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Jan 22 2014

If Martin Luther King Were Alive Today

Monday was the national holiday to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (and it should be noted that a great many conservatives tried like hell to stop that holiday from being created, including “moderates” like John McCain). ThinkProgress notes some of MLK’s more radical views and they suggest what he would be saying if he were alive today.

3. He denounced the Vietnam War. King’s harsh words on the Vietnam War alienated even his allies on civil rights, especially President Lyndon B. Johnson. Still, King continued to speak out, asserting that American involvement in Vietnam “has torn up the Geneva Accord” and “strengthened the military-industrial complex.” He also accused the U.S. of being “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Not only was the Vietnam War morally unforgivable in King’s eyes, but it also took away billions of dollars that could be used to help end poverty in American slums. “Our national priorities are disastrously confused when we spend more than $30 billion a year upon a tragic, destructive war in Southeast Asia and cut back on the programs which deal with the most basic injustices of America itself,” he wrote.

Now multiply that by about 100 and you have the cost of the Iraq war. It’s the trillions of dollars spent on an unjustified and unnecessary war, combined with simultaneous tax cuts, that is primarily responsible for the soaring debt over the last decade. Imagine what we could have done in this country with even a small portion of that money, not just in terms of helping the poor but upgrading our badly depleted infrastructure (roads and bridges, upgrading the electric grid, etc).

You know what’s even more absurd? That this is considered a radical, out of the mainstream viewpoint.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Alverant

    I remember the episode of Boondocks where MLK went into a coma after being shot and woke up the summer of 2001. His views did not go over well with people then.

  2. 2
    gwangung

    Upgrading our infrastructure, of course, WILL help the poor. And it’s going to have to be done anyway…

  3. 3
    d.c.wilson

    “Our national priorities are disastrously confused when we spend more than $30 billion a year upon a tragic, destructive war in Southeast Asia and cut back on the programs which deal with the most basic injustices of America itself,”

    Sadly, the only things that have changed in 50 years are the location of the wars (still in Asia, though) and more zeros added to the bill.

  4. 4
    sigurd jorsalfar

    Except that the ‘soaring national debt’ is a nonsensical concept for a country that creates its own fiat currency. The national debt is just a measure of dollars deposited in savings accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank. It’s not something the government ever has to pay back through higher taxes or reduced spending in the future. Time to drop this neo-liberal rhetoric, Ed. The gold standard is gone.

    The issue is the resources wasted on and destroyed in the war, including human lives, not the cost in money, which is something the US government can create at will.

  5. 5
    eric

    I guess I’m just odd; the comment about the Geneva accords made me immediately think of US torture, not the Iraq war. MLK would no doubt speak against both with great compassion, energy, and effectiveness.

  6. 6
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    It’s actually multiplied by less.

    $30 billion in 1968 (the latest he could have been speaking)
    = $200 billion in 2014

    but, yeah, basic point is in agreement.

  7. 7
    Robert B.

    @4: Lack of a gold standard doesn’t mean we can just print as much money as we want. Well. Technically we could, but that wouldn’t magically create value – if we were to print money faster than the economy creates value to trade for it, the purchasing power of the dollar would drop like a homesick rock, and our shiny new bills wouldn’t mean anything. There would be no money in our money, if you see what I mean. The fed could, in theory, inflate our debt away, but the side-effects for the domestic economy would make us poorer than shelling out the cash would have.

    Assuming the economy is remotely functional to start with, it’s entirely reasonable to measure a diverse group of resources in money. That’s basically what it’s for.

  8. 8
    dingojack

    Crip Dyke – Measuring Worth seems to think the Economy Cost (the cost of a project, a war in this case, as a share of GDP) of over $30 billion a year in 1968 dollars, would be over $517 billion a year, in 2012 dollars.
    A ten-year war in some foreign land would take over $5 trillion. Imagine all the nice things a government could buy for that amount. :(

    Dingo

  9. 9
    Nick Gotts

    dingojack@8,

    Imagine all the nice things a government could buy for that amount.

    Indeed. But from the point of view of the elite, the USA has to invade and devastate some unfortunate country every decade or two, just to show it still can, in military and political terms, and is still “top nation”. This may even get easier over the next few decades, as drones are upgraded, and robot ground forces come on line, reducing the political costs.

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    […] If Martin Luther King Were Alive Today – Freethought Blogs […]

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    […] If Martin Luther King Were Alive Today – Freethought Blogs […]

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