What a speech, huh? Johnny boy was channeling me last night, I *swear*! In fact, until yesterday’s comeuppance with the fish & the chips, I was planning to blog about how much it pisses me off when the right wing labels us pessimists for pointing out that reality isn’t all the sweetness and light they want it to be; and that they are the true cynics who believe that nothing will ever get any better – that this is as good as it gets (and as good as it should be). That it’s OK and acceptable that 3 million *more* Americans have slipped into poverty since Bush was in office. That it’s OK and acceptable for 3.8 million Americans to have lost their health insurance under Bush. That it’s OK and acceptable that the crime rates have climbed steadily, with murder rates alone up 3.1%. That it’s just fine and dandy to have nearly 1000 American soldiers and close to what, 15,000 innocent Iraqi civilians lose their lives in a military campaign that is only making us *more* vulnerable to terrorists, not safer.
Then Kerry encapsulated my thoughts with one line: There is nothing more pessimistic than saying America can't do better.
So as long as the psychic connection is in place, I’ve got a great idea I’m trying to channel in his direction. One of those incredible, mind-blowing ideas that come as you’re drifting off to sleep at night. It’s about how we’re going to recruit those 40,000 additional troops we need. Are you ready? Really? OK here goes: Extend veteran’s benefits, and (here’s the revolutionary part) make them transferable to next of kin. What good does a GI Bill or VA home loan do for a dead soldier? That’s right. Nothin’. So. If a soldier does die while in service to her country, his/her veteran’s benefits can be used by a sibling, spouse or child. Oh – and I don’t know if they already have these or not, but we should have small business loans for veterans, too. Just in case they don’t *want* to go to college. And tax breaks! I know, it’s impossible to compensate a family financially for their tragic loss, but is it really fair to ask someone who has done so to pay the same amount in taxes as someone who hasn’t made that sacrifice? I’m thinking a $2500 tax credit each year for 5 years following the loss. All we offer those families now is a flag and “pride in knowing they died serving their country”. Yeah well. Pride won’t put food on the table, will it? And you know how Republicans are suckers for any and all available tax loopholes. This may finally convince more of them to sign up!
This way, when one of those “service” families who have multi-generations of kids in the military makes the ultimate sacrifice and loses one, that sacrifice can serve to help someone else in the family escape the same fate. By enabling a spouse, sibling or child of the deceased to use their benefits to go to college, or start their own business, or buy their own house – it will give them options their relative never had, and hopefully keep them *out* of harm’s way.
What do you think? Am I totally nuts?