Paid Patriotism Is the American Way

Paid PatriotismLast week at Huffington Post I learned this little tidbit of news, Pentagon Paid Up To $6.8 Million Of Taxpayer Money To Pro Sports Teams For Military Tributes. As if it isn’t enough that every football game (not to mention NASCAR race) isn’t wrapped so tightly in the flag that it produces skid marks on it. Add to this the constant commercials for the military that make it look like the job involves rappelling from helicopters and handing out candy to young children. Now we know the Pentagon is paying sports teams to have those charming “we support the troops” displays.

It makes sense if you think about it. After all, what does our military exist for? It certainly doesn’t exist to keep us safe. It exists to maintain the American empire and make sure that markets stay open for our corporations. These are corporations, of course, who show absolutely no loyalty to the country. They have only one (legally defined) loyalty: maximize shareholder value. So as long as it isn’t illegal to sell weapons to groups that would attack us, they will. And let’s face it: if they thought they could get away with selling weapons to ISIS, they would do that too.

So it just makes sense that the military is paying billion dollar sports teams to pretend that the US has to spend almost as much money on the military as the rest of the world combined. It’s all about money and power and the NFL and US Navy really aren’t any different in that way — except that there is more head trauma in the NFL. It isn’t put this way of course. It isn’t “advertising.” That would be too coarse. These are just celebrations of American patriotism, and in this modern world, patriotism is not something that just happens spontaneously! Only Rubes think that!

The actual line items in these contracts are “paid patriotism”:

…the payment of taxpayer or Defense funds to teams in exchange for tributes like NFL’s “Salute to Service.” Honors paid for by the DOD were found not only in the NFL, but also the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS. They included on-field color guard ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, and ceremonial first pitches and puck drops.

This all came to light because two Republican Senators — John McCain and Jeff Flake — put out a report on it. The report hilariously states, “Given the immense sacrifices made by our service members, it seems more appropriate that any organization with a genuine interest in honoring them, and deriving public credit as a result, should do so at its own expense and not at that of the American taxpayer” Oh please! This is business.

Jeff Flake voted against monitoring TARP funds to encourage mortgage relief. He voted for making it harder for individuals to get bankruptcy protection. He is against the Home Affordable Modification Program. He’s a corporate guy! He knows that if you are rich, you get all the breaks and if you are poor you should be allowed to die of starvation on the streets. He should be all for billionaire sports teams getting a bit of taxpayer money to pretend to care about the military.

I’m not even going to talk about John McCain. I think we all know what a bitter old man he is. The only time he’s ever done the right thing is out of spite. He too is a big booster for society’s winners. So his outrage is about as believable as Captain Renault in Casablanca.

Of course, the whole thing is a joke. But are we really supposed to worry about that $6.8 million spent over four years? That’s $1.7 million per year. The current Benghazi hearing has spent $4.5 million over the past 17 months. That’s $3.2 million per year — almost twice as much. If the money is the issue, then we shouldn’t care. If it is the idea of it, then we should applaud. This is exactly what America stands for — and what McCain and Flake think it should stand for.

23 thoughts on “Paid Patriotism Is the American Way

  1. What always strikes me about these pearl clutching over the money wasted by the government (and I would say that was wasted) is how small the amounts are. For instance: the spending scandal of the IRS which apparently cost $50M. Broken down, it comes to about $1500 per employee showing up at the conferences, which is very usual to spend on employees continuing education. But oh the wailing that the media did over it. Meanwhile, the Starr investigation into President Clinton topped $70M and resulted in nothing but a few paltry charges on bit players with, as far as I know, maybe one or two convictions.

    Or to keep with the military theme-the Osprey helicopter-which cost the US over $52B for the entire program start to finish with each bird costing a minimum of $73M.

    So the media goes ballistic over something like the IRS spending but yawns when there is equally wasteful spending elsewhere in the government. The cynic in me knows why-the media is interested in bashing the government for ad revenue, not in actually threatening the status quo.

    • Yes, as you’ve probably noted, I rant a lot about how cheap welfare for the poor is. Welfare for the rich is expensive, but almost no one complains about it.

      • Because it is usually dressed up as something else-tax incentives or some nonsense.

        The poor are always presumed to need a kicking to get them to work while the idle rich are always presumed to work too hard but apparently need incentives to work? How on earth does that make sense?

        • It goes back to aristocratic thinking. The rich are just better — God blesses them. God must hate the poor because they are undeserving. If humanity is to survive, we will have to get past this kind of thinking. I tend to think people will look back on this time with horror. Capitalism really is a terrible system.

          • A few years ago I read a fascinating article in The New Yorker about how this is a Christian nation and you can tell because of how we treat the poor. It was less than complimentary about Christianity and how we treat the poor but it was accurate. The right wing truly believe that if you are a Christian and poor, it is God punishing you for your sins. Otherwise you would not be poor and you should not be doing anything with your lot in life.

            Capitalism has some merit but it, like anything else, needs to be watched to ensure it does not devolve into money makes right.

