11 votes

The U.S. has been fighting the wrong war

4 comments

  1. [4]
    patience_limited
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm going to work hard not to turn this into an incoherent rant, but it's definitely a short polemic. See also, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's budgets here, currently $48 billion/year,...

    I'm going to work hard not to turn this into an incoherent rant, but it's definitely a short polemic.

    See also, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's budgets here, currently $48 billion/year, which includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and it's Center for Domestic Preparedness.

    I'll gloss over the Cold War decades where we were supposedly preparing for nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare. It's the work of years to explore the massive amounts of tax dollars spent to theoretically safeguard us and allied nations from these events. The Pentagon is notoriously poor in keeping track of exactly where that money goes.

    On a global scale more people have died from COVID-19 today than were killed by some loonies with airplanes on September 11, 2001. It's reasonable to expect that the U.S. alone will quickly exceed that number.

    The second item is that U.S. public health capacity has been systematically drained at both national and state levels. Of $3.5 trillion spent annually for healthcare, 2.5%, or $85 billion, went for all government public health activities (2017 data from the American Medical Association). That's less than $300/person. The trend has been downward since 2002 (not coincidentally, when the War on Terror started). This funding has been increasingly consumed for opioid addiction treatment and prevention.

    The current situation (much as it pains me to admit it,) is not entirely Donald Trump's fault.

    He's not helping, but the Federal agencies delegated responsibilities weren't watching out for biological disasters, weren't allocating funds to the preparation which was part of their mandates, weren't coordinating response effectively, and weren't adequately funded or functioning effectively in prior emergencies.

    In a nutshell, it's been a shitshow. The Trump administration definitely had reason to know it would be a shitshow, but fixing all the problems would have required ideologically unpalatable spending...

    I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say here, other than that we're stupid monkeys who'd rather starve themselves indefinitely to avoid a bee-sting, than prepare rationally against a plague. If any histories of American decline are written in the future, they would be remiss to omit just how profoundly we misinterpreted risks and squandered our opportunities as a nation. I haven't seen any reporting that connects the vast waste of the terrorism response, its inadequacy, and the monumental public health catastrophe we're facing, so I thought I'd write a pastiche.

    I guess productive rage has to be better than quivering fear, right? Please comment, tell me I'm an out-of-touch Old still fighting the last war, or whatever.

    10 votes
    1. [3]
      vord
      Link Parent
      Nope that's pretty much spot on. This kind of mass government ineptitude is what fuels the conservative 'everything the government touches is terrible' machine. They cover up that the...

      Nope that's pretty much spot on. This kind of mass government ineptitude is what fuels the conservative 'everything the government touches is terrible' machine. They cover up that the conservatives are often the reason it is terrible, and wax poetic about how they're 'proven right' and can rally their base with that message.

      This is why the 'moderate' stances annoy me so much, especially the 'reach across the aisle' mentality that Obama showed is mostly a waste of time these days. It's just giving up more ground to the right-wing extremists who don't try to reach across the aisle.

      6 votes
      1. patience_limited
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I think this analysis misses the extent to which the U.S. war machine is supported by two cowardly parties wholly-owned by a vast military cartel. Both Republicans and Democrats collaborate in the...

        I think this analysis misses the extent to which the U.S. war machine is supported by two cowardly parties wholly-owned by a vast military cartel. Both Republicans and Democrats collaborate in the fiction that no other priority outmatches arming ourselves. We keep focusing on the Republican Party's contribution to economic inequality and propaganda to support it, but our economic base has been hollowed out to support the machinery of empire.

        Our largest dollar-volume international export these days is weapons, sometimes slightly outpaced by crude oil exports since the fracking boom. This trade has shown steady growth over the last 25 years, regardless of which party is in power.

        More than half of our tax dollars support the government arm of this behemoth, at the expense of all the social amenities other developed nations enjoy.

        And one of the deeply infuriating things about it is that those dollars spent on "defense" aren't actually defending us. The military is not raining down stockpiles of respirators, medical supplies, or personnel to aid in the crisis. [There are a couple of token hospital ships, which won't take coronavirus patients. Yay.] Oh, wait, we can get help if we just give them still more money, and wade through a bureaucratic thicket of procurement. The leadership vacuum isn't helping.

        Whatever early warning systems the Department of Defense supposedly maintains against the risk of stealth biological attack... didn't bark, that we know of.

        Military efficiency and preparedness are questions that never came up in the Presidential debates and never seem to make front page news. But that money is going somewhere - it's not just bankers who are bleeding us dry, and now doing so in a more than metaphorical sense.

        4 votes
      2. Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        "Reagan said government is the cause instead of solution of our problems. The Republican party's job is to prove him right" -some redditor I think the problem is that the Republican party is only...

        Nope that's pretty much spot on. This kind of mass government ineptitude is what fuels the conservative 'everything the government touches is terrible' machine. They cover up that the conservatives are often the reason it is terrible, and wax poetic about how they're 'proven right' and can rally their base with that message.

        "Reagan said government is the cause instead of solution of our problems. The Republican party's job is to prove him right"

        -some redditor

        I think the problem is that the Republican party is only a party of small government to the 'small businesses and the economy'/'2A forever' people while religion and only allowing 2 genders 'moral' conservatism requires a big government and big donors mean that a small government right-wing party can't truly exist because it would oppose regulation of lobbying or antitrust and would be held to them like anyone who isn't a grassroots candidate.

        1 vote