What is a veteran's role in setting national policy on economics? Do we even have one?


\\Today’s New York Times is a veritable prose spreadsheet on our national and regional economic woes.  And as I read through the Times I cannot help but ask the question: do we veterans have an obligatory role in deciding where our money goes in this country?

Has our service given us the right to say something about all the waste, the huge defense budgets that rob our children and grand children of a future, the no-bid contracts that are in the billions of dollars and pushed toward friends of the rich and powerful? Do we have a legitimate voice in this debate?


It is a tough question and not easily answered I would think.  After all, we actually have a government in place specifically to decide on where our national resources are allocated.  But that may be the problem in a nutshell.  Our national resources (i.e. our tax money) is flowing back into the coffers of the already wealthy, people who generally speaking do not need government.  And that seems to be by design!  Lets take a look at today’s story and judge where we are today relative to our money. 

The first story is here.  We now have the biggest defecit since 1945, and this complicates our ability to shrink the fiscal gap between money we have and money we owe.  And the White House is now considering more steps to stimulate a slow recovery. 

Shouldn’t we be active in this debate?  Should we not be contacting our representatives and telling them what we want them to do with our money?

The next story for your consideration concerning our money is here. It seems that when Washington lent Wall Street money last year in the hope that Wall Street would start lending money to Main Street, that is not what happened.  To state this simply, Wall Street took the money and ran.

Instead of lending that Washington-lent money to the average American who needed it, Wall Street’s biggest banks took that government tax money and bought more stocks and bonds.  The average American has not seen that money in bank loans.  The banks more or less refuse to loan the money out to people like you and me. 

Frankly, the only reason that they got the money was to loan it out to you and me.  They have not done that.  Now, what should veterans do to register our disatisfaction with this sad state of affairs?  Should we do anything?

In a sidebar to our discussion of our national wealth, our tax money, it seems that the money involved in the national healthcare debate relative to forcing employers to insure workers exists in a whole lot fuzzier set of circumstances than any of us thought. That story is here.

To state this oversimplistically, the Dems want employers to do this so that everyone gets healthcare.  The GOP says it is a disaster because so much money will come out of the pockets of the employers that it will make them bankrupt and drive business down.  Now we get word that Hawaii has been doing this successfully for the last thirty five years!  Employers are required to do this and no one is bankrupt over in Hawaii over this.  Hmmmm!

Should we not be involved in this debate?  Don’t we have families that are affected?

There is another story here about a hedge fund chief in NYC being charged with the biggest insider-trading fraud in hedge fund history.  They arrested the guy yesterday.  Huge amounts of money are involved here. 

As best I can determine, these hedge funds need to be regulated, everyone sees this but the GOP is blocking it because it goes against the GOP ideology of absolutely free markets without any substantive government regulation to ensure "pure" capitalism moves forward.  This is pure captialism. 

Do you like it?  Do you want to be a part of it?  I did not think so.  Are you going to say anything to your congressman about it?  I didn’t think so.

In an Op-Ed article here, the Times takes on the GOP for blocking an extension of unemployment benefits in the Senate.  Again, ideology gets in the way.  The Republican Party is against anything that does not make the American worker completely responsible for his own social well being.  There will be no more government hand outs to Americans.  It flies in the face of capitalism.

If this is capitalism at its purest, I am not real sure that I want any part of it.  How about you?  What is your opinion?  Are you going to let your Congressman know?  He has a website you know. Ummm…errr….ahh….do you know his or her name?  I am just asking.

If you have never written to Congress before, you might want to start now.

In another Op-Ed piece written by Charles Blow, an African American, President Obama is taken to task for his slow response to the needs of the average American.  The piece is here. It seems that Obama’s deeds are slow in catching up to his words according to Mr. Blow.  Here is an excerpt:

"When, Mr. President? When will your deeds catch up to your words? The people who worked tirelessly to get you elected are getting tired of waiting. According to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the country has hit a six-month low, and those decreases were led, in both percentage and percentage-point decreases, by Democrats and independents, not by Republicans.

The fierce urgency of now has melted into the maddening wait for whenever.

Take health care reform. Because of the president’s quixotic quest for bipartisanship, he refused to take a firm stand in favor of the public option. In that wake, Democrats gutted the Baucus bill to win the graces of Olympia Snowe — a Republican senator from a state with half the population of Brooklyn, a senator who is defying the will of her own constituents. A poll conducted earlier this month found that 57 percent of Maine residents support the public option and only 37 percent oppose it."

It all comes down to whether or not you want to participate in your government or not.  As a veteran or a veterans advocate I would hope that you would want to participate as much as you can.

I don’t care what you believe your government should be doing, as long as you believe in something and are willing to participate in the process of government.

Otherwise, it is all one big con and all we are is a bunch of whiners that once wore a uniform.

In the end, that money that is being spent by the billions every week in western Asia wars is your money.  In the end, it is your children and grand children’s college education money.  It is the money for the pot-holed road in your town main square.  It is the money for the old people in your state to have a quality of life that is above bare subsistence.  It is money that could be sent over to the Social Security Fund to take care of you in retirement.

In the end, the tax money we are wasting on a $660 billion dollar defense budget every year is going to the super wealthy.  You must know that.  You are not stupid.  This country could very well defend itself quite nicely for half that amount of money in any given year.

In the end, you are getting it jammed straight in the end. Your rear end.

Now, the only question is, what are we veterans going to do about it?

CWO3 Tom Barnes, USCG (Ret.)






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