Okay, time to get it off my chest.

circa January, 1992

Remember a while back, when i said that i thought the US economy would be better off if politicians agreed to cut the "defense" (war) budget and spend tax revenues on stuff we need here at home, like good schools, good roads, and a national health care system?

Remember the angry letters of response, most of which were not sent to Fit to Print but to Oh So!, and thus ran in CBG's pages for weeks on end?

How, they asked, could i use the pages of CBG to hypothesize that democratic governments exist for the benefit of their citizenry and that more citizens are benefited by improvements in their living conditions than by the boosting of their nation's military reputation abroad?

Yeah, i caught heck for what i wrote, and i've kept quiet about it for a while. But now it is time to say, with a little more heat than i usually bring to these pages, that i was right.

Damn it, i was right. Look around you. Read the newspaper. Listen to the radio. Watch the television.

What are the big domestic stories?

Decaying school systems.

Public libraries forced to close.

Falling literacy rates.

Crumbling infrastructure.

Factory layoffs.

Job losses to overseas competition.

Higher unemployment levels.

Bank mergers and bank failures.

Rises in health-care costs.

Environmental devastation.

Yes, the US has the weapons, the US has the might. And for what? So that George Bush can beg the Japanese to let the nation with the greatest army in the world please, pretty please with vomit on it, sell them a few cars?

Sure, we had yellow ribbons. Many of them still flap from telephone poles around here, faded to a sickly grey.

Those yellow ribbons meant that we had put Vietnam behind us.

Those yellow ribbons meant that we were proud of our nation's capacity to wage war and we wanted our warriors to know that we supported them 100%.

Those yellow ribbons meant that we were ready to send troops anywhere in the world to bump off any indigenous population anytime we felt like it for whatever reason our leaders gave us.

Those yellow ribbons meant that we had used our tax dollars on weapons and personnel, had sent our citizens forth to kill thousands of little helpless babies and mothers and old folks and a whole army of terrified soldiers in full flight, and had left a totalitarian dictator in charge of everyone who remained alive after we were done.

But did those yellow ribbons help our economy? Was the war money money well spent?

War doesn't put bread on the table.

War doesn't buy books for schools.

War doesn't pay for health care.

In the 1950s my parents were called traitors to democracy because they believed in what was then quaintly called "socialized medicine." My parents lost that fight -- but so did you: Today the US and South Africa are the only industrialized nations in the world with no national health care program for their citizens. In the 1990s i was labelled a malcontent anti-American in the pages of CBG because i said that i thought the US government should rein in CIA and military spending and concentrate on solving problems here at home instead. I lost that fight -- but so did you: Your schools suck. Your roads are a mess. Your libraries are closed. Your kids are on the street doing drugs. You just got laid off from your job.

I heard on the news today that the city of Los Angeles had to give a new rapid transit contract to a Japanese firm because only one plant in America still makes light rail cars. All the rest have gone into the "defense" business.

It figures.

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