Lawyers, Guns, and Money

By David Swanson

Why would anyone phone the United States and ask for lawyers, guns, and money? Primarily because, other than bad movies, that’s most of what the United States produces. What else could you phone home for if you wanted to? We produce weapons and movies about weapons and weapons that were in movies about weapons, and so on .

And we produce lawyers who push money around desks and into drawers and out of envelopes. They manipulate money all day and night, and they call that work, and we compensate them royally for it. But the money is increasingly play money because we’re not producing anything else, except the lawyers and the guns.

We measure the play money with the stock market and report on its fate every day with the same solemnity used to report the weather, the sports scores, and the celebrity sex news, but with an even greater pretense that it somehow affects us. And, instead of refocusing on producing useful things through real work, when the whole phony system starts to teeter, we rush to the toy store, buy up all the board games, rip all the money out of the packages and give it to the lawyers.

Six years ago, Kevin Phillips wrote in “Wealth and Democracy”:

“The wealthiest peoples of the last five hundred years have been among the most speculative — Americans, British, Dutch. We have seen how a late stage of luxuriating in finance was clearly an important element in the Dutch and then British decline. … If Spain could be bled dry on the battlefields of Germany and Italy, the Dutch critically shorn of their trade routes, and British financial hegemony strangled by war debt, the extent to which the United States has let its economy become financialized stands to be a twenty-first-century Achilles’ heel.”

Today, Richard Cook wrote:

“[T]he problem stems from the fact that in 1913 Congress privatized our money supply by turning it over to the private banks that own the Federal Reserve System. This is also why we have lived under the mass delusion that a healthy financial sector leads to a healthy producing economy. Actually it’s the other way around. The financial sector should support the producing economy, not bleed it dry through interest, fees, commissions, and the destruction that arises from financial profit-seeking. There is also the fact that while the producing economy has been hammered by job outsourcing and bled white by financial parasitism, it is still a powerful machine that can produce the goods and services people need. We are a strong, capable nation. And we are blessed with the resources we require for a decent standard of living, though not necessarily at a rate of consumption that forever outpaces the rest of the world. But what is wrong with that? The underlying strength of the producing economy was on display this morning, when the Dow-Jones defied the doomsayers by coming back strongly the day after the bailout was defeated.”

I pair up these two quotes in an attempt to suggest that imperial greed and paper-pushing-as-work go together like guns and lawyers. We can maintain neither, and past empires have seen their home populations better served by ending both.

Here’s a plan to invest in the real economy and improve global relations, without borrowing another dime. Our military acknowledges about 780 bases maintained in other people’s countries, breeding hatred and resentment at huge financial cost. That’s about one base per billion dollars in proposed bailout for weapon-selling, money-scamming lawyers. And don’t think any of these bases don’t drain billions of dollars from our shriveling real economy.

Here’s the plan. Shut the bases down. Take all the money saved, wave it in front of the bankers’ noses, and then tell them we’re going to use it to pay off our national debt and create real sustainable jobs. Offer them a choice: they can face prosecution or they can fill out a job application and begin working for a living.