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Nevada County group urges peace through budgets

John Orona
Staff Writer

There’s a group of Nevada County residents waging a local fight against what they see as a national military industrial complex.

For the past several years, a group of persistent seniors has lobbied local governments to adopt a peace budget resolution, asking federal and state authorities to re-prioritize government spending on people-centered programs and away from military expenditures.

According to Paula Orloff, a proponent of the non-binding peace budget resolution, the resolution would ask Congress to redirect a portion of military spending to social needs and environmental causes. Although group members don’t necessarily expect the federal budget to change even with the support of local government bodies, they say the symbolism and autonomy in making a stand against federal budget priorities is important in itself.

“The main purpose of promoting the local peace budget is to bring awareness to more people and officials about the financial, emotional, and physical burdens of our military budget which drains resources, energy and planning for constructive and pressing human and environmental needs,” Orloff said.

According to group members, for years they’ve tried to spread their message through displays at events and venues, during government meetings and in the op-ed pages of The Union.

During a recent Grass Valley City Council meeting, peace budget activists yet again asked officials to agendize the resolution, presenting “peace flowers” with messages about the detriments of current spending patterns and providing alternatives that they say would better meet citizens’ needs.

While Grass Valley officials said there are no plans to put the peace budget resolution on the agenda, the group has had success elsewhere. In 2018, the Nevada City Council unanimously adopted the resolution following an outpouring of support during two consecutive public comment periods.

“I just want to stress this request is not about doing away with our military,” Orloff said during the meeting “Indeed, we recognize the need to provide fully for our soldiers and veterans. However, in significant ways by numerous reports our military is bloated, wasteful, and unaccountable in the use of our tax dollars. This has happened across Republican and Democratic administrations. It’s a nonpartisan issue.”

Whether other local governments follow Nevada City’s lead or the group continues its effort alone, it has committed to keep the fight going.

“It is important to do local advocacy to let our elected officials know the human and environmental costs of their actions and/or of their inaction,” peace budget proponent Lily Marie Mora said. “Our officials need the general public to become a supportive partner with them, to work together to get educated about the complexity and severity of issues, to identify possible solutions, to discuss fiscal and economic realities and to make plans of actions to create communities that are vibrant living centers for generations to come.”

THE SCOPE

In fiscal year 2020, the proposed federal budget included $726 billion in defense spending, more than half of all discretionary spending for the year and 15% of the total budget when including mandatory spending.

In 2019, the nation’s military spending was more than the next 11 largest countries’ military combined, with $4.4 billion left over, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. In 2018 the United States accounted for about one-third of the entire world’s military spending, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

While some opponents may naturally say the money is needed to make sure the military is properly funded, the majority of military spending does not go toward U.S. military personnel.

In 2018, 24 cents of every tax dollar Americans paid went to military spending. Of that, fewer than five cents went toward funding American armed services personnel while 12 cents went toward military contractors, according to the National Priorities Project — a nonprofit organization that states it’s “fighting for a U.S. federal budget that prioritizes peace, economic security and shared prosperity.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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