As we are bombarded by the new threats of ISIS and ISIL, we must pause for a moment and ask one simple question. Since 2001 when we were “attacked” by so called Al Qeida” what has really happened here in the “homeland”? Well we have spent a vast amount of our treasure. The decade-long American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq end up costing as much as $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household, calculates the prestigious Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
The human toll of the combined wars is even more horrific. Allied fighters suffered nearly 10,000 deaths and over 70,000 severely wound. The Iraqi population lost nearly 1 million and displaced another 2 million, with over 600,000 orphans. The numbers of Afghani civilian causalities is more difficult to accurately estimate, but are close to half the numbers of Iraqi civilian population, at least.
Add to this the “new threat” that is now ISIS and ISIL. There is no doubt these threats are real in the Middle East, but why now? Do you wonder as you watch the “News” where all of these high quality photos of ISIS and ISIL troops and movements comes from? If we can capture these photos of inside these groups, does it not make sense we could stop them with that quality of intelligence of who they are and where they are?
Remember this? In May of 2013, the Republican war veteran John McCain met rebel leaders inside Syria to discuss their calls for heavy weapons and a no-fly zone to help them topple President Bashar al-Assad and bring the bitter civil war to a conclusion. McCain’s office confirmed to the Guardian that he had slipped into the country in recent days but declined to comment on the outcome of his talks with the rebel groups or whether it had hardened his views on arming them.
The Arizona senator had been leading efforts in Congress to force Barack Obama to intervene in Syria following reports of alleged chemical weapons use by forces loyal to Assad. As the most senior US politician to have visited Syria, his intervention strengthened the hand of hawks in Washington at a time when parallel efforts are being made by the French and British governments to persuade the European Union to lift the arms embargo. So these very rebels are now ISIS and ISIL and are a threat to the mainland of the US and the UK, after we armed them and financed them, along with KSA.
In the meantime the real threat to the US and the EU is economic collapse. The “do nothing for the people” CONgress withdraws support for education, infrastructure, and social programs, “because we cannot afford it” and “government is too big” and corporations profit from wars and government bailouts of banks continue at dramatic rates; and the upper 1/2 of 1% expand their wealth at the fastest rate in modern history. Consider this recent article by Eric Zuesse:
“4.3% of Americans Survive on Less than $2/Day –
That’s Considered Poor in Even the Poorest Lands
Slightly more than one American household with children in every 25 is surviving on less than $2 per day of income from all sources. One quarter of that 4.3% (that’s 1% of all Americans with children) receive less than $1.25 per day. One third (that’s about 1.33% of all Americans) receive between $1.25 and $2. Another third of that 4.3% receive enough government benefits to be living on between $1.25 and $2 a day. A tiny 0.1% of that 4.3% are even surviving somehow on “Negative income & benefits.” On 26 August 2014, the co-authors of a Brookings Institution paper published a chart of those findings (reproduced here below, courtesy of the Brookings Institution) that looks like it might be some painting at the Museum of Modern Art, though what it refers to isn’t nearly so pretty, and is actually quite miserable:
These findings were originally published in the June 2013 Social Science Review, but have not yet been reported in the mainstream press. That study’s co-authors are H. Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan, and Kathryn Endin of Harvard. The study was posted online by its funding organization, the National Poverty Center.
Titled, “Rising Extreme Poverty in the United States and the Response of Federal Means-Tested Transfer Programs,” the researchers reported that there has been “an increase in the prevalence of extreme poverty among U.S. households with children between 1996 and 2011.” Furthermore, “The prevalence of extreme poverty has risen sharply since 1996, particularly among those most impacted by the 1996 welfare reform,” which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and which embodied numerous elements of President Ronald Reagan’s views on poverty. It “replaced a need-based entitlement program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), with a more restrictive federal block grant program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).” The authors explain as follows the $2/day cutoff they’re focusing on:
The measure of “extreme poverty” used here is based on one of the World Bank’s key indicators of global poverty: $2 per person, per day. Tellingly, the World Bank does not release official estimates for the United States for this metric because it is meant to capture poverty based on “the standards of the poorest countries.” … Living below this metric is widely considered to be a marker of extreme destitution, which is assumed to be very uncommon among wealthy nations.
They further explain:
Households are counted as being in extreme poverty if they report $2 dollars or less per person, per day in total household income in a given month (approximated as $60 per person, per month in 2011 dollars). … The official poverty line for a family of three would equate to roughly $17.00 per person, per day, averaged over a year, so our measure is roughly 13 percent of the official poverty line.
In other words: whereas 4.3% of Americans survive on less than $2/day, many other Americans are also in poverty but are not in the category that is considered as being extreme poverty even in underdeveloped countries; i.e., as being those countries’ poorest residents.
Their Conclusion opens by saying:
As of mid-2011, about 1.65 million households with about 3.55 million children were surviving on $2 or less in cash income per person per day in a given month. … Households in extreme poverty constituted 4.3 percent of all non-elderly households with children. The prevalence of extreme poverty rose sharply between 1996 and 2011, with the highest growth rates found among groups most affected by the 1996 welfare reform.
It would be wrong to conclude that the U.S. safety net is strong, or even adequate, when the number and proportion of households with children surviving on less than $2 per day has risen so dramatically over the past 15 years, even after accounting for means-tested transfers.
This is the first study that explores the United States as a country heading to be an underdeveloped nation from the standpoint even of the direst definition of what constitutes “poverty” — which is to say, the poorest people in the poorest countries.
President Barack Obama is a strong supporter of the 1996 welfare reform law, and he wants to cut still farther back on “entitlements,” though the entire bottom 20% of Americans have been losing under his Presidency, and only the top 1% of Americans have actually been gaining during his ‘economic recovery’ from Bush’s 2008 crash.
Consequently, America is not only descending into Third-World status, but also, apparently, into the status of being a virtual dictatorship. The bipartisanship in American politics has been descending this country into dictatorship and has also been spreading poverty. Voters have no real choice remaining, under those conditions. So, this would mean that there are just two parties, both conservative, but one (Republicans) being conservatives who play the role of “the bad cop,” and the other being conservatives who play the role of “the good cop.” Progressivism in America would then be dead; it wouldn’t even be an option, not a viable one in this country, which then would be a conservative dictatorship — that’s fascism.”
While we do not necessarily support the entire opinions expressed by Eric, we certainly cannot deny the facts that are real. As we approach this election cycle, we must realize that by not participating in the electoral process, we are giving our “permission” for this trend to continue. A 15% turnout for mid-term elections is deplorable. We will reap what we sow. Ask the folks in Ferguson, they now understand!
There are some who say that the process is corrupted beyond repair and therefore voting is a meaningless effort as all of the candidates are either “pre-groomed” or will be assimilated in to the corrupt world of capital cronyism. This is an argument that is thousands of years old and it is as wrong now as it was under King George or the Roman Empire. Democracy and Freedom are not free! No one in power ever grants peace and freedom to the people out of the goodness of their hearts, they do so only when they fear the reaction of the people. Every freedom, including economic equality, must be fought for and demanded, and that starts by casting informed votes and monitoring the actions of those we elect to office.
So let’s wake up and start dealing with the real threats to our peace, our freedom, and our economic well being. It is not ISIS or ISIL, it is your local state representatives and senators. It is your US Representatives and Senators. It is both the Democratic and Republican Parties as they currently exist. We need to let these cronies know we know “What’s Up” and that their gig is over.