Friday, February 8, 2013

(Fill in the Blank) - Industrial Complex

Trey Smith

You've got to hand it to the corporate honchos. Long ago they figured out a surefire formula for levering taxpayer dollars out of our public treasuries. They cobble together enough of a presence in local communities along with strong lobbying groups in the nation's capitol and, before you know it, we have a (Fill in the Blank) - Industrial Complex.

The most famous of these is the military-industrial complex. The military has become so interwoven with our political and economic system that it has become a force that shapes national policy. Why do you think the US spends more on its military than the next 13 nations combined? It is because a) the military-industrial complex provides so many jobs in communities across the country, b) those workers spend money in those communities and c) there are a lot of fat cats who have grown egregiously rich feeding at the public trough.

When well-intentioned politicians or citizens suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should cut back a tad on military spending to save this nation's vital infrastructure from crumbling beneath our feet, scores of groups, local governments and lobbyists howl with indignation. A local mayor will declare that such an action will cause economic hardship for his/her community. Labor unions will decry the loss of well-paying jobs. Politicos will panic at the thought of losing huge political contributions.

The military-industrial complex has become so large with tentacles spreading out so wide that military spending today is a sacred cow. Suggest that the cow needs butchering and you will wreak havoc on the nation's financial infrastructure. Like the notion of "banks too big to fail," the military-industrial complex is now in the same boat.

Seeing how well this strategy worked, people involved in prisons developed the prison-industrial complex. It has followed the same trajectory and now ANY suggestion of lessening this nation's prison beds or incarceration rates meets with the same kind of over-the-top hand-wringing.

There is another industrial complex that few Americans are aware of. David Sirota writes about it today: the sports-industrial complex. Just like their compatriots in the military and prison industries, the wealthy owners of America's professional sports teams have figured out how to hold American taxpayers hostage.

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