The jobless and the elephant in the room

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The Senate bowed to Republican threats of a filibuster yesterday and nixed a bill to extend unemployment benefits to the 1.2 million people out of work for longer than six months. This is the first time that unemployment benefits have not been extended when the unemployment rate is above 7.5 percent, and is, in effect, a big “Screw you” to the unemployed in America from their own government. I agree completely with Judy Conti, who is a lobbyist for the National Employment Law Project, and who says,  "To allow these programs to expire with an unemployment rate near 10 percent [is] nothing short of immoral. Anyone who can live with that result is not fit to hold elected office."

I can hear the Fox robots already: We don’t have the money! Our country is broke! Where’s the money for extended benefits supposed to come from, you stupid liberal jerk? Well, I’ll tell you where it should come from — America’s unbelievably bloated military budget. Isn't it interesting that every time extra funds are needed to help regular American citizens, there’s never enough money — “oh, the deficit, boo hoo hoo” — but somehow Congress can always find untold billions of dollars to throw away in some sandpit halfway around the world? Seriously, think about that.  But it's more than just emergency spending. The hard truth is that our entire military spending process is out of control, with hundreds of billions wasted, year after year after year, on unneeded weapons systems that do little except enrich the defense industries that line Congressmen’s campaign coffers. That, dear readers, is the big, fat elephant in our national living room, and with our economy teetering on the brink, it’s waaayy past time to pay attention to it and cut that fucker down to a reasonable size. The overspending on useless weaponry is so out of hand, the U.S. Defense Secretary, for God’s sake, is doing all he can to reduce spending for his department. Talk about unprecedented! Read more about the situation in this excellent article by one of our favorite foreign affairs analysts, journalist William Pfaff.

If we can’t find a way to tame the weapons beast that’s strangling the economy, and use some of the savings to help our increasingly strapped citizenry and rebuild our infrastructure, then the folks who say we’re destined to go the decadent way of all former world powers will be absolutely right. And don’t get me started on how the military eats up over half the research money in America, either, which practically guarantees that other nations will be the ones to benefit from green technologies. Have a good weekend, dammit.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: "Quit giving me so damned much money!"
  • Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: "Quit giving me so damned much money!"

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