American Childcare System: A National Disgrace

A quick post today:

One of the major obstacles challenging unemployed single parents today who are entering/reentering the American work force is the non affordability of quality childcare. If you are single, or have a stay-at-home spouse, you may not be aware how costly it is for the average American. So here’s 11 statistics from In These Times that put the non affordability of childcare in perspective:

$9,600 – Average annual cost of childcare nationwide, per child, in 2017

55% – People who said childcare costs were a significant financial challenge in 2018

33% – Parents who went into debt to pay for summer childcare in 2018

51% – People living in “childcare deserts” (areas with three times more children than

licensed childcare slots) in 2017

19 – States whose childcare assistance programs had waitlists or frozen intake in 2018

67% – Children who have all available parents working outside the industry home as of 2017

16% – Private-industry employees who had access to paid family leave in 2018

37% – Average portion of annual income that single parents spend on childcare

7% – Recommended portion of annual income to be spent on childcare, according to the Department of Health and Human Services

18.3% – Mothers with children ages 3 and younger working outside the home for a median wage of $10.50 or less in 2016

$23,240 – Median annual income for childcare workers in 2018

Military Contractors Steal from Us

According to a NYT op-ed by Peter Navarro, an assistant to the president and the director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, published March 19th, 2019, argues that hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on the American military is justified for two reasons:

  • It assuages adversaries from threatening American interests , and
  • 2) Defense spending helps keep some manufacturing jobs alive.

As to the first point, America spent $610 billion dollars on defense in 2017, the largest amount of any nation. How much did the second-most on the list spend? $228 billion in China. What does that reason? It shows that America has no adversary abroad who could contend with our hegemony. It is beyond any argument that we need to spend this much when we already have a military so advanced. Some have even argued that since America has such an advanced nuclear arsenal it serves enough as a deterrent against others’ aggression, alone. Who needs tanks in a nuclear conflict?

As to point number two, the bloated defense budget is keeping some jobs here in the United States alive. But what we must focus on is the profits being made by companies making military equipment and providing defense services. It is well known that no-bid contracts are awarded more than often to companies by the government by the Dept. of Defense. But also, the heads of these companies are often former government officials who make the decisions about how that $610 billion dollars is spent. For example, V.P. Cheney first worked in the Department of Defense under Pres. Reagan then, once the regime had changed, Cheney went to sit on the board at Halliburton. When Cheney was picked by George W. Bush to be his V.P., and they conducted the invasion of Iraq, Halliburton received many no-bid contracts from the government for various services. Positions of government officials in the defense dept. have a revolving door between their time as so-called “servants of the people” and a private company’s board of directors.

The horrible crime is that even a small amount of $610 billion would be better spent elsewhere. We could rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, solve the housing crisis, fight the opioid epidemic, or even relocate and retrain the former manufacturing employees once their plants closedown. Just a thought…

America Is Not in Retreat

John Kerry, Sergey LavrovAn op-ed in The Guardian by Michael Cohen argues that America is not in “retreat” around the globe but rather is just not invading other countries and starting World War III without due course.

He refutes individual arguments by mostly right-wing critics and makes the case that changing tactics is not a sign of backing off the global stage.

Read Here.

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“Imperial Presidency”?

leadA piece in the NYT about how the slogan, or whatever you want to call it, “imperial presidency” is being used by the Right to describe the Obama administration. It’s in an effort to sway voters to their side proposing that Pres. Obama is overreaching his presidential powers.

But as the article points out, the GOP is one day saying that the President doesn’t lead, and then claims this “imperial presidency” idea the next day.

Read Here.

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Zakaria On Hating The Government

fareed-zakaria-114x80A thoughtful op-ed in the Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria on “Why Americans Hate The Government.”

Good read.

Read Here.

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The Use of “Patriotism” by Cynical Actors

grandoldflagThough I do not wholly agree with this piece in The Atlantic, it makes some very good points about being aware of leaders and ideologies draped in the American flag.

Read Here.

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Be On The Right-Side For Once!

File photo of Free Syrian Army fighters taking cover as they prepare to join an attack on a Syrian Army base in DamascusToday’s NYT contains an editorial by it’s op-ed board that warns against any escalated U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war. They draw parallels between Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan warning of lost blood and treasure in recent Mid-East conflicts. They also warn that if we increase our aid to the rebels than Russia will just increase their aid to their ally Assad. And they also warn of Islamic jihadists obtaining American weapons. But I do not see these arguments as convincing as some others might.

First, I do not recommend a ground-troop invasion of Syria like the ones that took place in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is a ridiculous possibility to even conjure. At most we could send in military advisers, but I am not even endorsing that yet. What about supplying the troops with anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons to start off. What about just the body armor they are requesting right now?

