The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Editorial:
Spending money to destroy another country, while letting this country go to rot

Jun 7, 2004

On June 2, the U.S. Senate voted to spend another 25 billion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – added to the 154 billion it had already authorized in two previous votes. The vote was 95 to zero.

Not one single Democrat objected! Not one single Republican! Ted Kennedy even dared to say that though he had many questions on the war, he was voting for the money to support the troops.

No, this money is not going to support the troops – it is going to lengthen the war, which is no way to support the troops. It is going into massively destructive weapons that will only be used to slaughter more Iraqi people. And – of course, of course – it is going into an endless stream of profits poured into the pockets of war profiteers ranging from Halliburton to Bechtel to Raytheon.

This money is not coming out of the pockets of those who voted the latest war authorization, nor from the giant corporations that benefit from U.S. wars.

It is coming out of our pockets in the taxes and fees we pay. And it is being stolen from all the services and programs that government should assure.

There is a crisis in education. The schools for workers' children decay – repairs go undone, class sizes grow too large, programs like art and music shrink and disappear, textbooks grow further out of date, teachers' jobs are cut back and teachers' wages stagnate. Good education takes good money. But the U.S. Senate sends money off to war – even while it votes to cut back on funding for education, and on revenue sharing to the cities and states that pay for education.

There is a health care crisis – because this country, in contrast to every other industrialized country, has no state-run health system. The Senate, too busy spending money for war and other things that benefit the capitalist class, has never found the money for medical care – something that people in other countries take as a right.

The conditions that mark our daily lives are in a mess. Going to work on a bus? Good luck finding one to get you there! In some cities mass transit hardly exists; in others it is so patched together it usually breaks down. Going to work by car? Hope you get there without the roads shaking the car apart or the potholes swallowing it!

It's not only the roads, it's the whole infrastructure that's potholed and patched. A mild thunderstorm can now leave hundreds of thousands of households without electricity. Any heavy rain overflows sewage systems and washes raw sewage into public waters and beaches. Antique city water mains break repeatedly. The entire network of basic services that our lives depend on needs rebuilding – it needed rebuilding yesterday! But the Senate sends money down the sinkhole of war.

And, in a country whose corporate executives brag about how many workers they can lay off, there is no safety net to catch us when we fall through the cracks. Workers' compensation pays fewer of us when we are injured. Unemployment benefits are withheld from most people who lose their job. Public clinics close. Funds for emergency housing dry up. Shelters are overcrowded.

There is no money for what the population needs because the Senate is spending it on – among other useless things – a war to destroy another country.

We should expect nothing else from this Congress made up mostly of wealthy people, who in their entirety vote to support the policies and projects that defend the interests of the ruling class – and not just in this war, but in everything that comes in front of them. Whether the politicians raise the vast range of incidental taxes and fees that we pay so they can cut taxes for the wealthy and the corporations, or whether they gut the social programs so they can award monstrously profitable contracts to monstrously profitable corporations – they show without any doubt whose side they are on.

Working people will not find what we need in the halls of Congress, but in ourselves. Whether it be to oppose this war and bring it to an end, or whether it be to improve our own lives and the future of our children, our best hope lies in the strength and power of our own class.