Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley wrote an op-ed this week for TIME magazine, and this part caught my attention:
The cornerstone of American strength in the world is economic strength at home. Maintaining our security in the long run will require an economy that works for all Americans. No fighter jet or troop battalion will protect us as much as a vibrant economy. A stronger middle class is the first garrison against any threat we might face.
The greatest power we possess as Americans is not military might, but the power of our own example. We must lead the world by strengthening the American middle class and supporting the rise of a global middle class — free from want, and free from fear.
Yes, it seems as though we're in a race to the bottom, and O'Malley has the right perspective, one that was shared by Dick Gephardt when he ran for the Dem nomination. Gephardt said he'd go to the World Trade Organization and ask for an international minimum wage, pegged to a percentage of each country's cost of living.
It was a good idea then, and it's a good idea now.
O'Malley is also right because poverty breeds fundamentalism, repression and terrorism. Our present policy of pounding the crap out of nations with bombs is, surprisingly, not working.