We were away in Britain when news of the horrific massacre in Las Vegas occurred. We were actually approached on the street in the small Cornish town of Fowey by an older fellow who overheard us chatting and noted our North American accent. He wanted us to try and explain to him how it is that Americans are so crazy about guns. The impromptu conversation also digressed into Trump, Teresa May, health care…
I think our reply to his initial query was less than sufficient. However, the following day British journalist Gary Younge who lives in the US and also does a column for The Nation, penned a penetrating response to that same question in The Guardian. It was so good I referred other Brits to it in subsequent discussions we had there before we came home a few days ago. It deserves much wider review.
But I don't need to tell any reader of this blog that we are bathing in a culture of violence. Younge talks about gun violence but he also notes the larger culture of violence as manifested in American exceptionalism. We returned home to see that the U.S. Senate had approved a military spending budget of a record $700 billion. As a culture we throw money at the military (not the veterans who have served) without regard for what we buy. Of course the powerful interests, especially the weapons makers and hawks will be the first to scream when an impoverished person grabs a little extra benefit for themselves or their family, but not a whisper when it's the Goliath doing the thievery of the public purse.
Fortunately, there are a few dedicated organizations that try to help us see the waste and fraud, not to mention the foolish expenditures that come from military spending. In just the past week we see the Project on Government Oversight reporting on the $20-40 billion waste on the F-35. Or even more dramatic the many holes of waste shared by William Hartung in his piece last week for TomDispatch. Also on Tom Dispatch we hear from military veterans Danny Sjursen and Andrew Bacevich each making visible more tales of military fiascoes.
Yet, if one was to follow our elected senators and representatives public comments or the mainstream media we would rarely ever hear a mention of such public ripoffs. Instead, we see a military spending bill loaded with perks for each state and district, brazen enough to request items the Pentagon hasn't even asked for. The ground based missile defense system expansion and new satellite war toys are among the latest boondoggles our elected leaders are trying to bring to their home states and districts.
It's not good policy. But it is a reward to the many contributions the military industrial complex has showered on the Senate and the House members, not to mention the millions spent on lobbying them once they get elected. Without a strong citizen outcry, this game will continue with the rules concocted by those with the power and money. Time to get vocal. As the old chant from the 1950's urged, "Better Active Than Radioactive."
Call your Washington Reps and tell them to cut the military waste and boondoggles and use the money to help our neighbors who are hurting from climate catastrophes, poverty, and savage inequality.