August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rodriquez: Health, war-peace, hypocrisy and taxes

Column of the Americas
Health, War-Peace, Hypocrisy & Taxes
By Roberto Rodriguez

Over the past several months, conservatives seemingly made headway
convincing a good portion of the U.S. public that Congress may not be
able to produce a national health care plan that will not bust the
budget – something that president Barack Obama has promised not to
sign. And then came Afghanistan.

Conservatives almost had the nation convinced that despite the
laudable goal of improving the overall health of the nation, insuring
everyone is simply too costly. There’s no money to save lives, to
prolong life or to heal those who would otherwise die or live in
deteriorating health, but out of the blue, there will be money for
Afghanistan just as every year our brave and courageous political
leaders of both parties manage to find hundreds of billions for the
wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

So here’s the equation: Money to save lives? NO! Money to kill? YES!

As is well-known, in this recession and in this economy, the biggest
losers are the young because the similar equation is at work: No money
for education, but plenty of money for war and more war. Plenty of
money for bombs, but not books.

How did the values of this nation get this skewered? The truth is,
more than oil, the nation’s leaders are spiritually addicted to war.
Always have been, i.e. Providence, Manifest Destiny and Divine
Mission. However, war in this country has always also had its secular
counterpart – the idea of U.S. exceptionalism and its need to spread
"democracy." It has also always been aided by linguistic jujitsu: war
is actually peace. This is not a page from former president George W.
Bush warped lexicon. Truthfully, all of history’s despots have made
the same claim; the more war, the more peace. Thus the nation inherits
not simply an insatiable thirst for war, but a spiritual imprimatur to
go with it.

At the core of this ideology is dehumanization. As long as U.S. lives
are kept to a minimum, the nation’s leaders do not have to account for
the killing of hundreds of thousands of the “enemy.” The loss of life
is irrelevant – especially with the use of drone technology – as long
as leaders employ the use of phrases such as peace, democracy and
national security.

But dehumanization is old news. Back to the economic argument about
the nation being too broke to afford health care or it being a crime
to saddle the next generation with permanent debt because of Obama’s
intent to impose a government-run socialized and rationed health care

As tempting as it is to call it Bush-logic or Bush-Math or the world
according to Bush-Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, the truth is, we are now
long-past that era. Yet, under president Obama – and despite his Nobel
Peace Prize – we continue to live under the same nonsensical policies
that have brought us to the brink of bankruptcy. Worse, this
administration continues to support virtually all of the Bush-Cheney
war policies. This includes defending the unchecked right of the
executive to trample upon the Constitution – all under the guise of
national security and “keeping the nation safe.” This also includes
shirking from his Constitutional responsibilities in terms of holding
the former administration legally accountable for foisting upon the
world a clearly illegal war.

It defies logic how the nation’s political class manages to discuss
the war(s) and health care reform as though they were unrelated. The
actual price tag (more than a trillion dollars) on both wars has
already far exceeded the projected cost of the president’s health care
reform. That does not take into account all the added costs from the
tens of thousands of veterans who are returning with permanent
physical and psychological injuries that in many cases will require
lifetime medical care.

Beyond the moral and political arguments, it makes perfect economic
sense to stop both wars. It would be nice if the same politicians who
invoke economic arguments regarding the un-affordability of health
care reform used the same logic for fighting wars. Perhaps a fiscally
conservative Congressional bill is in order: the United States shall
not engage in war unless it is fully paid for; the United States shall
not engage in war if it contributes to the nation’s deficit.

Regardless of what the insurance and pharmaceutical industries have to
say in regards to health care reform, the majority of the U.S. public
still wants the Democrats to find their backbones. The majority will
now also hope [push] that president Obama use the moral power of his
Nobel to actually end both wars.

Rodriguez can be reached at:

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