Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Trolling for votes": Obama and Romney's phony caring for veterans

Vote for me, vote for me
There is a joke, or variations of  it, being circulated in the big business press in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the global capitalist crisis that has undermined and discredited the Chicago School of economists and their neo-liberal, small government policies.  The joke goes like this:

Q: "How many Chicago School economists does it take to change a light bulb?"

A: "None, if the bulb needed changing the market would have done it already"

From the prisons of Chile to the picket lines of the British miner's strike, the consequences of this economic philosophy have been violence and destruction, war and poverty; economic terrorism at its best.

The "small government" philosophy, preached from pulpits and pundits, talk show hosts like Limbaugh and Savage and academics like the horrible Richard Becker who I followed in Business Week, works its magic when it comes to US veterans also. The number of physically damaged veterans is staggering particularly given the improvements in war armor and military technology like unmanned drones which means fewer deaths. The protection means fewer US deaths but troops survive with debilitating injuries like dual amputations. To subjugate a nation's people you have to have troops on the ground and that means injuries.

Last year there were 1.3 million disability cases filed with the US dept of Veterans Affairs, an increase of 48% since 2008. There are presently 905,000 cases "awaiting action", according to Bloomberg Business Week with one case cited taking 8 years. Can this be so? Surely, if there were so many injured and damaged people wouldn't the "market have taken care of it by now"?

I remember during the presidential debates in 2008 when a young Iraq veteran got up and asked a question.  Obama and the others all get this solemn look on their faces and put their hands over their hearts and all this hypocritical nonsense.  They talk about how the working class men and women they send out to kill and be killed defending global capitalism and US capitalism in particular are defending "our" freedoms and we need to be thankful.

The freedom of those that own Chevron to do what they do has nothing to do with the freedom's that working people hold dear other than misguided or backward types who enjoy listening to Rush Limbaugh all day and support ideas that conflict with their own interests.

It's sickening to watch the politicians of the Wall Street parties, Obama and Romney and their phony expressions of caring.  They have to appeal to working people's support for our children that fight their wars for them though.  Most workers, regardless of the conflict, understand this I reckon as it is overwhelmingly our children, not having the options that those of the middle and upper classes do, that are drawn in to their military. We have an economic draft in this country.

"We are united as one nation in our gratitude to our country's heroes." says Romney

Not to be outdone, Obama says on Memorial Day:

"As long as I'm president, we will make sure you and your loved ones will receive the benefits you've earned and the respect you deserve."

Not so I'm afraid. What's revealing about the serious journals of capitalism (those they publish for themselves like the WSJ etc.) is they are very open about their motivations and how they really see the world. In sharing these comments from Romney and Obama BW states, "Like most politicians trolling for votes Barack Obama and Mitt Romney rarely miss an opportunity to praise America's veterans." My added emphasis. Yes, they're just "trolling for votes".   One of the reasons the voter participation is so low in the US is most workers know that, know they're insincere, liars, that they cry crocodile tears and once the votes are counted things will return to normal.  What workers don't understand clearly, due to the failure of the heads of organized Labor or any other significant social force to explain it, is that Obama and Romney and all these politicans do what they do because the parties they are in represent the interests of capital, not Labor and these interests are opposing interests. Sure they're liars and rotten etc.  But it's predominantly a political/class question.

We only have to check the homeless population to see what sort of respect most veterans get from the market and its proponents.  The closest advisers to Obama's 2012 election campaign by the way are people like Steven Spielberg, Eric Schmidt of Google and other billionaires who do quite well out of the war making industry.

Patriotism, a nonsense philosophy really, is for when the troops are leaving these shores, not when they come back.  It's true of all countries really, but US capitalism is the guy with the big stick (at the moment) and is in a life and death struggle for control over the world's resources, markets and profits with increasingly aggressive and efficient rivals; the US is in a pemanent state of war.

Hector Esparza is an Iraq veteran who has brain damage he suffered when a rocket blew up his Humvee.  Esparza cannot work due to the effects of this damage yet the VA designates him as only 60% disabled says BW.  Hell, in Arizona or Texas where he lives he might well be designated an "illegal alien" if he get's stopped by the wrong cop these days. Esparza lives with his wife and 6 year old on $1200 a month.  He was confident that "I was going to be taken care of and my family was going to be taken care of", he tells BW adding that this hasn't happened and he feels "lied to". I have news for you brother Esparza, you were lied to. Not only that, taking care of you is a form of "welfare" in the eyes of the powers that be in this country and they believe you should chin up, get out there, pull yourselves up by your bootstraps like the imbecile Bush did and make the best of it. Look how successful Sylvester Stillone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are and weren't they war heroes? *

"Trolling for votes" in Minnesota earlier this month Obama waxed eloquent on veterans telling his audience "You know, standing up for our veterans, this is not a Democratic responsibility, it's not as Republican responsibility; it's an American's an obligation of every citizen who enjoys the freedom that these heroes defended".

No: vote for me vote for me
Vote for me----vote for me!Despite employing four thousand workers more than it did in 2008, the VA's inability to deal with the problem persists.  Can you imagine, the VA still relies on paper files only now considering moving to a computer filing system?  The VA has asked Congress for $128 million for such a move, but, as we know, times are hard, small government is the way to go and $128 mil,  two year's income for some lucky "hard working" Americans will be hard to come by.  "Shared sacrifice" is the name of the game right now. The right wingers, especially in the light of increased hiring will blame government bureaucracy and lazy public sector workers for the VA's failures just like they do for all social services including blaming teachers for the failures in public eduction. Yes, it's all our own fault not the failure of a system. They like to blame social workers with 400 case loads as they impose more cuts and when a relative abuses one of the children they are supposed to be responsible for or blame workers because the DMV is so slow. Like all forms of employment, I am convinced there many employess at the VA that are dedicated and loyal hard workers and if they've gotten an attitude that there's not much they can do, it does not stem from their personal failings but powerlessness in the workplace.

We commented on this blog on the horrific killing in Superior Wisconsin when a veteran shot his wife who was 8 months pregnant, his three year old daughter, himself and his dog.  And the crisis of suicides in the military and among veterans is well documented as a veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes or so. Then there is the crisis of finding a job and getting health care. Brother Esparza says his family are waiting for Washington to "live up" to its commitments but that he "..feels like they'd be better off without me, I'm holding them back....And even though my wife says she's happy, I know that somebody else could take better care of her financially than I could. I don't want another family going through what I went through."

My advice to brother Esparza would be to recognize that many many families are going through what his family is.  If it's not due to the wars it's due to losing their homes, their jobs, their livelihoods and with that our self esteem. The biggest danger is to blame ourselves, be angry at ourselves and buying in to the argument propagated by the 1% that we simply made the wrong choices. I hope brother Esparza doesn't consider hurting himself, there are outlets like the Iraq Veterans Against the War; we all feel stronger and more human when we fight back.  The first step in all these situations is recognizing it's not our fault.

Another important step forward is recognizing who our real enemies are.

* Neither of these two war poropagandists who are millionaires because of it have fought in wars to my knowledge,  I think Stallone worked in a girl's school inSwitzeralnd during part of the Vietnam period.

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