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Letter from the Editor

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"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced corporate power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

The quote is from the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Nearly 50 years later, Ike is looking like a latter-day Nostradamus. Right on the money, so to speak.

I'm not old enough to remember Ike as president, but I liked Ike, mainly because my father, a lifelong Republican, liked Ike. Ike and my father were Republicans when being one didn't mean you had to pander to the fundamentalist Christian right. In fact, my father thought those guys were nuts.

My father and his friends believed in low taxes and small government and balanced budgets. They went to church and worked hard and tried to raise their kids so they wouldn't screw up too badly when they grew up. Some of their best friends were Democrats, and it was okay. They liked being "in business," but the prime motivator of their lives was not greed.

Now, big politics and big business and big religion are in an unholy embrace, building Jenga towers of intertwined influence, payoffs, back-scratching, and golden parachutes for life. It's become quite apparent that the "real" big money is in government. And that money, my friends, is coming from you and me.

Ike's "military-industrial complex" is closing in on control of both parties — and the major media, a key component in shaping public opinion. Its mantra is "deregulation," which allows unrestricted growth and unrestricted profits. Laissez-faire, baby! Capitalism. Free enterprise. And here's the beautiful part: If these guys overreach and screw up, their bought-and-sold pals in Congress will bail them out — with our money.

Profits are capitalized; losses are socialized. Quite the economic system, wouldn't you say? Is it too late to do anything about it? I honestly don't know.

But here's another quote to ponder: "The first stage of fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

It's from Benito Mussolini. You remember him, right?

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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