Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guest Blog: On Politically Correct Meat

I think your blog on politically (and morally) correct meat is excellent and important.

It is good that scientific advance can in this instance contribute decisively to what in my view would be a politically and morally superior world while making a sound contribution to environmental preservation.

To Bentham goes the credit for first clearly coupling moral philosophy with the issue of causing pain to sentient beings. (Of course, this was the dominant view in Asian Indian civilization a thousand years before Bentham.) Bentham correctly found the crux to be in sentience, not just conscious awareness. (Tom is more convinced than I am that the lower animals are "conscious" of pain. It seems that the science is not decisive here, though it would be better to be in intellectual error than to induce horrible pain in other sentient beings. Cf. the research recently done in Ireland on the question of pain of lobsters in being boiled alive in addition to the late David Foster Wallace's famous essay on lobster pain. Lobster's do not have a developed brain with pre-frontal lobes and their spinal cord seems rudimentary. However,they are equipped with an inordinate number of tiny sensory organs over much of their bodies. These may help them in navigation and grasping and the like. But these organs could also involve a kind of pain-pleasure sensing mechanism on the avoidance-attraction model of behavior. Thus, there could be pain virtually throughout the body of the lobster, whatever may be the case in regard to crabs or crayfish or Japanese DOJO [a kind of river eel]) when being boiled alive).

What is of great importance, however, would be the overwhelming long-term environmental consequences of using "cultured meat." Given the incremental nature of greenhouse emissions and even more their consequences over time, even benefits on the scale projected by scientists in this instance would be highly significant.

There would be a cultural loss, however. "Food is culture," and the way we dine, notably with meat dishes, is so intertwined with much of high culture and even everyday life throughout the world (cf., e.g., the constant "noshing" of Thais on the street, e.g.) that the world would become less colorful and more interesting in spite of being more politically and morally correct and with a concomitant contribution to the restoration of the environment. But then head-hunting was out of favor with the British in Borneo and the Americans in the Philippines until the time came for the invasion of Borneo by Australian troops and guerrilla warfare in the Philippines so long as the heads gathered were Japanese. Cats and some bears are still boiled alive in some cuisines, as were mules in other cuisines, and this is certainly culturally unique. Yet, we condemn this nowadays, just as most of us look askance at head hunting (even though an environmental case for cannibalism has been on the agenda set forth by some radical environmentalists of advocates of "deep ecology." See This essays is by the late Australian philosopher and logician Richard Routley (later Richard Slyvan).

In conclusion, in his plea for animals, Bentham referred to efforts to mitigate the treatment of blacks in the West Indies. He was also committed to reforming the criminal law and brought the attention of the learned world to important theoretical work with practical applications being done in Italy and France in this regard. Some of his ideas concerning prison construction seem nowadays far from humane (cf. Foucault on Bentham), but partly even more so in the light of the treatment of Islamic prisoners and Private Manning by organs of the American government in more recent times. Bentham is right, however, the way we treat humans is willy-nilly intimately and intricately intercalated with how we treat animals.

Jack Clontz in the Big Mango

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Socialist US? Science Says It Can Happen

Thomas Riggins

One of the things many who consider themselves politically active would like to do is fundamentally change the US from a pro capitalist country to a pro socialist country. But to do that we would have to have the majority of the people begin to believe that socialism is a better system than capitalism.

Getting the American people to change their attitudes towards socialism and communism (Marxism-Leninism) has always been a worrisome problem for socialist activists. But now science has come to the rescue and has revealed how a tiny minority can, by sticking to its principles, get the vast majority to come around to its way of thinking.

ScienceDaily ("Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas" July 26, 2011) has reported on the research carried out at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by SCNARC (Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center) that shows "when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of society." This finding applies to many types of belief including political views.

People often tell me that it will be a few more generations before we can have socialism in the US. Some have said it will take 500 years. That is a long time. But according to SCNARC we only need to get 10 percent of the people for socialism and the trick is done since the majority always end up adopting the minority view.

