Ever notice how much of American money goes to fighting what we don’t want?
The War on Drugs – Thanks partly to our thinking that drug use is a crime, our incarceration rate is the highest in the world. Addicts who aren’t taught other ways to cope become repeat violators. Families are torn apart; welfare and poverty skyrockets. Prisons are now a big business. Except for the people who make money on the prison machine, it’s a lose/lose situation.
In Portugal, ten years after decriminalization of drugs, drug abuse is down by half. Addicts are treated by medical and psychiatric personnel instead of being locked up.
What if the US spent the time, energy, and resources on rehabbing addicts that it spends on finding and punishing them?
The War on Terror – The Bush administration launched a war that has created more problems than it could have ever solved: destabilization of entire countries has led to chaos and mass evacuations that have led to previously stable countries being overwhelmed with immigrants. Thousands of military personnel (ours and theirs) have been killed or maimed or left emotionally scarred, and we don’t have the money or manpower to adequately treat these soldiers’ mental and physical ailments. Military suppliers are now a big business. Except for the people who make money as military suppliers, it’s a lose/lose situation.
What if the US had responded after 9/11 with some form of Peanut Butter Ministry? Imagine if we had spent the same amount of time, money, and manpower on offering countries schools, books, hospitals, training on how to grow crops, purify water, and be economically stable?
The War on Cancer – Despite the time, money, and resources we’ve spent on fighting cancer, the rates haven’t changed significantly. Doctors and researchers looking for cures that don’t rely on cutting, burning, and poisoning patients are scoffed at, discredited, or shut down. Most cancer patients (I’ve been one for 18 years now) must pay out of their own pocket for alternative care like supplements, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine. Big pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of diagnostic tests and equipment have got money-making machine that will never stop.
What if the same amount of time, money, and effort were put into training doctors about the importance of good nutrition, into unbiased studies of the health benefits of acupuncture, yoga, guided meditation, and nature-based supplements that work but don’t offer big profits on?
Cuba seems to have developed a vaccine for lung cancer (it’s economics: with a vaccine the Cuban cigar industry can flourish without the country’s smokers developing lung cancer). The US doesn’t have a cancer vaccine, but big pharmaceutical companies have gotten rich.
Have we passed the crossroads where we had the option to choose between making decisions that benefited people and the planet or ones that made big companies and their leaders rich?
It seems to me that we have, but what if we changed our minds?