How the Other Half Thinks

Vanessa and I are touring with a girl from Sweden who lives in Vancouver and makes her living as a musician who lives largely on grant money. So you can accurately guess her political inclinations.

And our last tour was with a guy from Sweden / Denmark and lives there on government money as a musician. So you can guess his inclinations as well. Both are waaaay to the left of Castro.

Neither believe it is possible that there will ever be another World War, especially not in Europe. In their minds it is 100% impossible. Couldn't ever happen, no way, no how.

So you can understand that since they believe that, they think that the US military is a terribly evil anachronism, and when the US takes military action, both of them argue strenuously that we shouldn't, although neither has even a shred of an idea as to what we should do instead. Both object to the occupation of Afghanistan (not to mention Iraq) and consider our actions there dishonorable and maybe even evil.

They also see the US as being something like Nazi Germany because of our military. In fact when Mads saw the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band on TV, his comment was "Hitler would be proud." This comment literally turned my stomach a little, since many/most of the kids on that field had grandparents who fought Nazis to liberate Mads' grandparents who couldn't be bothered to fight them themselves.

I really like them both (rather a lot, actually) and so I am quite respectful of their belief system, and I try hard to understand it. Both are educated and intelligent and caring and sensitive people. And both really seem to like a lot about the USA.  The guy from Denmark thinks he wants to move here (he doesn't comprehend that our government won't give him grants to write folk songs).

I think it's easy for someone to think that their social order is superior to ours when they can afford to give money to starving artists to write songs, since their social order doesn't have to field a military.  It's pretty cool that their cultures so actively support the arts.

Maybe they are correct. Maybe there will never be another major war and the $350B/year we spend on keeping The Free World safe is just a horrible waste of money.  The USA is pretty awesome as-is. Imagine how awesome it would be if that $350B/year could go to funding the arts, curing cancer, ending poverty, putting a chicken in every pot.

If that's the case, it's easy to call the US military "evil".

If on the other hand, human history repeats itself as it has since the dawn of civilization, and once again there will be a war.  It will be our military that saves the Swedes and the Danes from evil. Real evil.

Will they then realize that our military – money that could have been indulgently spent on ourselves – was actually a kind of charity?  After all, without our military spending – so much of which goes to protect Europe – would their governments have been able to fund the arts?

In a very real way, my tax dollars that pay for our F-22s enables artists in Europe and Canada to write their songs.

I still hope they're right, and we're just wasting our money.  But I think we aren't.

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