Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel & Iraq: America's favorite money pits

Yesterday my two-year-old granddaughter Mena and I were completely at logger-heads. She'd already stubbornly refused to make nice at the library, a restaurant and an olive-tasting party -- and now she was refusing to take a bath. Ah, two-year-olds. I'm too old for this!

"But Jane," someone advised me, "she's obviously rebelling against you because she is bored. She's tired of doing little-kid things and now she wants to do big-kid things." I'll just bet that she does. And what kind of big-kid things does she have in mind? Declare wars, get drunk, pollute the air and/or lobby to corrupt our politicians?

"What that kid needs is to go to a pre-school." Hey, you might be right. So I trudged off to look at pre-schools for Mena.

There's a neighborhood pre-school right down the block from me, the Martin Luther King Child Development Center,
that is run by our school district and serves as an inexpensive daycare provider for working parents who might otherwise not be able to afford safe and decent daycare. My son Joe went there 30 years ago -- and the place is still going strong. So I went over to see if I could enroll Mena there too. No luck. "There's a really good chance that we will be permanently closing our doors forever on August 31," said one of the school's teachers. "The State is cutting our funding." What?

Let me get this straight. California is going to cut its funding for daycare for working parents and then said working parents are going to get fired because they can't show up for work without daycare -- and then all these working parents will be forced to go on unemployment? And this saves the state money how? That's totally stupid.

"But government shouldn't be paying for people's daycare," you might say. Well why not? We already pay for billionaires' tax breaks -- even though statistics prove that for every corporatist billionaire created by outsourcing or subsidized weapons manufacturing or Wall Street bailouts or tax breaks for the uber-rich, approximately 100,000 working-class Americans sink below our country's poverty line. If we are going to flat-out subsidize billionaires, why can't we also subsidize daycare for people who actually do pay taxes?

And speaking of layoffs and things that our government should or should not be spending money on, apparently it's not okay for our government to spend money on police and fire protection either. Oakland just laid off 80 cops and San Jose just laid off 53 firefighters. But if spending money on that stuff is also a no-no, then what exactly SHOULD our government spend money on? Apparently nothing -- except for corporate welfare and wars.

I remember back in the day when the United States used to have all kinds of surplus money -- more than enough to fund education, infrastructure improvement, libraries, firefighters, cops and even daycare. But what happened to all that surplus money? Where did it all disappear to? Hmmm. As far as I can tell, an awful lot of it has been vacuumed off into America's all-time four favorite money pits -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Iraq.

Little did we know when the Twin Towers were destroyed back in 2001 that what we were watching on the television screen was not just two buildings being destroyed but also the United States economy's destruction. It took mere hours for the World Trade Center to fall. And it took almost a decade for our economy to fall after it. But the causes were the same -- and the results were the same. We were sold a bill of goods and conned into spending our money on guns instead of butter. And now there are guns everywhere but there's no butter -- and no pre-schools either.

Sorry, Mena. You are just going to have to be bored. And if we don't stop shoveling trillions of dollars into America's favorite money pits in the Middle East, by the time you're an adult, one of the big-kid things you're gonna be doing is standing in an unemployment line.