Politics Monday: No Profit in Peace, No Money in the Cure by Richard Searcy
No Profit in peace, no money in the cure. That should be America’s National Anthem. It should be part of the Pledge of Allegiance, because that is what the Bush Administration is sending our brave troops off to die for. Not allegiance to the flag, this nation, or the American people, It’s allegiance to corporations and profit. With the selection of Bush as president, America completed its metamorphosis from democracy into plutocracy. “We the People” has been replaced by the corporate will and ensured by electronic voting.
No profit in peace
If you think there is no correlation to the war on Iraq and exploding record profits by energy companies, then you are in desperate need of the “red pill”, and you do indeed exist in the Matrix. Some of these corporations have made more money since the war began than any corporation in the history of Man. Is it just coincidence that many of these same energy corporations had secret meetings with Cheney before the war began? One of the most confused arguments I’ve heard from Bush supporters is, “If Bush and Cheney invaded Iraq to steal the oil, then why are gas prices still going up?” Did they really think Bush went to steal the oil for the American people?
It wasn’t just energy companies making money like they were selling drugs. Haliburton and its many subsidiaries, are making so much money that it brings to mind a scene from the movie “Scarface”, when Al Pacino is delivering large bags of money to his banker, and the banker is watching through the window in amazement. While 19 and 22 year old Americans are coming home in body bags and with less body parts than they went to Iraq with, American CEO’s are delivering large bags of cash to the bank. Much of the money in the bags belongs to the American taxpayers. Haliburton has been caught over-charging American taxpayers while delivering shoddy work on numerous occasions Yet, they continued to get no-bid contracts often exempt from audit and oversight.
Twenty-one billion dollars of taxpayer cash somehow got lost in Iraq. Let me rephrase that. $21,000,000,000.00 dollars of taxpayer money somehow got LOST in Iraq. Even many Iraqi politicians made off like bandits. Many American politicians, lobbyists, and the corporations who own them, have all had a simply marvelous time with Iraq, while American youth that does not belong to the politicians that sent them there, go off to die and get blown apart.
According to Harper’s Magazine, stock prices for energy and military corporations have risen dramatically. Between July of 2003 and July of 2006, “Lockheed-Martin up from $52 to $75, Boeing up from $33 to $77, Exxon/Mobil up from $36 to $65, Chevron up from $36 to $66, Haliburton up from $22 to $74, and Flour up from $34 to $88.” America is the largest exporter of weapons in the world, by far. We sell more weapons throughout the world than the next 14 countries combined. Military sales account for about 18 percent of the national budget, far and away the greatest proportion of any nation. No matter how one interprets it, America is in the business of war.
No money in the cure
America spends more on health care than any other nation in the world, but our health care industry has been transformed from a system of compassion to the purely profit-driven industry it is today. According to Pulitzer Prize and National Magazine Award winning authors, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, in their book, “Critical Condition: How Health Care In America Became Big Business-And Bad Medicine”, the transformation from compassion to profit is evidenced by “rampant overcharging of patients who do not have insurance, dissuading people from purchasing drugs from Canada with false information concerning the Canadian pharmaceutical industry, caving into the demands of special interest groups, the non-existence of independent monitoring of diagnostic test results and hospital mistakes, permitting politicians and business people to assume key roles to the detriment of the welfare of the citizens, a culture of cronyism giving rise to blatant fraud in many instances, doctors having to deal with conditions apt to be found in undeveloped countries, and people shuffled around by individuals who do not have the slightest notion as to how to deal with them.” In addition, “the infusion of private enterprises connected with Wall Street financiers and Madison Avenue advertising firms have been permitted to join in as if health care was analogous to the selling of cars or MacDonald's franchises.”
There are approximately 46 million Americans without health insurance, which is about 16% of the population. Unfortunately for them, the death rate for the non-insured is twenty-five percent higher than it is for the insured. The astronomical cost of health care is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in America. On top of that, new strains of illnesses, diseases, influenza, and cancers that are harder to detect are constantly being discovered, like the new superbug MRSA which can be deadly to children. MRSA quietly enters the blood system and quickly figures out how to avoid antibiotics. With the ever rising costs of technology required in today’s health system, the question of the day for many Americans is, “can they afford to stay alive”. Given that Americans pay more for health care than other people, one might expect that we would be the healthiest people in the world. Think again.
