Foreign and Domestic

by William Skink

I was asked recently why I’m angry. This after picking a foreign policy fight in reaction to Missoula picking a gun background check fight.

The point I’m trying to make is echoed in the conclusion of an article (yes, from Counterpunch) by Rick Sterling, titled Examples of U.S. Foreign Policy Dysfunction:

There is profound need for dramatic changes in U.S. foreign policy. Given that over 55% of the discretionary budget of the U.S. goes to the military, it’s likely that positive changes in domestic policy will depend on changes in foreign policy. The starting point has to be realistic assessments of conditions in other countries, sincere examinations of the consequences of past actions and a genuine committment to abiding by international law. As we can see from the above examples, there is a long way to go.

Go to the article for the examples, it’s worth a read (unless you’re a Bernie supporter).

I like the conclusion because it links military expenditures to domestic policy, and that link is important. When Martin Luther King tried making that link half a century ago, he was assassinated.

Thinking about America’s foreign policy makes me very angry, because I’m not just thinking about the suffering happening half a world away. I’m thinking about the suffering happening right here, in Missoula. And I’m wondering how bad it’s going to have to get before all the endless talking turns into actually doing what needs to be done.

There are multiple worsening system overloads happening in the city and the state that have me increasingly alarmed. Montana’s State Hospital is dangerously over capacity, there doesn’t seem to be any real plan for closing down MDC in Boulder, jails across the state are full, so inmates are just shuffled around, like Flathead sending juveniles to Missoula.

And then there’s the aging crisis that’s only just beginning, sometimes referred to as the Grey Tsunami.

Out there in policy land, where things can be dealt with in the abstract, the author of that last linked piece takes issue with associating the 70 million Boomers getting old and dependent with a natural disaster. Here’s the opening:

Over the past few decades, most individuals, academics, and writers have learned that certain terminology which was once linguistically and culturally acceptable are not longer to be used and, in fact, are often the subject of scorn and sometimes legal recourse when they are used. The recent scandal with the use of the “N” word by Donald Sterling, owner of the basketball team LA Clippers, is an indication of just how sensitive we have become to language and how strongly we react to certain terms that are no longer considered acceptable, polite or suitable in a refined population although everyone knows that at other levels such language and terminology are commonly used—just not in public, the press or contemporary literature. Just remember the controversy that surrounded contemporary editions of Mark Twain’s classic novel Huckleberry Finn, which took the liberty of expunging the “N” word, thereby to many distorting the power of the novel within its historical context. Of course there are many other terms that get used negatively to describe groups of people by religion, racial characteristics, colour of skin and country of origin- these two one rarely would use publically but we all know that they are part of many people’s regular vocabulary and conceptual framework of humanity.

So what about this term “Gray or Silver Tsunami” that has come into even polite parlance to describe the growingly aged population primarily in the western world. Following such natural disasters as the Indonesian and Japanese tsunamis, which were associated with horrendous geographical and human damage, one began to see the term used in the popular media especially to encapsulate the perceived and primarily negative impact of what could just as well be deemed the actual miracle of modern medicine and society – the growing human longevity. Rather, the term began to be used even in small local papers, such as The Press Democrat; for example, their article published on February 10, 2013, titled “Aging baby boomers will create ‘silver tsunami’ for Sonoma County” merely reflects the kinds of articles in publications with much larger distributions.

Even organizations that purportedly have the well-being of the aged high on their agenda may inadvertently use terms like tsunami or other similes to make the point of the urgency in addressing the many challenges that society is facing associated with the aging of the population, even when that aging process is the result of all the wonderful advances that we have achieved in medical and other healthcare-related practices. For example the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada produced a very comprehensive report called The Rising Tide, which is directed to policy makers to help them understand that planning must occur to make sure that our aging population received the care it deserves. A Toronto Dominion Bank (one of the largest banks in Canada) reported on the challenges of aging also using the negative term in their 2010 report, Navigating the Storm Ahead.

Ah, how nice of Canada to produce a report to help policy makers understand that planning must occur to make sure that our aging population receives the care it deserves. File this under no shit. I’m sure people were paid good money to produce this report. I wonder if there is a section of this report that suggests what to do if there is no plan.

I don’t think policy makers understand what’s brewing. Hospitals and jails and nursing homes are all bursting at the seams.

