Click here to go to the Home Page
Click to send us your comments and suggestions.
Click to learn about the publishers of BlackCommentator.com and our mission.
Click to search for any word or phrase on our Website.
Click to sign up for an e-Mail notification only whenever we publish something new.
Click to remove your e-Mail address from our list immediately and permanently.
Click to read our pledge to never give or sell your e-Mail address to anyone.
Click to read our policy on re-prints and permissions.
Click for the demographics of the BlackCommentator.com audience and our rates.
Click to view the patrons list and learn now to become a patron and support BlackCommentator.com.
Click to see job postings or post a job.
Click for links to Websites we recommend.
Click to see every cartoon we have published.
Click to read any past issue.
Click to read any think piece we have published.
Click to read any guest commentary we have published.
Click to view any of the art forms we have published.
Comment and read the comments of others at Readers' Corner
Road Scholar - the world leader in educational travel for adults. Top ten travel destinations for African-Americans. Fascinating history, welcoming locals, astounding sights, hidden gems, mouth-watering food or all of the above - our list of the world’s top ten "must-see" learning destinations for African-Americans has a little something for everyone.

What’s Robbing America of its People’s Health - Solidarity America - By John Funiciello - BlackCommentator.com Columnist

 

One of the great tragedies of the past year is the failure of our national leaders to take care of old business that should have been addressed a half-century ago - health care for all.

It doesn’t matter that the politicians are of one stripe or another. They didn’t do the job and the people and the nation will suffer accordingly.

The general health of a people is a national security issue and our national health doesn’t measure up to that of other so-called developed countries. It doesn’t even measure up to some “developing” countries or what used to be called the Third World.

There has been speculation that, if there were not a health-care-for-all program, beginning with the inauguration of Barack Obama as president, there might not be one for another generation or two. After all, when he was a mere senator, President Obama expressed strong support for universal health care. He thought single-payer universal health care was a good idea.

Then he was inaugurated and began to see who runs the country and all of its various parts. He began to see the wisdom of further pursuing our military adventures in the Middle East, even after he had said that we would leave Iraq (in due time), close Guantanamo prison in Cuba, and change the way we approach foreign policy.

What he didn’t say was that we would leave Afghanistan. In fact, he said during the campaign that he would put more troops into that impoverished and benighted country, one with very little in the way of a tradition of central government.

There is little that is reported about the actual numbers of American troops and mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has been little reduction in either country, even with the 30,000 troops moved from Iraq to Afghanistan.

America has a reported 750 bases of varying size throughout the world, which makes it one of the biggest and most powerful empires the world has ever known.

All of that costs money and empires have a way of extracting that money from its own citizens because, often, the people of the countries conquered don’t have the financial wherewithal to pay taxes. What they pay with is their natural resources and they don’t much benefit from their exploitation. Just have a look at the condition of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and their efforts to regain some semblance of a normal life, such as having water and electricity for more than a few hours a day.

According to the Census Bureau, last September, about 39.8 million Americans were living in poverty, up from 37.3 million in 2007. The prediction was that the poverty rate would increase in 2010 and that the unemployment rate would stay high, despite claims that the country is coming out of the Great Recession. Poverty is defined by the U.S. government as a family of four having an annual income of $22,025, for a family of three, $17, 163, and a family of two, an income of $14,051.

Anyone trying to raise a family on any paycheck knows how difficult it is to make ends meet and to eat a few times a day. At the poverty end of the pay scale, three meals a day is out of the question. With continued job losses and downsizing of businesses, with continued shipping of production out of the country, the prospect of a full recovery is bleak. A full recovery would include a job for anyone who wants one. And those jobs would have to be well-paying.

Right now, there are six job-seekers for every job opening and it looks as if it will stay that way for some time. The ripple effect is, and will be, profound. Schools are cutting teachers, kids have bigger classes, the “frills” such as art, music, and sports are being cut. Some schools are closing and considering mergers.

The effects on local communities are just as profound and public services will be affected: road and street maintenance, water systems, sewage treatment, public health services. State and local governments are in or are nearing bankruptcy. Citizens are reaching the end of their capacity to pay more taxes.

We’re reaching a time in which the military-industrial complex will have drained just about as much as it can, while leaving a whisper of life in the country. President Eisenhower warned of the growing power of the military machine in his farewell speech to the people in 1961.

No stranger to war and the machinery of war and the philosophies of those who pursue war for their own ends, he nonetheless warned: “…This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society…”

Eisenhower also pointed out that “…we annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations…”

That was a lot of money, but today, the Pentagon and military spending account for half of the world’s total military spending. By contrast, China and Russia combined spend about 10 percent of what America spends on military and defense.

Wars in the Middle East could cost, according to some economists, upwards of $1 trillion. And that doesn’t count the potential cost of the dangerous game that is being played against Iran, a country, like Iraq, that poses no direct threat to the United States.

Endless war and the prospect of endless war will complete the bleeding of the American people and the U.S. economy in the not too distant future. The wars have done great damage already. Borrowed money for wars could have rebuilt communities, saved schools and our public university systems, and provided universal health care, and there would have been some left over.

A great threat to our stability is the general ill-health of the American people. As a nation, we can not casually note that 50 million do not have access to health care and perhaps an equal amount do not have adequate health care. A nation can’t survive when its people are not well.

This is a strange time, when an international criminal can call the tune and nations dance. Of course, it helps if the tune called is the one that nations want to dance to, and that seems to be the case with the “war on terror.”

It’s a convenient appellation and it means that anyone can be considered a “terrorist,” worthy of being the object of a new “war.” These are not nations or states. They’re criminals, but they can cause a nation to launch a new war against a gang or a single individual and call it warfare. That is, unless a handy nation can be found to blame for harboring such criminals. In that case, a more conventional war can be launched.

In his farewell address, Eisenhower seemed to be anticipating the kind of government and political system that exist in the U.S. today, when money is being borrowed for wars that will not be paid off by the third generation, if at all. The ill-health of America, physical, political, and spiritual, that he feared is here now.

“…Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time,” he said. “As we peer into society’s future, we - you and I, and our government - must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.

“We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Millions of the children of whom he spoke live today in poverty, without the prospect of a proper education, without wholesome food, and without the health care that they need to become full and active citizens.

It isn’t only the disparity in wealth in America or the lack of good jobs that are robbing the young of their possibilities, it is war and the prospect of wars without end that are doing them in.

BlackCommentator.com Columnist, John Funiciello, is a labor organizer and former union organizer. His union work started when he became a local president of The Newspaper Guild in the early 1970s. He was a reporter for 14 years for newspapers in New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Click here to contact Mr. Funiciello.

 
 

If you would like to comment on this article, please do so below. There is a 400 character limit. You do not need a FaceBook account. Your comment will be posted here on BC instantly. Thanks.

Entering your email address is not mandatory. You may also choose to enter only your first name and your location.

 

e-Mail re-print notice
If you send us an e-Mail message we may publish all or part of it, unless you tell us it is not for publication. You may also request that we withhold your name.

Thank you very much for your readership.

Any BlackCommentator.com article may be re-printed so long as it is re-printed in its entirety and full credit given to the author and www.BlackCommentator.com. If the re-print is on the Internet we additionally request a link back to the original piece on our Website.

 

Issue 363
February 18, 2010

is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield
Publisher:
Peter Gamble
Est. April 5, 2002
Printer Friendly Version in resizeable plain text format
Comment and read the comments of others at Readers' Corner
click here to buy & benefit BC