Granted that we have to get the 10 percent to have "an unshakable belief" in the socialist ideal so we shouldn't talk too much about "flexible interpretations of Marxism." Another thing is we have to hurry up and get that 10 percent because it is the tipping point.

"When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent," the SCNARC director Bolesaw Szymanski said "there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority. Once that number grows above 10 percent the idea spreads like flame." The age of the universe is considerably longer than 500 years so we really have to concentrate on building our readership and recruiting new people to our cause.

SD also reports that it doesn't matter from where or from whom the 10 percent comes-- just as long as the level of "committed opinion holders" reaches 10 percent. The conclusions reached by the scientists were based on computer models of different social networks were a society with a given belief system held by a majority population, which was also open minded, had introduced into it an additional 10 percent of people who were "true believers." In every case the beliefs of the introduced 10 percent were soon widespread and became the new majority consensus.

Sameet Sreenivasan, another SCNARC investigator, said, "In general, people do not like to have an unpopular opinion and are always seeking to try locally to come to consensus. We set up this dynamic in each of our models. As agents of change start to convince more and more people, the situation begins to change. People begin to question their own views at first and then completely adopt the new view to spread it even further. If the true believers just influenced their neighbors, that wouldn't change anything within the larger system, as we saw with percentages less than 10."

The scientists are not just engaging in idle research. There are real world situations to which this research will be applied. Gyorgy Korniss, who co-wrote the research paper, says, "There are clearly situations in which it helps to know how to efficiently spread some opinion or how to suppress a developing opinion. Some examples might be the need to quickly convince a town to move before a hurricane or spread new information on the prevention of disease in a rural village.

In fact I don't think the researchers had in mind getting people to adopt socialism. Note well that remark above about knowing how "to efficiently spread some opinion" and "how to suppress a developing opinion." SD lists the major funders of SCNARC and we see the money coming from the Army Research Laboratory, the Army Research Office, and the Office of Naval Research among others.

The true purpose of the research seems to me to be how to set up groups of government agents to disrupt liberal and progressive groups (remember the larger group is made up of open minded people and the true believers are "unshakable.") We are also told that the scientists want to study a polarized society where there is not just one traditional viewpoint to be changed. They want to expand their research to a society with two opposite major outlooks. "An example of this polarization would be Democrat versus Republican." Indeed.

The real practical value for socialists is to see that our major traditional group is neither Republican nor Democrat but the large groups of progressives, liberals, the "left", minorities, and working people who make up the real majority in the US. If we can get 10 percent of this group to favor a principled socialist agenda a new world really will be possible.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's Time for Politically (and Morally) Correct Meat

Thomas Riggins

I think we all know, or should know, that there is something wrong will killing animals for their meat. Modern science has shown that animals have both sentience and consciousness, feel pain, and experience an emotional life. From insects to us there is great chain of being aware which we, who claim to be at the top of the chain, should respect as much as possible.

Our Morlock behavior is much to be regretted and we are, I think, under an obligation to model ourselves after our future, hopefully, Eloi incarnations. We are also obligated politically to strive towards a world where the exploitation of humans by other humans comes to an end: and beyond that the exploitation and infliction of suffering on our fellow creatures in general.

Now science has come up with a method by which we can satisfy our current Morlockean desire to eat animal flesh without actually killing and mutilating animals. The July 18th online issue of ScienceDigest ["Lab-Grown Meat Would Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Save Energy, Research Suggests] discusses tissue engineering in the laboratory which produces animal meat ("cultured meat'') without the animal, which would not only solve the problem of our moral responsibilities but actually reduces, somewhat, the threat to the planet from green house gases: the major greenhouse gas threat comes from fossil fuels, especially coal.

This scientific study from Oxford and Amsterdam universities says that cultured meat production would create only 4% of the greenhouse gases as are currently produced by animal raising and slaughtering techniques. While fowl would require more energy, the lab meat would require only a very small part of the land and water used with living birds. Meanwhile pork, sheep and beef could be produced in the same amount as today for 7 to 45% less energy, according to the report.

