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Lessons of History

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The cartoon above was published in the front page of the Street Sheet in February of 1993. At the time, it was a call of attention to the fact that a large chunk of the homeless population was made out of veterans of our armed forces, particularly from the US war in Viet Nam.

At this point, there is very little doubt that most of our recent wars were fought to preserve the interests of this country’s corporate elite. There was no just reason to invade Viet Nam, bomb Cambodia and Laos, or bring human chaos to most of Southeast Asia in the ‘60s and ‘70s, just as there’s no real justifiable reason beyond our current mayhem in Southwest Asia.

The Right Wing loves to pay lip service to honoring our veterans, while actively eliminating the funding to the programs that care for them. We sent hundreds of thousands of young people to fight wars and build an empire of global proportions, but when those soldiers made it back home, they found themselves tossed out like thoroughly juiced lemons.

How long before we start seeing panhandlers carrying “Iraq Vet” signs?

But there is an even more disturbing fact about the wars we are forced to fight for the benefit of a few: We spend more money on our defense budget than all the other government agencies and programs combined.

If we bring the troops home now and cut the military budget by half, we will suddenly find ourselves with enough cash to end homelessness, provide free health care for all, and stop worrying about the future of Social Security. And then some.

Right now, however, the reality is that we, as a nation, are choosing to finance an illegal and immoral war over providing for the basic needs of our own homegrown tired, poor, huddled masses. We are killing thousands of people overseas, ignoring suffering at home, and paving the way for a future of even more local suffering. Can we go any lower?

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Author: Street Sheet Editor

The STREET SHEET is the oldest continuously published street news paper in the United States. Organizationally, it is the public education and outreach tool of the Coalition on Homelessness. Every month, the STREET SHEET reaches 32,000 readers through over 200 homeless or low-income vendors. Our vendors are charged nothing for the papers they receive, and keep all money they earn through STREET SHEET distribution.

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