Daily Sparks Tribune / 12-28-1997

Your better life today had President Kennedy lived

Your life would have been very, very different had President John F. Kennedy not died in Dallas in 1963. Today, you would be making a lot more money and living a lot better.

Last week came the revelation that Oliver Stone got it right and the Oliver Norths of the world got it wrong. Shortly before his murder, JFK had indeed put the wheels in motion to remove American troops from Vietnam.

Don't think that affects you? You would be dead, deadly, deathly wrong.

World War II pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression. The post-war Baby Boom was merely a reflection of the optimism the country felt after the bloodletting ceased. That rosy outlook fueled an economic flowering the likes of which have never been seen before or since.

After the war, our tax policies were progressive—the more you made, the more you paid. The government spread the wealth through clumsy and often inefficient spending programs, but the net result was the strongest economy ever.

Cold War fear had a lot to do with setting our priorities. The interstate freeway system became a great economic generator, but its origins had little to do with a needed circulatory implant for a nation with clogged vehicular arteries. The bill President Eisenhower originally signed created the "Defense Interstate Highway System," sold to the public as military supply line and nuclear attack evacuation route.

The U.S. was on a roll when the dynamic young senator from Massachusetts won the presidency in 1960. Had Kennedy lived, I think we would have erased our image as "The Ugly American" around the world. The Peace Corps would have continued to present a positive American presence, replacing our endless assault on small, weak nations begun by the Dulles brothers in Guatemala in 1954. (The war caused by our overthrow of democratically-elected Guatemalan President Arbenz just ended earlier this year.)

[CORRECTION: These blackguards actually started planning the 1953 overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Iran in 1952, before Dwight Eisenhower even took office. The roots of corporate imperialism go back over 100 years. For more, see the 5-30-2004 Barbwire, "A Message from Washington — George Washington." ]

Kennedy's 1961 experience with the CIA during the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion left the spy agency little credibility with the president. A downgrading of third-world adventurism by the cowboys at the CIA would have meant no Vietnam War and thus, no President Nixon. Follow the dominoes: No Nixon, no Henry Kissinger. No Kissinger, no direct White House pipeline for the Rockefeller oil interests; thus, no 1973 OPEC oil embargo caused by our stooge, the Shah of Iran. No OPEC crisis, no worsening of inflation due to skyrocketing gasoline prices.

The Vietnam inflation and Pres. Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon made Jimmy Carter president. Pressured by David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger, Carter granted medical asylum to the deposed Shah in 1979, causing the Iranian hostage crisis and helping elect Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan was also powerfully assisted by a recession caused by Federal Reserve tight money policy imposed to fight the lingering inflation started by Vietnam spending.

No Reagan, no redirection of most of the nation's wealth to the already rich. More money in your pocket.

The buying power of the American consumer peaked in 1968. Had the minimum wage been indexed for inflation since then, it would stand at well over $7.00 per hour today. The average worker in this country still does not earn at 1973 levels.

In 1966, Pierre A. Rinfret, the highest-paid economist in the world, said that through trial and error, we had acquired the rough tools for fine-tuning our economy. War spending hurled a monkey wrench into the works.

"You may as well throw dollars into the ocean," Rinfret said of buying military hardware for the southeast Asian war. (The same applies today. The 1991 Gulf War so severely disrupted the American economy that it killed a recovery, put us into the third dip of a triple-dip recession and dis-elected George Herbert Hoover Bush.)

While money spent on a freeway generates both jobs and economic vitality, money spent on a tank produces less than nothing. It not only plows no fields and produces no crops, but also deprives the warring nations of the productive output of millions of lives snuffed in the process.

All those deaths, all that money, all the human, fiscal and psychological capital we wasted. All the divisions in this country which have never healed. All the homeless vets on our streets. The drugs of the Golden Triangle in our schools.

Now, a group of know-nothing yahoos want to disfigure Mt. Rushmore with Ronald Reagan's face. I think JFK would light a cigar and have a good laugh. And perhaps propose returning the Black Hills to the Sioux.

Happy New Year.

Be well. Raise hell.

John F. Kennedy's 2014 Inaugural Address
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 11-21-2013 Sparks Tribune

John F. Kennedy's 2013 inaugural address
Barbwire by Barbano / Daily Sparks Tribune / 11-22-2012

JFK, Jr.: Hope dies hard and yet springs eternal
Barbwire by Barbano / Daily Sparks Tribune / 7-25-1999

Copyright © 1997, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2013 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a Reno-based syndicated columnist, a 29-year Nevadan, and editor of U-News. Send an E-mail, especially if you want to join NAGPAC, the None of the Above for Governor Political Action Committee.
Barbwire by Barbano has appeared in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

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