August 31, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 353

The Sword Of Damocles:
Terrorizing Taxation of the Future

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, August 31--There's an old adage that Europe is using to Terrorize the United States in the aftermath of September 11.   It goes:  "Never hit a man when he's down, kick him it's easier."
       Former President Richard Nixon knew that line well.  After being defeated for reelection, he turned to the press and said bitterly:  "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more."
       President Nixon wasn't accurate.  When he did get elected again, the press kicked him around harder than anything he could imagine, exposing him through the Watergate scandal and ultimately promoting his resignation.
       But that was a situation where the United States attacked its own.   In the aftermath of Nine Eleven, a new current of Terrorism is washing upon our sacred, once-secure soil.    It's coming from the Atlantic.   The source is Europe, the mass of nations we once saved from Hitlarian oppression, the ones we pumped billions of dollars into with the Marshall Plan to rebuild their society, to reindustrialize their engines of productivity so they might stand tall and proud once again.

       Over the years, Europe has formed a similar pact with one another as the various states did when we formed the Union of the United States in 1776.   It is called the European Economic Union, noted by a blue flag with gold stars forming a circle for each member nation.
       When the Cold War ended with the destruction of the Berlin Wall and fall of communism, Europe breathed a deep sigh.   The Sword of Damocles was removed--no longer did the Soviet Union serve as a major peril to the safety or security of Europe, and, no longer was the Sheriff of the World, the United State, needed to protect Europe from communist threat.

      But as Cain did to Able, so has Europe picked up a giant club and swung it at the skull of its "big brother," the United States.   It now threatens to bash our brains out over "who is in charge" of the world.  
      Europe has hung the Sword of Damocles over the head of the United States, specifically following the events of Nine Eleven.
      In mythology, Damocles was a courtier of Dionysius the Elder.  Dionysius was a leader who used to go to the quarry in Sicily where his people worked and listen to what they had to say in secret.  He would put his ear to a tunnel and catch conversations of dissent against the kingdom, and then issue punishment to those dissenters.  He was kind of like the CEO in a big corporation who hides in the bathroom stands on a toilet and listens to what his executives and employees say about him, then issues out punishment to any who dissent from his opinion.
       When someone is said to have the Ear of Dionysius, it simply means:  "beware what you say in the toilet or hallway."

Cave near the Quarry of Paradise in Sicily  known as Dionysius Ear

        Damocles was a gadfly in Dionysius court, an obsequious character who laid praise at Dionysius feet.   Some might call him a "corporate kiss ass."
       He lavished Dionysius with praise about the grandeur and happiness of rulers, a fawning of sorts that might gag others less inclined to lick the boots of their CEO, but Damocles was just that sort of "suck up" that makes for any community of groupies who gather around their powerful leader in hopes of being issued a pat on the head, or receive a Peter Principle promotion.
      Dionysius had a perverted sense of humor.  Why not?  He snuck to a secret tunnel shaped much like an ear to spy on his people's comments, so why not take a court suck up and teach him a lesson?
      He called for a great banquet in honor of his "suck up" Damocles.    He put him at the head of the table with all his court around.  Damocles puffed out his chest, enjoying his Andy Warhol "15-minutes-of-fame," until he noticed all those around him looking up over his head.
      There it was--a giant, razor sharp sword hanging by a single horsehair.  It was positioned just so that if the delicate strand of hair were to break, the sword would fall down and chop off Damocles' head.  

     The mythical lesson being taught by Dionysius was that "insecurity might threaten those who appeared to be the most fortunate."   Or, put another way, the Sword of Damocles was a constant threat, a warning of a potential disaster if those under it didn't bow and kow-tow to demands.
      Europe has created a number of Swords of Damocles lately.   They seem to follow on the heels of Nine Eleven, as though the attack on our security symbolized our Achilles Heel, ushered in an era of the declivity of our power as the "greatest nation on earth."
      It started with the Europe-based International Criminal Court (ICC), founded a few years ago on the need to prosecute war criminals.    But it has taken on more power.   The European Nations now want control over the sovereignty of nations regarding prosecution of criminals.  The United States has balked at turning over its Constitutional protection of American citizens to the court, and sought immunity for its military forces who are engaged in both peace keeping and Terrorism war battles.  
      The heart of the United States' argument about not joining in on the ICC's right to prosecute American citizens is the danger the court may become prejudiced against the U.S. and become unfair in administering "justice."  It feels also that by surrendering the rights of the U.S. Constitution to the court, citizens of America could be prosecuted without the protection of due process as we know it.  Further, the ICC's powers include indicting political leaders such as the President of the United States for "war crimes," should it refuse to accept U.S. military strategy as "civilized behavior."

       The Sword of Damocles hangs over our heads in this issue, creating rancor between the U.S. and Europeans who are puffing their chests and serving notice on the United States that its power has been limited.   Above its head hangs a sword held by a horsehair--a European not American horsehair.
      Then there is the issue with Iraq.   The United States has been seeking to "suck up" to Europe to get its endorsement on an attack against Saddam Hussein.   The methodology is not unlike that of Damocles.    No matter how hard we lick Europe's boots, the more they seem to kick us.   Even Britain, our foremost ally in battles against the threats in the Middle East, has turned its head.   If one looks close at the Sword of Damocles, one can see the horsehair slowly unraveling.
      The most recent weakening of the horsehair is economic club Europe is wielding against America.   As we have frozen the assets of Terrorist groups, the European Economic Community is now taking shots at stripping our wealth, and crippling our economic power.
      The World Trade Organization, an international arbiter in global trade disputes, ruled yesterday that the European Union can impose $4 billion in penalties on the United States because an American tax break that promotes exports is "illegal."

