Today is, of course, Veterans Day. A National day of remembrance for those who have given their lives while serving in the armed forces, as well as being dedicated to all veterans, according to the intention of the holiday. A very brief history is in order, followed by a very modest proposal, of which will be even briefer than the aforementioned history.
Veterans Day, or Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day, as it used to be called, happens to be the only non religious holiday that is celebrated in four different countries simultaneously: United States, Great Britain, Canada and France. Usually celebrated on November 11th, unless the date falls on a weekend, (according to Wikipedia, we can thank something called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act for that fact) Veterans day celebrates the signing of the Armistice that ended the slaughter of WWI. It wasn’t an official holiday until 1938 when signed into law by President Roosevelt; "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’."
The world peace part of that proclamation seems to be missing in action, pardon the battle euphemism, but how else can we explain the overthrow of better than 50 countries after WWII by U.S. imperial power? I certainly have no intention of missing the point of remembering those who have died violent deaths while serving in the U.S. military, after all, a majority of those were simply working class kids doing what they were asked to do, their job, in better terms. Very few 18 year old service members have the information necessary to question the power and authority of the state. Indeed, we can thank returning veterans during the Vietnam War for the protests that eventually ended that crime against humanity.
So, what’s my proposal? Sorry, I’m not there yet! Let’s take a look at the Military Budget of the U.S. According to the War Resisters League, and their excellent website www.warresisters.org, the military budget of the Unites States represents 47% of all military spending on the entire planet. We spend more than the next 15 countries combined. 54% of the U.S. budget belongs to the military; 36% current military and 18% past military including pensions and veterans benefits. 30% of the budget goes to human resources such as social security, 11% for general govt, and 5% for physical resources. For the record, 50% of NASA’s budget belongs to the military with the other half falling under the general govt category. Understanding that the United States is 1 trillion dollars in debt, including the rather nasty realization that a very large percentage of our tax dollar goes to service the interest on the debt rather than programs of social uplift, it becomes easy to comprehend the necessity for a serious internal overhaul.
To follow through with this line of thought, the Pentagon is the largest office complex on the planet, and known universe for all we know. Ground breaking for this massive structure was September 11th, 1941 (now that’s interesting!), and was officially put in service in 1943. Being 5 stories tall, with two sub floors, this structure includes a central open area that is a full 5 acres, nicknamed "ground zero" during the cold war. The pentagon houses 23,000 military personnel and 3,000 non defense support personnel, or 26,000 people! Add 10 fast food restaurants and an athletic center, and we have a complete city.
So, on this Veterans Day, a day to remember the fallen working class lads murdered in the name of U.S. colonial imperialism, let us step back and ask the obvious question: Do we really need to spend all that money on the god damned fucking military and waste the resources of the entire planet? Just a question, mind you, but let me get to my proposal.
My modest proposal starts with slicing the military budget by 80%, starting yesterday, and closing all overseas operations, except for diplomatic staff, of course. Veterans Administration Hospitals can be turned over to civilian use by the creation of a universal single payer health insurance plan, completely paid for out of the savings from reforming the bloated military. All injured war veterans would receive the same care, with the difference being that all U.S. residents would also receive universal care. Terrorism concerns, which are greatly exaggerated, will be turned over to local and federal law enforcement, where they do a much better job in the first place, also keeping in mind that it is no longer acceptable to violate the 4th amendment to the U.S. constitution, a guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure. Add to the mix that the threat of terrorism will greatly diminish as a result of the U.S. empire finally minding it’s own business, and I believe we have a prescription for success.
The heart of my proposal, and an idea I’ve been harboring for a very long time, involves taking the Pentagon building away from the military industrial complex, and handing it over to an enriched and overhauled Department of Education. Imagine the possibilities? A campus holding 26,000 students, complete with an infrastructure needed to run a university. How about free tuition for all D.C. Residents, and instruction and learning in every conceivable subject? The 5 acre center courtyard will no longer be named "ground zero", a rather nefarious reference to cold war Soviet intentions, but will become an open court yard of debate and culture.
What about the military? Well, we’ll give them an office somewhere in downtown D.C. If they decide they want money, let us recommend a bake sale. Oh yeah….we’ll also pay off the debt created by the tools of U.S. imperialism in the first place, and start rebuilding our civilian infrastructure.
Parks….hospitals…..brand new mass transit…..meaningful work. Makes me happy!
And yes, I’m a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States. Vietnam era, Thank you very much!