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“They Want Us To Die”


How bad is it in the United States, the leading homeland and headquarters of global Empire and Inequality? For a small part of the answer, check out the two short items I have pasted in below (including intervening commentary in the second piece). Story number one (from National Public Radio) relates one interesting

way that Missouri (the “Show Me State”) is coping with rising medical costs and falling public revenues: slashing 90,000 people from Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the very poor.

Missouri’s “devout[ly] Christian” Governor Matt Blunt intereprets the teachings of Jesus to mean that a single working mother of three no longer qualifies for this vital program unless she makes less than — get this — $86 a week or $4,472 a year (less than a fourth of the notoriously inadequate US poverty level for a family that size). Previously that working mom qualified at $15,600.

Blunt’s version of the Gospel in action means that a 44-year old disabled woman named Irene Schivers will have to “ration her food and sell her dogs.” The way Schivers sees it, “they want us [the poor and disabled] to die. We are a burden on society, so they don’t care.”

Exactly: under classic liberal and modern neoliberal socioeconomic doctrine, as Chomsky says, “people have no rights other than what they can acquire on the market.”

Story number two from the New York Times tells you about the total costs of the American “War on Terrorism” to date….in excess of $200 billion. As you will see, I have interrejected (in CAPITAL letters) some things that were left out of the Times story, including the stupendous taxpayer financed profits that these massive “defense” (Empire) expenditures create for corporate war- and “free” market-masters like Boeing, Goodrich, Northrop Grumman (Research), Raytheon (Research), Lockheed Martin, and Rockwell Collins.

Market discipline is meant for the poor; the left hand of the state must be starved. The rich and powerful few are exempt from market strictures, however. They are free to gorge themselves at the public trough, profiting from the amply fed and murderously flexing right hand of the racist, imperial, and mass-incarceratory state.

All of which and much more (including most of what I write), resonates (speaking of hands) with some interesting queries, ably posed by Nine Inch Nails to those of us who are more favorably employed (indirectly in my case) by the nation’s corporate masters:

You’re keeping in step
In the line
Got your chin held high and you feel just fine
Because you do
What you’re told
But inside your heart it is black and it’s hollow and it’s cold

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

What if this whole crusade’s
A charade
And behind it all there’s a price to be paid
For the blood
On which we dine
Justified in the name of the holy and the divine

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

So naive
I keep holding on to what I want to believe
I can see
But I keep holding on and on and on and on

Will you bite the hand that feeds you?
Will you stay down on your knees? [8X]

Story 1

Morning Edition, May 11, 2005 · Medicaid has become the single biggest budget item for most states, and nearly all of them are trying to curb its growth. In Missouri, plans to pare 90,000 people from the Medicaid rolls in 2005 have sparked a fierce debate over the morality of the cuts.

The proposals have opened a moral schism, with some preachers expressing outrage, but the governor, a devout Christian, defends the cuts as morally correct. Gov. Matt Blunt says not cutting Medicaid would force him to raise taxes — and in his eyes, raising taxes is wrong.

Missouri’s Medicaid program has more than doubled in size in the past decade, expanding to cover almost one in five citizens. And the governor’s office says taking some people off Medicaid will motivate them to improve their lot in life.

Among those affected by the changes is Angel Bridgewater, whose $6.70-per-hour McDonald’s job makes her ineligible for state medical aid. Despite supporting three children, she now has to make less than $86 each week to qualify for Medicaid. Before the cuts, she qualified while earning about $300 a week. Bridgewater calls the new eligibility standard, the lowest allowed by federal law, “sickening.”

While the proposed changes will likely put more uncollected debt in the hands of hospitals, the state itself stands to lose federal grants that cover most of Medicaid’s costs. The $600 million cut means an almost $380 million annual loss in federal payments to the state. Amy Bluin of the Missouri Budget Project says the state is entering new territory. “We have to question if we are the crash-test dummy for the nation,” she said. “Are we going to be standing out as the show-me state, for other states, or showing them what not to do?”

For disabled Missourians like 44-year old Irene Schivers, the situation is no less serious. Schivers spends her days in a mobile home she shares with two dogs, a computer and a collection of dolls. Cerebral palsy and lupus have made her unable to work. She says that the new guidelines, with would require her to take in less than $500 a month before Medicaid kicks in, will make her ration food and give her dogs away.

