A Minnesota Welfare Rights Committee protest at the Minneapolis Federal Building on Monday, Aug 22 2016 was joined by activists from the Anti-War Committee Minnesota (AWC MN) to protest the disaster of the 20 years of the Clinton Welfare Reform.
AWC activist Elizabeth Showalter spoke about the relationship between austerity in the U.S., and war by the U.S. abroad. Her speech also pointed out the clear connection between Israeli apartheid and deprivation here at home in the U.S. Elizabeth’s speech follows (please see video at end):
“When politicians are asked why we can’t provide welfare programs for everyone in need, they often say it is just too expensive, what with all the debt our country has. But we all know that’s wrong. Our government has plenty of money. But instead of spending money on helping kids be able to succeed in school, our government spends it bombing schools. Instead of providing cash assistance as an entitlement, we use the cash to overthrow other people’s government, as though we are entitled to choose for them who leads their country. Instead of funding housing programs so families aren’t waiting years or even a decade to get into public housing or get a Section 8 voucher, we have been destroying homes in Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade. Instead of destroying lives, our government needs to provide help to everyone in need, not just the select few that have been on the waiting list long enough or happen to live in a county with more aid available.
The disastrous welfare reform and the dismantling of public housing that starting in the 1990s came for the same racist elite that decide to bomb countries where black and brown people live, and criminalize our Muslim youth who haven’t done anything wrong. If the government was just giving welfare to white families, it wouldn’t have been dismantled. Families would be guaranteed to get the help they need, regardless of how many people needed help. Clinton and HUD secretary Cisneros decided to start demolishing the “projects” in favor of mixed income communities that few original residents would be able to move back to because they didn’t meet the new higher standards, because of criminal backgrounds or failing a surprise housekeeping inspection. They overwhelmingly displaced people from projects with black residents, but few, if any, of the new residents were black. This racism continues to guide the decision makers at all levels of government.
The military takes up over half of the discretionary budget. Military aid to other countries costs us several billion dollars a year. The majority of the aid goes to Israel, a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world. That aid alone could fund 66 thousand teacher’s salaries, 265 thousand children could be provided childcare assistance or 541 thousand pell grants could be awarded. But instead it goes to support an apartheid country where Palestinians are forced to go through checkpoints, have their homes bulldozed so that Israelis can built illegal settlements, and have been separated from their community by a wall that weaves around in the West Bank.
By ending military aid, stopping fighting wars, and dismantling the stockpile of nuclear weapons, that we spend millions of dollars maintaining, we can help families in the US be successful, let every child have a chance at becoming who they want to be.”