W.A.R.: Welfare Assistance for the Rich

By: Edward Yemil-Rosario

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

— Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system.

— Sen. Boehner

Recently a large cadre of conservatives (and their enablers) blocked a bill that would’ve extended unemployment insurance (UI) for millions of former working men and women who had the misfortune of living at a time and place where working people don’t matter.

The rationale offered for blocking this much-needed benefit (in the worst economic “recession” since the Great Depression)? It added to the debt. Yup, the fiscal conservatives, the very same idiots who brought you Reaganomics, Laffer Curves, and the Trickle Down con game are back! And this time, they’re gnashing their teeth and tearing at their clothes, decrying anything that adds to the debt. They also say that unemployment insurance acts as a “disincentive” to look for work. As if those receiving unemployment insurance are living in the lap of luxury.

Of course, these are the same hypocrites who were largely responsible for the economic policies that caused the last several financial meltdowns in the first place. But these cretins have no shame. No matter how much they fail, no matter the utter insanity of their failed ideas, like that junkie ex-wife/ husband of yours, they keep coming back demanding we continue to do the same and expect a different result. “I promise this time it will be, honey… ” We all know we shouldn’t enable users — at least those of us who have a grasp of reality.

By the way, extending UI adds less than 1% to the debt. Actually, it’s about .004% of the budget. The bill costs something like $25 million. Don’t quote me on that, I don’t know the exact figure, and I’m too lazy to look right now, but it’s not far from the actual figure.

Speaking of figures, let’s look at some numbers: About 7.8 million jobs have been lost since the Great Recession began in December 2007. Over that period of time, the country should have been adding approximately 100,000 jobs per month or about 2.9 million in total, just to keep up with population growth. As a result, today the United States is short 10.7 million jobs. Even after a bright April jobs report showing 290,000 new jobs created, much more is needed. Even if we added 290,000 more jobs every month, it would take five years to return to the pre-recession rate of unemployment.

Frankly speaking, I have to question the motivation of our conservative members of congress. If they really cared about the deficits, then where were they when Bush the Younger was squandering away our surplus on two wars and unpaid tax cuts that mostly benefitted the top one percent of the population?

The short answer is that the military/ industrial complex is an elaborate scam — it’s welfare for the rich, if you will. If you think we still live in a representative democracy, think again. Shit, our current Supreme Court recently handed down a decision (United Citizens) essentially codifying wealth/ money as free speech. Yup, a legal fiction — a corporation — has a right to free speech. Check that, corporations are now more protected than real people.

While you were asleep, Welfare Assistance for the Rich* (aka W.A.R.) has become so deeply embedded into the American economy, there’s no way of stopping this runaway train. Where’s the sanity in a budget in which military expenditures exceed 23% of the budget, and no one objects, but there’s tons of media coverage and drama on something that represents less than one percent of the budget?

There are those who will point out that military spending creates jobs, and for the most part this is true. Military spending creates jobs throughout the economy, and many of those jobs are well-paying but at a time of unemployment, the deterioration of the infrastructure and a global climate change reaching a crisis, the question we are not asking is if this is the wisest use of our national resources. Let’s not forget that little detail that military spending (and make no mistake: we spend more on defense than the next ten nations combined) compels us to war and that war costs lives. Besides, military spending is by its nature focused on short-term goals.

If insanity is committing the same actions and expecting different results, then we have gone off the rails. Some more numbers: not counting the supplemental authorizations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan current levels of military spending are (adjusting for inflation) about 45% higher than the military budget when Eisenhower left office. Private military contracting absorbs about 70% of the Department of Defense (DoD) budget. Outsourcing to private contractors (no longer limited to the Pentagon) extends to all aspects of government.

And we’re screaming about less than .004% of the budget?!! To help people who were let go mostly because of the malfeasance of the economic elites? What have we become?

This isn’t just about compassion. It’s about sound policy. For example, economist Mark Zandi, McCain’s former economic adviser of Moody’s Economy.com, found in 2009 that extra UI benefits were among the best mechanisms under consideration for boosting the economy, with each dollar of UI benefits providing a $1.61 jolt to the economy.

Similarly, studies show that dollar for dollar, more jobs are created through spending on clean energy, health care, and education than on the military. Furthermore, more middle income and well-paying jobs are created in all these areas. For each $1 billion of spending, over 17,000 jobs would be created in clean energy, close to 20,000 in health care, and over 29,000 in education. By contrast, that same $1 billion would create only 16,000 jobs as a result of military spending.

