Suffer the Little Children
by Ann Rose Thomas, Founder of Fringefolk.com and PracticalRadical.net
Pardon me if I don't fall all over myself praising Bush, as many pundits and mouthpieces did last night, for his new plan to "help" the children of Afghanistan.
The Shrub has announced that he'd like for all children to send a dollar to the "Fund for Any Surviving Afghan Kids" or whatever it's called. There are approximately seventy million children in the U.S., so if each one of them sent in a dollar, that'd be a whopping $70 million in aid. Of course, Bush is hoping that their parents will kick in a bit as well to increase the pot.
Why does this make me angry?
The U.S. has pledged to give $320 million in aid to the people of Afghanistan. That's certainly better than nothing, but does it mean that Bush gives a flying damn for the civilians whose lives are being further destroyed by his new oil war? Of course not; it's a PR move and nothing more, and anyone with a grain of common sense knows it.
Now Bush has decided that the Afghan people need a bit more help. Is he pledging more aid? Hell, no - he's asking our kids to give it. The people of America, he claims, are "the most generous in the world", though how he could know this without visiting other countries and actually getting to know the people there is beyond me.
Last night, shortly before Bush's press conference, John King of CNN said that Bush planned to bring up the subject of humanitarian aid (I suppose his plan to milk the American people for relief money was supposed to be a big deal) because, and I quote, "He wants to feed the Afghan people even while he bombs their country".
Well, bully for him. He wants to make sure they have a peanut butter sandwich before we drop a bomb on them. What a guy.
Speaking of dropping bombs, the US military has been dropping food packages on Afghanistan - your tax dollars at work. First, we dropped 37,000 food packages, which was touted by the media as evidence of Shrub's compassion. Thirty-seven thousand meals don't go very far in a country where millions are starving. And of course, there's no guarantee that the Afghan people will get to eat those meals...there are more land mines in Afghanistan than in any country in the world. You'd have to be pretty hungry to run across a mine-strewn field to get to a meal, but the people there ARE pretty hungry, so you can bet that's what they're doing. The children, who Bush professes to care so much about, are no doubt among those risking - literally - life and limb to get a meal.
We claim that we have to drop the food packages because it's the only safe way to get food to the people. Yet the reason it's no longer safe to take food into the country by traditional methods is because we're bombing the hell out of the country.
But no fear - we're going to help those children, according to Bush. We're going to help them by coercing the people of the US to donate money, which will no doubt pay for more pretty packages to be dropped over a mine-ridden field. And if it's not enough food for the Afghan people now, it might be eventually, because they are dying. We've already killed at least one child with our bombs; he won't be the last. What, I wonder, was the cost of the bomb that killed him? How many children would it have fed?
Some might say that the US, in this current economy, can't afford to give more than $320 million in aid to Afghanistan. Well, perhaps we can't. But we could sure afford to give $15 BILLION in aid to the airline corporations, a portion of which will be kicked back to the Republicans and the Bush administration in return for letting the airlines "police themselves" with regards to security.
Fifteen billion dollars averages out to roughly two hundred and ten dollars for every child in the U.S.
I'll tell you why I'm angry. I'm angry because our government gave an ungraspable sum of money to corporations whose skinflint practices may have enabled the terrorists to hijack four planes and kill thousands of people, but when it comes to giving money to starving people who have done nothing - NOTHING - to us, Bush gives a paltry $320 million and then states that anything more will have to be donated voluntarily by the American people, who are already feeling the pinch of the Bush economy. Oh, but not the American people in general -- the CHILDREN.
I don't doubt that many, many children will faithfully send in their dollar and actually believe that they are helping their counterparts in Afghanistan. They'll do it because their parents will tell them it's the right thing to do, and of course, helping starving children IS the right thing to do. But what are our children learning? That it's okay to bomb people if we also send them a meal now and then? That our government can't afford to help starving children because it's spending too much money on corporate welfare and tax cuts, so it's up to us to do so?
Here's an idea: have our government give $15 billion in aid to the people of Afghanistan, and $320 million in aid to the airlines. And then encourage the American people to donate to the airlines to help them out further. We could call the project "Schoolkids for Corporations".
In a perfect world...
-- "One of the penalities for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." - Plato
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