Dusting off an old Clintonian catchphrase,
United for Peace and Justice
(UFPJ) has found a new way to sum up the connection between the war in Iraq and the economic crisis at home–“It’s the war economy, stupid!” The slogan is all over bumper stickers, T-shirts and other paraphernalia launched for the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. According to UFPJ’s
, the phrase “is about catching people’s eyes and drawing attention to misplaced economic priorities when our neighborhoods really need the money.”
Statistics from the
National Priorities Project
, distributed by UFPJ to 1,400 member organizations, convey the war’s staggering economic impact at the local level [see the “Class War” centerfold in this issue]. To date, the war has cost taxpayers in Memphis $817 million–enough to build sixty-three new elementary schools. In Seattle, war costs could have provided healthcare to 179,750 residents. In Richmond, 32,812 students could have received college scholarships. ELIZABETH HENDERSON
A disastrous year for homeowners ended with the highest foreclosure rate on record, according to recent reports by the
Mortgage Bankers Association
(MBA). One in four subprime mortgages is past due or in foreclosure. Home equity has dropped to its lowest level since World War II, and Americans owned less than half the value of their homes by the end of 2007. For black homeowners, with nearly 90 percent of their net worth locked into their homes, the effects of the housing bust may prove nothing short of devastating.
‘s economic advisers have warned of the “moral hazard” of rewarding risky speculators and “imprudent” borrowers to explain why he does not support a far-reaching federal bailout. But according to the MBA, mortgage holders are residing in 82 percent of the houses currently in foreclosure–meaning these are homes, not investment properties. Even if the remaining 18 percent are all profit-seeking house flippers–and the trend of debt-ridden borrowers abandoning homes now worth less than their mortgages suggests otherwise–the moral hazard argument is less credible than ever. Punishing every four homeowners for the actions of the fifth is not moral, it’s callous–and Obama should do better. MAX FRASER
GUEST STAR NO. 3:
In January TheNation.com launched a rotating guest blog,
, featuring monthly stints by some of America’s most celebrated political bloggers. Next up is
, a 29-year-old writer from San Francisco who blogs for
. Samhita’s work focuses on the role of feminist bloggers in the larger political blogosphere. Look for her posts on our website through March.