Military spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has reached approximately $1 trillion since 2001, not including the most recent surges in troops. Military spending accounts for 23% of all federal outlays.

Meanwhile, energy, resource conservation, the environment, education, training, and social services made up only 3%. If we’re looking to reduce the size of the deficit, then why are we doing it on the backs of the middle, working class, the working poor, and our children? Why are we still giving the richest 1% a tax break and go into a self-righteous fit when looking to extend UI benefits to families who are losing their savings, their homes, their children’s’ college educations?

Want to make America work? Then get the rich and powerful off the welfare dole. There are corporations paying less in federal taxes than some of the individual s now out of work through no fault of their own. Let’s use our tax dollars to rebuild our nation, to invest in our youth, to create jobs that will heal our nation and the world. It’s really that simple, people.

Stay classy America.



*H/T to my friend Sheldon for coming up with the acronym W.A.R.

10 Comments on “W.A.R.: Welfare Assistance for the Rich”

  1. People who knew Dick Cheney in 2000 told me that when he became President, oops I mean vice-prez, this would happen. I do not believe that the US had any part in the 9/11 attacks, but I believe we would have been at war regardless. Halliburton has become rich and the rest of us are made to feel guilty for wanting any crumbs from the table we built with our own labor.

  2. [QUOTE=Benni Jones] I do not believe that the US had any part in the 9/11 attacks, but I believe we would have been at war regardless.[/QUOTE]

    If you had said that to me 5 years ago I would have agreed with you, but since then I’ve come to question the official version of the 9/11 incident: I have to wonder whether the U.S. government intentionally sat back and let the perpetraitors (officially Al Queda, but there is strong reason to suspect the other foreign intelligence agencies – perhaps Mossad – were in on it as well…) preform the deed for the purpose of providing a pretext for a war in the Middle East – one which would bring considerable profit to those tied into the military/industrial complex (the largest special interest group in Washington, BTW).

    Remember how in Orwell’s “1984” the Big Brother establishment kept showing footage of Emmanuel Goldstien on the television for the “two-minutes hate” segment? I think that we need only replace Goldstien with Bin Laden and one can hardly tell the difference between where our media influence is today and the media influence of Big Brother…

