Letter from AmericaWhat has happened to the American culture of pitching in during a crisis? Prompted by a news article about the projected deficit for 2005 (the biggest, correcting for inflation, since WWII), I thought about what we used to do during wartime. When my grandparents were my age, there was a war going on. Everyone in the country participated in the war effort in one way or another--whether it was collecting scrap metal, working in a factory to replace those in active duty, or sacrificing luxuries in order to buy war bonds and financially support the government's needs for defense spending. This was all promoted and encouraged by the government, spun as a positive and upbeat way to get involved in what was going on.
What sacrifices have any of us non-military people made for this war? Especially those of us who so vocally and adamantly support it (many of whom just so happen to be the wealthiest among us)? What has our country asked of us in order to support the war effort--and what opportunities for sacrifice and involvement have they offered and encouraged us to participate in? While the cost of this war have spiralled out of control and our deficit hit these all-time highs, they've told us "Spend spend spend!! Boost the economy by going to the mall, and buying a nice new car!" Instead of asking us for a little bit extra to fund our troops, they've pushed big tax cuts through and further depleted their available resources and cutting into the coffers designated for music classes and gym in schools.
Of course, none of us are complaining about that--we don't like to sacrifice and we are placated by the confirmation from on high that treats, sweets, and luxuries are our god-given right, even as others put their lives on the line "to make America safer". Would any of us take our weekly McDonald's money and put it in a jar to send to George for the war effort, or paint our pantyhose on because all the nylon is needed for equipment manufacture? No way. And I'm not sure if that's because we're more jaded and cynical (and selfish)--that we know our loose change won't buy a helicopter--or because nobody is asking us to.
I do not support this war, I never wanted it to happen and I think it was a terrible idea. But as our economy goes down the tubes and so many public services that I DO support get shafted because of how much it is costing, I feel like I should be doing something other than just bleeding my heart and feeling smug. Doesn't anyone else feel that way? All of those people who think it's great and George is great--do they not feel any sense of responsibility and obligation for the cost (in more than money) of this fiasco? Or would they rather give their neighbor's first-born child to this greedy government than an extra 5% of their wages and assets?