Militarization is Bankrupting the Country

The government is stepping up its cuts in vital social programs which help the workers keep life and limb together.

Within the last few weeks, the Bush administration has announced plans to rob Social Security and slash the pensions of retired workers, drastically cut Medicaid by allowing states to cut back on benefits and deny eligibility to more people, cut low-income housing and heating assistance, and reduce spending for public health programs. Other planned cutbacks include food stamp eligibility, student loans, preschool literacy programs, environmental protections, etc., etc. Bush is planning to cut spending for the vast majority of social programs for the second consecutive year.

In fact, for several years now, both the Republican and Democratic party politicians have been slashing social spending. Income-support for the poor, unemployed and disabled has been drastically cut. Public housing has been nearly eliminated. Millions have lost Medicaid benefits. Public sector workers have been laid off in large numbers.

The politicians only add insult to injury when they try to justify these cutbacks by crying about the budget "deficit" and claiming that government "can't afford" these vital social investments.

The federal government alone has an annual budget of $2.5 trillion, mostly grabbed out of workers' paychecks. But instead of using these public monies to meet the needs of the people, the government is determined to turn the money over to the Pentagon arms merchants, the Wall Street bankers and other monopoly capitalists (for the coming year, the military budget alone will total some $600 billion, or more than $8,000 for every family of 4). This militarization and robbery is bankrupting the country.

Thus the issue is not a lack of funds. It is: "the economy for whom?"

This is a fundamental issue which concerns the basic character of our society and who the government is working for.

Ever since the emergence of capitalism, the workers and broad masses of people have fought against the arbitrary power of the capitalists, fought to make the government recognize and guarantee some of the basic economic rights of the people. Through continuous struggles, the people won and expanded the right to public education, forced the capitalists and government to create the Social Security system as well Medicaid and Medicare, won various income-support programs to protect the poor and unemployed and provide some minimal guarantees, etc., etc.

All of these reforms made important inroads against the power of private property and declared that the workers were more than just meat in the market, more than animals to be exploited. Such reforms helped establish the concept that the workers had rights as human beings, including the right to food, clothing and shelter, to education and health care, etc. Such reforms also declared that the government was responsible to guarantee these vital social investments and forced the government to create and expand a social sector of the economy. The social sector of the economy took a part of the country's resources and gross national product out of the sphere of capitalist profit-making and earmarked these resources for guarantying the basic needs and rights of the people.

Today, as the crisis of capitalism deepens, the monopolies are attacking the social sector of the economy all along the line and demanding that all the resources of the country be put at their disposal. They are demanding that the government use all its vast power to tax and spend to rob monies from the working people and turn these public funds over as profits to the capitalists.

The challenge facing the workers is not only to resist attacks on our minimal economic rights. The challenge is to bring about a fundamental change in our country's economic direction and reverse altogether the government's program.

We must demand, at a very minimal, that all the economic rights of the people are guaranteed - including the right to free, comprehensive health care for everyone, to a secure retirement at an income commensurate with out country's high level of development, to the best possible education from pre-school through the university, to a guaranteed job or income for everyone, etc.

To insure these economic rights, we must expand the social sector of the economy. We must expand it by cutting off the subsidies to the monopolies (including the militarization of the economy) and by taxing the rich. We must demand that the public treasury and the resources and labor of our country go firstly to guarantee the rights of the people, not the profits of the capitalists.

This will indeed be a big change. But similar changes have been won before. Today, already trade unionists, senior citizens and others are mobilizing against the attacks on Social Security. In states and cities across the country, public sector workers and broad sections of the people have been fighting against budget cutbacks. We must intensify, unify and deepen these struggles. When the people come out together in nation-wide political battles, we can certainly take control over our country's economy and win our inalienable economic rights.