hispanic, but my ancestry is fully Sicilian. Sicily is so close to northern Africa that, for 900 years, it was an Arab/Muslim territory. You’d never be able to confuse me with a Scandinavian, at least not by the color of my skin.

The reason I mention this is because, taking into account my beard as well as skin color, I bet dollars to racists that some Arizona “peace officer” would think it within her or his rights to stop me and ask me for my “papers”. I just hope that I would have the NY Times with me at that moment.

To friendship,
Michael

“Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got.” - Janis Joplin

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This is What They've Done to Us

(originally published by OpEdNews)

There’s a documentary going around called “Meltup Hyperinflation”. It’s just another Ron Paul channeling Milton Friedman, free market, tough love, didactic narrative. It preaches, as most of Paul’s narratives do.

We give too much to people. They’re lazy. They don’t want to work. Take the money away from them and you’ll see how fast they get a job.

Just look at China. They go to public and private schools for only $400 - $1200 per year.

In the same documentary, the Paul sycophants decry taxpayer support for public education.

Well, which is it Ron? Do we subsidize public education so that American students can go to college for $400-$1200 a year or do we privatize all education so that the criminals you so rightly castigate for their excesses have another venue through which to add to those excesses?

I could never really understand trickledown economics, which is basically what Paul and Milton Friedman have preached so evangelically. I never could understand how a rising tide could lift all boats if people can’t even afford boats.

According to the Paulians, let’s call them, we should basically have a “skeleton government”. It should provide nothing, preferentially, but, if it has to provide anything, it should protect us from foreign invasion. It should not ensure that local municipalities or states have police departments. It’s none of the federal government’s business. If states and towns and cities don’t want to pay for police departments, then they shouldn’t be forced to do so by the big, bad government.

While chastising bankers for their excesses, Paul is loathe to allow government to intervene in a manner that would regulate those excesses.

Paul claims to be the standing expert in the world on The Constitution of The United States of America. He implies that if the founders knew how large we’ve let our government become, they’d roll over in their graves.

I would then ask Ron, and now his son Rand (whom he would have named Ayn if his son had been his daughter), “What did the founders envision the American government doing in 2010?” I submit that Paul would describe an activity which includes converting the government’s ass into a safe haven for its thumb.

Anarchism and true communism also have as their goals the doing away with any central governing body.

Do anarchists or communists or libertarians truly believe that’s what the founders had in mind when they wrote The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution?

Like the god forsaken Bible, one can point to almost any part of The US Constitution and defend extreme positions and ideologies.

Do the Paulians believe that the Preamble to The Constitution is technically part of the document?

One dictionary defines the word “preamble” thusly:

“1. A preliminary statement, especially the introduction to a formal document that serves to explain its purpose.

2. An introductory occurrence or fact; a preliminary.”

These two definitions may or may not contradict one another, but, as you read further down the page of that dictionary, the words “serves to explain its purpose” are repeated more than once.

So, whether or not the preamble is part of The Constitution or merely an introduction which explains the purpose of The Constitution, the preamble says: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (emphasis mine)

So, what does Representative Tough Love think “promote the general welfare” could possibly mean? Does it mean that, when we see our fellow countrymen suffering because the very same tough lovers say we shouldn’t have a minimum wage and the government has no right to stop business from doing whatever the hell it wants to do, including sending American jobs to slave labor nations like, yes, China, we should tell them to pick themselves up by the straps on the boots that they can’t afford and find a job working for the companies that no longer provide jobs in The FUSA (The Former United States of America)?

When those Chinese students graduate from the public schools that Paul and his ilk don’t believe we should support in The FUSA, how much do we think they earn? According to a 2008 UN report, China’s per capita income is $3,000.00 per year.

The Paulians don’t want to tie the poor corporations down with a mandated minimum wage, they don’t want to subsidize education the way their heroes in China subsidize education, they don’t want the government to interfere with business decisions, including where they manufacture their products and they want us to be as eager and hardworking as the Chinese to earn a wage of $1.44/hour, in the unlikely reality that the Chinese actually work 40 hour weeks.

This is the lecture that one should watch and take to heart (I have found that it takes a while to download, but it’s well worth it). This is the simplest and most direct narrative of how we got to where we are and suggests the most compassionate and logical way out. No one is punished, even those who should be. Those who should be punished via reregulation will do what they did the first time around, that is, they will do everything in their power to eviscerate any governmental regulation placed directly upon them and they’ve proven they have the money and the power to do so.

However, the lecture by Richard Wolff doesn’t suggest we return the keys to the criminals.

It, admittedly, will take the same kind of courage exhibited by such groups as The Wobblies, The Industrial Workers of the World, in the early 20th century to make the changes Wolff suggests. The Wobblies actually spilled blood to rid this nation of the scourge of child labor, to get us the 40 hour work week and many other benefits that Americans have since lost.

