The forever war in Iraq is now close to officially ending. A bipartisan bill to repeal both the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and may have the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate. The bill has previously passed the House. Now we must repeal the 2001 AUMF that authorized not just the war in Afghanistan, but also the ill-conceived “War on Terror” that spawned American military interventions across the globe.
Chinese Purchase of American Farms
This article from the American Conservative magazine tells how the Chinese are taking advantage of the decline of the family farm to buy up American farmland and agricultural assets. It is one more example of the monopolization of our food production. A bill has been filed in Congress to stop any further sales of farmland to China and prohibit currently-owned Chinese farms from receiving farm subsidies. It should be passed as soon as possible.
Wall Street’s Buying up of Single Family Homes
The owner-occupied home has been the bedrock of the American family for generations. However, Wall Street investment firms are now using their financial clout to buy up single-family homes as rental properties. It is one of the drivers of high home prices. We should be using our antitrust and federal tax laws to discourage their use of financial market power to monopolize the American Dream.
Prof. Stephen Walt of Harvard University is a leading advocate of the realist theory of international relations that I believe should replace liberal hegemony as the basis for our foreign policy (see this post). Here he gives faint praise to nationalism for its natural ability to unify societies to face challenges like the pandemic. Maybe he had to temper his support to avoid problems with his globalist colleagues.
It goes without saying that I appreciate the value of highways. Fundamentally, they are the basis on land of the great network of trade routes which go to make up civilization.
Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in in the Montana Guidebook to the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway, 1921
A nation’s transportation network is among its most important sources of economic and geopolitical strength. Few knew this better than Theodore Roosevelt and so it was fitting that the first transcontinental highway was christened with his name after TR’s death in 1919 (see this guidebook from the Montana portion). It was the precursor of the numbered US Highway system and eventually the Interstate Highway system. All of those projects were designed to unify America and brought Americans together through the experience of travel.
Transportation– $284 billion to be spent to repair roads, bridges, ports and railways
Utilities– $243 billion for upgrading electric power infrastructure and replacing old pipe to stop lead from leaching into municipal water systems. It also includes $55 billion to extend broadband Internet service to rural communities, which is desperately needed to spur healthy economic development here in the Western states.
Environmental Cleanup – The Superfund program for cleaning up hazardous waste sites, mines and wells has been moribund due to lack of funding. This bill would re-invigorate the program with $21 billion to begin this process anew.
Coincidentally, the $550 billion is almost the same amount spent to build the Interstate Highway System (in 1950’s and 60’s dollars).
The President’s original proposal was a whopping $2.6 trillion that tried to force through Congress various human needs and climate change programs under the popular brand of “infrastructure”. Much of this is necessary, but the attempt to enact it through under a deceptive title was divisive and ultimately futile. Both President Biden and the bipartisan group of senators should be congratulated for opting for a unifying bill instead.
After excoriating Republicans for being obstructionist, it is ironic to see the Democratic House leadership trying to obstruct this bill to compel the adoption of the more controversial climate change and social welfare spending through the budget reconciliation bill. Our families and neighborhoods need help, but federal dollars will only paper over the underlying problems. Immigration reform, reshoring manufacturing and education reform will do more in the long term to solve them. Many Democrats and Republicans believe this as well. The House leadership should join them rather than their Democratic Socialist wing and unify around this bill as the Theodore Roosevelt Highway and similar infrastructure programs of the past unified the country.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I called it “America’s moment” and urged a military-style response. The American people’s acceptance of the initial lockdown and social distancing measures showed a community spirit that many thought lacking in today’s society. In the end, we met the moment in a uniquely American way – through technological innovation resulting in effective vaccines that would allow us to resume a normal life. Now the resistance to those vaccines risks wasting this moment because of a combination of political pique and selfish independence.
Unfortunately, former President Trump and some governors are catering to the anti-vaxxers by opposing or even banning mask and vaccination mandates by local governments and private businesses trying to protect their citizens and continue the return to normal. A better response would be to encourage vaccinations by enacting a federal worker’s compensation system that would protect workers who have a fear (however much it’s been hyped) of a reaction to the vaccine. Such a system would also insulate businesses from potential legal liability so they can continue to operate normally.
Vaccination refuseniks espouse a warped sense of American independence to justify a response that endangers their fellow Americans. They seek to assert their “independence” by exposing themselves and their fellow Americans to painful and expensive hospitalization and even death. They also jeopardize the normalization of everyday life they claim to crave. As TR said above, a free people must exercise their freedom responsibly. I challenge all of the unvaccinated to look into Roosevelt’s eyes and tell him why they should be allowed to so endanger their fellow Americans and the American example to the world.