  3. There are more people living in poverty today than ANY OTHER TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY, INCLUDING THE GREAT DEPRESSION. Today, 1 in 5 Americans has an income below the poverty level, which is only $11,000 per year for a single person with no dependants. The ONLY reason “America is still the ‘richest’ country in the world,” is because the wealth of the top ONE PERCENT continues to increase at exponential levels. And there is NOTHING the average person can do to stop it; do you think this Recession “just happened?” Of course not, it was planned, as a way to dump millions more of the middle class into the working poor, unemployed, perpetual poverty cycle. If you have NOTHING, not even enough to EAT, you’ll DO ALMOST ANYTHING to fill that empty belly, so a starving population becomes a SLAVE population. You think slave labor in China is horrible? Well, it will become a WAY of LIFE HERE in the not-too-distant future. I’ve known this would happen for a long, long time, but I thought I’d get out of it simply because I figured I’d be dead by the time it happened; see, I was thinking it wouldn’t get THIS bad until around mid-century, after I’m long gone. One of the reasons I never had children was to spare them of this horror, of living life as a SLAVE to some CORPORATION, with NO legal or civil rights; working 16 to 18 hour days 7 days a week for the “privilege” of having a roof and a bed and at least one meal per day, and it’s coming, don’t kid yourself it ain’t. Look at how the right-wing-nuts have used the Supreme Court to continuously knock out previous civil rights legislation. And the UNIONS that fought for American workers and got them the 8-hour work day and 40-hour work week as opposed to the 12-to-18-hour day and 6-days-per-week that was the standard at the turn of the last century, the UNIONS that brought safety to factories and ended child labor, the UNIONS have been destroyed; they either don’t exist or have no power. Wal-Mart, anyone? Look at the psychotic-hypnotic hold Fox News has over people who believe every lie that’s spewed forth from their Nazi pundits, which is all fear-mongering, blaming everything that’s “wrong” with America on “the others;” i.e., the Muslims, the gays, the immigrants, the unemployed, every racial/ethnic group except Caucasians, and of course, their very favorite of ALL TIME, the “LIBERAL MEDIA!” Ignorant, selfish, greedy people are mesmerized by this CRAP because it validates all their own fears, insecurities, and hatreds while absolving them of any and all responsibility, because it wasn’t “us” that screwed up America, it was all those “others.” I see it every day in my own parents, who are in their 70’s and instead of trying to enjoy what’s left of their lives, spend all their waking moments in front of the TV worshipping morons like Glen Beck and nodding their heads in agreement like bobble-heads. Now the n-word has become THE word in their ever-limited vocabulary, and my father, MY OWN FATHER, calls ME a “LAZY BUM WHO DOESN’T WANT TO WORK” because I was on unemployment for a year and a half, and I still can’t get a job, even though my unemployment was cut off in January. I AM HUNGRY, but I WILL NEVER BOW DOWN TO THE RICH AND BE THEIR SLAVE. Voting is a waste of time. I am a LIBERAL, for the most part, but I WILL PICK UP A GUN IF I HAVE TO BEFORE I WILL LET THEM MAKE ME A SLAVE. I’d rather die fighting for my freedom than succumb to the planned economic slavery of the average American. I didn’t think it would happen within my lifetime, but here it is. I feel so, so sorry for young people. I’m glad I’m old; but even so, it won’t keep me from fighting against enslavement. I’m gonna die anyway; but I will NEVER, EVER, die a SLAVE. We are standing on the brink of a SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION; in the first, the choice was either to remain “subjects” of the king, or become an independent nation governed by democracy and NO monarchy. They made their choice then and fought for it, and won; today the choice is to remain free individuals governed by real democracy (of the people, by the people, for the people); or to become corporate slaves with no legal or civil rights, not even to our own bodies—to sell ourselves for a loaf of bread. I’ve already made MY choice, but how many other Americans will turn OFF the GODDAMNED TV and get their ASSES off the couch and fight for themselves? Ha, enjoy your slave lives, losers. Ya think you’re even gonna have TIME to watch TV when you’re slaving for the corporations?

    Think again; or better yet, let the corporations THINK FOR YOU, because that’s how it’s gonna be.

    But not for ME.

  4. I read this TWICE! Thank you for pointing out the obvious. I get a little shaken by the fact that so many Americans don’t see this. Ignorance is one thing, but what is the political theatre today is just a self-induced mind bleaching. The rich has so many convinced that the playing field is leveled. Personal responsibility has been the American mantra for so long that many “failures” need to take a hard look at the method of said “failure”.

    Great commentary, sir.

  5. @Renee & the others: What we have witnessed is one of the most drastic redistribution of wealth in recorded history. It started in earnest with Reagan (though one cam make a case for previous historical instances of inequality), and has been ratcheted up since then — by both “Democrats” and neoconservatives.

    So, you’re right Renee: this didn’t happen overnight and the fact that felt compelled to explain this little aspect of a much larger economic seismic shift, only highlights how far we’ve gone toward drinking the trickle down Kool-Aid. It’s funny, but I went to see Oliver Stone’s new flick and in it, uber bad guy Gordon Gekko says (and I paraphrase), “I used to say that greed is good. Now I see it’s also legal.”

  6. I have another quote that also applies, although this one is by another “nobody” like me, and it was said way back in 1992 on election night when Clinton had just won the election. I was at a precinct victory party when I heard one guy say, in the euphoria of the moment, “Fuck Reaganomics! The only thing that ‘trickles down’ is pee.”

    At that moment in history, we all thought things were going to ‘get better’ for the average American, and for a while it seemed they did, but then came the Great Election Rip-Off of 2000, which in itself was evil enough; but the fact that Americans just sat back and ACCEPTED something that supposedly only happens in third-world dictator-totalitarian states left me numb with disbelief and the realization that voting no longer mattered in this country. Democracy as we’d known it for over 200 years was over. And Americans have only become lazier and more complacent since then. They care more about the legal entanglements of some slut “actress” and her drug addictions than they care about themselves, their freedom, or their own children’s future. Who wins “American Idol” is more important than who wins elections. And you know that the ruling class not only has their hands in this, but that it makes them all the more certain that their continuous consolidation of power is working, and quite easily, too.

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