And we are not prepared.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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26 Responses to Foreign and Domestic

  1. At age 65, this post hits me where I live. Two thoughts: Social Security and health care.

    SS: We DID plan. My generation has been paying through the nose since Reagan for our retirement. It is called the Social Security Trust Fund. There are several trillion there that was put there for this purpose, to help the snake swallow the pig. The usual liars and charlatans are saying it is not real, it is spent, not realizing that it is a legal claim that can be easily honored, just as IBM and Apple have real liabilities on the books books in the form of bonds, future promises. As Greenspan said, the claim on is legal, the assets are real, society is able to pay it. It is real. So what if they used the cash to pay for their wars. It is still owed us, and if there is any honor left in this place, we will be paid.

    Health care: we must help ourselves too. Most is us will need help at home, and families need to step forward. We are looking into Nursing Home policies, but the problem is that they are sold by the insurance industry, the same crooks who took over health care and watched with indifference as 50,000 people a year died from lack of access. To rely on them to come through for us with long term care policies is folly.

    Medicaid is strained. It is the means by which we pay for long term care for people. We are required to first spend all of our life’s savings to get access. That is painful, but fair.

    But Medicare is working. It is expensive, of course, not the least in part because it relies on a corrupt private sector to deliver the needed services. We pay retail for health care while other countries buy wholesale. That solution is obvious as the nose on my face – government-sponsored health care to increase quality and drove down costs. But given the depth of our corruption, it appears that we’ll be hung out to dry, with claims that they just cannot afford us.

    Sorry to go on, but it is a subject dear to my heart. I will shut up now. I promise.

    • steve kelly says:

      First, people will have to rediscover their humanity, and reject most of what they’ve been brainwashed to believe. Not easy, but not impossible either.

      “It is not consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” – Karl Marx [1]

      “Overcoming false consciousness will require a complete rejection of hierarchical relationships from within the working class, especially in regards to education. Since public education is trending in an opposite direction, with highly-structured and authoritative elements being introduced through legislation like No Child Left Behind, programs like Common Core, and privatization efforts centered in the charter school movement, informal programs must develop. This will require interaction. This will require a willingness to discuss difficult topics, and attempts to cut through hardened and callused dissonance, ala Tressell’s protagonist, and a rejection of traditional notions of education as being characterized by formal, top-down, dictating interactions. This will require an understanding that “there is no such thing as a neutral educational process,” and that “education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” [14] This will require the realization that we are more than just commodities.”

      From: We Are More Than Commodities: False Consciousness and Why It’s Still Relevant
      By Colin Jenkins

    • Big Swede says:

      So I’m confused, are the charlatans wrong when they say SS is spent? Seems to me when I borrow money and spend those funds on improvements it’s “spent”.

      GM bond holders were made a promise. How did that work out for them?

      And finally how does inflation figure in to an honorable legal claim? If the government continues to print money making your $2000/month payment worth $200 is that a failure of the original obligation?

      • Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not “Every man for himself.” The Fed, a private bank, prints money, not the government. And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Swede. I looked them up.

        • Big Swede says:

          Isn’t faith in Government when it comes to entitlements the highest form of patriotism?

        • There are no guarantees in life, but the defined benefit pension system called Social Security has proven over time to be far more stable and dependable than anything the private sector has dreamed up. It does not produce wealth for the executive class, and so it is true that Wall Street wants to destroy SS, and has succeeded in chipping away at it, D’s and R’s always working together on that project.

          The very best you’ve got is that the program will fail, must fail some time in the future, even after nearly a century of success. That ought to give you pause for thought, but somehow does not.

  2. larry kurtz says:

    blah blah blah blah blah
    lizard hates america
    blah blah blah blah blah

    • steve kelly says:

      Time to break out the flag and yellow ribbon again Kurtz. Another war has been declared by our commander- in-chief without a congressional vote. Another sovereign nation invaded with no clear strategy and no money to pay for it. At least the war industry will have a Merry Christmas. You must be brimming with national pride.

    • do you support killing and starving poor brown people in Yemen?

      • larry kurtz says:

        lizard is just another entitled GenXer pandering to people who never get out of Mizzoola: do you support killing and starving poor brown people in Fort Peck or Browning?

        • larry kurtz says:

          Livingston has bomb trains rolling through every day, wild bison are being managed as livestock and strip mining decimates Montana. Write about something you have actual control over, liz.

        • so you don’t think American citizens have any control over foreign policy? we should just ignore it and focus on local issues? that is fucking pathetic. go vote for Hillary, you sad bastard.

