Guns and Butter and Poverty and Suicide

January 6, 2011

A sad state of affairs as the US of A goes quickly to shit — a Frankenstein-ed, old-body parts Dick Cheney looking a warmongering freak, another killing at another high school shooting, and John ‘The Boner’ Boehner continues crying out his shiftless, lying ass.
And the cogs in an overwhelming war machine continues to grind life to a pulp.

(Illustration found here).

US peoples have found themselves deep within perpetual war.
In a move to soften budget cuts at the Pentagon, Bullet-Bob Gates announced this week the elimination of a couple of low-grade, near-un-necessary war products, hoping a little goes a long way: The defense budget for 2011, approved last month by Congress, comes to 724.6 billion dollars. The so-called “base” defense budget is 548.2 billion — which does not include the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This a move that’s easier than cutting bases or, maybe, ending some foreign adventures that have really, really drained blood and treasure.

Andrew J. Bacevich, one of the best commentators nowadays on the horror of US war operations, has a great piece at The Atlantic tying in a Dwight Eisenhower 1953 speech and guns.
Some interesting bits:

Ike’s farewell address, nationally televised on the evening of January 17, 1961, offered one such occasion, although not the only one. Equally significant, if now nearly forgotten, was his presentation to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 16, 1953. In this speech, the president contemplated a world permanently perched on the brink of war—“humanity hanging from a cross of iron”— and he appealed to Americans to assess the consequences likely to ensue.

“Every gun that is made,” Eisenhower told his listeners, “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.” Any nation that pours its treasure into the purchase of armaments is spending more than mere money. “It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” To emphasize the point, Eisenhower offered specifics:

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities … We pay for a single fighter 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.

According to Bob Woodward of TheWashington Post, however, the Pentagon offered Obama a single path—the so-called McChrystal “surge” of additional troops. As recounted in Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars, the president complained: “So what’s my option? You’ve given me only one option.” The military’s own preferred option was all he was going to get. (Just months before, Woodward himself had helpfully promoted that very option, courtesy of a well-timed leak.)

Read the whole post.

And in regards to guns vs butter — in a off-shoot of the latest Census figures is a new display of the problem with having more war items than foodstuffs.

The number of poor people in the U.S. is millions higher than previously known, with 1 in 6 Americans — many of them 65 and older — struggling in poverty due to rising medical care and other costs, according to preliminary census figures released Wednesday.

Under a new revised census formula, overall poverty in 2009 stood at 15.7 percent, or 47.8 million people. That’s compared to the official 2009 rate of 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million, that was reported by the Census Bureau last September.

This in the face of US young peoples dying in uniform — both in war zones and at home.

The Army’s largest post saw a record-high number of soldiers kill themselves in 2010 despite a mental health effort aimed at reversing the trend.
The Army says 22 soldiers have either killed themselves or are suspected of doing so last year at its post at Fort Hood in Texas, twice the number from 2009.
That is a rate of 47 deaths per 100,000, compared with a 20-per-100,000 rate among civilians in the same age group and a 22-per-100,000 rate Army-wide.
“We are at a loss to explain the high numbers,” says Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, acting commander. “It’s personally frustrating.”

It has to be more than ‘personally frustrating‘ to a shitload of other people.
Cut back on the military guns, maybe.

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