"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
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.