FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Invest in People, Not War

by RALPH NADER

Earlier this month, a delegation of activists took to Capitol Hill to demand a decrease in the massive, out-of-control military budget. As millions of Americans struggle with inadequate health care, low wages, deteriorating public services and uncertainty about their futures as the wage gap between the wealthy elite and the working poor widens, billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars are pouring into the coffers of the Department of Defense every year. The Pentagon budget currently makes up half of the U.S. government’s entire operating budget. Estimated to be around $716 billion in 2013, the U.S. defense budget is greater than the defense budgets of the next ten highest spending nations combined. The gathering was, appropriately, scheduled on International Human Rights Day.

Some of the groups present were: Roots Action, the Hunger Action Network of New York State, Code Pink, Green Shadow Cabinet, Coalition Against Nukes, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, U.S. Labor Against the War and many more. See their open letter to members of Congress and President Obama here.

The consortium of activists’ are asking Congress to slash the bloated military budget and use the significant savings to enhance critical social programs that actually help people, things like food stamps, Social Security and improved full Medicare-for-all healthcare. They also suggested a massive public works agenda that creates good paying un-exportable jobs in every community around the country — jobs that include clean, renewable energy for the future. And what of America’s crumbling infrastructure? Our clinics, roads, schools, bridges, libraries, public transit, public water and sewage systems and national parks are in dire need of repair and modernization. The savings from defense spending could be used to repair infrastructure — much of which was a product of FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s — and ensure a cleaner, safer, more prosperous America.

These are proposals that would benefit our citizenry rather then ravage and destroy countries abroad whose citizens far too regularly become victims in the U.S.’s perpetual military adventures.

The American people have long been subject to fear mongering and propaganda-spreading about alleged foreign threats to their safety. The blowbacks are costly. This campaign for perpetual war has significantly benefited corporate contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Halliburton who reap the massive rewards of a defense budget many times greater than that of any other country on Earth. Consider this — the Navy’s latest aircraft carrier currently under construction, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is expected to cost $12.8 billion. That’s a billion dollars more than the current annual budget of the entire Internal Revenue Service. The United States already has eleven aircraft carriers, all of which outmatch every other foreign naval vessel on the sea. The IRS budget, on the other hand, is too inadequate to properly police tax evaders who reportedly cost the government $300 billion in losses every year. According to a 2011 report from The Motley Fool: “Tax evasion in the last decade cost an amount roughly equivalent to the Bush tax cuts, the Obama stimulus, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … combined.”

Mark Dunlea, Executive Director of the Hunger Action Network of NYS, who is a key figure in organizing the campaign said: “Cutting the military budget in half would reduce it to where it was before 9/11 — when it was way too high. The amount of money spent on theUS military is a crime against humanity. It steals our children’s future and it oppresses people across our planet. We shouldn’t be cutting SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] funds to feed our children and seniors while wasting tens of billions of dollars to build planes and tanks that are often mothballed in desert parking lots soon after they roll off the assembly line.”

President Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the “military industrial complex” in his farewell address in 1961. Now, over fifty years later, we see the result of unchecked, reckless spending on costly, unnecessary high-tech weapons of mass destruction — and the disturbing need to find uses for them. On December 12, a drone strike in Yemenreportedly killed at least 13 people traveling in a wedding procession. A Yemeni government official has claimed that the wedding convoy contained members of Al Qaeda — although earlier reports claimed the convoy was targeted mistakenly.

Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin recently posed the question: “Do we want to feed hungry people or feed the weapons industry?”

The defense budget — which the Government Accountability Office of Congress deems “un-auditable” — is loaded with waste, redundancy, corruption, cost overruns, complex billing fraud and poor quality control. Let us heed Eisenhower’s warning at long last and use our nation’s wealth to make significant investments in a future that benefits people. (Read Eisenhower’s famous 1953 “Cross of Iron” speech on this matter.)

At the least, each person can do his or her part by reaching your Senators and Representatives with your outcries. Call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail