We in America are living among madmen. Madmen govern our affairs in the name of order and security. The chief madmen claim the titles of general, admiral, senator,scientist, administrator. Secretary of State, even President.” —Lewis Mumford, “Gentlemen, You are Mad” Saturday Evening Post, March 2, 1946
So wrote Lewis Mumford in response to the U.S. using two atomic bombs in August of 1945 as a diplomatic weapon against Russia, in a war that should have been over months ago, but was kept alive so the bombs COULD be dropped. Lives were NOT “saved”. More lives were needlessly lost. In response, perhaps the most massive propaganda machine was unleashed, to try to convince the American people that the use of the bomb was “necessary.” This propaganda has continued to the present day, making the “cover-up” far worse than the original crime. As Stewart Udall wrote in the “Myths of August”:
“There is nothing comparable in our history to the deceit and the lying that took place as a matter of official Government policy in order to protect this industry. Nothing was going to stop them and they were willing to kill our own people. It induced us to conduct Government according to lies. It distorted justice. It undermined American morality. Until the cold war, our country stood for something.”
For some time, America was wealthy enough that the wastefulness (madness, insanity) of this cover-up could be concealed, creating an enclave of wealth amidst poverty. The poor were even willing to accept this deceit, receiving some small crumbs simply by living near this graft, always hoping for even more, not recognizing that the receipt of money unaccompanied by an increase in REAL goods and services meant that this wealth was illusionary. Without there being a larger set of goods and services on which to spend this “increased” money income, wealth was merely redistributed, from the poorer to the richer.
Through the massive propaganda effort that occurred to justify this madness, the public at large was led to believe that this spending was necessary, to “guard” our wealth against those that might take it from us, whether as individuals, as nation states, or as rogue “terrorists”. David Lilienthal, wrote in his diary:
“More and better bombs. Where will this lead . . . is difficult to see. We keep saying, ‘We have no other course’; what we should say is, ‘We are not bright enough to see any other course’.”
In 2007 Santa Fe Institute economist Samuel Bowles estimated that 25% of US labor was devoted to “guarding”. If labor devoted to guarding were doubled, would we be twice as well off? If ALL labor was devoted to “guarding” what we have, would that “be as good as it gets”? That is what “economic models”, making NO effort to distinguish between those activities that ACTUALLY improve our well- being from those that are illusionary.
How broadly should we define “guarding”? Can guarding be pre-emptive? Should some of our guarding labor be allocated towards being able to kill those that might take from us in the future? Is threatening to kill enough, or do we need to “mow the grass”, and kill every now and then to make that threat effective?
How carefully should we examine the nature of exactly WHAT is to be guarded? Should we guard mostly against nation state invasions, rogue weapons of mass destruction, or should one also guard against sickness, hunger, homelessness, mental stagnation, the ability to educate our children and pass on what we have learned about how to enjoy life? Where in the national income accounts is the capacity to appreciate life, the joy that comes from creating and raising children accounted?
“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” ― Robert F. Kennedy
What makes us safer?
“National security does not mean militarism or any approach to it. Security cannot be measured by the size of munitions stockpiles or the number of men under arms or the monopoly of an invincible weapon. That was the German and Japanese idea of power, which in the test of war, was proven false….. arms become obsolete and worthless; vast armies decay while sapping the strength of the nations supporting”. Dwight D. Eisenhower “The Long Pull for Peace”, April 1948
Here in Northern New Mexico that area a massive pit production effort is being implemented for Los Alamos, without allowing the public to comment on whether this has their approval, or giving them the opportunity to explore whether or not there are better alternatives for achieving security. Discussions on whether nuclear weapons are obsolete, which will soon be outlawed as rogue and inhumane behavior, are verboten. The propaganda narrative asserts that converting farmers, mechanics, school teachers, health care workers into pit manufacturers is a good thing. Determining “good” seems to be defined as how much money our government can create that finds its way into our own personal accounts, irrespective of ascertaining whether the receipt of this money requires us to do things one would judge as “mad,” with no real value being contributed to society for the privilege of taking from society. Cheating or stealing can indeed improve one’s own personal well-being, but only at the expense of others. A society, as a whole, cannot steal or cheat itself richer.
There IS a way out of this madness. We can become aware of what one is doing and share that awareness with others. We can Unite on demanding that government projects, decided not by the aggregation of individual perceptions of what is good, but solely by some decision maker (DOE, NNSA), return to the table for planning and evaluation.
The law requires this, but it is being ignored. We can insist that the law be followed, as per the requirements for a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS,) which mandates studying the implications of a proposed project of significant impact BEFORE implementing such policy. It requires defining objectives in such a way that the proposed project is not the only way to achieve that objective. It requires considering alternatives, including doing nothing. It also requires considering at least one alternative that is not under the control of the proposing agency.
Even the Los Alamos County Council is starting to realize that Los Alamos National Laboratory, Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration my not consider itself an ally or partner to the citizens of Los Alamos County, putting themselves in the position of the citizens of outlying communities, that have long had that perception.
Please, let us unite and find some way to address the REAL things affecting our well-being. When we are unable to keep our schools and business fully open, when health care workers do not have the protective equipment to safely care for people with potentially fatal infections, does it really make sense to give a blank check, exempt such an industry from accountability, and allow it to absorb another 25,000 workers, without a planning effort to justify that policy? To not examine that policy to determine whether it can be shown to be an improvement over BOTH the status quo (doing nothing different) and alternative projects, is being denied.
If we insist (pressure, vote out of office) that our local politicians, trade associations, and churches go public, by writing letters and making phone calls (write letters to DOE, NNSA, our Congressional representatives) expressing that we are not in favor of expanded pit production without doing the planning, i.e. a SWEIS that would ensure that the proposal is sound, and if the findings show that the proposal is not viable, we can put a stop to this madness.
Without that pressure, the madness will continue.