In 1997, the United States spent less than 3 percent of its total health care costs on research, or better put, we spent less than on medical research for the entire year than we did on health care in 10 days. Earlier this year, the Bush Administration proposed a freeze on the budget for the National Institutes for Health for 2007 while increasing the budget for the war machine. America’s health care system is far less designed to discover cures than it is to discover profit.
A convergence of ills
The consequences of war and the mercenary state of our health care system are about to collide again. This time the consequences could be explosive.
Many of the returning troops from Iraq are suffering from the effects of depleted uranium. We’ve used depleted uranium weapons all across Iraq and it isn’t just Iraqis and their newborn babies who are feeling its monstrous effects. Depleted Uranium (DU), is the garbage left from producing enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, and it is 60% as radioactive as natural uranium. It is in fact, nuclear waste. It’s used to coat our artillery shells and when it explodes, it’s reduced to nano-particles of fine radioactive dust. That radioactive dust of nuclear waste has a half-life of 4.5 Billion years. Anyone who inhales, ingests, or otherwise gets the particles into their bloodstream, may experience an alteration of their DNA, elevated cancer and lung rates, or as evident in Iraq, soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates. You do not want to see pictures of newborn babies ravaged by the effects of DU.
The government denies the devastating effects of DU, even as it has stepped up testing of returning troops for DU contamination. These denials are all too reminiscent of the denials about the ill effects of Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome. Suffering troops were told that it was all in their head. The government, including under democratic administrations, stuck to those denials until they were overwhelmed by the preponderance of evidence. The ill effects of Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome, for the most part, only affected the soldiers themselves. But, DU threatens to be quite different and may adversely affect the health of American children.
Today, 15 states have introduced depleted uranium legislation. Congressman Jim McDermott (D) of Washington is a medical doctor, and he introduced DU legislation after returning from visiting Iraq and witnessing the effects of DU contamination in babies. "Depleted uranium is toxic and carcinogenic and it may well be associated with elevated rates of birth defects in babies born to those exposed to it," said McDermott. "We had troops coming home sick after the Gulf War and depleted uranium may be one of the factors responsible for that."
Altering our course
Census statistics indicate that 1 out of every 8 Americans lives below the poverty line. Among African-Americans, that rate is 1 out of every 4. Poverty in America has been rising since 2000. There simply is no money and no profit in helping vets who return home infected with DU contamination, children suffering from new strains of life-threatening disease, the poor or American families without health care. To the corporatists who control American government, spending money on vets, children, and families could be better spent on tax cuts and the production of more demonic weapons. Politicians on both sides of the political gap seem to have no interest in altering our dependence on war or curbing the abuses of our health care system.
If the dream and legacy of America is to survive, the American people must regain control of our government or this nation will continue to be ravaged by the corporatists until there is nothing left of what used to be America. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower have all articulated that corporations must be restrained in order to preserve our basic human rights and dignity. The Founding Fathers did not intend for corporations to have the same rights as individuals. America was not created as a for-profit enterprise. The will of the people and the well-being of American citizens should always be first and foremost in our government and our society.
Thomas Jefferson considered freedom from corporations to one of the basic human rights. Jefferson saw three dangers that threatened natural human rights.
Jefferson fought to get a law written into the constitution as an amendment, which would prevent companies from growing so large they could dominate entire industries or have the power to influence the people’s government. That law became the Bill of Rights.
"It astonishes me to find... [that so many] of our countrymen... should be contented to live under a system which leaves to their governors the power of taking from them the trial by jury in civil cases, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce, the habeas corpus laws, and of yoking them with a standing army. This is a degeneracy in the principles of liberty... which I [would not have expected for at least] four centuries." --Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1788
If you’ve read and understand the Declaration of Independence, then you must also understand that the problem with America ain’t (eb) George Bush. The problem with America is Americans.
Richard Searcy is an Information Technology professional and freelance writer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, September 11, 2006