USA? Hello? Anybody Awake?


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“Congress is fiddling while the Pentagon burns our cities and villages, our bridges, our health care system, our highways….”

Author: Tom Hastings, a founder of Whitefeather Peace Community in Portland, Oregon, and co-chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Association
Published in: The Oregon Statesman Journal
Date: August 5, 2007

Read the full article:
USA? Hello? Anybody Awake?
(498 words)
by Tom H Hastings
For many years I drove frequently over the stretch of bridge that once spanned the Mississippi River near Minneapolis—my hometown—and St. Paul, Minnesota. My heart is out to those poor souls who were caught by coincidence on that span when it suddenly simply collapsed.
Now, say the experts, our 47,000-mile interstate highway system and our 75,000 bridges are decrepit and often structurally deficient, despite, they claim, higher spending on fixing the problems.
Michael Moore’s new film Sicko has helped highlight the structural deficiencies in our health care system that leaves more than 40 million working Americans uninsured and ranks us 37th in the world in basic health care delivery.
A member of our peace community recently tried to travel by Greyhound bus from southern Oregon to Portland. Passengers had to change buses twice due to breakdowns along the way, including an extra overnight. Is this merely anecdotal or are we seeing the general hollowing-out of America’s infrastructure?
Of course not! We still have the biggest, most expensive, most geographically dispersed military in human history. We have bases in some 60 percent of the planet’s nations and our military budget grossly exceeds the entire rest of the world combined. We outspend enemies, friends, and the entire solar system all put together! Our Congress—Democrats in control—votes for that again and again with barely a murmur.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called the Minneapolis bridge collapse a “wake-up call,” according to the Washington Post. You think?
Congress will vote again on the war funding in mid-late September. The Declaration of Peace has been notifying many members that unless they promise to vote zero more dollars to prosecute the totally failed strategy in Iraq, some of us will sit in their offices in nonviolent resistance to more blood money—the Pentagon refers to the $379 million per day spent just on Iraq military operations as the “burn rate.”
Congress is fiddling while the Pentagon burns our cities and villages, our bridges, our health care system, our highways, our educational system, our agricultural system, our forests, and our renewable safe energy hopes. The Neglect Bombs are falling all around us while the military buys rafts of new Hummers to recruit naive youth into their killing and dying ranks. The war contractors grow richer each day while the average American joins the average Iraqi as just another casualty to be swept under the rug at the altar of War Profiteering.
My people back in Minnesota died for these priorities, these spending choices that make it no coincidence that these catastrophic failures are occurring. Please, don’t let them have died in vain. Please let their memories light the way to peaceful and prosperous priorities that we need so badly.

Tom H Hastings is a founder of Whitefeather Peace Community in Portland, Oregon, and co-chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Association.