Nothing has changed, in my 60 years of life, on the basic questions of politics and economics. We used to ask “What if the military had to have a bake sale to buy weapons and teachers had what they needed?”. The same question applies now, but we haven’t asked it in years. We used to talk about the “military/industrial complex” and believe that it took food from our children’s mouths. It’s still a thing, but now it is just an assumption, figured into budget plans. We used to talk about corporations as being inhuman and our “being just a number” as being a bad thing. Now corporate profits are at all time highs, and we are all Facebook algorythms. The questions still need to be asked and thrashed out before we make policy decisions. Is war more important than education, food, and housing? Are human beings valid, in and of themselves, or are they only cogs to make the machinery of the economy work? What is freedom? Who is human? Who matters in a democracy?
These questions need to be asked again, so that we can get our bearings as a society.
I was listening to Morning Joe this morning and they had an economist from the New York Times on, talking about the $1.9 Trillion bill being passed by the House and inflation and its effect on the national debt. The complaint was that it was trafficking in play money and fantasy and we would get to inflating both the debt and prices, and the Democrats weren’t worried enough about these things. Joe Scarborough went on to talk about how the deficit had gone up under each successive President: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama… He used numbers from the end of each President’s term, I believe. If, in fact, those were real numbers (and I assume they were. I like Scarborough.) They told a story, but didn’t tell the whole story, or even most of it.
Under Bush the First, we had a war which put us into debt, as wars will do. Under Clinton, the deficit started high and became a surplus. Under Bush the Second, we went back to war, spending all of the surplus and putting us back into huge debt and leaving us with a horrible economy. Obama spent a lot of money to bring back the economy, and save the auto industry, etc. Under Trump, the “promise” of free-market capitalism was simply let loose. The Republicans reduced taxes again and the income/outcome of government was again thrown off balance, but the deficit and the debt were not issues, according to the sitting President and the Congress of Paul Ryan. The deficit went through the roof!
In all of the above, at no time did teachers, or education budgets or the average person in general get mentioned. The only operators were the government, corporations, the military, the debt, and the deficit. There’s no farm worker. There’s no factory worker. There’s no teacher, or hunger policy. After 40 years of “those people” making all the decisions about their lives and what’s best for them, and what it means, teachers started striking, students started marching against guns in our streets, but not in the military. Black people had to start marching just to say they mattered. Implied in all of the above were that Whites could be in the military, could run the economy, could determine what patriotism was, and so on. Until Obama, the discussion in the halls of power wasn’t even about Black people. In fact, the one powerful Black man in the halls of power — Colin Powell — was told to lie to the UN. He sacrificed his reputation, so that we could go to a war with no justification.
The problem is not debt, or deficit. It’s about human will, and political will. It’s about what we’re willing to go into debt about. When there was a surplus, the money went to the rich. When there was debt, it was caused by the rich and benefited the rich. The rich, and the military/industrial complex (Not soldiers, by the way, either. The money went to arms manufacturers who invested in the stock market). In short, the question to ask is: “Who owns democracy?” Who does the government work for? Asking these questions means there is a question to ask, and that there is a choice to be made.
The time has come, after all these years, to say that if the government is going to spend money, then we want it to spent on people, and not just one set of people. If we’re going to go into debt, let’s do so for people who don’t have what they need, rather than for those who have more than enough. If we’re going to go to war, let us do so because we have to, because it’s the last option we can think of, and let’s take care of the soldiers more than Haliburton or Blackwater or Wall Street. If we want schools, let’s give them what they need. If we want firefighters, let’s give them what they need. If we want roads, let’s use our money for that. If people want jobs that don’t require education but do pay enough for them to live on, let them get to work on infrastructure, building roads and bridges and other things that need to be done.
I don’t care if we talk about abortion, but I want to talk about the living first. I don’t mind talking about being liberal or conservative, if we can first talk about whether people eat. I don’t care if we talk about capitalism vs communism, after people have housing. Politics right now, and for at least the last 6 years, is about … just politics — talking and arguing. It’s not about people who aren’t in D.C. And yet, 99% of the people don’t live in D.C.! Let those people’s lives matter. Let them vote. Let their votes count. Then, if we go into debt, at least it’s about things we have chosen to go into debt for, and people we have gone into debt for. Our budget reflects our priorities as a nation. Let’s actually reflect the nation, rather than 1% of the people. Maybe after we get what we need, we’ll stop spending so much, and get the budget back to where it should be. Until people get their basic needs met, there will always be arguing, and impulse buying, and raising debt and chaos.
In the words of Larry The Cable Guy, “Let’s get ‘er done”. (Oh, and by the way, even I can’t believe I’m quoting Larry The Cable Guy, but that’s how far back we have gotten).
Resisting With Peace,