Oxford's Hanna Tuomisto, the director of the study, said: "What our study found was that the environmental impacts of cultured meat could be substantially lower that those of meat produced in the conventional way [i.e., by killing-tr]. Cultured meat could potentially be produced with up to 96% lower green house gas emissions, 45% less energy, 99% lower land use, and 96% lower water use than conventional meat."

There is a friendly little pond bacterium (Cyanobacteria hydrolysate) which is used as a food and energy source in the lab to grow muscle cells. Cultured meat is not yet ready to be mass produced but mass production is feasible. Ms Tuomisto says, "We are not saying that we could, or would necessarily want to to, replace conventional meat with its cultured counterpart right now [don't scare off the Morlocks], however, our research shows that cultured meat could be part of the solution to feeding the worlds growing population and at the same time cutting emissions and saving both energy and water. Simply put, cultured meat is, potentially, a much more efficient and environmentally-friendly way of putting meat on the table."

The scientists also pointed out the land no longer used for animal meat production could be reforested and used to capture atmospheric carbon-- plus transportation and refrigeration costs would be substantially reduced with cultured meat.

Finally Ms. Tuomisto remarked:"There are obviously many obstacles to overcome before we can say whether cultured meat will become part of our diet, not least of which is whether people would be prepared to eat it! But we hope our research will add to the debate about whether we could, or should, develop a less wasteful alternative to meat from animals."

Will people eat cultured meat? This depends on their level of political awareness and their moral sensitivity. Today, in a world where a Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman can dream of being president of the US, where the Tea Party mentality stalks the land, where overseas people are gunned down in the streets for peaceful protests, American imperialism plans world domination, and Nato hopes to restore European hegemony in the third world, our "conventional" meat eating days seem far from over.

Nevertheless, another world is possible and we must set ourselves the task of trying to create it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are Republics Democratic?

Thomas Riggins

The United States is supposed to be a democracy but is it really? If we live in a country where some citizen's votes count more than others-- i.e., in which one person one vote is really not the standard how can we claim to be a real democratic state? At best we have a limited and imperfect democracy.

It seems that having been set up as a "republic" we have just the sort of government that does not work on the one person one vote principle. A recent article in ScienceDigest ("Not all Citizens' Votes Created Equal, and Study Says It Shows in Funding" 5-28-11) points out that many democracies have been set up to water down the power of the vote in favor of denying the idea of equal distribution of voting rights on the one person one vote formula.

Here is just one example: California has 66 times the number of people as Wyoming yet they both have 2 US senators. Considering the power of the Senate how is it democracy when states with little populations can block the will of the people in states with large populations? The Senate was deliberately created to block the popular will ( originally the people did not even get to vote for their Senators).

SD reports that these disproportions become really important when it comes to the distribution of money (and goods and services). The study comprises long term (decades) trends in nine different republics, including the US. "Other things being equal, the most over-represented states or provinces can expect to receive more than twice the federal spending as the most under-represented states or provinces," says University of Illinois political science professor Tiberiu Dragu who shared authorship of the study with his counter-part at Sanford Jonathan Rodden. The disparity in some South American republics was 5 to 1. El Norte beckons.

While other factors may be at work, Dr. Dragu says that the unfair voting arrangements "cannot be explained away, the story remains the same: Representatives of over-represented provinces are able to bargain for a disproportionate share of the budget."

I know of at least two states where this happens, readers can no doubt supply other examples from where they live. The taxes collected from the people of New York City go to support upstate New York as the City receives less than is taken from it. The people in South Florida are also taxed for the benefit of the northern part of the state.

This is a very widespread practice in republics. The authors write: "Our analysis indicates that the rules of representation are indeed highly consequential. Controlling for a variety of country- and province-level factors and using a variety of estimation techniques, we show that overrepresented provinces in political unions around the world are rather dramatically favored in the distribution of resources."

