Rugged Individualism and the Economics of Humanity
by Jan Baughman

July 18, 1999 - Note from the Editor: The most famous son of American oligarchy is being mourned all over Officialdom. Tears will be shed and the country will move on as it already has regarding Serbia. Here and there, we will be reminded of "Serbian atrocities", just enough to justify ex-post what we created by our own actions ex-ante, and Bechtel and others will go to work on Corridor #8 under the safety of yet another Pentagon contract awarded to MPRI. Of course, 99.9 percent of the American population has no idea what Corridor #8 and MPRI are, or have in common. Perhaps, one of these days, Swans will explain. Meantime, Jan Baughman, in our feature article, demonstrates once more the workings of our great democracy. In addition, we are publishing three articles related to the Balkans, Kosovo, and Yugoslavia. The links are located at the end of this page.

We recently sent an airlift of medical supplies to the South Pole to treat an American woman who found a lump in her breast. The National Science Foundation paid to airlift the medical supplies, which included ultrasound equipment and medications. It is no surprise that the cost of the operation was not revealed. Up to 50 hours of flight, 22 crew members, in-flight refueling, an ultrasound machine (which was destroyed in the drop), for a woman with a lump of unknown origin that would otherwise have had to wait 3 to 4 months for evaluation.

This is obscene.

How many lives could we save at the expense of one? If we cannot even consider how many Americans we could have insured, or vaccinated, or given prenatal health care to, or fed, or clothed, how can we be expected to consider the well being of non-Americans?

Or of un-Americans?

The threat of the AIDS epidemic in the US coalesced the gay community and had a profound impact on the government's response to drug development in this country. Millions of dollars are spent to develop treatments and vaccines, and for the patients who can afford them. They have been successful in delaying the demise. Yet these treatments are totally unaffordable to the majority of victims of the epidemic - those in developing countries.

We live in a place and a time where a single individual can be worth $100 billion and the value of his company is the equivalent of the ninth largest economy in the world. We live in a place and a time where universal access to a decent living, to health care, to education is inconceivable. Is this reality acceptable to our society? If it is not, then how can we break the cycle of social Darwinism? Can the impoverished, the ill, the illiterate join forces against the infrastructure to demand what they are entitled under the Constitution?

If history guides us, the answer to the latter will be "NO".

It will take those of us who are in the comfortable middle to a) change our own lifestyle and b) demand change for those without representation.

Otherwise, we can wait and hope that the Bill Gates of this country and his generation of billionaires and millionaires will distribute their vast wealth and help to break the cycle.

If history guides us, this will not happen.

In 1928, in his "Rugged Individualism" speech, Herbert Hoover stated "Our government to succeed in business would need to become in effect a despotism. There at once begins the destruction of self-government." Are we not today governed by the economics of policy, both domestic and foreign? Are we not, the United States of America, the despot of the world? And do we not, in the spirit of rugged individualism, resort to a philosophy of "every man for himself"? This philosophy makes it all the easier to accept the inequalities and do nothing, and take more.


This Week's Other Articles:

Belgrade's people won't forget this by Don Feder - This heart-breaking article was first published in The Global Herald.

Why Kosovo: Anatomy of a needless war by Bob Allen - An excellent paper published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Hawks and Eagles: "Greater NATO" Flies to the Aid of "Greater Albania" by Diana Johnstone - Published in Covert Action, this article provides a clear and encompassing analysis of the tragedy in Yugoslavia.


Resources on the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath


Articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath

Published July 17, 1999
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