F-35 Bombers Target U.S. Children Too
According to a March 11, 2010 New York Times article by Christopher Drew, titled, “Cost of F-35 Has Risen 60 percent to 90 percent, Military Says,” regarding the F-35, a single-engine stealth fighter designed primarily to attack ground targets, the F-35 is supposed to become a mainstay of American and allied militaries over the next several decades. The Air Force, the Navy and the Marines plan to buy 2,443 of the planes. In the article, Christine H. Fox, the Pentagon’s top cost evaluator was quoted as saying that the estimated price of each F-35 had jumped to $80-$93 million as measured in 2002 dollars, up from $50 million when Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract in 2001.
The article further stated that, “…her [Christine H. Fox’s] office was still refining the cost estimate, which equals $95 million to $113 million for each plane in current dollars.” The article concludes:
“Michael Sullivan, an analyst at the Government Accountability Office, said the program could eventually cost $323 billion. And while the recent changes could help ease the problems, ‘further cost growth and schedule extensions are likely,’ he said.”
According to wikipedia.org:
“The 2009 U.S. military budget is almost as much as the rest of the world’s defense spending combined and is over nine times larger than the military budget of China…The United States and its close allies are responsible for two-thirds to three-quarters of the world’s military spending (of which, in turn, the U.S. is responsible for the majority).”
Contrast this to the school budget. In comparison, according to federalbudget.com, the entire U.S. Education budget was $53 billion dollars in 2009, down from $61 billion in 2007. Just think what our schools could do with $323 billion!
To that $323 billion for the F-35 stealth bomber must be added the cost of lives lost and property destroyed through their use! Multiply this by all the bombs and weapons of mass destruction, that the U.S. is responsible for using and funding around the world and the sum is mind-boggling! In fact, it is difficult to fathom because it is irrational to any sane person. Over 53 percent of the Federal Budget is spent on military spending—not counting weapons development, homeland security, the FBI, the CIA, the police, the jails, etc.
The merely irrational turns demented when considering the trillions of dollars our government has gifted to the wealthy corporations and banks at the expense of jobs, housing, healthcare, education and a clean and safe infrastructure and environment.
Public schools are the main target
Instead of a war on poverty as Dr. Martin Luther King advocated, the bi-partisan U.S. government currently led by President Obama, is waging a war against children. In the poorest communities the schools are the least funded and the most overcrowded. Since over 50 percent of children are being raised by a single parent, children living at the poverty level suffer even more. To survive, single parents have to work long hours at low paying jobs making them unable to give their children the attention they need to do well in school.
Children do not live stable lives these days. They worry more than their parents do about the hardships they and their families endure. They very often live in shabby and overcrowded and sometimes even dangerous places, or become homeless along with their families.
When the schools are set up like jails, and children treated like criminals, they feel anything but safe! This is not conducive to learning. Children need to feel secure, comfortable and free of worry to learn.
Instead of helping to make up for these disadvantages—expanding after-school programs to help kids with their homework or offer them healthy food and a safe place to play— teachers are being fired, the schools are being closed down, or otherwise turned into police-occupied “mini-prisons” with a pipe-line from the schools to the jails.
Instead of dishing out wholesome food, school administrations dish out draconian disciplinary action against students who don’t do well. They have children arrested for behavior that used to be dealt with by a trip to the principal’s office, detention or, at worst, a phone call to a parent.
They even sometimes fine or otherwise discipline the parents for not making their children obey the rules. Parents have been fined and sent to jail because of their children’s truancy! (I have to say, my sister, Debbie, and I were not good high school students. We cut school all the time. I can remember my father driving us to school after we were caught forging “sick notes.” He waited by the school door and watched us as we went in. What he didn’t know is, we walked right out the back door. We were incorrigible. And he and my mom did the best they could.)
And when those in charge of education see that a lot of children are not doing well in a school—because of the severe poverty and hardship of their lives—they not only criminalize the children and their parents, but they place blame on the teachers, too.
