What priorities are being set for our nation? Are they the same priorities you would choose?
The GOP constantly cries over the debt limit and evokes the “spending problem” in Washington “frame” every time our Democratic representatives seek to place a priority on human needs. Paying for human needs with the common wealth we all contribute to helps sustain an America that works together. Unfortunately, some of us are unable to contribute to the common wealth due to disease or an unfortunate disability, as well as those who have retired after working their entire lives, who become eligible to receive the earned benefits they contributed to during their most productive years.
We show empathy and care for these individuals by coming together as one nation to provide the essential services necessary to support their needs. Without the common wealth these people would not be protected, much like the millions of Americans currently living in poverty and the many Americans who die each year as a result of not being able to afford health coverage for their families. Paying for human needs is essential for our nation to continue to be strong, along with investments in education, science and technology, and caring for our veteran population that bravely serve our country. These priorities are reflected in the budget and tax policies our elected representatives advocate for and pass.
What are our national priorities?
Take a look at this chart from the National Priorities Project and consider what priorities you think we should adopt for our nation, and compare that to what our nations priorities actually are at this moment.
When our elected representatives decide to place a priority on spending the common wealth as can be seen in the chart above, we are sending the message to our friends, family members, and neighbors alike that we don’t care about the suffering of others. We don’t care about education for our children. We don’t care about investing in science and technology. We don’t care about providing for those who are unable to provide for themselves. We don’t care about our wounded soldiers who return from war. When we enact immoral budget and tax policies that exclude the needs of the people, and ignore making crucial investments in our future, we not only increase the burden being placed on our families and communities, but we also send the message to other nations that we don’t care about each other. It appears the one thing we do care about is increased military spending. As indicated in this chart, we are spending the lion’s share of our tax dollars on military spending, at the expense of other social programs that provide for the needs of our citizens.
Even if we were to accept the frame put out there by pollsters working for the GOP regarding our “spending problem” in Washington, then we should at least be curious as to how that money is being spent. If it is acceptable to spend nearly 60% of our discretionary spending on the military, then why not shift our priorities, and start focusing on the needs of our citizens, instead of using our tax dollars (ie, the common wealth) to build an empire around the globe, bomb and destroy communities abroad, and create more enemies in the process. We didn’t always spend this much on our military. Even at the height of World War II, we spent a fraction of the cost we are spending today. The increase in military spending has more than doubled under former President George W. Bush’s watch to the point that we are now spending more money on our military than the rest of the world combined!
For the most part, the increased spending on the military was used to enrich shareholders of Haliburton and it’s subsidiaries (Dick Cheney’s former company) who received no bid contracts courtesy of Dick Cheney and former President Bush’s effective use of our Government to suppress competition. Rather than being used to keep us safe and protect us, which is the language the GOP repeatedly runs with when discussing increased military spending, Bush and Co. effectively used the power of the federal government to suppress competition and enrich fellow members of the privileged sector. This by the way is a textbook example of what the GOP’s frame of “picking winners and losers” is all about. Just like the “spending problem” in Washington frame, also referred to as the fictitious “tax and spend” Liberal, the “picking winners and losers” frame was purposely crafted to be repeated endlessly when facing any opposition to the GOP’s efforts to place a priority on corporate greed over human needs.
The National priorities project is an excellent resource for showing us what we could experience in this country if we simply shift our priorities. For example, instead of spending $22,000 per second to create enemies abroad, we could hire thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police officers, not to mention jump-start this economy by getting ahead of our national competitors in the development of clean, safe, fuels of the future like wind and solar power that will never run out, as opposed to focusing on dirty, unsafe fuels of the past that are polluting our planet and lungs, not to mention the devastating effects it will have on our economy when they do run out. This will finally eliminate (not just reduce) our dependence on foreign oil, increase our national security, and provide the desperately needed economic stimulus to get us back on track and working together as one nation.
Ultimately, the spending issue frame boils down to placing a priority on protecting and enriching the privileged in this country, (GOP led priorities) or protecting human needs and providing an equal opportunity for every citizen to pursue life, liberty and happiness by coming together in support of human needs over corporate greed (Democratic priorities).