Monday, November 02, 2009

Why can't the richest country on earth afford healthcare? Well, actually, it can.

There was a great Op-Ed in yesterday's LA Times about the California deficit crisis by Rebecca Solnit, subtitled The state has plenty of money and resources. What we've been lacking is a real-world discussion about how we distribute them, and she's not just talking about California, although that's her starting point.
Americans usually have fantastic visions of where our resources come from and go. A lot of Americans seem to believe that the federal government spends tons of money, rather than a small percentage of the federal budget, on the arts and foreign aid; but in fact, about half of discretionary spending goes to the military -- the largest and most expensive military the world has ever seen, one that costs nearly as much as all the other militaries put together.

In discussing the national financial crisis, the military was never really on the chopping block, even though its budget could, with a little paring, provide healthcare, education, environmental restoration, some cool climate-change adaptation and all the other pieces of a good society and a great nation. Do we really need several hundred military bases in more than 125 countries? And all those expensive toys? And the research programs to do things like weaponize insects? Do we need them more than we need to keep children healthy?
Thanks to Jim Johnson, who has a post about Solnit in his blog (Notes on) Politics, Theory & Photography.

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