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Sunday, April 8, 2012
60,000 homleess veterans. Isn't freedom swell.
US workers didn't get what we have from the most crass and violent capitalist class of all without a fight which is why the we have such a rich and militant history. As the idea of the so-called American Dream, a product of the post WW 2 era, fades in to the history books, the US working class is beginning to stir as Sean pointed out in a previous blog. Although it is still present among some backward workers, the selfish, individualistic ideology of the 1% is being undermined by the change in consciousness following the Great Recession.
Nationalism, patriotism and the idea that we are all one nation, a powerful propaganda tool of the 1% is also being undermined by events and at some point there will be a major crisis in the military as the strain of this small minority fighting the 1%'s wars breaks out in to the open. The parades and flag waving is all part of the war propaganda as they send our kids to do the fighting; in the US we have an economic draft.
I have blogged previously about the increased maiming of troops due to improved body armor, with double amputations tripling in 2010. Suicides have skyrocketed and mentality damaged vets have wiped out their entire families.; they will see how generous the 1% is when money is needed for post war lives or care---it will not be found. It makes me sick to hear some workers parrot the 1% propaganda that these military ventures are actually about freedom or defense, especially those who are not there themselves or have children there.
I read today that the number of homeless veterans is somewhere in the region of 60,000. Nobody should be homeless in a civilized society, especially veterans, whether one agrees with the war in question or not; they're not our wars. The number of homeless women veterans is also on the rise. "Housing is Scarce" the title of an AP article reads. There is a "shortage of temporary housing specifically designed to be safe and welcoming to women or mothers with children" according to AP.
But housing is not scarce. There are empty homes and living accomodation everywhere. Meanwhile, the shelters that do exist have been found to be unsafe and shoddy, some of them so bad, the state was forced to close them down.This has led to a situation where the "population of female veterans without permanent shelter has more than doubled in the last half-dozen years." The capitalist state that can orchestrate wars, sending weapons and hundreds of thousands of individuals to all corners of the world, can't house a sick veteran. US capitalism can build 200 installations around the world and build the world's largest embassy in Baghdad to protect the oil companies' profits but cannot provide health care or public education for its citizens.
People need housing and we are surrounded by empty houses; but this is the market at work, a house, or shelter, in a capitalist economy is a commodity, an investment. The AP report describes life for one woman who was laid off from her job after returning from Iraq. She is grappling with alcohol and substance abuse which is common as it was with the Vietnam veterans. Real conflict is not the Hollywood conflict of John Wayne, Silvester Stillone or Arnold Scwarzenegger. For any normal human being, killing is a traumatic experience. When you are fighting without a real cause other than to defend the markets of a corporation, it is even more mentally damaging; drugs are often the only way to get through it.
"I wasn't a loser," says our homeless vet. "Everybody who's homeless doesn't necessarily have to have something very mentally wrong with them. Some people just have bad circumstances with no resources." Bad circumstances indeed, she was sent in to a hellhole by the 1%. who welcome the spike in unemployment as the military becomes the only option for millions of young workers as rich kids go to Harvard or Yale. "It can't get any worse," the woman says, "cause I've already been through hell.". The politicians in the two Wall Street parties and the thugs in the Pentagon are responsible for this woman's plight and thousands like her, as well as the damage to the families. I'm leaving aside here the mass murder of millions of people in other countries.
The Obama administration wants to end veteran's homelessness by 2015; it will not do so. US capitalism while still armed to the teeth and able to blow up the entire planet is a wounded dangerous beast but as Sean pointed out earlier it is going to have to reckon with its own working class. The polarization between those that work and those who live off those that work has intensified and the 1% will have to deal with a war on the domestic front.
Reading about the plight of the young working class men and women, most forced by circumstances and the economic draft in to the 1%'s corporate war machine makes me angry. It is especially hard to listen to the right wing propaganda absorbed sponge-like by some of my own co-workers ( an increasing minority thanks to capitalist crisis) about what a great democracy and wonderful society this is; the "I got mine and if you have nothing it's your own damn fault crowd".
We have a right to be angry and we should be angry. With no political party of our own and a bankrupt leadership atop organized Labor that is about to spend $400 million getting a president in to office who represents the interests of Wall Street, building a movement that can turn this tide is made all the harder. But one thing history teaches us is that the working class, and the working class in the military, will rise to the occasion and defend our class interests. The collapse of morale in the military during the Vietnam war was a significant factor in the US defeat there.*
The 1% in this country are not going to get a free ride.