FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Budgets Are Moral Documents

by ROBERT DODGE, MD

This week the nation funds our priorities as we pay our annual tax bill. “Our budget is a moral document and it is either going to reflect the best of who we are or the worst”.  This was so eloquently stated by the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners. Tax expenditures thus speak to who we are as a people. They define the sacrifices and choices we are willing to make as we look to the future for our nation and citizens young and old alike. Each expenditure is by necessity a critical affirmation of meeting the nation’s needs.

With a continued waning economy, each dollar becomes even more significant. So many issues remain under funded or non-funded and therefore the decisions we make are even more critical. From education, healthcare, infrastructure to environmental stewardship we are forced to choose and prioritize our needs. Yet there remains a gorilla in the room that not only threatens our very survival, it steals from the lifeblood of every community in our nation, depriving them of precious resources and taking a toll in opportunity costs – the critical programs left wanting when funding is not available. I am speaking of the massive dollars spent on behalf of nuclear weapons programs. Once again this number will exceed $54 billion for the current fiscal year according to Stephen Schwartz, author of the Atomic Audit.

The weapons that these expenditures support threaten our very existence every moment of every day. Every citizen and every community feels the burden of these costs. From our nation’s poorest community—Buffalo County, South Dakota with its 1912 residents, 49.3 percent who live in poverty spending $138,172 of its limited dollars—to Los Angeles County spending over $1.7 billion, the costs are great and morally reprehensible.

Public education is but one example of lost opportunity. On a daily basis school districts across the land deal with ever shrinking resources.  As a Californian I am terribly concerned for our state’s public financed education. California ranks 48 in the nation in per pupil spending.  As an American, I know the cuts in public education across the land will have an everlasting effect on the future of our nation and the world.

Is this really what we want?

Today’s children are tomorrow’s scientists, teachers, professionals and leaders. I ask, is this our priority? What is the ripple effect of such short-sightedness? We all will suffer the consequences. This does not have to be the case. When will we speak up? We have an opportunity and responsibility to realize the possibilities before us.

We now have bipartisan elder statesmen who are working to globally eliminate all nuclear weapons stockpiles. We even have U.S. Air Force researchers and RAND corporation nuclear planners who suggest the U.S. could address its stated military concerns with roughly 300 nuclear weapons.  Current global stockpiles contain 19,500 weapons with over 94 percent in the U.S. and Russian arsenals. Nuclear weapons programs are not an entitlement program. They have outlived their Cold War purpose and it is now time to work to reduce and ultimately eliminate these dangerous weapons and wasteful expenditures.

The choice is ours. National and international surveys have confirmed that a majority of U.S. and global citizens want to see nuclear weapons eliminated. Their continued existence encourages further spread of nuclear materials and weapons. Now is the time to redefine our priorities.

We the people have an opportunity and responsibility to make a difference. It is time for all of us to raise our collective voice and demand that the nuclear madness stop. We can no longer gamble on our future relying on luck to protect us from accidental or intentional nuclear strike. Nor can we afford to waste precious resources on any program that does not add value to our future let alone that which threatens our very existence. Every elected official needs to be questioned what they are doing specifically to work toward a nuclear free world. You can contact your congressional representative or senator by going to www.contactingthecongress.org. Let your voice be heard. For when the people lead, the leaders will follow.

Robert Dodge, M.D. is a board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles (www.psrla.org) where he is a Peace and Security Ambassador. He is also a board member of Beyond War (www.beyondwar.org) where he coordinates their Nuclear Weapons Abolition Team. He is co-chairman of Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions (www.c-p-r.net).

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail