Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Reading this story about the Republican tax bill today I flashed back to my year in Vietnam.  The article describes a bill whose likely effect may well harm the nation's economy according to many economists.  The bill is also highly unpopular among the public.  And still the Republicans continue to push this bill through Congress to show that they can actually accomplish SOMETHING after a year of factional disarray and legislative impotence.  The tax bill may not be good for the nation but it keeps the Republican donor base happy.

The tax bill's displaced objectives remind me very much of my year in Vietnam.  Rather than risking our lives for some great national purpose, we were there in 1971 mainly to keep Richard Nixon from becoming "the first President to lose a war."  We were fighting and dying to provide political cover for a politician.  I've never forgotten the the hopelessness and anger I felt in those days.

More important than my feelings then was that along with the death and destruction we inflicted on Vietnam, the war damaged the United States, morally and economically. Nixon's "Vietnamization" policy simply prolonged and increased that damage.  The tax cut may not pose the same level of personal risk that my military service did but I sure have the sense that public power and policy are being used for narrow purposes to the detriment of the larger public.

All because the politicians are afraid.

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