Every year on the fourth of July, Americans are celebrating Independence Day. On every last Monday of May, Americans commemorate Memorial Day to remember all the US war deaths that have occurred from the American Revolution in the 1770s until today, when thousands of US soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. As of my writing today, I am hearing that the US is also engaged in military operations in Libya and Yemen, but I presume without casualties, because the Nato only uses airstrikes and bombing campaigns. While we are commemorating the deaths of the soldiers, I rarely hear the larger question that should be asked by patriotic Americans, friends and family of veterans and deceased soldiers. That is, why is the military seemingly the only social safety net that exists for the young people in this country? (Another pertinent question would be why the United States needs to be the world police, and engage itself in wars that, according to US officials, serve national security purposes, when in fact the results have been fairly elusive.)
The operations of the US military directed by the US administration’s failed priorities, meaning empire abroad instead of civilian job creation at home, has a severe impact on young people in this country. The slumping economy, which always hurts the young generation the most, means that more people are considering to join the armed forces. This is done in the hope of having pension and health care benefits without needing to go to college (disregarding the fact that even many college graduates see no guarantee in those perks). It certainly is not a rousing argument to try to dissuade young people from joining the military by telling them that the US is forging objectives that harm the interests of other countries in the quest for elusive empire goals. When the economic constraints here at home leave little hope, the only promised area in terms of job security is the military, which literally asks everything from recruits, because not only are they undergoing drill and training, but they are also made to fight with the genuine danger of losing their lives. From a humanitarian 21st century perspective such an “ultimate sacrifice” as we would call it is certainly not necessary, when we know that human conflicts are not natural, but are deliberately brought about by the political actors.
I know a few people who are intent on joining the armed forces, because they are not seeing a lot of opportunities in the job market, because they can’t afford college and because they are already deeply in debt as a result of accumulating college expenses. These are primarily economic concerns and have nothing to do with a presumed cowboy mentality, which makes people glorify the actions of military heroic figures, and want to figure this thing out by themselves. If the troubles are primarily economic, then the solution- if our political and social objectives advanced by the leading businessowners, politicians and media pundits would have the shred of an interest in the welfare of the people- would have to be economic as well. The solution would involve a massive job creation program financed by the taxpayers, the banks and the major corporations, as they are racking up a larger and larger share of the wealth of the nation. We certainly need to improve our nation’s infrastructure, build high-speed-rail, repair roads, bridges, canals, water system and sewage system, create an efficient power distribution system and high-speed internet cables, create an industrial strategy, which focuses on full employment and decent wage structures (the CEO-to-average-worker pay ratio that has gotten out of whack certainly contributed to the overall decline of US manufacturing) and subsidize service sector jobs with better industrial outputs. These are just a few things I can come up with, but they are mainly mercantile strategies, which re-prioritizes the US agenda from the military framework to the economic framework, the latter one of which always has financed the endeavors of the former one. But currently the military is an aspect of displaying the undermining of US economic dominance. The young people’s choice to join the military is an aspect of an empire struggling to stand on solid footing.
My suggestions for a new economic policy (which are not all that new since many other countries in the West have tried it before even the US during the Great Depression) would also have the net positive impact of being able to finance the better welfare states like universal health care or universal pension, which would ease the burden for many struggling families and individuals living from paycheck to paycheck and seriously considering to be part of the servants to empire. The welfare state would still need to be funded by taxpayers just as they currently do with military welfare- the majority of which flows to defense contractors and defense corporations anyway- but at least the benefits would overwhelmingly flow back to the people. In all this deficit hysteria, which is a propped up argument by lawmakers, who receive their daily campaign bread from mighty lobbyists and corporations, and the call to cuts into social programs (except the military), it would be a refreshing reminder of the idea that benefit cuts need not be, that in fact social benefits can have a positive impact on the economy. (The Greek economy, which is largely based on the public sector, which in part explains their huge public debts, is now floundering considering the heavy cuts into the public services, which starves demand and job creation, and blows deeper holes into public finance.)
When will we get out of this social and economic fiasco?