Paula Orloff: Grass Valley City Council, let’s talk local peace budget | TheUnion.com

Paula Orloff: Grass Valley City Council, let’s talk local peace budget

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Paula Orloff

It could be fruitful for the Grass Valley City Council to agendize the Local Peace Budget Resolution (davidswanson.org/a-model-city-resolution-to-resist-and-overcome/). If approved, the council would request Congress to redirect a portion of the billions of our military taxes to human and environmental needs.

Our military funds are over 50% of our discretionary budget annually.

The Peace Budget Resolution was unanimously endorsed by the 253 bipartisan members of the Conference of Mayors of large cities in 2017. It has been supported by several city councils. In Nevada County, over a dozen nonprofits, more than 500 individuals, and the Nevada City Council endorsed the resolution.

Some Grass Valley Council members prefer not to place the Local Peace Budget Resolution on the agenda because they feel: A) it’s divisive; B) it’s “political;” and C) it’s impractical.

Here’s my appeal:

Dear Grass Valley mayor, city council and city manager,

Please put the Local Peace Budget Resolution on the agenda.

In regards to the objection that it’s divisive: It is counter-productive to avoid discussion. It is important to consider whether military funding is excessive, wasteful, or ill conceived. It is important to consider if we would be stronger with a portion of the military dollars transferred to essential needs and services.

In a democracy it is necessary to have an exchange of ideas in order to be aware, sort through misinformation, and weigh relative benefits. On the other hand, authoritarian countries ignore and suppress those who question. In this country, President and General Eisenhower questioned the military industrial complex.

In regards to the objection that it’s political: Any decisions of local government are “political” — how and if we put funds into housing, fire prevention, renewables, or health are “political” decisions, affecting the community. I think “political” objections are the same as the previous one: It’s a desire to avoid dealing with differing views, but at what cost?

In regards to the objection that it’s impractical: True, Congress won’t transfer excessive military billions with one request, but joining with other communities, mayors, and individuals may eventually bring change. What major changes have come about from a single event? Movements for women rights, civil rights, worker rights, environmental cleanup happened (and continue) after much speaking up. If the city council allows discussion of the Local Peace Budget Resolution, we may realize common concerns. Most would agree we don’t want military waste and excess. Most would agree we don’t want to send our soldiers to war without honest, transparent, sound reasons. We also want our veterans to receive quality health care.

Consider military waste, mostly ignored by mainstream media. The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, Frank Kendall in 2012 viewed production of the F-35 fighter plane as “acquisition malpractice.” POGO, (Project On Government Oversight) in 2018 observed, “The disastrous $400 billion F-35 program is typical of the Pentagon’s problem with wasteful spending.” POGO called for supporting our troops, not Pentagon contractors.

It is disturbing that in 2018, DOD and HUD failed a $2 trillion audit between 1998 and 2015 (HUD’s annual funding is less than 10% of the military). This was uncovered by economist,Mark Skidmore. Most of us would expect accountability for such a massive amount of our taxes. It seems that only after wars drag on, we learn about misinformation. After many months, we found out that Iraq’s WMDs were non-existent. They were the rationale for the Iraq war, still unresolved. The Iraq war cost three $3 trillion (and counting) according to Nobel laureate and former World Bank economist Joseph Steglitz in his 2008 book.

On the other hand, 3% of U.S. military spending could end starvation worldwide. This is based on World Beyond War calculation of a 2008 UN report. We might foster better relations in the process.

Recently “The Afghan Papers,” published in Dec. 2019, showed that top officials across administrations waged a deliberate misinformation campaign to conceal the failures of our ongoing military operations in Afghanistan. We might find agreement about ill-conceived military operations that don’t merit expending billions in heart wrenching destruction and loss of lives.

Also, we all seek a healthy, safe environment. War accelerates climate change and vice versa. It’s vital to examine such impacts.

If a fraction of the military billions were transferred to our county, we might directly receive federal funds for education, HUD housing, and for the 50% of Nevada County that is national forest. Indirectly, more funds could be available for grants that the city is constantly seeking. There are benefits to consider the Local Peace Budget Resolution.

Paula Orloff lives in Nevada City.


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