Paula Orloff: Why we’re presenting the Local Peace Budget Resolution
February 22, 2018
The Local Peace Budget Resolution asks our local representatives to tell Congress to "move our tax dollars … from militarism to human and environmental needs." Several Nevada County organizations support this resolution. Some of the "whereas" statements are of great impact:
President Trump himself admitted (during his campaign) the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer.
We can help alleviate the refugee crisis by ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees.
The military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum.
... budget is a moral document. Consider alternatives to the massive military waste, fraud, abuse, and suffering. Let’s focus on well-being rather than violent solutions.
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The military budget comprises over 50 percent of our discretionary spending.
A December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the U.S. was considered the largest threat to peace in the world.
Fractions of the proposed military budget could provide low-cost housing, free quality education, health care, renewables and replace crumbling infrastructures.
Economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program.
Last year, the 253 members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (with populations over 30,000) unanimously adopted a resolution urging Congress to move funding from military operations to human and environmental needs. Their resolution is virtually the same as the Local Peace Budget Resolution. The mayors also call for "hearings on real city budgets needed and the taxes our cities send to the federal military budget."
More taxes are slated for the military this year. President Trump proposed moving $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to increase military spending. Then Congress, both Republicans and Democrats almost unanimously showered even more — an $80 billion increase to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. I'm dumbstruck. That act already provided over $600 billion in 2017.
I don't recall much questioning by the media or Congress about the effectiveness of those extra warfare taxes. Hmmmm. However, whenever funding needs arise for education, health care, housing, and infrastructure, there is agonizing and hand wringing over a budget shortfall.
Is there waste, fraud and abuse in the military? By most accounts, you betcha. By the defense department's own inspector general's report, "… the Army alone has accumulated $6.5 trillion in taxpayer expenses that can't be accounted for over the past two decades." The Army wasn't alone in its lack of accountability. David Lindorff of media collective observes, "Things aren't any better at the Navy, Air Force and Marines." This was the No. 2 story in Project Censored's top 10 under-reported or ignored stories of 2016-2017.
Is there other big time waste, fraud and abuse in our warfare budget? Indeed. By now it is common knowledge that the Iraq war was sold on the notion that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. That evidence has been shown to be fraudulent.
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate and former president of the World Bank, wrote "The Three Trillion Dollar War, The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict." The war has continued across Democratic and Republican presidents. Many thousands of U.S. soldiers lost their lives and even more Iraqi civilians.
We have been dragged into other deceptive wars. Oliver Stone's book and video, "The Untold History of the U.S., and Stephen Kinzer's book, "Overthrow," document the deception of politicians and media that drew us into Vietnam and other costly, brutal wars.
The documentary, "War Made Easy" by award-winning journalist Norman Soloman shows at 7 p.m. today at the Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City. The film exposes a " … 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq." We would do well to question our present involvement in costly, destructive wars.
As a result of the recently passed tax bill, the weapons makers/dealers will be some of the major corporate recipients of the tax cuts in spite of their already generous profits.
It has been observed that our budget is a moral document. Consider alternatives to the massive military waste, fraud, abuse, and suffering. Let's focus on well-being rather than violent solutions. Let's redirect some our war taxes to constructive local outcomes.
Under Obama, the U.S. spent more on the military than the next eight nations combined (International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2014). We're spending even more now.
Further, The U.S. is the biggest arms dealer in the world (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2017). President and General Eisenhower warned, "We must guard against the unwarranted acquisition of power by the military industrial complex."
Paula Orloff lives in Nevada City.
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