Monday, October 12, 2009

social services

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more that 8,000 people” (Eisenhower, quoted by Paglan, 278).

As I was reading Palgen’s text, I felt like he was creating another map of blank spots. Just as he traces the paths of airplanes to uncover the map of secret events, spaces and times, he is also outlining a map of what is not secret, but cut out. Education, healthcare, and housing are all areas that, as Eisenhower says, are being left off the map in place of these military/intelligence blank spots. Every space and time where Paglen found these intelligence blank spots are tied to spaces and times not or under funded that create a map of poverty and unmet needs. While it’s not a huge revelation that the United States lags behind so many countries on social program spending while it outspends them on military funding, seeing so clearly how much money is set aside to secret, ‘protective’ projects was a little startling. Especially Paglen’s observation that “the budget for the entire Manhattan project was still millions of dollars less than the present day’s annual black budget,” (95).

That the funding of black spot programs dilutes funding for social programs, and that this huge budget is in the name of protecting American livelihood is frustrating in its implications for class mobility. Promoting these policies of patriotism and protection with the sacrifice of civil liberties and, according to Paglan, social services, seems to indicate a more nuanced understanding of the impossibility of class mobility. The American Dream operates on the level of the individual – that one can pull oneself up by the proverbial bootstraps – ignores the structural barriers inhibiting individual mobility. I’m wondering if it’s a reasonable jump to say that these structural players in class issues (usually thought of as more physical barriers like housing or education) are in fact rooted in and made further barriers by the imagined network of community and patriotism that allow these black programs to run unchecked.

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