Secondly, do you think that Russia really wants to get into a proxy war with the United States in somewhere as inconsequential as Syria? Putin may supply Assad with more weapons at first in a competition between our two nations but I do not believe they would be in it for the long haul for they would ultimately lose, and Putin knows that.

Third, some weapons, if reports of jihadists fighting in the war are true, will end up with them if we supply enough of them. But you know what? Not everything is perfect all of the time. Plus, who in the region will they attack if said weapons are obtained? We have pulled out of Iraq and have one foot out of Afghanistan. They could attack embassies, I guess. But that is miniscule in the place of my fourth and final point.

93,000 people have died in the conflict between Assad and the freedom-fighting rebels which has included the bombing of civilian targets by the Assad regime and the use of chemical weapons. The point here is we have got to do something. Maybe the United States should be on the right side of history for once in the Middle East. The rebels are fighting a leader that is willing to do anything, including killing his own countrymen in unspeakable ways, just to preserve his position as supreme leader. There is a time when, even though it is a subjective perception, to do the “right thing.”

Questions about Supporting the Troops in Light of Tragedy

 

I awoke this morning to find this article at the top of the front page of Louisville’s Courier-Journal paper:

A Louisville Marine was killed Saturday while supporting combat in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the Defense Department has reported.

Cpl. Aaron M. Faust, 22, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.. His death is under investigation.

Faust’s family declined to be interviewed, instead issuing a statement: “We appreciate the concern from our neighbors. As you must understand, our family is still in shock, and we are grieving the loss of our son and brother. It comforts us to know that we have the support of our community, citizens and country that Aaron died to protect.”

Faust graduated in 2007 from DeSales High School, said Doug Strothman, president of the school.

Strothman said he didn’t know Faust well. But Strothman said teachers who knew Faust described a young man who “didn’t mind testing the waters of authority, but he would do it in a respectful way.”

In his senior year after a Christian Awakening Retreat, Faust began to exhibit heightened maturity, Strothman said.

That maturation furthered a few years after Faust graduated — Faust showed up at the school in his Marine Corps uniform, looking like a “significantly different” person, Strothman said.

“He’d really grown to be an impressive young man,” Strothman said.

Faust’s mother, Tess, is employed in the media and public relations department of the Kentucky State Fair Board, according to a separate family statement sent by fair board spokeswoman Amanda Storment.

I went to DeSales High School like Cpl. Faust graduating ten years before.

This news has caused much tumult within me today. It has me asking many questions that are very unpopular but but I feel need answering:

1)      Is supporting the troops mean that we also have to support the war?

2)      What about the fact that members of the armed forces have volunteered to be cogs in the U.S.’s imperialistic war machine?

3)      How should we parse out today’s volunteer army compared conscripts who fought in other wars?

4)      What should I think about Cpl. Faust when he was shooting people who are rightfully fighting against foreign invaders?

5)      What role do soldiers play when they are the tentacles that are on the ground involved in the, though accidental, killing of innocent civilians?

6)      What about Abu-Ghraib, urinating on dead Taliban fighters and mutilating bodies?

7)      What about the fact that many armed forces members come from lower to lower-middle class backgrounds and they join the military as their only choice to find employment or for funding with which to use to attend college?

8)      When people say that the armed forces are protecting our freedom, who are they protecting it from?

9)      Despite the fact that I am 100% against the war in Afghanistan, should I still attend a memorial service for Cpl. Faust if one is held at DeSales High School?

 

American Interests, Not Democracy and Freedom

Enabling Egypt’s Military Rulers
Americans believe that America will and always has acted in the interest of democracy and freedom around the world in terms of our foreign policy. But that could not be more wrong.

What America does internationally is what is best for American interests, not for the support of democratic change.

As is brought forward in this article, America has acted in our economic interest regarding Egypt and in in the maintenance of a new, stable ally. The government wants American-friendly stability in Egypt. That’s why they funded the Mubarak regime for decades despite its rapes, torture, and suppression of democratic rights. And now they see this military-controlled government as stable rather than a democratically chosen government that may not fall in line with our foreign policy desires.

Another good example of “American interest first” policy is the democratic elections that were held in Gaza in the 2000’s. When the Palestinians voted in Hamas, that was the wrong choice according to America. So we almost put a complete halt to the peace process.

But did not the U.S. have talks and diplomacy with the Soviet Union, our greatest enemy, during the Cold War despite their threat to our American way of life, yet we cannot have diplomatic relations with Hamas?

Now many say that it is fine that we act in American interests first and foremost. And that is fine as long as the Government does not dress it up as spreading peace through democracy around the world.