What sells in the world's most capitalistic nation, the USA, are health care, pharmaceuticals, and whatever can be bought in Washington D.C. and state capitols. But here is what REALLY sells: violence. This is where the real money to buy politicians and propagandize voters comes from. This is where we have been sold the idea that manhood and toughness derive from bullying our way to being successful in the world. America sells violence, and spending on the military-industrial corporations and prisons are the real mother lode. This is where most of your tax money goes, and everything else gets immediate criticism when tax money is involved. We are happy campers to spend it on weaponry, military personnel, and locking people up for as long as possible.
Having served on prison-related boards of directors in Washington and Wisconsin, and as president of them as well, I can tell you clearly that the prison system in America is a dismal failure. And it is bankrupting our state and federal governments. But it is what people want: lock 'em up and throw away the key. Similarly, no matter that General-President Eisenhower, perhaps the most experienced man in the area of actual warfare, warned us about the military-industrial complex, we still fall in line when the behemoths of industry control us into believing that the more weapons we have, the safer we are. Both the lock 'em up and the military build-up philosophies are what is destroying us as a nation.
I realize that every tough-guy-from-a-distance, every wimp under the guise of toughness will parade criticisms here. Every person, especially men, who want to act as though they are tough but have little or no real knowledge and experience in these matters will put on their hero suits and lambast me. Please do not try to identify me as surrendering to violence or toughness, I was raised on it in my childhood in the streets, shining shoes in taverns, singing for coins in some dangerous places from 8 years old. Nevertheless here are some quotes that deal directly with these issues. Contemplate what is said in these quotes. And then look around to see what our military trillions, and the trillions spent on prisons have brought us. This is "progress"?...
"The tendency to identify manhood with a capacity for physical violence has a long history in America." -Marshall Fishwick
"There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as 'moral indignation' which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of 'virtue.' " -Erich Fromm
"Prisons turn amateur criminals into professional criminals." -Lester Schultz
"One year I heard a man point out that in states where guns were carried by citizens and that capital punishment was inforced had a lower crime rate over the past five years. What he failed to point out was that states with strictest gun laws and no capital punishment had a greater decline in crime." -me
"You do not destroy an idea by killing people; you replace it with a better one." -Edward Keating
"War hath no fury like a non-combatant." -C.E. Montague
"War would end if the dead could return." -Stanley Baldwin
"War, like any other racket, pays high dividends to the very few ... The cost of operations is always transferred to the people who do not profit." -General Smedley Butler [twice awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and wrote a book called "War Is A Racket."]
"In time of war the first casualty is truth." -Boake Carter
"Penology...has become torture and foolishness, a waste of money and a cause of crime...a blotting out of sight and heightening of social anxiety." -Paul Goodman
"Only the man who has enough good in him to feel the justice of the penalty can be punished; the others can only be hurt." -William Ernest Hocking
The vilest deed like prison weeds/Bloom well in prison-air./It is only what is good in Man/That wastes and withers there. -Oscar Wilde
"Power is what men seek, and any group that gets it will abuse it. It is the same old story." -Lincoln Steffans [Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose]
"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another." -Jonathan Swift
"The reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, chiefly, I think, because it [punishment] is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses." -Bertrand Russell
"The reason crime doesn't pay is that when it does it is called by a more respectable name." -Laurence J. Peter