Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Military Budget, Healthcare Reform and Corporate Media

The Military Budget, Healthcare Reform and Corporate Media

By Solomon Comissiong

As the summer comes to a close the battle over healthcare reform rages on. And as each week passes by US healthcare reform becomes more and more watered down. It is hard to believe that this “public debate” has moved from open dialogues about a single payer healthcare system to something now called a “public option”.

Only a fool would compare a genuine single payer healthcare system to this half-assed “public option” that the white house and their gutless democratic cronies are now pushing. It is clear that the Obama administration and the band of capitulating democrats are either fools or they take the general pro-single payer public for fools.

It is probably a bit of both. The public option pales in comparison to the true “everybody in and nobody out” single payer system that even the vacillating president supported back in 2003 when he was a state senator. However, the deeper then state senator Obama delved into mainstream politics the deeper he willingly became influenced by corporate money.

President Obama received tens of millions of dollars for his corporate presidential campaign from the mighty, and immoral, healthcare industry. Obama’s strong corporate ties are a major reason why he has made an about face regarding single payer healthcare despite the fact that a single payer system is not only feasible and needed, it is also sensible.

Universal single payer healthcare in a country like the US makes perfect sense; however the route the healthcare debate has gone does not. I frequently have to pinch myself to make sure I am not stuck in some runaway bad dream filled with intellectually dishonest people who are unaware that Medicare and Medicaid are in fact government run each time they make fragile claims that government run healthcare has no place in America.

I then have to slap myself to make sure that I am not eternally trapped in a nightmare where the country that I reside spends more than 600 billion dollars a year on the military yet claim they cannot finance a single player healthcare system.

Unfortunately I have yet to wake up from this nightmare called capitalistic American greed. It is a nightmare that consumes the lives of at least 22,000 people a year who die from a lack of healthcare.

It is a nightmare in which at least 46 million people try to subsist without any healthcare whatsoever. This nightmare continues, unfettered, all the while every other industrialized country in the world has some sort of healthcare based social contract for its citizens. This nightmare turns out to be a horrible reality firmly built on the foundation of runaway capitalism.

It is runaway unfettered capitalism that makes so many “profits before people” nightmares such a reality, each and everyday. It is sadly interesting to observe some of the obvious questions that the corporate media consistently fail to raise to their masses of programmed viewers. Countless on-air hours are spent arguing where the money will come from to finance a vastly needed single payer system without ever a peep about military expenditure. The corporate media has perfected the “skill” of not raising important questions, and facts.

Raising critical questions would enable the average viewer to discursively deconstruct myriad issues. The corporate media’s perfection of this “skill” is not by chance, it is by design. This is why the overwhelming majority of “experts” they parade on their “news” programs are lock and step with their agenda. They know very well what to say and what not to say. They know not to raise any question or subject that might be too “controversial.

These days what is considered controversial is often what is truthful. In essence, these corporate media puppets know not to bite the hand that feeds them. In the same manner by which the mainstream media seldom raises the tough questions neither do their hired guns (guests). This is why those who ritualistically rely on the corporate mainstream media, for their news and information, will never understand critical issues in the world today.

For instance, most Americans will never know the truth or the history behind the Middle East conflict. The corporate media ostensibly loves to marginalize, demonize, and denigrate the Palestinians, their plight, and their struggle for self-determination. And because of this sad fact most Americans will continue to be complicit with their government annually sending billions of dollars of military aid to Israel. This military aid will continue to be used to repress and destroy Palestinian lives. One cannot claim to be a mediator, as the US disingenuously does, all the while militarily arming one side and ignoring the other. It is, in essence, the foreign policy double standard that the US has built a long history upon.

However, why would anyone expect most Americans to complain about the billions of dollars in military aid that their country spends arming Israel, as well as many other countries, when they do not complain about the hundreds of billions of dollars the US annually spends superfluously arming itself? Most Americans have carefully been programmed not to think critically or discursively when it comes to how their government spends, or does not spend, its taxpayers’ dollars.

This programming has started at a very early age and has continued throughout their lifetime. Some core American ideals are firmly mounted upon militarism and unfettered capitalism. These things are virtually everywhere in American society; they are even woven into the fabric of mainstream schooling. They are more than just simply acceptable; they are as American as apple pie. This is a fundamental reason why it is easier to spot the Loc Ness Monster than a corporate media special on “excessive military spending”.

Those stories are antithetical to the aims of the American corporate media machine. Corporate media prospers on its viewers/listeners/readers ignorance of critical issues, especially when those issues deal with the inextricable connection between the corporation and the state. It would clearly be counterintuitive for the corporate media to blow the “whistle” on itself. However until they are exposed for what they are; Americans will continue to be purposefully left in the dark regarding a wide rage of critical issues.

These issues will continue to exclude America’s addictive habit to military expenditure. It is trivial to focus any healthcare debate centered on the US not having enough money to sufficiently finance a single payer healthcare system if there is no serious examination regarding the amount of money America spends on its bloated imperialist military. The US spends more than 600 billion dollars a year on things like its more than 700 military bases worldwide.

This budget does not even include the maintenance of nuclear weaponry. That is hidden in the Department of Energy’s budget. That 600 billion dollar plus budget does, however, include the imperialist military expansion in Africa, otherwise known as Africom (Africa Command). That 600 billion dollars does not necessarily include the tens of billions of dollars of supplemental funding that goes towards the wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If you go to the White House Office of Management and Budget ( they will tell you that they are using some of that money to draw down troops in Iraq “responsibly”. I wonder if the fact that the US has built a well over 600 million dollar embassy in Iraq with an over one billion dollar a year operational cost, means that the US has no plans of permanently occupying Iraq?

If that is the case that also must mean that the U.S. plans to build a 700 million embassy in Pakistan, must also mean the same.

If these American imperialist plans seem like a distraction from the money that could be clearly spent on universal single payer healthcare, they are. It is a waste of money that will likely disrupt more lives and communities than it will save. US military spending has to be significantly reduced if there is anyway valuable lifesaving social programs, like universal healthcare, can be established. It is, by far, one of the most logical ways to find the money to fund such a program.

Don’t expect the white supremacist and right wing Fox News to raise these questions. And don’t expect the military contractor GE (who also owns NBC and MSNBC) to challenge the government on this matter. We have to do that job. We have to continue to create a critical mass that continually pressures the hell out of this government to do what is in the best interest of masses. Left to their own “faculties” the US government will continue down the same socially destructive path they have built a legacy on.

We have to strategically organize, as well as utilize our social networks to spread critical information, far and wide, one community at a time. Until then we, and countless others, will continue our restless slumber in this nightmare. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News radio program ( He may be reached at:

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