Most people seem to just accept these conditions as the result of historical events in the past, especially at the founding of the republics or political unions. Nevertheless they are unfair an undemocratic and people serious about democratic and human rights must try to correct these imbalances.

Dr. Dragu ends by saying, "An important question is whether the stability of such federations is threatened if citizens of under-represented regions -- or ethnic groups, or countries -- must provide large, permanent subsidies to those with greater representation."

Well, what are we to support: practical politics or justice?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Frederick Engels on the Historical Development of Modern Socialism

Thomas Riggins

In the first chapter of Part Three of his classic work Anti-Dühring, Engels discusses the origins of the modern socialist movement. He begins with the enthronement of "Reason" by the pre-revolutionary 18th century French philosophers who thought that only reason could be used to answer any of the questions of existence.

After the overthrow of Louis XVI and the abolition of the monarchical French state, a new state was constructed by the revolutionaries-- one based on "eternal" reason and designed to be completely rational. The spiritual progenitor of this state was Rousseau's book The Social Contract.

But "eternal" reason turned out to be simply the explanation of existence from the point of view of the rising bourgeois class. The complexity of the new political reality they had created quite eluded them as the contradictions between their class and the newly conscious masses of the disposed poor of Paris and the countryside began to manifest themselves.

The wretched of the earth exerted themselves and the bourgeois rational state fell apart and morphed into the Reign of Terror under which the masses, for a moment, gained "the mastery" and saved the Revolution. With the abolition of feudalism the bourgeoisie had expected social peace but instead got a furious international response and the development of an intense struggle between the poor and the rich at home.

After Robespierre and the Jacobins, representing the French masses, were overthrown on 9 Thermidor Year II (July 27, 1794) by the conservative bourgeoisie, the new ruling class lost faith in its own ability to rule. After five years of corrupt government under the Directory, they surrendered to the coup d'etat of Napoleon Bonaparte on 18 Brumaire Year IX (November 9, 1799).

All this turmoil was a reflection of the "development of industry upon a capitalist basis [which] made poverty and misery of the working masses conditions of existence of society." From the dispossessed Paris masses (the "have-nothings" and other disadvantaged groups the proletariat began to develop "as the nucleus of a new class." However, at this time "the antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, was still very incompletely developed."

At this historical juncture the three "founders" of socialism appeared: Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen. First on the scene was Claude Henri Comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825). The Revolution was supposed to be a victory of the Third Estate (production workers) over a ruling class of idlers (the nobility and the Catholic hierarchy and its priests). But, in reality Engels says, the victory did not go to the Third Estate as a whole but only that part of it owning property, "the socially privileged part."

Saint-Simon saw the Revolution as a struggle between "workers" (anyone engaged in productive activity) and "idlers"-- people living off unearned income. For him "the workers were not only the wage workers, but also the manufacturers, the merchants, and the bankers." Science and Industry must move to the forefront and lead the revolution. The undeveloped nature of the class struggle within the Third Estate is apparent-- the proletariat and the capitalists are in the same "class." (I can't say the vast majority of the American people have gone much beyond that stage of consciousness yet but it has recently begin to dawn on them that class struggle is real).

Saint-Simon's heart was in the right place as he wanted to improve the conditions of the lowest and greatest number of the Third Estate-- what would become the proletariat and included the masses of downtrodden peasants, the most numerous and poor; Engels quotes him: "la class la plus nombreuse et la plus pauvre." However his socialism was utopian as he expected the bankers to lead the way into the new world! "The bankers especially were to be called upon to direct the whole of social production by the regulation of credit." Ironically the bankers today, the finance capitalists, do control production but in their interests not those of "la plus nombreuse et la plus pauvre."

Saint-Simon actually thought the rich bourgeoisie, bankers and manufactures, would change themselves into public servants and use their ruling positions to help the poor and oppressed. But at least he realized the "poor and oppressed" made up the majority of "the people" (Third Estate). In fact Engels credits him with understanding that the Revolution was a three way struggle-- Nobility vs. the Bourgeoisie AND the propertyless masses even though there was a tendency to group the latter two together when contrasted to the Nobility.