      Gary Hufbauer, an international trade analyst at the Institute for International Economics, says:  "This gives the European Union a $4 billion club against us.   It can keep the club in the closet, but it will be a presence that surrounds all the negotiations at the World Trade Organization."
      Politically and diplomatically, it is a "shot across our bow," said Hufbauer.   Bitter disputes exist on trade issues ranging from steel tariffs to farm subsidies.   As we have issued sanctions against Terrorists, we are now being Terrorized by our own tactics.   The Sword of Damocles, once hung over Europe's head, now threatens us.
      The World Trade Organization, once hailed as a tool to reduce trade barriers between nations, is now being viewed as a political fist seeking to globalize the world, with Europe at its epicenter.   The Court of World Power has changed, some say, from America to Europe.     

      Others believe the new power being exercised is directly linked to the events of Nine Eleven which shattered America's image as the Humpty Dumpty who "couldn't fall," but has fallen, and is now "just another member of the world community."   Europe, free of the Sword of Damocles from the Soviet Union, no longer needs America's protection.   As a result, it has donned a new crown of power--money--through taxation.
        I find it interesting that America is in the midst of a great struggle to right itself after the storms of Nine Eleven.  That adage:  "Never hit a man when he's down, kick him," seems to fit too well today when we look at our weakening military, political, and diplomatic efforts to "take on the world" as the "Sheriff of Justice."
        Power always shifts through time.  Great nations weaken.   Other nations grow strong.
        Our current battle with Iraq is to limit its potential as a nuclear power.    The Dionysian's who have a listening ear to Saddam Hussein see his goal as gathering the power to rule the Middle East and to hang a Sword of Damocles over anyone who threatens his power to rule through Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
       Europeans obviously don't see the threat as we do.   They have chosen Complacency on the issue.  They are like the workers in the frozen strawberry canning factory who inspect the food before it is sealed in the can.    Along the conveyer belt comes a can of frozen strawberries heading for the final sealing machine which will lock the top on it. 

       The inspectors look at the can and see a giant, yucky, slimy slug oozing on the top of the strawberries.  The first safety inspector turns her head, for she doesn't want to touch the creature.   The next, seeing the lead inspector feign her Vigilance, covers her mouth and coughs, letting the slug sucking on the strawberries pass her.  So it goes down the line, each inspector looking at the unctuous creature and each denying its existence for one reason or another until, "whomp," "whamp," the sound of the sealing unit capping the container rings.    No one wants to think of a consumer opening the can and seeing the slug mashed atop the strawberries.   Instead, they go about the rest of their work, picking off a lingering leaf her, or a stem there, but ignoring the vision of the slug.
        It would be easy for all Americans to scan over the news of the recent European trade ruling and the $4 billion tax on the United States if we all agree to the idea of Complacency.   Who cares, anyway?  And, what can we do?  We're just "average citizens?"  We have no real "power?"   That's up to the "politicians," and the "diplomats."   We pay them to take care of that "stuff," don't we?
        Not really.   We actually pay our politicians to listen to us.   An elected representative is nothing more than a Dionysian Ear.  It is deaf until we shout into it.   Like the safety inspectors on the assembly line, the elected official will duck and weave until someone comes along and says:  "Hey, look, there's a slug on the strawberries!  Somebody get that off.   Some kid might eat it and get sick.  What's the matter with you!"
        Noise.   Noise makes the Dionysian Ear listen.   And dissent is the key.   Dissent in this case is "not standing for Complacency."
        The issue is something that affects us all.   If we fold and agree to pay high taxes, the pain comes back to our children.  The prices of everything go up to compensate for the additional tax.    Consumers end up paying the tax.
        Don't forget the Boston Tea Party.  

       Over time, if we don't fight for our economic rights, Europe can rule the tax base.   If we lose our power to negotiate, if we forget the elements of Vigilance are Courage, Conviction and Right Action, we surrender to the World Trade Organization.  We let the club grow in their hands, we become Terrorized by the decisions of the few against us.  Our children suffer.  They pay more for less.  
       We leave them with the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

       So what can the "average, impotent citizen" do?
       In my book, it's quite simple.  Write a letter to your Congressperson.   Include a copy of the Pledge of Vigilance.  Include a  copy of this story.  Tell your Congressperson you want answers on the Sword of Damocles.   What policy, or set of policies, will insure the children and their children's children's of the fairest tax.  Urge your Congressperson not to capitulate.  To stand on firm ground.  To fight to remove the Sword of Damocles from our heads, our children's heads.
        As the anniversary of Nine Eleven approaches, we must not forget what the Sentinels of Vigilance died for--they died for our security--our children's children's children's security.    We must never forget that such security includes: physical, emotional and economic security.   We must not fall victim to Terrorization of their future, or further weaken the foundations of our sovereignty in the face of globalization.     

       We need to teach our children that the philosophy of "Never hit a man when he's down, kick him, it's easier," isn't the Vigilant Way.  The Vigilant Way is to help the man to his feet and ask him what is Terrorizing him, and how can we work together to find a way not be enemies, not for ourselves, but for our children and their children's children.
        It is our job to remove the Sword of Damocles from our children's heads.
        If we don't, we'll be responsible when it falls.

Go To Aug 28--Flushing America's Resources Down The Toilet

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