Sunday, September 19, 2010

War Steals From the Poor and Unemployed

Military spending is causing huge deficits and wasting money needed for education, housing, healthcare, infrastructure, and developing clean, renewable energy. 14.9 million Americans are unemployed. 50.7 million Americans did not have health insurance and 43.6 million or 14.3% lived beneath the poverty level in 2009, according to the Census Bureau and the numbers are even higher now. Expenditures for our bloated war complex are about 55% of all discretionary spending. We have spent more than a trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 and much more in bribes to government officials, and tribal chiefs and payments to corrupt private contractors. According to the Democratic Leadership Council, US military spending accounted for 44% of all money spent globally on war, weapons and the military in 2009.Our military spending is as much as all of the next 15 countries combined. The number of people killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is anywhere from 100,000 to a million or more depending on who does the estimates. Statistics on the number of civilians and military personnel killed are often distorted by military propaganda.

Glorification of the mass terrorism of war by media, politicians, weapons makers and other violence peddling war profiteers is depressing. Killing people by war and willful violence is the most demented activity of our species. War is intrinsically evil. Peacemakers like Jesus, Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Martin Luther King are real heroes rather than the war complex hyped “warriors” who “fight for our freedom” by killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan so the US can control their governments and natural resources. Metaphors like the war on poverty seem inappropriate in describing anti-poverty programs, which are diminished by the diversion of resources to make war. Lyndon Johnson took on the pervasive poverty

of the 1960 by promoting broad anti-poverty social programs like civil rights, education, Medicare and Medicaid as part of his Great Society.

Rather than advocate more social programs that provide jobs, Obama wants to tinker with middle class tax cuts and a roll back on tax breaks for the fat cats, but how much will trickle down to poor and unemployed people?

When a reporter asked Obama to discuss his views on the poverty agendas of LBJ and Dr. King, he answered, “I think the history of anti-poverty efforts is that the most important anti-poverty effort is growing the economy. It’s more important than any program we could set up. It’s more important than any transfer payment we could have.” Economic growth and tax cuts that increase corporate profits will not eliminate poverty. Such praise of Reagan’s supply side economics isn’t new for Obama.

During the presidential campaign in 2008, Obama said, “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.” Does Obama model his super smooth style after Reagan’s slick salesman act?

Reagan was a mediocre movie actor when he became the host of the General Electric Theater on NBC. General Electric launched his political career by sponsoring a national speaking tour for their handsome, look-um-in-the-eye, all-American guy, who promoted their conservative philosophy. He was the ideal political huckster for corporate America's unbridled greed. Reagan put a nice face on the mean-spirited politics of fear and greed, blaming welfare mothers, social programs, government regulations and the “evil empire of the Soviet Union” as causes for America's troubles. Scapegoating poor people and criticizing government programs enabled him to deliver a giant tax break for the rich, roll back health and safety regulations, and push through a gigantic military buildup for corporate defense contractors like General Electric. His racially charged attacks on affirmative action hurt racial minorities and women.

Obama’s smooth rhetoric can’t conceal his role in bailing out Wall Street, cutting deals with corporate interests to dilute the healthcare reform bill, and developing financial regulations in closed-door meetings with bankers.

Rather than praising Reagan, Obama should make Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt his role models and work to establish social programs which provide jobs for poor and working class people. LBJ can also teach Obama that endless wars won’t work. We should end tax cuts for the rich and transfer funds from war and Wall Street to social programs that put people to work and reduce poverty.


  1. While we are worried about Islamic terrorists, the rest of the world is worried about American terrorists...and they should be!

  2. While I do believe Obama should have done several things very differently I sometimes feel he is stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. His middle of the road approach in trying to build some sort of bipartisan dialogue with the republicans got him nothing but paranoid conspiracies being spread about him from the right and ridicule from the left.
    Speaking strictly as an armchair president but given my experience with the craven nature of weasels in human form the day after I was sworn in office I would have come out swinging purposing rather extreme measures to fix the country and dared the republicans to oppose me. I’m talking single-payer health care, finance reform, national service for young people resulting in free college after successful term of service, and a WPA-like program to rebuild the national infrastructure. There would have been other items but that is all I can list at 2:40am.
    Would any president have gotten all he wanted? No, but coming out ready to fight after the election would have unbalanced the republicans to the point they would have been motivated by fear and respect to be more open to actually working together.
    The dynamic man who ran for president has been replaced with a Spock-like Hamlet unable to connect with the very people who elected him. I fully expect disaster in the mid-terms but Obama has time to find that dynamic man he once was, if he doesn’t God help the rest of us.

  3. Jerry Critter,

    I agree. War is terrorism. The US has the biggest terrorism budget in world history and God knows how much more is hidden under the table.