His greatness was in proclaiming that "all men ought to work" and recognizing that within the bourgeois revolution the Reign of Terror represented the power of "the toiling masses" against the haut bourgeoisie. Engels quotes Saint-Simon addressing himself to the poor masses: "See what happened in France at the time when your comrades held sway there; they brought about a famine." The "they" are the bourgeois enemies of Robespierre and the rule of the Parisian sans culottes.

Saint-Simon also saw a future where economics was more important than politics , i.e., the administration of things (planned economy) over the administration of people (the bourgeois state)-- i.e, he envisioned "the abolition of the state." We find in Saint-Simon the seeds, Engels says, of "almost all the ideas of later Socialists that are not strictly economic."

Following on the appearance of Saint-Simon came the ideas of Francois-Marie Charles Fourier (1772-1837). He contrasted the actual living conditions of the people after the establishment of bourgeois rule ("material and moral misery") with the pictures of what life would be like painted by their pre-revolutionary propaganda and by the "rose-colored phraseology of the bourgeois ideologists of his time."

In his first book, The Theory of the Four Movements (1808) he wrote, "Social progress and changes of a period are accompanied by the progress of women towards freedom, while the decay of the social system brings with it a reduction of the freedoms enjoyed by women." Therefore, "Extension of the rights of women is the basic principle of all social progress."

Engels says of him, with respect to the above passage, that: "He was the first to declare that in any given society the degree of woman's emancipation is the natural measure of the general emancipation." This not only tells us a lot about Saudi Arabia, but where our own society is heading with its failure to pass an Equal Rights Amendment and the movement to restrict the right to abortion, as well as the recent Supreme Court ruling that the woman discriminated against for years at Walmart have no right to a class action suit to redress their grievances.

Fourier also divided the history of human development up to the present era into "four stages of evolution," which were 1.) Savagery 2.) the Patriarchate 3.) Barbarism, and 4.) Civilization. In this scheme "Civilization" appears with the development of capitalism in the 1500s and he says "that the civilized stage raises every vice practiced by barbarism in a simple fashion into a form of existence, complex, ambiguous, equivocal [and] hypocritical."

Engels says that for Fourier civilization develops along "a vicious circle" throwing up contradictions it cannot resolve and arriving at the exact opposite destinations that it wants to arrive at or at least pretends to want to arrive at so that, as Fourier writes, "under civilization POVERTY IS BORN OF SUPER-ABUNDANCE ITSELF." For example the US, the richest country in the world, has 25% of its children at or under the official poverty line-- a completely ridiculous society!

One of the things Engels admires about Fourier is his masterly use of the dialectical method in his writings, which he compares to that of Hegel "his contemporary." Engels also says something curious here. He says Fourier postulates the "ultimate destruction of the human race" which he introduced into historical science just as Kant had introduced the "ultimate destruction of the Earth" into natural science. But, in this pre-Star Trek world, Kant's end of the Earth scenario would have entailed the end of the human race as well.

Saint-Simon and Fourier were products of the French Revolution but, Engels points out, at the same time over in England just as great a revolution was taking place. The whole basis of bourgeois society was being changed by the development of steam engines and tool making machines and manufacture (from the Latin "manus" hand) was being replaced by gigantic factories were machines tended by workers began to to turn out commodities rather than commodities directly made by them, "thus revolutionizing the whole foundation of bourgeois society."

This industrial revolution began to divide society in to a powerful group of capitalists on one hand, and propertyless proletarians on the other. The heretofore large and stable middle class began to break up and tended to be forced down into the lower class of workers-- "it now led a precarious existence." Sound familiar?

However, then the term "middle class" had a different meaning than it does now. Then it meant the class of artisans and small shop keepers who thrived in the era of manufacture. Now it is used to refer to an income group consisting of well paid workers and professionals whose wages were partially subsidized by the mega-profits of the imperialist international capitalist corporations who bought a modicum of social peace at home at the expense of the international solidarity of first world workers with third world workers and peasants by the creation of a labor aristocracy, according to Lenin, in the metropolitan countries.