I cringe when I ask myself if those alive today would have done the same for the future of this nation and the workers of this nation and of the world. This corporate run fiasco has put the fear of something or someone into those who live today. Tea Party activists rally in favor of their corporate enemies and against their own best interests. The so called middle class is filled with frightened little boys and girls who believe that the wealthy ruling elite, which I refer to as The Corporacracy, are still working on ensuring that we all attain that “American Dream”. They do this as The Corporacracy creates the ultimate American nightmare and that nightmare is called Free Trade.

So, if you haven’t seen the Paul video homily, please watch it.

I don’t believe in a higher power, so I don’t believe in a heaven or a hell. However, on the off-chance that I’m wrong, I hope I see Friedman and Paul right there next to me, burning for conducting their all out war against the American middle class.

To friendship,
Michael

“We are limited by words.”

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Confessions of a Military Industrial Complex Conscientious Objector

(originally published by OpEdNews)
A benefit of working for OpEdNews as a line editor is empowerment.

I know, I know, empowerment is a term used by large, multi-national corporations to justify laying off workers. These corporations tell the remaining workers, whose job responsibilities increase significantly with the loss of their work mates, that the new responsibility empowers them.

These corporations have to give the remaining workers some positive feedback since they don’t increase their pay to reflect their additional work load.

However, just as with almost every word, every deed, every discovery and every invention that can be attributed to humankind, the word “empower” isn’t in and of itself a negative entity.

Yesterday, as I was working on the submission queue at OEN, I read the article which follows.

Maybe some of you don’t visit OEN frequently. Many some of you have never visited. It is for this reason that I asked Richard Wilson, the author of “Confessions of a Military Industrial Complex Conscientious Objector”, for permission to share his article in full. He was kind enough to extend that permission to me.

I’m an atheist and Mr. Wilson bases much of the decision he made concerning the Military Industrial Complex on being drawn to the Christian faith. When you read the article, however, you’ll see why spiritual or religious faith isn’t needed for this article to touch you deeply.

This is why I felt empowered to be given the opportunity to publish this article at OpEdNews and I feel empowered to share it with you now.

To friendship,
Michael

“Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.” - John F. Kennedy
(originally published by OpEdNews)

I was raised in the military industrial complex. My father was a participant in the Manhattan Project while serving in the Army Corps of Engineers. He was employed by The Dow Chemical Company while Dow was the administrator of the Atomic Energy Commission's Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado. Dad had retired from G.E. in Pinellas, Florida while under the contract of the Atomic Energy Commission. I also worked for Dow at Rocky Flats. Additionally I spent 11 years in the United States Air Force and nearly three years in Vietnam and Thailand.

After graduating from high school in 1962 and facing a draft with no possibility of additional education, I chose the Air Force. The military offered some of the best technical schools and vocational training of the time and many of us who had no real financial means depended on that opportunity to prepare us for life.

The choice to join the military was not a difficult one. I had no reason in my life's experience at that point to doubt the honor of such a decision. The opportunities available were limited with the draft looming over my head.

After serving for six years, I was married, became the father of a wonderful daughter, and had spent 22 months in Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. I was discharged "honorably" at McCord Air Force Base and returned to Arvada, Colorado where I attempted to survive civilian life.

My son was born and fortunately I found employment in the general aviation industry. Income was critical as usual for a family so I applied for an instrument technician position at the Rocky Flats Atomic Energy Commission facility managed by The Dow Chemical Company. The Rocky Flats Plant site was responsible for the manufacture of "pits" or the plutonium triggers used in nuclear weapons.

After being unable to adapt to the corporate “cog in the machine” imprisonment I found in the everyday life at that time, I found it necessary to return to the Air Force two years later.

Four more years in the Air Force found me back in Southeast Asia and struggling with marriage and separation from my family. I was again discharged from the Air Force “honorably” and worked several jobs while trying to piece a living together.

Unfortunately during this return experience, my marriage collapsed in divorce. After several years, I found an opportunity to be employed by Lockheed Aircraft Service Company, a defense contractor operating out of Ontario, California.

At that time, my idea of successful employment included wages, benefits, a title and retirement, so this seemed like the American Dream! I made it! I was even flying as a crew member training Air Force personnel. Flying was a lifelong dream. What more could I ask?

After accepting a position to serve as a Technical Representative for Lockheed, training Air Force and supporting their flight operations in Europe, my new friend and wife and I moved to Germany.

Pamela and I had just married in 1983 and through that blessed experience I chose to become a follower of Christ. We chose together to take that journey through her church. My record of follow-through and commitment was not very good and, therefore, I wanted to live up to that challenge and to be clear about what my new commitment entailed.

