Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Bush Legacy: Billions For War, Crumbs For The Poor

In the 2000 election, and again during the 2004 election, the slogan that Bush was a "compassionate conservative" was rolled out. This was intended to counter the moral obligation to the poor as a deeply held moral value among liberals and other geniunely compassionate persons, as well as to soothe the conscience of Bush voters that he was an acceptable moral choice for a voter. But soon after the 2000 election, and again after the 2004 election, this slogan was quickly rolled up and put away in a closet, not to be an active part of the agenda of the White House.

The events of September 11, 2001 did require some tough actions to defend America against further terrorist aggression. But a legitimate effort against terrorism that flourished in Afghanistan, soon was abused by the 32 members of the Bush Administration who were either members of the military contractor funded PNAC(Project For The New American Century), major stockholders in defense contractor industries, or executives and CEO's of major military contractors to create another mass market for more government purchases of high priced military wares. Iraq seemed like a perfect excuse. As far back as 1997, members of the PNAC wanted to restart the old 1990-1991 Gulf War with Iraq, considering it a very weak and easy to beat opponent, crippled by years of U.N. sanctions, UNSCOM arms inspections, as well as periodic Clinton era bombing attacks on radar sites that tracked U.S. reconnaissance flights. Yet even a January 26, 1998 letter addressed to President Bill Clinton by Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton, was unclear whether or not WMDs even existed in Iraq, yet urged action against Iraq. "We will be unable to determine with reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons", was the less than certain language used in 1998 to describe Iraq's highly questionable WMD "threat". Yet with bold confidence Bush, Condoleeza Rice and others boldly proclaimed a serious threat to America when it was known that UNSCOM inspectors had destroyed all long range weapons, except for very few carefully hidden, like a handful of SCUDs which had no range to hit U.S. targets. Other than a few relatively ineffective weapons like this, Iraq had no potential to cause the "mushroom cloud" that Dr. Rice warned of, or the absurd exaggerations of Bush used to merely inspire fear in the American public to bang the drums for an elective war to profit the military contractor interests which puppeteer this White House and it's foreign and military policy.

But this elective Iraq War has proven to be a major mistake just like Vietnam. And the Iraq War has so far cost $176 billion, or $1,584 per American household, or $704 per American. It has also claimed 1,674 American soldiers, and wounded 12,350 more. It is rapidly catching up with both the War Of 1812 and the Spanish-American War in number of soldiers killed, and will exceed these numbers within a year or so. And the costs of this war are competing for federal budget dollars along with the huge Bush tax cuts for the wealthy against the basic safety net for the poor in a classic "guns vs. butter" showdown.

The huge costs of the Iraq War could have fully funded all world hunger programs for seven years, instead 27,000 children die each day in the world of starvation. The huge costs of the Iraq War could have provided 105,406,180 children full health care for one year. The huge costs of the Iraq War could have provided 23,314,985 children a full year of the Head Start preschool program. The huge costs of the Iraq War could have provided 3,050,590 teachers or 1,584,96 units of housing for the poor, elderly or disabled. The list goes on and on.

Now because of the Iraq War, the war at home is preserve funding for the basic housing related programs from cuts from the "compassionate conservative" Bush Administration. There are proposed cuts in the Section 8 housing choice voucher program, proposed huge cuts to the Community Development Block Grant, including a proposal to shift this from a HUD program to the Department Of Commerce to simply streamline this program down by cutting off massive numbers of elderly, poor and disabled, who most likely will become homeless. Other programs like the HOME program, as well many youth and other programs are also facing huge cuts.

At one time, Bush promoted the phony hope that private ownership of homes by the poor would be a major prioriy. But with the election over, only the military contractors and the wealthy who profit from massive tax cuts are being looked after.

The poor of America certainly seem to have lost the "guns vs. butter" battle of budgets so far. The poor don't usually hire lobbyists, organize or often even are greatly encouraged to vote. Some cannot read or write. Some are medically or mentally handicapped. Many have little job skills. Some are simply elderly, who worked at a job with little benefits or have little Social Security funds to live on. A place to live and some groceries to eat are vital basic ingredients for life.

A basic safety net for the poor is vital. During the Roosevelt and again during the Johnson Administrations daring new efforts to provide a basic safety net for the poor of America helped to improve their lives greatly. Now the "compassionate conservative" Bush Administration is cutting this safety net down, one knot at a time. It is a moral obligation to provide basic help to the poor, disabled and elderly. Private services, such as church run programs are often hit and miss efforts. Some food programs only offer a couple bags of groceries a month. This is hardly enough for one person to survive all month, let alone a familiy. At least the $149 a month in government Food Stamps is a more secure program that is set up to promote an understanding of money management for the poor that use it, and at least provides the major part of a month's food coverage before these funds run out.

It is the moral obligation of all Christian's, as well as progressives to oppose immoral cuts to vital food and housing programs for the poor, as well as to question an immoral elective war like Iraq that has no end in sight, and has only promoted and endless cycle of terrorism and killing and violence that has actually worsened the lives of most people in Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein, people in Iraq lived in oppression and fear. Under the unending Iraq War, people in Iraq are oppressed by a endless cycle of violence and death and even worse poverty. This is hardly a quality improvement in the lives of these people. And the huge costs of this war come at the cost to the lives of poor in America. There are no winners in war except the big arms contractors and the coffin makers. Progressives are called by God to act to protect life and the quality of life of the poor and to end war.


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