In 1992 Bill Clinton came into office promising "welfare reform." Since the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act became law in 1996, it has been wildly successful beyond anyone's dreams at getting people off of the welfare rolls, but real poverty and homelessness has increased since 1996. The "Work Opportunity" part of the act is what is lacking, since the Clinton regime was also responsible for NAFTA, that sent jobs overseas and the resulting Wal-Martization of America has created an entire work force that is unemployed or under-employed and needs the "safety net" that public welfare provided. The Clinton regime literally took food from the mouths of babes.
We definitely have a poverty crisis here in the United States where one out of every four children lives below the poverty line and 12.6 (over 37 million people) of our population do so. Out of the 21 most affluent nations in the world, the US comes in dead last as to our poverty rate. These statistics were compiled in April of 2007 and I suspect that these figures are even more dismal with millions of mortgages being foreclosed on; the jobless rate has been climbing (1.2 million people have lost their jobs in 2008) and banks and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are imploding (the resultant federal take over of the mortgage giants has doubled our treasury deficit). The Clinton Adminstration flogged "welfare moms" however when Wall Street bankster billionaires need a federal handout, the money is readily availiable. The situation is dire, but what is the root cause of the problem?
I believe that the economic problems of our country cannot be solved by trillions of dollars going for corporate bailouts or even a few hundred dollars of "economic stimulus" that our Congress throws to us like the bread of the Roman Empire era. The corrupted Keynesian way of spending our way out of problems by buying disposable consumer goods will not work this time due to the deep, deep disease of once easy consumer credit and creating fiat money to support a rapacious and gluttonous Military Industrial Complex.
Let's face reality, when a family is hanging on by a thread anyway, a $300, $600, or even $1200 dollar check (of the family's own money, incidentally) is not going anywhere except to service credit card debt or purchase food or gas, which are necessities of life, not luxuries. The lousy few hundred dollars that most Americans received were probably, in most cases, spent before the checks arrived.
Fiat money is created when governments print money that has little or no backing in hard commodities like gold or silver and the only thing that props the money up is the citizen's and world market's faith in it. Additionally, fiat money has the adverse affect of creating credit very quickly; which is often mistaken for economic growth. How can one not feel prosperous when one purchases beyond one's means and has a house/garage filled with consumer goods? Even more disturbing is the federal banks' economic "adjustments" of lowering interest rates which just creates more inflation of prices and deflation of real spending power.
The Pelosi-Clinton collaboration of 1999 that repealed the Glass-Steagall protections, that were instituted after the stock market crash in 1927, prohibited financial institutions (insurance, mortgage, banking, etc) from merging and led to conglomerations like Citigroup (Citicorp lobbyist, Roger Levy, spent lavishly in Congress for this) has contributed to this crisis as well as the deregulation of lenders that can now leverage their margins (in the case of Freddie/Fannie) only have $1 of real assets compared to $80 of outstanding loans. This phenomena actually allowed banks to create their own currency! I believe that Congress is the only institution that is constitutionally allowed to coin money.
However, I also believe that the economic engine that is pulling our country down the wrong track is the one that is driven by the USA's Military Industrial Complex (MIC). I always capitalize "Military Industrial Complex" because it is a ravenous Vampire that eats our children and sucks the life out of our economy, communities, and families. The MIC is also like a multi-headed Hydra that insinuates itself into every aspect of our lives in the guise of "patriotism" and exploitative nationalism that leads to ordinary families taking the disordered step of sacrificing our children to this beast. Why else do mothers who fiercely protect our children with every inch of our being allow these valuable human beings to be forfeited to the MIC?
From the time our children enter school, they are taught the pledge of allegiance and the glory of US imperialism beginning from the time the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and thus began the systematic extermination of the indigenous people of this country and the system of using black slaves propped up a profoundly immoral economy. Our children are not taught this fact though. Our children are taught (either overtly or more subtly) that if America fights wars or kills people, they were wars that were imperative to fight or people that needed to be killed. The God of Jacob, Joseph, and Abraham forbid that we learn to co-exist peacefully with our neighbors, sharing resources or blessings, but if anyone ever got in the way of the mighty US Empire, we mowed them down like prairie grass and tossed them to burn on the pyre of greed.
From early on, as we color in pictures of turkeys, pilgrims and Indians, we are spoon-fed that every war the US waged was righteous and good. The revisionists are now telling us that Vietnam was a righteous war and it was only the cowardice and flagging resolve of the American people that lost that war. President Elect Obama tells us after over five years and thousands of mistakes and lies, the occupation of Iraq is going so "swimmingly" (the "surge" worked myth) that we can afford to send troops from there to the new righteous war, Afghanistan. We are not taught in school how millions of people have been slaughtered for US Imperialistic greed or how our brave young people have been used as trained assassins for this corporatocracy.
Today, the MIC has destroyed our economy, our ecology, our peace, our families and has infected the world with about 1000 permanent, semi-permanent, temporary and "black" bases all over the world. Everywhere the US has a base, the land is polluted and the social services of the area are drained. With SOFA (Standard of Force Agreements) and other agreements between our country and the militarily occupied countries, our troops are exempt from being prosecuted for crimes as serious as rape and murder. Everywhere I go in the world where there is a permanent US base, the civilians highly resent the base and often protest and demand closure of the base.
Our Pentagon budget is an obscene 655 billion a year (while nearly 50 million people in this nation are either uninsured or under-insured) and that figure does not count the nuclear program which is under the Department of Energy; military aid to foreign countries which come under the aegis of the State Department; "black" (covert) ops or the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan which claim about 16 billion dollars a month. China has the most population of any nation and with over one billion people, spends about 95 billion dollars a year on defense. With every expenditure for death and destruction added up, we here in the US spend over one trillion dollars a year on corporate Empire building. In this season of political posturing and freak shows, both Obama and McCain were calling for increasing the size of the military by spending more on recruiting and equipping the new recruits. President Elect Obama wants to increase our military by 92,000 troops (his new Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel has called for increasing our military by 100,000 in previous writings). In an era of decreasing military recruitment, I think the imperialists are relying on the crashing economy and No Child Left Behind school systems to funnel our children to fill these quotas.
I call, not for an increase, but a reduction in military spending and a new paradigm of rebuilding our economy through peaceful industry and industry that cleans our environment and develops sustainable forms of energy that will, not reduce, but totally eliminate our country's dependence on fossil fuel, not foreign fossil fuel, but all fossil fuel. Our dependence on foreign fuels not only destroys the environment but causes new geo-strategic alignments and if the US is going to remain a strong democracy and economy, we must shift gears, and quickly!
We must declare an end to the Global War on Terror, began during the Bush regime, but will be guaranteed to grow during an Obama regime. We must use the wealth of our nation to pursue healing and reconciliation with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and indeed, with the entire planet that is quickly growing tired of a bellicose US that not only promises
destruction but delivers it.
We can no longer afford 4% of our GNP being gobbled by the MIC. We cannot afford it in so many ways, but the future stability of our world is dependent on peaceful conflict resolution not blustery rhetoric designed to appease the MIC and other corporate imperialists.
The "peace" movement made serious mistakes about Afghanistan. Many organizations that I was affiliated with banned any talk of bringing our troops home from that immoral war because the American public was behind it. This gives an Obama administration permission to talk about Afghanistan being the "real War on Terror." Well, the real War OF Terror has been waged from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the last seven years and the movement that poured its energy and resources into electing Obama must radicalize to force him to undertake an aggressive program of Warfare Reform.
Warfare Reform will be good for peace, the economy and the ecology.
Let's reduce the Warfare Rolls and increase the peace dividend!