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03/29/2005 Archived Entry: "Reflections on the world"
I have not been following the convoluted and ever-changing tho' ever-the-same Occupation of Iraq simply because it is too disheartening to do so. As Col. David Hackworthy writes in today's WorldNetDaily, "We're [the U.S. troops] approaching 1,600 dead plus approximately 15,000 battle-wounded, along with thousands upon thousands of non-battle casualties -- a deeply guarded Pentagon secret -- from accidents, sickness or stress disorders." What are the figures on Iraqi dead and injured? Who knows. I have no doubt that the ultimate outcome will be U.S. withdrawal, the rise of regional authorities that oppose American policy (and probably each other), and post-game analysis that views the entire adventure as a mistake cmparable to Vietnam. But that ultimate conclusion may well take years and years. In the interim, the ultra-hawk philosophy of the U.S. will prevail. For example, "The U.S. State Dept. has just established an 'Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization' to 'coordinate planning for nation-building' [other people's nations, of course] and has drawn up a classified 'watch list' of 25 countries where 'instability might precipitate US intervention'." As things get worse, the best that freedom-loving folks can do is to stand firm politically (so that voices of sanity persist and can heal the damage somewhere down the road) and to survive personally.
On the latter point...
I have been focusing my attention on the widespread economic collapse that I believe is already underway and which has been sparked by the U.S. fiscal policies and spending binge occasioned by the Iraq War and Occupation. There is so much ground to cover re: what I've been reading and researching, on how we (Brad and I) have been re-orienting our lifestyle and financial habits toward greater independence and less vulnerability to outside events...I don't know where to begin. But a warning is always a good place from which to springboard! ;-) (As for lifestyle shifts that Brad & I have embraced...let me simply recommend Russell Madden's article "Money is Time" and, then, move on for now.)
Back to a warning: In watching the news pour through and across the Internet, it seems to me that we are in the "nickel and dime" stage of government grabbing. That is, I am seeing local, state and federal govenrments focusing on how to get 10 cents more here and 5 cents more there from the average person's pocket. Politicians know full well how people are struggling to pay mortgages or rent, to feed and clothe their children, to salt away diminishing dollars in order to have something in the bank when Social Security and other entitlements collapse. But they don't care. What they care about is making it 5 or 10 cents more difficult for you to accomplish those goals and any other goals that are important to you, not to them. Thus, a woman in Ohio was recently arrested and jailed over a 96 cent city tax bill. Thus, states like Oregon are flirting with taxing drivers by the number of miles they drive in order to recoup the gas tax revenues the states lost by encouraging drivers to buy fuel-efficient cars. Thus, the VAT (value added tax) is being reconsidered for the US -- "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's comments last week before the tax reform commission, regarding the desirability of a consumption-based tax system, are fueling new interest in the value-added tax." Thus, the "Senate passes bankruptcy bill making it harder to shed debts" so that people driven into bankruptcy will still pay off credit card companies. (And, no, I don't agree with current bankruptcy laws but I suspect the motives of the politicians who have suddenly changed them.)
Hold onto your nickels and dimes more tightly than you ever have before because politicians seem determined to fleece you, strand by strand, into a poverty that you have to work 2 jobs to maintain. As the economy falters, especially in the wake of the US $ dramatic decline against other currencies, the government's picking of your pocket for loose change will become obsessive and omnipresent. They will come up with novel ways to snatch another penny. For example, Michigan's retroactive imposition of taxes on cigarettes sold over the Internet. Favor buying and selling opportunities that are yet unregulated; for example, yard sales and ebay. Restore old equipment rather than buy new items. Trade items for free on the freecycle sites hosted on Yahoo. Barter. To the extent it is both possible and enjoyable to you...provide for some of your own needs through vegetable gardens or a workshop in your garage. (If it is not enjoyable or a great deal of effort, then forget it. The quality of your life is paramount.) Hang onto your money because Russell Madden in the afore-URLed article is correct. Money is time and time is your life.