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Housing Protest.
PHOTO/HARVEY FINKLE
"Budget" is one of the most important words in our language. No business,  no government, no expedition could possibly exist without a careful allocation of funds. A budget clearly reflects what is considered important.  What would you think of the head of a family that allocated 50% of its income to gambling and entertainment and 10% for the welfare of the children?  You would probably call the police or ask the social services to protect the children from the parents. You better pick up the phone,  because that is exactly what the government's proposed new budget is recommending.

A recent article in the New York Times points out that "discretionary" domestic spending — which is everything outside national security and entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — is falling to historic lows as a proportion of the overall economy,  roughly 3 percent or less.  The proposed new budget eliminates or sharply cuts back most of these programs.  The budget sharply cuts back on the home heating assistance.  How are the poor to survive these harsh winters? Some Americans are already relying on the grace of President Chavez and the government of Venezuela for that assistance.

There is a sharp cut back in education funding.  Our educational system is disintegrating.  The government has practically given up on education in the poor neighborhoods.  In a 2003 study conducted by UNICEF the researchers ranked the United States No. 18 out of 24 nations in terms of the relative effectiveness of its educational system.  The ruling class never fails to remind us that we are the richest most powerful nation in world history.  They seldom tell us that we fall behind South Korea or Hungary in the education of our youth.  Embarrassed by the poor showing of American students in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study in 1995, the government refused to participate in any further study or competition on the matter.  If the youth are the future of our country — somebody better do something.

Unable to attack Medicare and Medicaid head on, the new budget simply reduces the payments to hospitals and doctors.  This is the capitalist system, and no matter how sympathetic or moral the doctors or staff — they simply cannot spend the hospital’s resources on people who cannot pay.  In other words people dying in the corridors of hospitals or the dumping of paraplegics into the gutter because they have no health insurance is going to become more common than it already is.

The proposed budget would total $2,387,000,000,000. Fifty-one percent of that, or $1,228,000,000,000 (one trillion two hundred twenty eight billion) is going to the military.  If the numbers sound confusing remember that one trillion seconds equals 1,688 years.  A trillion seconds ago,  Emperor Constantine of Rome built the basilica  over the tomb of St. Peter.  That was a hundred years before the fall of Rome.

So where has all the money gone?

The war in Iraq is costing over $200,000,000 every day. Does that money just disappear or does it go into someone's pocket? Where do you think these billionaires came from? When you visualize this amount of money you see why they can't stop the war. The deaths, the shattered bodies, the ruined lives are, for them "collateral damage." For us, it is our sons and daughters.

It must be understood that this budget and its consequences are not someone's bad idea.  It is the inevitable outcome of the corporate takeover of the government.  Unless fundamental changes are made in the economic system this is just the beginning of the American version of Hitler's declaration to the German people — You will get guns, not butter.



From the Editors
We are sometimes asked “Why do revolutionaries need a press?” The answer has to do with this moment in history. Historical and economic forces beyond anyone's control have set the stage for a new society to be built, but from this point on, how things turn out depends on what people think—because what they think shapes what they do. This means that those of us who are seeking fundamental change are engaged in a battle of ideas, a struggle to win the hearts and minds of the people. If we don't raise the consciousness of the people and unite them around a vision of a better world and a strategy to achieve it, then we'll fail in our effort to build a just and free society. To raise consciousness and win the battle of ideas, we need a press.


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