Thirty thousand more school teachers laid off this March in California alone, and the nation turns its back on a generation of young, vulnerable students.
In doing so, it turns its back on its own future.
Just what are the priorities that rule over this country today?
A profound descent has been visible for quite some time, but the billionaire class seems to be doing okay.
Thank God for that, right?
Trillions of dollars are squandered regularly on wars of aggression, the so-called defense profiteering, and on the corrupt machinations of financial bailouts where well-connected insiders’ gambling losses are reimbursed by taxpayers: just because.
By squandered I mean stolen.
The wealth of a superpower was shoplifted in broad daylight.
Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calculated just the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to the tune of “3 Trillion Dollars.” That’s the whole expected cost, and not just the running tally reported by the mainstream media.
U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler had the scoop and literally wrote the book back in 1937, a book called War is a Racket.
Said Major General Butler:
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
Today, $250 billion per year is spent maintaining approximately 1,000 U.S. military bases on other people’s soil.
I am considering polling people on how they would feel about Russian or Chinese military bases built down the street from their own houses.
The sum of $2.3 trillion was simply lost, or “unaccounted for” in Pentaspeak, about a decade ago. Even Rumsfeld admitted as much.
Apparently that money is still missing in action because I haven’t seen a Washington Post or NY Times headline to the effect: “The $2.3 Trillion Has Been Found!”
Maybe the Pentagon should hire someone to go find some of it?
And those wonderful bailouts scream out for more attention, where Wall Street predators awarded themselves multi-million dollar “performance bonuses” even as their companies had gone bust, and they had to be kept alive with infusions of U.S. Treasury money.
That corporate welfare totalled hundreds of billions, or trillions, depending upon whom you ask.
The U.S. national debt now exceeds “$12.3 trillion” – according to Forbes Online.
Interest on that insane debt-load bleeds out of the Treasury monthly.
The debt service payments are a high priority in Washington, rest assured.
American teachers and grade school children, not so much.
Predating these financial industry bailouts, we had the quiet repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932.
Glass-Steagall was a prime reason America did not suffer another Great Depression over the next 75 years. That act outlawed using banks as casinos.
With the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, the stage was set for massive fraud and the financial sector meltdown we witnessed.
Bad debts like high-risk mortgages were hidden inside of massive packages of securities and then pushed off of banks’ books.
This was premeditated and criminal, to be sure.
In the words of U.S. Congressman Colin Peterson (D):
“The banks run the place … It’s huge the amount of money they put into politics.”
You get what you pay for.
Maybe these grammar school kids need to sell chocolates and cookies in order to send checks to their congress people.
Is that the answer?
I’m not entirely convinced that the country is financially bankrupt, yet.
Joe Giambrone is a writer, filmmaker and a Shasta College communications student who’s a member of college newspaper staff. He is married and has a daughter.