It's an Emperor-has-no-clothes kind of thing.
It's been true for decades that we have a huge and hugely expensive military out of all proportion to need or sanity.
And it's been true that it is that level of expenditure on the military we can't afford, not universal health care or a free college education, or welfare or social security or unemployment insurance or any of the things the country should be providing its citizens.
But military spending has been another "third rail" in American politics. You can't even join the discussion of the U.S. budget unless you agree that military spending should not go down. Just like you aren't allowed on teevee if you ever said you opposed the Iraq or Afghanistan adventures.
Now we have the questions of escalation of American troops in Afghanistan and the public option in health care reform being debated publicly at the same time. And I hope to hear a lot of "Something's wrong with our priorities if we have enough money for more troops in an utterly hopeless military adventure on the other side of the planet, but not enough to give everybody access to health care here at home."
But it's not just Afganistan versus the public option. It's also military bases all over the planet versus good schools for our kids. It's more military spending than Russia and China and Britain and France and Japan and Germany and Saudi Arabia and South Korea and India and Brazil and Italy and Australia and Canada and Indonesia and The Netherlands put together versus keeping our kids out of poverty. And so on.
Let's hope this moment serves to change the terms of the debate.
(I'll just stand over here and hold my breath waiting, shall I?)
Labels: health care, military spending