Professionals such as lawyers, doctors and the parasitical class of preachers and priests were also included. With the decline of high paying production jobs in the West due to the rise of industry in the third world, among other factors, these high wage jobs are disappearing forcing the "middle class" down into lower paying jobs and so, as in the first days of capitalism, it now leads "a precarious existence."

Another difference is that today we have labor unions, pro-working class political parties and associations, and growing class awareness which is developing into a major class battle for the protection of people's jobs, life styles and incomes. This battle is just beginning and should grow as today's world capitalist system proceeds further down the path of decay and self destruction.

But in the England of the early 1800s, capitalism was on the rise and not the decline. It was into this world that the third great early founder of socialism arose: Robert Owen (1771-1858).
Owen was a materialist in philosophy and thought that humans were the product of their heredity (although at this time nothing was known of genes or DNA or any of the mechanisms of heredity) and their environment, most particularly their childhood environment.

For 29 years (1800-1829) he managed New Lanark the large cotton-mill employing around 2500 "hands" in Scotland. And, Engels says, by "simply placing the people in conditions worthy of human beings" the workers lived in a society without "drunkenness, police, magistrates, lawsuits, poor laws, [or] charity." He sent all the children off to school at age 2, put the working day at 101/2 hours (not the 13 or 14 that was the norm) and kept everyone on full wages when there was a four month shut down due to a cotton crisis AND made large profits and doubled the value of the business. Well, my goodness! Why didn't all the capitalists follow suit?

They didn't follow suit, for the same reason Owen fought with the other shareholders at new Lanark-- they didn't like the extra expenses that had to be put out for "conditions worthy of human beings." After Owen left in 1829 the community continued, in one form or another, under different capitalists, until 1968 when it went bust. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site drawing in around 400,000 tourists a year to visit it and the house where Owen lived.

In his work "The Revolution in Mind and Practice" (1849) Owen wrote he was unhappy with New Lanark because "The people were slaves at my mercy." He pointed out that New Lanark's 2500 workers, with steam power, created as much social wealth as it it took 600,000 workers to create a couple of generations earlier. Those 600,000 had to be paid living wages just as the 2500-- so what happened to all the surplus wealth saved in wages that would have gone to 597,500 extra workers? It was pocketed by the capitalists.

This new wealth was being generated all over England. It was being used to wage the wars of the Empire and to maintain an oppressive aristocratic and bourgeois order at home. "And yet this new power was the creation of the working class." Owen wanted this vast new wealth to go to the working class that created it for the building of a new society in which it would be, as Engels says "the common property of all, to be worked for the common good of all."

In his day, because of his reforms at New Lanark, Owen was considered a great philanthropist. He was lionized and respected and welcome at the tables of the rich and powerful. But as soon as he started talking about the working class creating all the wealth and how it ought to build a new society based on "common property" he was dropped like a hot potato, became persona non gratia, and shunned by official society. He therefore went to the working class and became a union leader and, Engels says, "Every social movement, every real advance in England on behalf of the workers links itself on to the name of Robert Owen."

Owen called for the overthrow of three great impediments to the advance of the working class and the reform of society along communist lines-- private property, religion, and "the present form of marriage (Engels)." Marriage is going through some radical changes nowadays and it is certainly very different from the forms of marriage Owen would have seen in the early 19th century. But private property and religion (i.e., supernaturalism and superstition) are still major impediments that hold back social progress for workers.

The last few pages of this chapter Engels devotes to vituperative attacks against Dühring and his negative views of the three utopians compared to whom Dühring is a pipsqueak. Engels says Dühring displays "a really frightful ignorance of the works of the three utopians." Their works are still worth reading (Dühring's are not) and whatever limitations they have were the result of the undeveloped conditions of early industrial capitalism.

