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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We Gather Together to Ask ...

We Gather Together to Ask ...

By Rosemary and Walter Brasch
Dissident Voice.org
Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Segued into a 10-second afterthought, smothered by 60-second
Christmas commercials, is the media acknowledgement of
Thanksgiving, which nudges us into a realization of all we are
thankful for.

But the usual litany, even with the omnipresent pictures of the
less fortunate being fed by the more fortunate, doesn’t list well
this year.

Our thanks seem to be at best half-hearted or at least insensitive
and shallow.

All of us might be thankful for peace if America still hadn’t been
involved in two recent wars.

The Iraq war lasted almost nine years; the other, in Afghanistan,
has lasted more than 12 years and is the nation’s longest war.

And now it appears that we will be in Afghanistan for several
more years.

When we first went there in 2001, it was to capture Osama
bin Laden. We can be thankful that has been done.

But why are we still there? And why should Americans still be
getting wounded and killed?

There were 4,486 killed and 32,000 wounded in Iraq, an unnecessary
war that was launched with bravado and no long-range plans.

In Afghanistan, there have been 2,292 killed, almost 18,000
wounded.

American children who are 12 years old years and under have
never been able to be thankful for peace!

We used to say some Irish children never knew peace, now it’s us.

We know there are thousands of veterans who have committed
suicide or are trying to overcome the aftermath of traumatic
head injuries, loss of limbs, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The care has been so abysmal that combat veterans, who were
given excellent care by combat medics in the field, are dying in
VA hospitals while waiting for simple surgeries or treatment for
more serious health issues.

We remember to say thanks for their service, and attempt to salve
our collective conscience with charitable funds, flowery words, and
flying flags.

But it must be hard for those who served to be truly thankful to a
nation that holds parades on Main Street without acknowledging
that many of those honored sleep on that same street every night,
with no affordable decent housing available to them.

And they hope for something warmer than an American flag to
wrap themselves in.

More than one-fourth of all adults who are homeless are veterans.

Is our one line of thanks really enough?

In addition to our country’s homeless vets, whole families are
also homeless, many direct victims of corrupt banks and semi-
corrupt politicians, who never thought twice before foreclosing
on the homes those families cherished, leaving them on the
street, while not one executive had to give up his or her opulent
office for a prison cell, despite the crimes they committed
against the people.

For those foreclosed upon who managed to find a new way of life,
to find shelter, to find work, their reward is a worthless credit
rating despite having excellent credit before companies downsized
and outsourced to “maximize their profits” and banks foreclosed
upon them.

Unlike major financial institutions and corporations that
squandered funds and went into bankruptcy and then were
bailed out by the Congress, families can’t even get small
loans to pay security deposits on their downsized apartments.

Many families are living in one room in cheap motels, so many
that schools have redirected bus routes for stops for the many
school children living like this.

Those families would surely be thankful for a secure home.

Who should we direct all our thanks to?

Many of the executives who sit on bank boards are heads
of companies, the same companies that have chosen not
to recycle their profits by expansion.

That, of course, would provide new jobs, something so
many Americans would be truly thankful for.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have jobs are grateful as
we gather around our holiday tables and give thanks for the bounty
before us.

Unless, of course, we’re the working poor.

For them, the horn of plenty may be empty this close to the end
of the month, and every month.

Many, including those working minimum wage jobs, have to rely
upon food stamps to help provide food; Congress, willing to spend
fortunes on junkets, now plans to cut foodstamps.

There are those who earn upper-class incomes who decry the
“welfare” recipients who they believe are predators of tax funds.

There are some who are welfare cheats, but most just want a job
and enough income to feed and clothe their families and have some
left over for other basic necessities.

If the politicians would hire more caseworkers, there would be
better care for the nation’s underclass, and far fewer people
scamming the system because there would be better oversight.

Many charitable organizations struggle mightily to get enough
funds to feed more and more of our nation’s hungry as more
and more workers are forced to accept part-time jobs at
minimum wage.

Full-time jobs could provide benefits, but Congress and our
state legislatures, always willing to raise their own salaries,
won’t raise the minimum wage to at least a few cents above
poverty levels.

The reason? The working poor have no lobbyists.

And yet both houses of Congress have dozens of committees,
including ethics committees, that seem to be more of a way to
showboat their politics than to meet the needs of the country.

Maybe we need one more committee, this one made up of people
who aren’t millionaires and aren’t able to parlay lobbyist money
into November victories.

This committee, made up of the working poor, will advise all
of us of what the problems are, and what the solutions can be.

If on this Thanksgiving Day our thanks seem hollow, perhaps it’s
the hollow victory of our veterans surviving combat only to be
subjected to problems at home, or the hollow sound of an empty
house that has been foreclosed upon, or the hollow growling of
a worker’s empty stomach, or maybe the hollow pain of those who
should seek medical assistance but can’t because there are some
among us who want to destroy federal law, which allows those who
are less fortunate to have adequate medical attention.

Most Americans want to help others; there are some politicians
who mouth the words but say nothing.

May we all remember that when the basic needs are filled for
all Americans, only then can we be truly thankful for the day.



Rosemary Brasch is a former Red Cross national disaster family
services specialist, secretary, union grievance officer, and labor
studies instructor. Walter Brasch’s latest book is the second edition
of Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/11/we-gather-together-to-ask

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