        • larry kurtz says:

          As a representative of the DCCC it is inappropriate for me to support anyone during the primary, you sad bastard.

        • JC says:

          When has any Montanan who opposes strip mining, “bomb trains,” or managing bison as livestock ever had any “actual control” over the policies or practices?

          Never. Unless you count direct action that illegally impedes those actions — which I must say I’ve engaged in activities to momentarily have “actual control” over two of those three events — at least until actual police took “actual control,” and put us in actual jails.

          I also actually wrote and attempted to wrangle a bill through the MT Leg to actually take bison management responsibility away from the MDOL and give it to MTFWP. But those with “actual control” — entrenched livestock interests — prevailed as they always do.

          People can write about issues far away and be actually involved in local issues to a high degree and you’d never know it Kurtz. FWIW, Skink has done more for his community than you’d ever know, and far more than the average guy. Actually.

          So when’s the last time you got your hands dirty and went out on the rez and did some actual work, instead of parading around like a peacock in your DCCC creds? Ever actually been arrested for standing up for what you believe in (other than smoking dope)?

        • larry kurtz says:

          I have a couple thousand acres in Carter County in SE Montana whose property values just took a hit from an expanded bomber range based in South Dakota so politics there affect me as well.

      • larry kurtz says:

        Our property abuts the Santo Domingo Pueblo and in concert with them locals like me have stopped a gravel mine on the La Bajada Mesa at least for now. I am working with the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe trapped in South Dakota and the legislature to build a cannabis compact with that state. Montana tribes should consider a similar compact with the legislature.

        • larry kurtz says:

          If Montana Democrats want to win elections candidates had better start talking like Democrats and embrace cannabis as an economic development tool but since nobody but 6 Montanans read this stupid blog voters will never hear about it.

        • I’m so sorry to hear about how the Military Industrial Complex is negatively impacting your property value, larry.

        • JC says:

          Hey Larry, have you asked any of the tribal spiritual leaders what they think of your cannabis economic solution to poverty on the rez? They hate it.

          Pretty stupid thinking that growing pot on a rez that has outlawed alcohol due to rampant addiction is going to solve anything.

          I gotta better economic development idea: give the Black Hills back to them. It’s theirs anyways. Just a bunch of rich white landowners like you stole it from them.

        • larry kurtz says:

          The Crow and Northern Cheyenne are weeks away from legalizing cannabis with the blessings of spiritual leaders in both nations.

        • larry kurtz says:

          President Obama should dissolve the Black Hills National Forest, move management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior; and, in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.

          For some reason your server is reporting the link to my pile as spam.

        • JC says:

          Wasichu talk is cheap Kurtz. Name some names: “spiritual leaders in both nations.”

          I know from my experience with true spiritual leaders here on the Flathead, with the Lakota, and the Hopi, that 1) they don’t get involved in economic development issues — that’s the realm of false leaders; 2) they would never endorse the legalization of cannabis as they have seen the ravages that alcohol and other drugs have taken on the rez; 3) your lack of recognition of the nature of the Black Hills as belonging to the Lakota under the Fort Laramie Treaty reveals your true ignorance and intent in your ramblings about Obama dissolving the BHNF and moving it to Interior, which is to further increase the value of your own holdings at the expense of the Lakota. You’re just another pocket-padding democrat imperialist. Nice.

        • JC says:

          What’s your point Kurtz? Nothing like a naked url to show your lack of ability to provide context to a real issue.

          I cut my teeth on enviro activism and became involved in the Badger-Two Medicine issue (among others) 30 years ago. Badger Chapter of the GTMA was one of the precursors to AWR. Badger-Two Medicine was one of the reasons we put AWR together and wrote NREPA, which as you may or may not know, is the pinnacle of wilderness legislation proposals for the last 25 years.

          If you cared about wilderness more than being a democrat, you’d support it instead of your wet dream fantasy of taking Lakota land and moving it from the USFS to the DOI.

          Get a life and do something real.

        • larry kurtz says:

          I’m retired living a quite full life, thank you very much; but fine: you win. You have your echo chamber all to yourselves. Carry on.

  3. Eric says:

    “When Martin Luther King tried making that link half a century ago, he was assassinated.”

    I wouldn’t say that linking expenditures was part of the reason he was killed. About the only expenditures Michael King cared about was spending his churches money on booze, drugs, and prostitutes – LOL

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