“They want us to die,” says Schivers. “We are a burden on society, so they don’t care. We don’t work, so why should we get anything? Just go ahead and die.”

As both sides seek the moral high ground in the debate, some leaders are formulating plans to make plans further cuts. A commission will soon be formed with a mandate to dismantle Medicaid in Missouri by June 30, 2008.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4647327&sourceCode=RSS

Story 2

May 14, 2005
$50 Bln More Asked For Iraq, Afghan, Terror Wars
By REUTERS
Filed at 1:01 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Armed Services Committee has recommended an additional $50 billion be set aside to fund U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the U.S.-declared global war on terrorism.

STREET: THE EFFORTLESS MERGING OF IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, AND WAR ON TERRORISM IS STANDARD IN DOMINANT MEDIA. WE ARE ENCOURAGED THROUGH CONSTANT REPETITION TO FORGET THAT: IRAQ (UNLIKE AFGHANISTAN) DID NOT HOST TERRORISTS; THE AMERICAN WARS ON BOTH NATIONS HAVE BEEN TERRORIST; THE AMERICAN IMPERIAL CAMPAIGN IS BREEDING MORE TERRORISTS.

The proposed new war spending for fiscal 2006, which starts Oct. 1, would push the cost of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath toward $250 billion.

Before the invasion, then-White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey said a conflict with Iraq could cost $100 billion to $200 billion. He was derided by administration colleagues and lost his job in December 2002.

STREET: OH WELL…. DOMINANT MEDIA HAS NORMALIZED MADNESS SO THIS IS JUST ANOTHER SHOCKING FACT THAT PASSES IN ONE EYE AND OUT THE OTHER.

The recommendation for fresh emergency spending was sent to the full Senate on Thursday night as part of a bill that also would authorize $441.6 billion in regular defense spending in fiscal 2006, a 3.1 percent real increase over the sum authorized by Congress last year.

STREET: WHICH IS PART OF WHY ONE PART OF A GENERALLY BAD INVESTOR MARKET IS DOING VERY WELL. SEE: “Defense, Defense!: Why Business is Booming for Military Contractors,” CNN Money (April 26, 2005) at http://money.cnn.com/2005/04/26/markets/defense/index.htm”

Three days ago, Congress gave final approval for an $82 billion emergency war-spending bill, of which about $76 billion would go to fighting the war.

STREET: ONE THING THE REPORTERS LEAVE OUT HERE: THIS WAR BILL PASSED UNANIMOUSLY…I SAID UNANIMOUSLY. THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE PROTEST VOTE FROM THE DEMOCRATS.

Even with such a large emergency funding measure, Pentagon officials have said more money would be needed as early as October.

The White House Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, said it had not sought the additional $50 billion recommended by the Armed Services Committee.

“We prefer to request emergency funds if and when they are needed,” said Scott Milburn, an OMB spokesman. “The nature of the conflict means long-term projections of those needs are difficult to make.”

The new measure had bipartisan support. It is expected to be taken up by the full Senate as early as the end of this month. Once passed by the Senate, it needs to be reconciled with the House of Representatives’ version, then approved by both chambers and signed by President Bush to become law.

“I am particularly pleased that the bill will authorize $50 billion to support the day-to-day military operations of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the panel’s top Democrat, said in a statement.

STREET: “THE PANEL’S TOP DEMOCRAT” IS “PLEASED.” PLEASE CHECK HIS CAMPAIGN DONOR DATABASE.

U.S. Iraq costs could total about $208 billion as of Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, including about $183 billion for the Defense Department, plus about $25 billion for reconstruction, embassy and related costs, said Amy Belasco, a defense budget analyst at the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

“If the additional $50 billion proposed by the Senate Armed Services Committee for fiscal 2006 splits between Iraq and Afghanistan along the lines of previous Defense Department spending reports, the cost of Iraq could then reach $250 billion,” she said.

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/politics/politics-iraq-congress-funding.html?pagewanted=print

….”Justified in the name of the holy and divine.”

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