Archive for September, 2013

snap

How is it in a nation where around 50 million people are food insecure, including around 17 million children, that there is a bunch of yahoos in Congress (a majority in the House) that can actually in good conscience vote to cut aid for food?

I mean, the fact that people want to eat is a sign of government excess?  It’s not because it’s some sort of ‘get rich quick’ scheme.  The average recipient gets $133/month (or about a lousy $1.50 per meal).  It’s not that people are too lazy to work.  40% of households receiving aid have at least one working adult (though you get into another situation where you can get a job that barely clears the income limit and really fall short of what you need to feed your family yet don’t qualify for assistance).  It’s not that we don’t have enough food.  40% of the food produced in this country each year just gets thrown away.  And it’s not that we don’t have enough money.  This nation’s GDP is over $16 trillion.  We certainly can afford to feed everyone.

Now it’s true that this won’t ever pass the Senate, much less get signed by President Obama.  But although our food insecurity problem is among the worst for advanced economic nations, it is not a good sign it’s a problem we are going to solve anytime soon.  Apparently feeding people, even children, is just not a priority.

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syria

President Obama is set to make a speech on Tuesday night to convince the American people of the need of military action in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack in that country.  This probably doesn’t make me a good citizen or whatever, but I do not believe there is anything Obama can say that would convince me that this is the correct course of action.  I am just so solidly in the ‘no more wars’ camp at this point.  And this just bothers me.

  • First, hearing all the discussions about whether or not we should do this or not, the fact that more people WILL die as a result of our attack just never comes up.  And tomahawk missiles just don’t know the difference between responsible parties and innocent people.   The only thing I ever hear is whether or not Americans would be at risk, as if the lives of Syrians are not human or something.   The human costs should be at the forefront of any calculation for an attack, but it doesn’t seem to enter into the equation at all.
  • What does seem to be a major variable in the calculation is some vague notion of “credibility”.  I have even often heard that an attack on Syria would almost certainly not change anything in that country, but we still have to do it to retain “credibility”.  I’m sorry, but I think “credibility” is a stupid reason to kill people.  Also, exactly what happens if we lose “credibility”?  We lose influence?  As near as I can tell, we don’t have any influence to lose in the Middle East, at least not anymore.
  • Speaking of “credibility”, how much “credibility” do WE  have when it comes to so-called “weapons of mass destruction”?  Iraq anyone?  You know what’s a much better way of earning credibility than killing people?  Telling the truth.  Our track record is not good on that front lately.
  • So it seems clear that chemicals were used.  But did the al-Assad regime do it?  Or was it the rebel opposition?  Now, not everyone acts rationally.  But it probably makes more sense for the rebel opposition to try to coax American involvement than it does for al-Assad to risk it unless he was desperate.  It doesn’t appear that he should be that desperate yet.
  • The rebel opposition are not ‘good guys’.  In fact, al-Qaeda is involved with some of the rebel factions.  I just don’t think the saying ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ can possibly apply to al-Qaeda.
  • So chemical weapons are awful, but this has been a human tragedy even before their use.  Over 100,000 dead along with over a million fleeing the country.  Is the message we are sending here is that it’s okay to commit atrocities against people as long as you do it the “right” way?
  • Obama has also said that action would be “limited”.  But how can he promise that?  Either our actions have a point, in which case that action must continue until that point is achieved, or there is no point, in which case we are pointlessly killing people.

So no, there’s nothing Obama could say on Tuesday that’s going to change my mind.  Further, until we learn that problems are not solved by killing people, and killing people is not solved by killing even more people, there is no hope for peace on earth.