FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Invest in People, Not War

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.

More articles by:

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

August 16, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
“Don’t Be Stupid, Be a Smarty”: Why Anti-Authoritarian Doctors Are So Rare
W. T. Whitney
New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America
Ramzy Baroud
Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege
Larry Atkins
Why Parkland Students, Not Trump, Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize
William Hartung
Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire
Yves Engler
Will Trudeau Stand Up to Mohammad bin Salman?
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Morality Tales in US Public Life?
Vijay Prashad
Samir Amin: Death of a Marxist
Binoy Kampmark
Boris Johnson and the Exploding Burka
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail