Archive for the ‘economy’ tag
On the Eve of Independence Day 2011
Tonight on the eve of Independence Day 2011, I am not looking forward to celebrating. As I take stock of the state of our union 235 years after the first Independence Day I feel like setting off an alarm instead of fireworks. And I ask myself what Thomas Jefferson would have to say tonight.
Tonight across this land over 14 million are bound by the chains of unemployment with no end in sight.
On this eve 15 million children, 21% of all children in the U.S. are held in the captive grip of poverty.
Tomorrow 17 million households, 1 in 7, will wake to face hunger pangs and the dread of struggling to meet their food needs one more day.
More than 60% of those in prison tonight are of racial or ethnic minorities. Their dawn will not be a dawn of freedom.
This July 4th over 55,000 legal and illegal immigrants will be in federal prison. Immigrants who pay more federal taxes than the largest U.S. corporations combined.
During the day tomorrow 46 million Americans will be living in fear of getting sick or injured because they cannot afford a doctor or to pay a hospital bill.
Tomorrow at some desperate moment another 16 veterans will take their own lives. This is another cost of our so called freedom.
I sit writing this at just 15 minutes into July 4th and I know somewhere across this town someone is sitting up as well, worried out of sleep, desperately trying to figure out a way to save their home.
On this Holiday our government will go 700 million more dollars into debt to pay for another day of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In this land of opportunity the top one percent earns over 20 percent of all income, which is more than the bottom 50% earns. The richest 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. The land of the free has become the land where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and the middle class is disappearing. We are living through a period of the greatest gap between the rich and the poor since 1928.
No I do not feel like celebrating. Instead of celebrating freedom and liberty I feel a need to fight for liberty and freedom. Instead of waving our flag in celebration I feel a need to wave it upside down in distress.
It would seem the state of our country is not bleak enough for the poor, the workers and their families, now we are also under attack from those with the wealth and the power. As never before in my lifetime public servants, older Americans, children, and the sick are being attacked in the name of austerity. The elite are trying to balance the budget of our government on the backs of the weakest and the poorest among us. This injustice is being dealt by those who have paid the least and gained the most from the previous years of economic collapse.
Tomorrow when the sun has set and the air is filled with anticipation of the first bomb bursting in air, let us pause and weigh the facts of where we are and the path we were set upon 235 years ago. The Declaration of Independence set us on a path of shared equality and opportunity, not to become a nation that lives by the gospel of wealth. An America where so many struggle to put food in their mouths is not the America our fore fathers wanted for future generations.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
I think Jefferson, if he were alive tonight, would be writing a new declaration of independence to be read tomorrow from the gazebo in the park. He would read a declaration of independence from the corporations, the elite, from those in power; a statement of a desire to be free from those who live by the gospel of wealth at the expense of the many. I believe he would speak for those who are being attacked, the firemen, the police officers, the teachers, and all who are struggling to survive in a land hostile to the worker and the neediest among us.
I like to believe he would have the courage to stand-up and say enough is enough, to the millionaires in the people’s house. I would want him to have the strength of his convictions and give the house back to the people. Thomas Jefferson would say tonight that this will no longer be a land governed by the consent of those with the money to grease the wheels of government but that from this independence day forward will once again be the government whose powers come from the consent of those governed not by those who can afford to buy it.
Let us join together and find our strength to do what we believe Jefferson would do in this country in 2011. Let us join in one voice that cannot be silenced and say we have had enough and we are not going to take any more. Let us return to the true spirit of the first declaration of independence. Let us work together to make this independence day be the beginning of our creating the nation we want to live in, not one governed by wealth that keeps a foot on the back of the many, but a nation that provides shared equality of opportunity, a nation of hands lifting each other up, helping one another along. Let Independence Day 2011 mark the beginning of our return to what is the best in the true spirit of America. Let tomorrow dawn on a path of return to the roots of a country laid on the principle of the common good. Let liberty, freedom, and happiness for all be our cry once more, and let it begin with us.
Respectfully submitted by Dan Kenney
What Is the True Cost of Our Wars?
By Dan Kenney
October 18, 2009
It occurred to me while I prepared for this year’s CROP Hunger Walk, how little is said or written about the connections between the cost of fighting two wars and our economy. We hear often about the cost of the health care overhaul bill, now forecasted in its present form to be $900 billion over the next 10 years. This cost is met with a resounding outcry, however the fact that we have spent over $921 billion fighting the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq over the past eight years is seldom mentioned.
We are told by the U.N. food agency that over 1 billion people will go hungry worldwide over the next year. “We know a child dies every six seconds of malnutrition,” said the head of Action Aid international.
The USDA reported before the “economic meltdown” that over 36 million families in the U.S. live with food insecurity. That number has increased, as we have seen here in our own community. Our homeless shelter is turning more away than they are able to help. Besides sheltering the homeless, Hope Haven also serves an average of 67 meals per night to fellow citizens in need. At the same time, a weekly free community meal sponsored by the Voluntary Action Center serves an average of 75.
Based on IRS data, the tax payers of of my community have paid over $117 million for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. With that money we could have built 825 affordable housing units. This is only one of the many tradeoffs we have made locally; others include not being able to replace needed fire fighters or police officers. We must seriously question during this time of re-evaluating our strategy in Afghanistan if this tradeoff is really worth the price.
Two economists, Joseph Stiglitz former chief economist for the World Bank and Dr. Linda Bilmes of Harvard, have predicted the Iraq war alone may end up costing over $3 trillion dollars. The two economists arrived at this figure after taking into consideration such hidden costs as adequately caring for the Iraq war veterans and the economic impact of this being a war funded with borrowed money.
The Bush administration tried to keep the escalating cost of the wars hidden, and now the Obama administration is doing the same. Take for example the recent articles about the deficit reaching $1.45 trillion for the previous fiscal year. Mr. Geithner, head of treasury said that the deficit “was largely the product of the spending and tax policies inherited from the previous administration, exacerbated by a severe recession and financial crisis that was underway as the current administration took office.” This statement may be true enough but what about the over $2 billion per week for the two wars? Not one word.
During this time of reflection on the direction of our Afghanistan policy, we are told by the Congressional Research Service that one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan for one year will cost $1 million tax dollars or borrowed dollars. If Obama decides to deploy another 40,000 troops as he is being urged to do we can expect more hardship in our communities and around the globe. We cannot fight our way to any security if we are depleting food and job security in our hometowns at the same time.
I stand up to walk out into the clear brisk October afternoon in hopes that we will reach our $30,000 fundraising goal for our walk this year. At the same time my heart is heavy with uncertainty about what we may need to raise by next year if we continue down the path to more war.
We need to be very cautious about the direction our country takes with Afghanistan. As the Chinese proverb warns, “If we don’t change direction we are likely to end up where we are headed.”