For most of us, it was always head down and nose to the grindstone, for the most part. When and where issues arose, we went through periods of seeking change, and then, once people had come to the table and worked things out, we quickly went back to our own individual grind. It was all about family and community then.
We were also a much more innocent group at that time. We really didn't look closely at what our government was doing and how. We were prosperous and becoming more so. That can breed many things both good and bad and among the negatives is complacency. It wasn't broke as far as we could see. Things seemed to just keep getting better and better, and in many respects that idea matched the reality.
Take foreign policy. We did not go to war with other nations easily. We did not interfere with the affairs of other nations lightly. We kept to ourselves and worked at keeping our own house in order.
We were of course a much more conservative nation, and causing a stir was not something Americans tended towards as individuals. You kept your head down and trusted in the powers that be to lead you down the right path, and since they always had, we had no reasons to stop. After President Kennedy was assassinated, of course, all of that changed for us, and we no longer felt as safe and secure regarding to what went on in Washington.
After that, the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, in the midst of Americans already having taken to the streets to fight for civil rights for people of color. As we saw these things, Vietnam was no longer something our government was doing that “we just had to trust was for the good of us all.” We weren't sure. What was this place in this far off land our brave soldiers were dying in? People wanted answers, and good ones, and suddenly, the government didn't really have any. “Have faith” just wasn't enough anymore – not when it came to what our government was doing.
Then came Watergate, and for the first time we looked at one of our leaders as a crook, and it was all of us, not just a select few or the typical political voices of opposition from the other side of the political spectrum. Our president, an American president could actually be a crook, and there was no denying it. He had to resign to avoid being impeached.
Then there was the Iran Contra scandal wherein, “senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo. Some U.S. officials also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.” (
Then President Bill Clinton let down the entire nation and disgraced the office of the President of The United States of America forever putting a smear on the pages of presidential History, after already having smeared the office of Governor of his state by doing the exact same thing. The Bush administration turned rumors and innuendo about government and big business being in bed together at the highest levels to reality, when the person selected to be vice president, who had just left his position as CEO of Halliburton Company six months before taking office with George W. Bush, along with the president, gave a no bid contract to said corporation for planning oil well firefighting. There were no other bidders allowed. Halliburton was also handed contracts for much of the other logistical work as private contractors in Iraq.
Then came the recession, caused by the bursting of the financial bubble involving the sub-prime mortgage bonds market. We learned our government had a hand in this also, as it was the government that first opened the door for much of what was to come, when the Clinton administration with its Wall Street appointees approved legislation that would allow for much of the practices and helped create the environment, like ending the Glass Steagall Act and making credit default swaps legal business.
The Bush administration got out of the way and let them loot the coffers by doing nothing, then, when the bubble burst, coming to American taxpayers and saying “it's an emergency and we are giving billions of your dollars to save these companies from failing no questions asked.” That was it. Just like with Iraq and those cowards that voted to approve the war in Congress, when there was no WMD, we got snookered and we felt it, deep and painful.
Now it seems that the government isn't enough to watch over things and keep an eye on things as they are supposed to. This is especially true when it comes to itself. Regarding this, Sen., Dianne Feinstein recently made some interesting remarks concerning drones and the internal process that goes on to decide what people get killed and what people do not. The Huffington Post reported her as saying, “I think the process set up internally is a solid process, [but] I think there's an absence of knowing exactly who is responsible for what decision. So I think we need to look at this whole process and figure a way to make it transparent and identifiable." The article added, “Feinstein said other senators including Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Pat Leahy, D-Vt., have all indicated 'concern and interest' over how to regulate drones.”
Why not take that one step further? Why not get civilian boards involved in terms of some oversight of such things? For instance, the way our money gets to private contractors handling much of our nation's intelligence and military work is through a law known as The CIA Act of 1949. It allows the CIA to take funds from any other government agencies coffers it wishes, and specifies it remains anonymous and that nobody ever knows where that money went and what for. It ain’t for helpin the sick and needy, I can guarantee you that.
Much of the work these drones are involved in is farmed out to private firms and they are very likely getting some of that money. Let’s have civilian boards with regular people, not connected people, just smart regular people to oversee what is happening with the power to be open and honest about it and to clamp down when our tax dollars are being used unwisely and dangerously. Let's see what they do with our money, as it is our money after all, not theirs. Let's begin to have more of a say.
It’s not what they do with their money, like a private company who takes our money in exchange for a service. There are public employees and it says our money as far as budgets are concerned. If private companies are unable to be regulated, let's bring it back under the purview of the public's watchful eye again, and have government employees do those jobs. After all, it was the defense industry's lobbying efforts that got us to believe they could do a better job at things then our government could. They just wanted our dollars. Yet it's still about what they do in our name that is at issue, no matter how slickly they try and avoid the responsibility that goes with working for the government.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to