            • For a nation based on the idea of capitalism, we don’t know much about it. Most people think that capitalism is just markets and businesses. But communism has markets and businesses. So what is it that people are making a bold stand for? What capitalism is really all about is rents — about the idea that one needn’t work. And that’s an idea that most Americans aren’t that keen on. But they’ve been conned into thinking that capitalism is just “not authoritarianism.” And as a result, it has largely become authoritarianism.

              • What, educate people on the differences in economic systems? Pish tosh, what if they decide to use the wrong one?

                Which is why Texas is able to ensure that textbooks only have approved information that does not include reality and little after mandatory school requires people learn the difference. My college degree is not going to require any courses on economics and I am fairly sure that is not the only case.

                • You might be better off. Economics is so subjective that if you get a really doctrinaire instructor you’ll have to repeat neocon mantras for your grade. A good instructor can help poke holes in some common economic fallacies (I had one!) but there’s no guarantee that who students will get.

                    • I’m willing to try things that challenge my views, but I am a middle-aged human and have a little experience under my belt (what the hell does “under my belt” mean, anyways?)

                      So if I read something which challenges my views and does do with compelling examples/evidence, that’s one thing. But if I read something which contradicts my experience and prior learning in a really blatant way, without providing much in the way of examples/evidence, that’s another.

                      That Booth book/interview mentioned elsewhere here on Scandinavia is a good example. The Danes I met who shared Booth’s views (the welfare state is unsustainable, it causes more harm than good) were all social climbers. The Danes who rejected this “consensus view” were all proud working folk who didn’t want their cost of living to go up by having social services privatized. (As we know, privatization benefits the rich whose taxes go down and harms the working class whose expenditures go up.)

                      And these weren’t opinions I solicited from anyone. I got lectures from complete strangers giving me rides to the airport and such. (The people most passionate about hating anti-immigrant racism were a Jehovah’s Witness couple, incidentally, in a very non-religious country.)

                      So that makes me think Mr. Booth hangs with the upwardly-mobile sort. I may be wrong, I often am. Experience makes his work give off that smell, though, and I’m old enough to suspect not all my suspicions are entirely wrong.

                      But then you hit a book which has examples and has evidence and blows your doors off. Susan Jacoby’s “Freethinkers,” which proved forever that the Constitution was NOT a religious document. Johann Hari’s “Chasing The Scream,” about the history of drug prohibition. Stuff like that makes you thrilled we invented printing!

                • What I find exasperating is that there really is only one economic system: a mixed one. No system is completely free and no system is completely controlled. Thus, we are arguing about the balance. But conservatives especially want to say, “We are capitalist.” We aren’t and we haven’t ever been. The only way you could ever have a pure capitalism is if you had a tiny community. But Republicans are great with words and twisting them to their needs.

                  • Same thing with any economic system-it only works if you have a tiny amount of non-reproducing never aging people.

                    I once was reading some book that my professor assigned me for English and it had a guy blathering on about some system, probably communism because that professor had Views, and the author said “we have to force them to like it.” That is a terrible idea, people need the freedom to leave if they don’t like some economic system. All it does is breed resentment and hatred and causes everything to collapse. But there are plenty of people out there who think (mostly Republicans) that people must be made to bend to their will.

                    • I agree that people should be allowed to leave. But for a lot of people, there is nowhere to go. A poor person in the US can theoretically move to France. But they can’t in reality. So when the Soviets forbade most people from leaving, they were just applying the same standard that is always applied to the poor to everyone.

                    • ‘Tis true, ’tis true, ’tis very true.

                      Which means we have to get them to get out to vote even though they are less able to do even with statutes like the one we have here that gives you two hours off to go vote.

                    • I think my next external political act will be to sign up to visit registered Democrats, help them with mail in ballots, and spend election day driving people to and from the polls. I think that’s the most important thing that I can do — very practical. I need to contact my local office and see what I can do in that regard. I don’t even mind calling people. I used to call people for money for the nuclear freeze movement when I was young. This is the kind of politics that most matters: boring on the ground stuff.

                    • Welp I looked up your local political groups if you want the links and contact info. Most of the time you just show up and people are like “YOU WANT TO TALK TO HUMANS?!” then burst into tears. Okay I am exaggerating even for AZ. Everyone hates doing phone work. It is boring, you get yelled at and the cookies are never tasty enough.

                      Nowadays in my area it is all about the permanent early voting list and getting those ballots to the polls. So California, being slightly less insane, probably could use that sort of help for the elderly.

                    • I have the contact info. I just need to do something about it. But right now I am so over worked, I’m beginning to worry about my health. After I get a bit further ahead, maybe I will be able to slow down.

                    • There is a year before the next election so no reason to bother until then. And yes, you should slow down some, no one wants you to get sick.

  2. I read the report. And it’s quite clear — this is just the shit they found easily. There’s probably a lot more of it going on, the report admits as much. I’d be surprised if there was a major sports team which didn’t get money for this stuff.

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