    Beach Bum,

    I like your agenda for America and I voted for Obama hoping he would do what you propose.

    Sometimes I wonder if the "national security" cabal, including the CIA and Secret Service doesn't give the new President a very serious briefing just after he takes office and remind him how dangerous his job is. Like "Mr. President, we are here to protect you that this is a very dangerous job in which 4 of your predecessors have been assassinated. It would be a great danger to your safety if you do not do what we suggest."

    My point is that people in the war complex market their products (killing tools) through fear and do not mind having people killed to make their obscene profits.

  4. Truthfully, I watch President Obama closely during the inauguration ceremony on television and the guy looked scared. I assumed it was because of the job he was about to take but sometimes I wonder....

  5. Why should our "national security" be clothed in secrecy if this is a democracy? The military, CIA and much of the war complex operate in secrecy and tell us it is in our national security interest and for our own good to spend so much of our money to kill people.

  6. The French are in the streets protesting because the the government is raising the retirement age from 60 to 62! America is planning on totalling doing away with social security (privatizing it is doing away with it and creating a dedicated income stream for Wall Street) and what do we hear from the citizens?


    The Nordic nations of Europe are voting 'conservatives' into office which means that taxes are going to be lowered but overall their social safety net is safe because there conservatives are more liberal than Bernie Sanders.

    Canada, Germany, all of these countries all have massive social welfare systems and yet their economies were not devastated the way ours was with the Wall Street Meltdown and they are all bouncing back faster than we are...for one reason only...they do not have a military industrial complex...

    Its time to acknowledge that the military is destroying our government, infringing on our freedoms, not making us any safer, and destroying the future for our children...

    Its sucking the blood right out of this nation....

  7. I couldn't agree more with you more about the privatization of everything, which translates into profits over people. Like Reagan, Obama seems to base our well-being on the need for "economic growth" which is a catch-all term for the human activity that causes global warming or climate change by creating too much carbon and devastation of the natural world.

    When Obama appointed former right-wing Wyoming Senator Allen Simpson who has been very critical of Social Security "entitlements" and Erskine Bowles a former White House chief-of-staff under Clinton and conservative Democrat as co-chairs of a commission to "reform" Social Security I knew he was not on the side of older Americans, the disabled and poor and working class folks.

  8. I apologize for putting "more" twice in the first sentence of the last comment. Please delete one of them in your mind so it will make sense.

  9. A recent study shows that Americans, as a whole are short 6.6 trillion dollars in savings for retirement and then to add that the federal government is looking to "privatize" social security, which will only add to the shortfall...well, I think it makes perfectly logical sense for "more" to appear twice in a sentence...

    I think Paul Ryan's plan "Roadmap For America" is also aptly titled....

    No taxes on corporate income, no taxes on investment income, dividends, or capital gains..

    Privatize social security and medicare, cut discretionary spending but do not touch military spending and then claim success because you will balance the budget in 2063...

    That is not a country, nor is it a society..its a kingdom and the stock market is the king....

  10. Funding elective wars with inflation is the oldest trick in the books.

  11. Rather than have a kingdom where the stock market is king, why don't we take all of the money out of politics and put most, if not everything into the public sector. I guess that would be democratic socialism, but it might be better than the corporate and big money control and ownership of government that we have now. At least we should have better balance between the public and private sectors.
    It is interesting and a bit Orwellian that supply siders curse government when they actually own it.

    Obama taught at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years and perhaps the trickle down economics of Milton Friedman who was the Guru of Economics at the U. of Chicago trickled down on Obama.

    I hadn't thought of it but I reckon making war with inflation is a historical fact.

  12. Tom I agree with many of the things you raise. My take on it is this.

    We need to know what exactly is money? Where and how money originates? How is it monopolized and centralized by the FED for the benefit of Wall-street and the War-military-intelligence-coporate banking-think tank complex through our collective ignorance? I am working for a peaceful radical global and local solution through collective learning on this. I don't know how to put it in commondreams.


  13. Susmita,

    I went to your website and blog. They are very interesting and thought provoking. The questions you pose in your comment are also.

    As heretical as it sounds to the American-Way of-Life, I believe capitalism is not ecologically sustainable. It depends on war to make more money and exploit resources. It makes labor(people) subservient to capital (money). Capitalism puts money over people and is destroying our species and our eco-system. Greed reigns in America and greed kills.

    My religious organization is Unitarian-Universalism and I'm a naturalist. Buddhism has many tenets which are very positive and make a lot of sense to me.

    Thanks for your comments.


Because of many spam comments, we have had to add comment moderation.I agree with Pooh, "Oh bother!" Please be patient.