As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From Academia To Psychology

This is the second time in as many days that John W. McCain has dismissed the real concerns of real people who are struggling, suffering and dying in service to policies he wholeheartedly supports.

You might remember that McCain threw out a concept for a summer gas tax holiday to ease the burden on those paying high prices at the pump (a buck-eighty at a time for a 10-gallon tank... why, that'll end poverty in our time!). It was roundly criticized for providing little to no stimulus for working families, especially when contrasted with his desire to massive cut corporate tax rates. It'd also eliminate every highway construction job in America for three months and cause a spike in gas prices in September right before the election. So to say it was an unserious proposal is pretty on the mark.

Today, McCain tried to explain the rationale for his plan.

I think psychologically, and a lot of our problems today are psychological, confidence, trust, the uncertainty about our economic future, the ability to keep our own home, this might give them a little psychological boost. Let's have some straight talk, it's not a huge amount of money. A little psychological boost, that's what I think it would help.

It must be comforting to the single mother who can't survive on the minimum wage, or the steelworker who just got laid off, that they were offered a psychological boost. Because that's really the whole problem, right? Apparently McCain is taking the Green Lantern theory of geopolitics into the economic arena. Since he analogizes everything to a basic contest of will, it makes sense. We're apparently going to fight the economy through steely-eyed resolve, and improve people's lives through sheer force of command. Never mind the structural inequality problem, or the deregulation that led to a crumbling financial marketplace, or the credit crunch which has led to decreased consumer spending and a wave of bankruptcies, or the massive uptick in foreclosures (I love how McCain thinks the ability to keep one's own home is a "psychological problem" and not, you know, an "I don't have the cash" problem). It is the height of condescension to write off economic struggles as nothing more than something going on inside the heads of the unwashed masses.

I'll tell you what, though. McCain's right about one thing. The country is experiencing major psychological problems. Only thing is that they come from hundreds of thousands of sick veterans who were traumatized during his endless war in Iraq.

Some 300,000 U.S. troops are suffering from major depression or post traumatic stress from serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 320,000 received brain injuries, a new study estimates.

Only about half have sought treatment, said the study released Thursday by the RAND Corporation.

"There is a major health crisis facing those men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Terri Tanielian, the project's co-leader and a researcher at the nonprofit RAND.

"Unless they receive appropriate and effective care for these mental health conditions, there will be long-term consequences for them and for the nation," she said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The 500-page study is the first large-scale, private assessment of its kind — including a survey of 1,965 service members across the country, from all branches of the armed forces and including those still in the military as well veterans who have left the services.

Its results appear consistent with a number of mental health reports from within the government, though the Defense Department has not released the number of people it has diagnosed or who are being treated for mental problems. The Department of Veterans Affairs said this month that its records show about 120,000 who served in the two wars and are no longer in the military have been diagnosed with mental health problems. Of the 120,000, approximately 60,000 are suffering from PTSD, the VA said.

We're going to see deeply disturbed Iraq and Afghan war vets on our streets for decades. It's the residual cost of an unnecessary war that did not make us any safer. McCain's present to them is to deride the question of the initial invasion as an academic argument, and by describing the very real economic pain they feel as just "psychological." The fact that he wants to throw military families out of their housing is just a cherry on top.

Somehow, after this set of statements, we're not all talking about how McCain is an elitist. With this kind of corrupt thinking, I can tell you he's certainly not elite.

UPDATE: Barack Obama, of course, wants to give veterans the care and respect they deserve, and also pull our troops out of a dangerous and counter-productive situation in Iraq, just like a SNOB!!!!1!

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