Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Here’s to your Health

Is the health care bill dead? Will the Republicans come up with one of their own? Who knows and at this point I frankly don't give a damn. Our law makers have made fools of us once more. The Democrats never did care if it passed. I just want to hear the lame excuses from both sides in a few years when medical bankruptcies and deaths from lack of care make it into the headlines. "Sorry ma'am, your baby died."

But, in the meantime, being a concerned citizen, I found a way to have health care for all citizens and money enough to give us schools we can be proud of. It didn't take me long. I found the following statistics in the latest edition of Dissent, a very interesting news magazine.

"The United States accounts for nearly half of all the military expenditures of all countries in the world—41.5 percent as of 2008, according to the Stockholm International Peace Institute. China and Russia follow, with 5.8 percent and 4 percent, respectively. By some estimates, the United States spends more on its military than the next twelve nations combined. America devotes some 4 percent of its GDP to military expenditures, proportionally a bit more than Russia and a bit less than China—but far more than France or the United Kingdom, both of which devote around 2.5 percent. We are, in short, at the head of the pack in our contribution to worldwide military activity.

At the same time the United States stands virtually alone among wealthy democracies in not ensuring universal health care for its people. Its health outcomes, in matters like infant mortality and life expectancy, are mediocre to poor for any industrialized country—inferior in some respects to much poorer countries like Cuba, Greece, and Jordan. Its rate of high school completion is a lackluster nineteenth among countries of the world, with similarly undistinguished levels of academic achievement among schoolchildren. But when it comes to domestic mayhem and incarceration, America excels. It has astonishingly high rates of violent crime and the world's largest prison population—2.3 million. In the words of British criminologist Vivien Stern, the United States has become "a rogue state, a country that has made a decision not to follow what is a normal Western approach" to crime control. It sounds like a reverberation of this country's military stance."

The author of this article, James Rule, then proposes that we cut the military spending in half, leaving us far and away the largest armed force in the world. That would give us $300 billion to spend on something other than bombs and bullets. "…make vast resources available for more constructive purposes, ranging from universal medical coverage for Americans to investment in renewable energy to support of global initiatives to control of curable diseases in the world's poorest countries." And the list could go on and on and on. $300 billion is a lot of money. Just ask a defense contractor how much it is.

I know what I'm going to do and that is to write to my two Senators, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, and to the incomparable Wally Buffoon, my representative in Congress. And I'm going to ask them how it happened that this much pork could be allowed into our defense budgets and I'm going to ask them, what are they going to do about it? I know I will receive a form letter in response…"blah, blah, blah…thank you very much for writing to me. Blah, blah, blah." But I will feel better. At least I did something positive.

1 comment:

  1. There's no question but that what America can do socially is crippled by military spending. Dwight Eisenhower said it best:

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

    This world in arms is not spending money alone.

    It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

    The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

    It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

    It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

    We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

    We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

    This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

    This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.