Monday, January 18, 2010

Listening to the side of Martin Luther King Jr. that isn't quoted as much on his holiday

Right now it looks as if the fate of healthcare reform is in the hands of voters in tomorrow's special election to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. And the weird, truly surreal reality is that, due to Democratic bungling, the voters who for years reelected the strongest advocate of healthcare reform in the Senate, the voters of the one state in the union that comes closest to having health insurance for all, these same voters seem to be on the verge of electing a rightwing populist who has vowed to cast the deciding vote in the Senate to block healthcare reform this year.

But it should never have come down to this. Much of the Obama Administration's long "bipartisan" process to negotiate a healthcare bill has been about finding an acceptable way to pay for it. But why is that even an issue in this, as we love to tell ourselves, the richest country in the world?

The 2009 U.S. military budget is almost as much as the rest of the world's defense spending combined. When he called for defense budget reductions nearly a year ago, Congressman Barney Frank made the connection between military expenditures and spending on domestic needs explicit.
The math is compelling: if we do not make reductions approximating 25 percent of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to continue to fund an adequate level of domestic activity even with a repeal of Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy.
Martin Luther King, Jr. had this to say in his great antiwar speech at New York's Riverside Church in 1967.
A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
If we brought our military spending under control, the problem of finding the money for healthcare would be trivial. If other industrial countries can afford it, certainly the richest of all can afford it.

It's just a matter of getting our priorities straight. But more than 40 years after Dr. King spoke these words, we're still struggling with the spiritual death thing.

1 comment:

Rich said...

Being a native of Massachusetts and I speak for not only myself but for a lot of us here- we are tired of being taxed into oblivion. We also (in the spirit of the original TEA party)don't like being told we MUST buy anything from the government including our health care.

The Democrats are imploding because of their own arrogance. up until a few weeks ago they truly believed that Kennedy's seat "belonged" only to a democrat. THAT is what made a lot of blood boil here in Mass.