But, since the time of the utopians and today (the 1870s) "modern industry has developed the contradictions laying dormant in the capitalist mode of production into such crying antagonisms that the approaching collapse of this mode of production is, so to speak, palpable."

Well they may have been "palpable" to Engels, but capitalism is still around, sad to say. And once again the palpability of capitalist collapse is in the air. From the looming default of Greece, to the threat of defaults spreading to Spain, Portugal and Italy which will bring down the Euro-zone and mobilize millions of workers to take to the streets of Europe, to the failure of the recovery in the United States and the desperate turn to the Tea Party by big capital to nurture home grown fascism to attack the workers and their unions, the smell of capitalist decay is everywhere. Let us hope this generation of workers will pay due to the long ago optimism of Frederick Engels.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Children's Mental Health and War

Thomas Riggins

We all know what happens to many of our troops when they return home after fighting one of the Pentagon's dirty wars overseas. Who can forget what happened to thousands of the Vietnam vets after they returned home from a useless and criminal war fought as a result of the government's lies about what caused it and that we had to go for the sake of our freedom and security.

The vets were provided with inadequate medical care, many committed suicide, their families broke up, thousands became homeless, derelict and drug addicted and alcoholic suffering with mental problems and posttraumatic stress syndrome and lacked adequate care and mental health counselling to help them recover from all the horror, killings and massacres they had been ordered to participate in. And all for what-- so that part of the cost of war could recouped on their backs so that the rich wouldn't have to pay more taxes.

So we know what the government and the Pentagon does to many of its troops when it is done with them. The same thing is now happening to thousands of the young men and women returning from the same types of unjust and aggressive adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not be surprised-- we have seen it all before and we will again if the peace movement does not galvanize more of us into action.

But now we are finding out, from new scientific surveys, that the government is not only willing to sacrifice thousands of veterans on the alter of capitalist greed and expansionism over its resource wars, but their children as well. ScienceDaily reports ("Length of Parental Military Deployment Associated with Children's Mental Health Diagnoses, Study Finds, July 4, 2011) that the children of soldiers deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) [why does the military always name their actions the opposite of what they are?] for longer times were more likely to have mental health issues that those whose parents were not deployed.

We have known for a long time that children of soldiers deployed in our imperialist wars are more likely than others to have mental problems but this study brings us up to date on our recent conflicts. The authors say "As troops face dynamic and evolving threats (e.g., an increasingly sophisticated array of roadside explosive devices) the need to anticipate the psychological consequences for their children and to offer timely intervention becomes increasingly important."

The roadside bombs are only one threat to our troops, and not the most deadly. The most deadly is the US Congress that abdicates its responsibility and duty to only authorize military engagements against real threats to the US, instead of caving in to the imperial presidency and the war lobby representing the defense industry and those who who make mega profits out of US involvements overseas. These wars for private profit at public expense are the real threat to our troops who are shipped overseas in bad faith not to fight for the country but for Daddy Warbucks and associates.

The study was conducted by Alyssa J. Mansfield, PhD of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PSD) and colleagues and involved 307,520 children 5 to 17 years old: 51,355 were found to have mental health issues: "most often for stress disorders , depression, behavioral problems, and sleep disorders."

These were the numbers for children with at least one active duty parent. Now in the subset of at least one parent deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, the study found that the longer the deployment or redeployment the more likely a mental problem would be found in a child.

The study turned up 6,579 children of parents from OIF and OEF deployments who were diagnosed for "acute stress reaction and adjustment disorders, depressive disorders, and behavioral disorders." The more the parent was deployed, the worse the diagnosis for the child in general. "Similar to findings among military spouses, prolonged deployment appears to be taking a mental health toll on children."

There is clearly a problem. The military has a simple solution. Either don't deploy soldiers who have children to combat zones or do not allow people with children to join the arm services in the first place. What is more important killing people overseas, or being killed by them, or having happy mentally healthy children (and adults) at home. I'm afraid we all know the answer to that one.