Friday, October 01, 2010

We need peace in order to go forward together

On Saturday, thousands of people will converge on Washington to proclaim we are One Nation Working Together "for jobs, justice and education for all." There are lots of groups involved -- and lots of organized constituencies: labor, civil rights, immigrants, progressive activists, LGBT people and the list goes on. Probably the broadest statement on the event website reads:

Demand the changes we voted for...

With the economy still in the tank, jobs miserably scarce, and one and half faraway wars dragging on, too often we are told we can't have the changes we voted for.

On Wednesday, a hearing before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee laid out all too clearly one of the obstacles to getting what we have worked for (or even to balancing the federal budget if that's your worry.) The United States has a long term moral and practical obligation to the women and men who have served in our current military adventures. And the cost of giving our veterans the care they deserve will be enormous.

"It's somewhere between Medicare and Social Security in terms of its potential impact" on the budget, said Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat and committee chairman.

"This is another entitlement that we have committed ourselves to that is going to break the bank unless we deal with these issues as soon as possible," he told reporters. ...

Two economists, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University, testified.

Ms. Bilmes said Wednesday that, with more than a half-million claims for disability benefits already filed by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan — and close to 600,000 being treated in Veterans Affairs medical facilities — the cost of lifetime care and benefits over the next 40 years would be between $589 billion and $934 billion, "depending on the duration and the intensity of the wars."...

Based on the historic experience of Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War, where increasing numbers of veterans have sought treatment or benefits for service-related ailments as years pass, "these costs are going to mount significantly over time," said Donald Overton, executive director of advocacy group Veterans of Modern Warfare.

The economists urged Congress to realize that, costly as the wars appear now, the ultimate costs over the lifetime of their veterans will continue to rise. Stiglitz has previously calculated that

the peak expenditures for World War II vets came in 1993.

My emphasis.

I hope all those people on the mall on Saturday understand this. We can't undo the injuries and traumas that our senseless wars have already inflicted or escape the costs whose burden we assumed when we dispatched some of our people into harm's way. But we can stop further bleeding. If we want jobs, good education for all, increased justice at home, we will have to stop fighting unnecessary wars. And we will have to get that across to the politicians.

One Nation Working Together has a "peace table, a set of groups and shared aspirations that focus on peace.

One Nation Working Together aims to hold together through the November elections -- but more importantly, beyond the elections. The coalition website proclaims

...once the ballots are counted, we will keep organizing, we will hold our leaders accountable, and we will keep making our dream real.

This movement will grow. It will put America back to work, pull America back together, and keep us moving ever forward.

We can only do that if we stop making wars around the world.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

Just another cost of the fruitless wars started by George Bush and continued by Obama. Not only is the monetary cost devastating, but the cost of human lives (that will never be the same again) will never end.

I do give Obama credit, though, for keeping his campaign pledge in stopping the Iraq debacle.

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