By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Growing up “American” has always had in it a certain element of ethnocentric superiority. From day one, we are taught that we are the Richest, Most Powerful Nation on this Earth. As we mature we come to accept that capitalism and our natural resources and our military might have established us as safe from all threats; foreign and domestic. We count as among our blessings that we are of a very few peoples on this earth who can go to bed at night with confidence that our government and military will keep us safe and in be in place in the morning.
But, today I am ashamed of my Nation. In November 2008, the United States Department of Agriculture released its report for Hunger in the United States for the year 2007. In their own numbers, One in Eight Americans or 12.2% of the population – more than 36.2 million people -- could not put food on the table at least part of last year. Nearly seven hundred thousand of them are children.
The Richest, Most Powerful Nation on the Earth and in all of History, with the Greatest Liberty and Recognition of the Human Being and an Indelible Right to Life, stands quiet while more than 1 in 8 people go hungry. I am ashamed of my country. You should be too.
Let’s do some math: If you took the whole of the 36 million people and went for the worst case scenario by assuming that all of them had no food for one year. Then, if you went way over the top to feed them and gave them $10 a day for food per person for that one year (which for a hungry family of four would be a massive windfall and who would eat better than I). Your numbers would look like this: 36,000,000 x 10 x 365 = $131,400,000,000. Let’s say One Hundred thirty two Billion Dollars to fully feed every hungry person in America for one year.
Compare that to the Bush Administration’s spending and the current bailout craze. The Bush administration has spent more than $610 Billion on the war in Iraq. This does not include the war in Afghanistan and the overall so-called war on terror. Since 2001, Congress has approved $502 billion for the war on terror. We gave the banks almost $700 Billion as a bailout. (Before the Iraq war began in 2003, the Bush administration estimated its cost at $50 billion to $60 billion, though White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey was fired for suggesting in 2002 that it could cost as much as $200 billion).
In English; what the Bush Administration did was give Americans a choice. Either we can fund a policy failure called the war in Iraq or we can guarantee and assure that every single American is fed and has no worry about this most basic human right. We feed bankers and auto executives but not our people. The choice is a moral one.
Ironic it is that the Republicans and party of God always talks about border fences and stopping abortion and protecting children from drugs and porn cannot take a moment from their schedule to feed the People. The arrogance and ignorance of the refusal to recognize this homespun disaster says more about our nation than any Declaration of Independence.
When I criticize my right wing neo con friends and try to explain why they lost the election; it is clear that they just don’t get it. The election was only in part a referendum on Iraq. More importantly, it was a referendum of how we as Americans want to be portrayed in the world.
Our first President, George Washington said America was never intended to be a military ally to nobody and that we should be stay out of European conflicts. He foresaw our role as a friend and business partner to everybody. The concept of our nation being the world’s policeman and missionaries for “freedom” is a new concept drawn up from the ashes of Viet Nam by those who saw our withdrawal therefrom as a defeat.
It was but 2 years ago that President Bush was dining in Ho Chi Mhin City. I can still remember watching American soldiers dying in those same swamps and cities patronized by our President. This is our future in dealing with Iraq and Iran in 50 years.
The question I pose is simple: How many Americans will go hungry tonight so we can fund a foreign policy that will be meaningless in half a century? Where are our priorities and why are they not about promoting the general welfare of the citizens of the United States?