Through my study I started questioning my participation in the military industrial complex. The more I questioned, the more I studied. I do not know if I was looking to justify what I had been doing or if I was looking for an escape. I did ask several priests about the dilemma and received no consolation or pastoral counsel with regard to a direction either positive or negative.

I found that I had to ignore my spiritual enlightenment to continue my career. After all, I was being “successful” and I had to make a living! All reasons were solid and easily justifiable, especially if I turned my back on the God of nonviolence. While struggling with these two opposing forces -- the manufacture and deployment of weapons systems versus living a life of peace and nonviolence -- I finally erupted with the pain and guilt that I felt.

When the build-up to the first Gulf War began I knew I could not participate. No more weak excuses or compromising my own integrity for money, title, status and ego. During the preparation and build-up of personnel and equipment for the invasion of Iraq, technical representatives at our location were asked if we would participate in the Air Force's missions and deployments. This would be on a voluntary basis. It was like blowing the top off of a capped oil well. I not only told my management that I would not take part in this war but stated that it was the most immoral act we could be involved in!

I suddenly realized I could not support any war anywhere. It was wrong and obsolete. The fraud of war would never produce true peace. All of those involved and many generations following have historically lived and died in anxiety with the shadows of war looming in their past.

Lives are spent as ours are now, and as our children will spend their lives, trying to recover the devastating violence placed in their hearts and minds, as well as recovery of their devastated environment. Impossible! The heart and mind will never intersect. Wars only produce wars!

At this moment I became at peace with being a military industrial complex conscientious objector!

I became enough of a disturbance in the office and in our community that I was relieved of duty and returned to the United States on March 1, 1991. Upon returning to the country, I took a short vacation and then went back to work with no promise of a future position in the company. I was laid off on May 15, 1991, after being offered and turning down a job in Central America in support of more violence.

What have I learned through this experience? I am thankful I have been able to catch a glimpse of the peace we all strive for by not supporting violence. I found that we, as Americans, have been inured to violence. We have become the violence we fight by focusing our limited resources on militarism. We have been duped by the military industrial complex. Its promises of peace are hollow; it only produces insecurity and violence in the name of security.

With all of us well indoctrinated in maintaining a military power and a military industrial complex as a way of life, we pay a high price and will continue to do so. We have sold ourselves short as human beings, as brothers and sisters, as husbands and wives, as neighbors around the world and as those who follow a spiritual life with God of whatever great religion or tradition we belong.

Because of the terror that is looming in our hearts from nuclear weapons, it is a journey with the God of nonviolence that affords us the opportunity to reconcile with ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and with our neighbors throughout the world. Nuclear weapons are like the walls around the cities of Europe. As the author Noah benShea expressed, “Fear put them up and fear maintains them.”

It is we, the employees, ex-employees and supporters of the military industrial complex who hold the knowledge and skills we need to free ourselves from this toxic and threatening death that looms. It is imperative that we turn our careers as physicists, mathematicians, engineers, technicians and support personnel from manufacturers of terror to fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers working for real peace in lieu of this pseudo/false peace we try to accept as the best it can be. All of us are needed to dismantle this environmental disaster. It is our knowledge and work that can get us out of this never-ending buildup looming to take life from us all.

We must go to that sacred space where our heart and mind intersect and listen. We will find that there is only one truth and that is the truth of nonviolence. I encourage all of us to start that journey now! Conscientious objection is acceptance of conscience! If we are to leave a livable future for our young we must stop all development and manufacture of nuclear weapons. We must stop calling war “honorable.” We must stop accepting the robbery of our resources by the military industrial complex. Our work, our knowledge, our gift to the world is much greater than this. They are squandering our financial resource, our hours on earth and our talents.

We must demand an end to war. We must demand leadership that leads and is not bought out by lobbyist and corporate interests. We must demand that our government work for us and our children.

For years I was blind to the cost of my personal perceived success. From the first great movies of WWII to the youthful enthusiasm while listening to my uncle's war experiences, it was easy to become enthralled in the falsely acclaimed “honor” and excitement of militarism. Don't continue the myth of trying to protect our children from violence while building weapons of mass destruction. Someday our children will be asking why we lied.

We can gather together and form safe communities where we can discuss and dialogue about our concerns and approaches to this challenge of truth. We are some of the brightest and I know that with the corporate knowledge that we have used to develop these weapons we have the knowledge and capability and power to reverse this process.

It may require a work stoppage. It may require a strike. It may require quitting and looking for work elsewhere that is not part of the military industrial complex. That is what I had to do to free myself from the guilt and anxiety I felt being complicit in these activities of destruction. The cost has been high. It was not simple to turn my back on a six figure income, perfect medical insurance, life insurance and retirement.