baudrunner's space: What it is that drives this world
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What it is that drives this world

The "disgraced media baron" Conrad Black (as he is described in the Toronto Star today) has written a poignant critique of the state of America's prison system, which he addressed to the editors of the Sunday Times of London. He should know what he is talking about. He is serving a six-and-a-half year sentence - for being the Canadian owner of American newspapers who had used a portion of his company's income to pay for personal expenses. I personally have a problem wrapping my head around the idea that that is a wrong thing to do, considering that he essentially owns those companies, but who am I to judge. Greedy people who also owned interests in his companies complained. They weren't getting their kickbacks, probably.

Anyway, Conrad states...

"US justice has become a command economy based on the avarice of private prison companies, a gigantic prison service industry and politically influential correctional officers' unions..."
It truly is a prison "system", and a very lucrative one at that, to the point where America incarcerates up to 12 times as many people on a per capita basis than do most other first-world nations. Many people are getting rich from that. What does that say for the concept of freedom?

It should be no mystery to anyone as to what it is that drives this world - some might say that it is money. By the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency, he had expanded the U.S. military budget by almost 45% over the total amount of military expenditures during the height of the Vietnam war. In 2008 the entire world will have spent US$1.47 trillion on military expenditures. Of that amount, US$1.05 trillion will have been spent by NATO countries and US$711 billion of that by America. Don't ask what America is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. You don't spend money without getting something back for it.

Haliburton Corporation got something back for its huge investment in the Bush-Cheney campaign for the presidency, one that it was so determined to win that many question the legitimacy of the results. That company is the prime contractor for the rebuilding of post-war Iraq, and also for the construction of the all-important largest oil pipeline construction project yet undertaken, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which delivers crude oil from the vast reservoirs under the Caspian Sea to the West via Turkey's Mediterranean sea port. It was constructed in record time. Many construe that logically as America's reason for being there in the first place.

Many put the onus for the resolution of the current economic crisis squarely on the shoulders of the consumer. Wait, aren't those the same people sending their kids to die overseas in some conflict where the business of oil is really its prime underlying cause? Do you really blame the natives there for being upset that their country is being overrun by foreign interests before they themselves have a chance to exploit their own region's resources to benefit the area where they live? The lessons of Russia's exploitation of Afghanistan's oil resources to the extent that those fields are now completely dried up have obviously not been learned. There are only a few reasons for the restlessness of the natives there.

It is clearly evident that America is taking timely advantage of its technological and military superiority to undertake measures to maintain its lead as the world's biggest consumer of petroleum products. The evidence is everywhere, including in those statistics which reflect the ongoing popularity of big pickup trucks, as they continue to be the biggest selling private vehicles in the nation. They are gas guzzlers.

To be fair, it would appear that Conrad Black is just as guilty as the country he is discrediting, because what drives the world is greed, and that is why he is in prison, after all.

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