Debt. A humble $40,000 quantifies my undergraduate education by its dusk. Economists prognosticate that by 2012, U.S. debt will eclipse its GDP. $3 trillion represents the appraisal of the Third World’s indebtedness to the West.
Deleterious spending patterns
Irreverent to student debt, I relapsed into hyper-consumerist product dependency last week, purchasing septic fluid while I could have simply persisted in plunging.
Mired deep in a heap of deficit, Obama’s administration exacerbates the land-of-the-free(-of- prudence)’s, home-of-the-(fiscally)-audacious’s debt crisis by gratuitously increasing investment in the military-industrial complex. The U.S. spends 53 cents of every tax dollar on the military. Less than a fourth of this is earmarked for Afghanistan and Iraq, rousing us to posit that this expenditure is paranoid, pre-emptive, and provocative. America’s soaring defence expenditures – exemplified in the unprecedented $708 billion that the administration has requested from Congress for 2011 military spending – is symptomatic of a global arms addiction.
African debt to industrialized economies now exceeds threefold what was initially borrowed. This continent, where easily preventable and treatable condition such as diarrhea are the second-leading killer of children under five, expends four times more on debt repayments than on health.
Corporate hegemony debtifies us
Corporate philosophies regiment planned obsolescence. My Liquid Plumr Pro is a corporate-invented “necessity” that derides my clog-clearing capabilities as outmoded by providing me with a convenient alternative. Appeals to convenience often euphemize excuses for indolence and irresponsibility. For convenience, we treat Third World countries as depositories for our toxic waste.
The military’s economic stranglehold on the deficit-ravaged American economy is forged by a dynamic of supply and demand. The former is propositioned by avaricious weapons-manufacturing giants. They form the expansive nexus of corporate interest that undergirds excessive militarization by strategically ubiquitizing themselves. Weapon manufacturers are implanted numerously in all states, possessing tremendous leverage in lobbying Congress to increase defence budgets that channel multi-million-dollar weapons contracts toward them.
The most significant variables in the decline of Third World countries into debt crises played themselves out in the seventies and eighties, when developed countries rose interest rates starkly and oil prices quadrupled, increasing all costs. Both resulted from the cowrporate monopoly on determining interest rates and oil prices. To rectify the debt quagmire, Third World countries entered into Structural Adjustment Programs with the World Bank and the IMF that purported to assist borrowers pursuing debt relief through more money-lending or lowering interest rates. In exchange, borrowers had to comply with a neoliberal agenda that privatized industries and decreased spending on the health and educational institutions most beneficial to civilians.
We gotta take the red pill and, like Neo, recognize the debt matrix – an excessive, irrational industrialization that has dismantled our mental mechanisms for apprehending how impotent, paranoid, and narrow-minded the interdependency on which capitalist globalization is predicated renders us.
Convenience-on-steroids – frozen mini-bagels with cream cheese, payforessay.com – typifies our zeitgeist (read: we have normalized a culture of incompetency). We breathe in the midst of a $1.5-trillion arms addiction (read: we are becoming more paranoid). Our freedom to cheaply buy whatever we want from wherever we want whenever we want is borne at the expense of the bleeding and disease of the earth and the Third World peoples who participate the least in this earth-tainting (read: our scope is insidiously narrow).
We must revise our conceptions of development and freedom – not in terms of military capacity, or of our freedom to buy avocados in January or to subject developing nations to usury. Amping up capital-obsessed globalization is unsustainable. Rather, we must reclaim competency and stability by seeking alternatives (see Anqi Zhang’s Culture article on Ecovillages, November 1) to the global over-dependency most patent in our transnational, corporate-sponsored debt crises.