Doing away with public education as we knew it
But there is method to their madness and they have been practicing that method for a long time. Malcolm X said it very well: “…they turn the victim into the criminal and the criminal into the victim.”
Bill Clinton’s 1993 State of the Union address reiterated his promise to “end welfare as we know it.” This was preceded by sensational mass-media stories of “welfare fraud” portraying welfare mothers as driving Cadillacs and wearing designer purses while popping out babies just to collect a bigger check. What did that massive propaganda campaign do? It demonized the poorest of the poor—single parents and their children who relied on welfare. And, it worked.
Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform” made it impossible for welfare recipients to complete more than two years of higher education—condemning them to low paying, unskilled or entry-level clerical jobs like a receptionist in a dentist’s office. It’s the kind of job that’s okay for a worker just starting out, or a student working during summer vacation or while going to college part-time. But it will not support a home, family or finance a college education for the kids.
The war on drugs
Bill Clinton’s campaign to end welfare succeeded in large part because of Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs,” launched in 1969. The “addicted” (most were arrested and imprisoned for simple possession of marijuana—not even for sales) would no longer be considered individuals in need of treatment and rehabilitation, but criminals to be punished with imprisonment. Racism had a big part in this plan. While drug use is just as prevalent across all ethnic and class lines, Blacks make up about half of all prison inmates even though they are only 13 percent of the U.S. population. Through the “War on Drugs,” the mass media succeeded in stereotyping Black males as drug users, dealers and gang members.
According to wikipedia.com:
“The 1980s ushered in a new era of prison privatization. With a burgeoning prison population resulting from the War on Drugs and increased use of incarceration, prison overcrowding and rising costs became increasingly problematic for local, state, and federal governments. In response to this expanding criminal justice system, private business interests saw an opportunity for expansion, and consequently, private-sector involvement in prisons moved from the simple contracting of services to contracting for the complete management and operation of entire prisons… As of December 2000, there were 153 private correctional facilities (prisons, jails and detention centers) operating in the United States with a capacity of over 119,000.”
With the influx of crack cocaine—selling for $5.00 a rock as compared to powder cocaine (the form preferred by the affluent) that sells for more than $100.00 for the same amount of cocaine—to the inner cities and into the Black community especially, from around 1984-1990, stricter laws were put into place against users of crack cocaine. In fact, under the current law, it takes 100-times as much powdered cocaine as crack for the same mandatory minimum sentence.
According to the Washington Post:
“’The sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine has contributed to the imprisonment of African Americans at six times the rate of whites and to the United States’ position as the world’s leader in incarcerations,’ Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement.”1
In 1994 things got much worse for “drug offenders” in California. Voters, whipped up by police and media hysteria, approved a ballot initiative known as “Three Strikes and You’re Out.” Basically what it means is that people who are convicted of three felonies may end up facing life in prison. Most three-strike felony convictions are drug and poverty related.
Poverty is the criminal; the victim is the poor
The harsh treatment of our most vulnerable children and those who succumb to desperation and drugs is what is criminal. No one grows up wanting to become a drug dealer or worse drug addicted; or a prostitute; or to grow up in a slum with violence all around; with kids killing other kids. No one wants to lead this kind of barbaric life! These are acts of desperation and despair when no other alternatives for survival are available. And the U.S. judicial system irrationally prosecutes child prostitutes as criminals while insanely ignoring the obvious—that it’s the children who are the victims of a system that plunges masses of people into poverty and forces them to do whatever is necessary to survive.
The cemeteries and the jails are filled with victims of a vicious system that criminalizes the poor and rewards the capitalist murderers and thieves responsible for their poverty and despair!
All the wrong solutions
From top to bottom the system of capitalism uses force and violence to maintain its rule. War; military and police occupation at home and abroad; control and manipulation of the laws for industry and commerce; enforcement of anti-labor laws; drug laws; stop and search laws; bankruptcy laws; credit and tax laws—all these laws are designed and enforced by the government to control the masses of people, maintain the capitalist system, keep it running, and keep the profits rolling in.
