the greatest defeat in the history of the united states was not in Vietnam, not the war of 1812 where the White House was burned, nor will it be in Iraq. It was the abandonment of the War on Poverty. While there were disastrous mistakes, like the building of giant complexes that turned into behavioral sinks, the government programs did substantially reduce poverty. And then the war in Vietnam went badly, the country’s politics turned rightward, and the programs were cut back. Private charity can only do so much, people aren’t naturally inclined to give away enough of their money, and often say things like "that’s not my problem". You pay your taxes for the government to know better, to do what has to be done. The government’s priorities have been "defense’ above all else. The B-58 bomber cost more than its weight in gold: its only purpose was to deliver a nuclear weapon to an unlucky spot marked on the navigator’s map. No B-58 ever dropped a bomb in anger. The current war in Iraq costs billions a month, we destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq, and are rather slowly rebuilding it. They’re miserable, the lights are off and the taps are dry. And the US isn’t any more secure in real terms–we just gave the Islamic radicals what they wanted, so they’re happy to leave the US to its devices.
So, last summer, I biked across the country with Bike and Build, raised about $3000 for affordable housing projects, and put about 30 man-hours into building houses. that’s not much, even for one man. I see it as the government’s job to do something, and I’m not averse to paying for it. I don’t want to be asked for money, I want Uncle Sam to say to me, "give me your money, I’ll put it into housing, medical care, the environment" and not "give me your money, I’ll buy bombs, subsidise strip mining, and if there’s any left, i’ll contribute some to fighting poverty through charities that promote a conservative agenda."
This November, I don’t know who to vote for. All the major candidates are pretty poor choices. No one who wants to get elected really is going to talk to addressing the problems of poverty, Edwards did, and he’s cooling his heels on the sidelines. And who knows how serious he was anyway. so, if you can push the agenda with a candidate to make a commitment like Edwards, good. endorse him or her.