Monday, May 23, 2011

Costs of war get deeper

As the wars drag on, the costs continue to erode all aspects of civilized life in the US. You cannot hollow out the economy forever, borrowing until all credit is used up, triggering collapses of portions of the economy, without also eroding civil rights, democracy, and basic human compassion. This is underway.

All of us know people who work hard and cannot find work. My oldest son worked for a large corporation and the speed up there overwhelmed a number of people, including him. This is a common response to an economic climate that disadvantages all workers and allows for exacting and extracting more and more from workers who lose power as they scuffle to keep the remaining jobs. The military loves this, of course, since recruiting is so easy in tough times.

But the speed up is everywhere, as public agencies struggle to survive on less. In higher education I can tell you that the metaphorical guns are to our heads to produce more student credit hours to offset diminishing state legislative support. A state university suffers while the Army War College doesn't know what to do with all its sloshing funds. Tuition rises, all pay is frozen, budgets are cut, class sizes grow and teacher time is stretched thinner and thinner. I tell students to pay attention to the syllabus because I have no time to handle all the special requests I used to have time for. Hand it in on time, period. With so many students, I struggle to stay afloat in the rising turbulent tide.

My friends who continue to offer nonviolent resistance to militarism experience this in shocking ways. Jail budgets are not just cut to the bone, they are amputating. I'm a geezer at 60 and yet I'm the youth compared to some of these brave old ones who put their bodies in harms way and pay a higher price every day. Jean Gump, a sweet mother of 12 and grandmother of many more, is 84. She is loved by everyone who meets her and has just entered jail again after some nonviolent resistance to a military facility in Tennessee. She did all the proper paperwork before she did her nonviolent witness and had all her medications with her. The jail will not refill any of them and Jean is not alone. Carol Gilbert, Ardeth Platte, and Jackie Hudson are three elderly nuns who all came with medications and none of them are getting refilled, despite Sr. Jackie's daily chest pain. A staffer gruffly told her, "I have 500 inmates and no budget." And that was the nice one. There is a bias for returning military as guards at every level and this means the guards are getting meaner as PTSD vets return and find work doing something where they can still be brutal and get away with it. The nuns reported that one woman had a grand mal seizure and guards just kicked her.

So, welcome to the deteriorating USA, where everyone fears us around the world and we fear each other at home. But that war profiteering elite are doing great. They are milking it all down to the end while we passively observe the process. It is getting worse by the day, with no money for human needs but all our resources to serve the greed of a few and the greedy ones own Congress and mainstream media. How do we get ourselves out of this?


To the extent we live, vote and spend serving nonviolent principles, we slow, stop and reverse these trends. Jean Gump and the nuns are just the shock troops of nonviolence and if they are alone, we continue to lose. If they are just the tip of the nonviolent iceberg, we will win. But it's up to each of us. We all matter. Gandhi said that what each of us does seems insignificant and is vitally important. As usual, he was right.

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