Decisions made by the government always benefit the capitalists at the expense of workers.
The politician’s job is to convince the masses of people that what’s good for business—even if it’s painful to working people now—is good for working people if they just be patient and wait. They try to convince workers that the fantastic wealth the capitalist class has accumulated, and continues to strive to accumulate, will eventually begin to trickle down to the humble masses.
There has been no trickling down. The cost of the wars, occupations and bailouts prohibits it. Everything about working class life is declining. All the victories won by labor in the past have been undone to one degree or another.
The only thing capitalism is guaranteed to continue to facilitate is a one-way ticket to transport money out of the pockets of the poor straight up into the coffers of the wealthy elite who control the capitalist system from the top.
Capitalism is single minded. It can only operate in the one dimension of what’s good for the capitalist. If some of the things that benefit capitalists happen to benefit some workers too, you can rest assured it’s because it is a path of least resistance for the capitalists’ goals. It is impossible for them to “think out of this box.”
Capitalism’s downward spiral
Capitalism is running out of time. It can no longer allow the standard of living for working people to stay the same, let alone rise. It has come to the point that the only way to maintain and raise their rate of profit, is to cut into the living standards of working people. Capitalism is a system that has outlived its usefulness. Unfortunately, the longer capitalism stays in power the less time we all have on this planet. In the quest for unending profits, capitalism kills, wastes, squanders, spills, plunders, poisons—irrationally, and with reckless abandon.
The U.S., the wealthiest nation in the world, has proven incapable of rescuing and rehabilitating not only their own hurricane-ravaged population of New Orleans during and after hurricane Katrina; but they proved incapable of helping the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, Haiti, devastated by an earthquake, that is further compounded by its population’s state of abject poverty before the earthquake.
The Haitian people have still not gotten enough food and medicine—not even tents, let alone homes that can shelter them from the elements. Millions of Haitians are living under sheets and tarps as their hurricane and rainy season underway and set to continue throughout the summer and fall.
They still have no sanitation. It was inadequate before the earthquake. It’s much worse now. The have no jobs, and there was already mass starvation and unemployment before the earthquake. And attempts by the Haitians to organize their own solutions communally have been thwarted by U.S. and UN occupation troops.
Yet our bi-partisan government stands by feigning sadness and wringing their hands claiming they are doing the best they can while they choose to spent hundreds of trillions of dollars on wars and F35 warplanes, military occupations and granting financial aid to the wealthy.
The capitalist system is responsible for heinous crimes in pursuit of the almighty dollar. But they have come to the end of their road. The only way they can continue to perpetuate themselves is to sacrifice the welfare of the masses and the planet. In short, there are two fundamentally opposed classes—the working class and the capitalist class—whose interests are diametrically opposed.
The costs of good working conditions, benefits, pay, housing, healthcare, education, public infrastructure; even the costs of wars and bailouts for the wealthy are passed on to the masses of working people—so as not to cut into profits. Even multi-billion-dollar charities get all the tax credits and breaks for collecting the money donated in small amounts by generous working people who can’t claim these small amounts themselves.
Companies routinely move to places with the cheapest labor and poorest labor laws no matter where they are. Borders mean nothing to U.S. corporate interests in the pursuit of higher profits.
Simply put, any gains workers win one place; the capitalists make up for elsewhere. If capitalists are forced to raise the minimum wage they just make up for it by raising prices, cutting quality or speeding up production, or by waging war and occupation. These costs are never paid for out of the pockets of the capitalists. They alone have the power to pass and enforce the laws to make sure of that.
The fundamental reality is, it’s either us, or them. The good news is we vastly outnumber them. All we have to do is put our heads together and collectively and democratically make decisions based on satisfying our common interests, needs and wants—not to secure private profits for the wealthy elite.
1 Bill Targets Sentencing Rules For Crack and Powder Cocaine
By Carrie Johnson, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, October 16, 2009