Wednesday, June 14, 2006


The Grinch in the White House [Archival Materials]
By Thomas Riggins

Christmas has come and gone and we may have all been amused by the story of the Grinch who stole Christmas and other holiday tales. But in looking over the press I found several stories in real life that make the Grinch look not so bad. After all he only stole one day out of the year while the Grinch who lives in the White House is planning to steal the very lives of millions of children around the world, all of their days, in order to continue to enrich the ultra-wealthy millionaires he calls his base.

Recently Oxfam reported that an estimated 47 million children are expected to die over the next decade due to poverty and lack of food (that's around 13,000 kids a day – all preventable by the way).

This is backed up by a recent Unicef report (New York Times 12/10/04) which says one billion children (ie., over half of all the children on the planet) are suffering "extreme deprivation" due to war, HIV and poverty.

Since 1990 3.6 million people have been killed in war – almost half of them children. (How many of the 100,000 people murdered by the Pentagon in Iraq were children?) Girls suffer disproportionately more than boys. Most of the 120 million children denied primary school education are girls.

Of the developed countries, we in the United States can take pride that our God-fearing leaders still allow us to have the highest child poverty rate – 21.9 percent left behind. It's not that we can’t eliminate child poverty, both here and in the rest of the world. It's that we lack the will to do so.

Our President, who calls Jesus his favorite "philosopher," doesn’t seem to have his priorities in the right order. The Times had an article I saw on 12/22 headed "U.S. cuts aid to world food programs" – a perfect response to the Oxfam and Unicef reports.

We should note that global military spending is $956 billion per year (the U.S. spends the most by the way) vs. the $65 billion or so that it would take to get rid of poverty. Nevertheless our fearless leader wants to cut back what we give to the world food program.

As a result of the U.S. cuts about 6 million people will loose food aid. There are more hungry people than ever before. The Times of 12/8/04, in an article by Elizabeth Becker ("Number of Hungry Rising, U.N. Says"), reports that at least 5 million children die of hunger every year – this is from the the food and agriculture agency and is higher than the Unicef estimate.

The Times says "the number of chronically hungry people rose to nearly 852 million, an increase of 18 million since 2000." This is happening while the world itself is collectively getting richer and producing enough food to feed everyone.

It is of course the capitalist economic relations, so praised by the pundits of globalization, that prevent the proper distribution of food to the hungry. Even when people are working they can’t afford food. One half of the workers of the world "earn less than $2 a day."

In the face of all this human misery and suffering, Oxfam also reported that the wealthy nations are now giving one half of what they gave in 1960 for aid to the poor countries. So its not just the U.S. but the capitalist world as such that is ignoring and perpetuating poverty and starvation.

Let's return to the 6 million people affected by U.S. cuts in food aid. How much money are we talking about? The U.S. is cutting $100 million. That is a paltry amount considering the government in the last seven years alone has given $147 billion to one defense contractor, Lockheed – let alone what it gives to Boeing and the others!

We can’t give less than 1 percent of what we toss out to a defense contractor every few years in order to provide food to six million people? I don’t think Jesus would like this philosophy.

The six million have to starve because we have to lower our deficit – which was created by giving enormous tax cuts to the rich by the Bush administration. Well, so much for the Grinch in the White House. I wonder if he remembers what his favorite philosopher had to say about the rich man getting into Heaven?

--Thomas Riggins can be reached at

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