The Military Budget, Healthcare Reform, and Corporate Media

As each week passes, U.S. healthcare reform becomes more and more watered down. Only an idiot would compare a genuine single payer healthcare system to this half-assed "public option" that the White House and its democratic cronies are now pushing. It is clear that the Obama administration and the band of capitulating Democrats are either fools or they take the pro-single payer general public for fools. It is probably a bit of both. The public option pales in comparison to the true "everybody in and nobody out" single payer system that even the president supported back in 2003 when he was a state senator. However, the deeper state senator Obama got into mainstream politics the more he willingly became influenced by corporate money. President Obama received tens of millions of dollars for his corporate presidential campaign from the healthcare industry. Obama’s strong corporate ties are a major reason why he has made an about face.

I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure that I am not stuck in some bad dream filled with intellectually dishonest people unaware that Medicare and Medicaid are in fact government-run when they make their fragile claims that government-run health care has no place in America. I then have to slap myself to make sure that I am not eternally trapped in a nightmare where my country spends more than $600 billion a year on its military, yet claims it can’t finance a single player healthcare system.

I have yet to wake up from the nightmare that claims the lives of at least 22,000 people a year for lack of health care and where at least 46 million people try to subsist without any health care at all. This nightmare continues unfettered while every other industrialized country in the world has some sort of healthcare social contract for its citizens.

It is, sadly, interesting to observe some of the obvious questions that corporate media consistently fail to raise. The corporate media has perfected the "skill" of not raising important questions that would enable the average viewer to critically deconstruct issues. The perfection of this skill is not by chance, it is by design and explains why the overwhelming majority of "experts" they parade on their news programs are in step with their agenda. They know very well what to say and what not to say. They know not to raise any question or subject that might be too controversial. These days what is considered controversial is often what is truthful. This is why those who rely on the corporate mainstream media for their news and information will never understand critical issues in the world today.

For instance, most Americans will never know the truth or the history behind the Middle East conflict. The corporate media loves to marginalize, demonize, and denigrate the Palestinians, their plight, and their struggle for self-determination. Because of this sad fact most Americans continue to be complicit with their government in annually sending billions of dollars of military aid to Israel. This military aid will continue to be used to repress and destroy Palestinian lives. One cannot claim to be a mediator, as the U.S. disingenuously does, all the while militarily arming one side and ignoring the other.

Most Americans have been programmed not to think critically or discursively when it comes to how their government spends for "defense." This programming starts at a very early age and continues throughout their lifetime. Some core American ideals are firmly mounted upon militarism and unfettered capitalism. These things are virtually everywhere in American society; they are even woven into the fabric of mainstream schooling. They are more than just simply acceptable—they are as American as apple pie. This is a fundamental reason why it is easier to spot the Loch Ness Monster than a corporate media special on "excessive military spending." It would clearly be counter-intuitive for the corporate media to blow the whistle on itself.

The U.S. spends billions a year on more than 700 military bases worldwide, including military expansion in Africa, otherwise known as Africom (Africa Command). This $600-billion plus does not include the maintenance of nuclear weaponry, which is hidden in the Department of Energy’s budget. It does not necessarily include the tens of billions of supplemental funding that goes towards the wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq. If you go to the White House Office of Management and Budget (, they will tell you that they are using some of that money to draw down troops in Iraq "responsibly." Yet the U.S. has built a $600 million embassy there with a $1 billion a year operational budget.

If these American imperialist plans seem like a distraction from the money that could be spent on universal single payer health care, they are. U.S. military spending has to be significantly reduced if there is any way that lifesaving social programs like universal health care can be established. It is, by far, one of the most logical ways to find the money to fund such a program. Don’t expect Fox News to raise these questions. And don’t expect the military contractor GE (who owns NBC and MSNBC) to challenge the government on this matter. We have to do that. We have to continue to create a critical mass that pressures the hell out of this government to do what is in our best interest. Left on their own, the U.S. government will continue down the same destructive path they have built a legacy on. As Martin Luther King said, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."


Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker, and the host of the Your World News radio program (