Un-Trump the Budget

Check out below the list of people who have come together on this!

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Our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent. We need to transform our economy, our politics, our policies and our priorities to reflect that reality. That means reversing the flow of our tax dollars, away from war and militarism, and towards funding human and environmental needs, and demanding support for that reversal from all our political leaders at the local, state and national levels.

We and the movements we are part of face multiple crises. Military and climate wars are destroying lives and environments, threatening the planet and creating enormous flows of desperate refugees. Violent racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and other hatreds are rising, encouraged by the most powerful voices in Washington DC.

President Trump plans to strip $54 billion from human and environmental spending so as to increase already massive spending on the military. The plan raises Pentagon spending to well over 60 cents of every discretionary dollar in the U.S. budget — even as Trump himself admits that enormous military spending has left the Middle East “far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago.” The wars have not made any of us safer.

Washington’s militarized foreign policy comes home as domestic law enforcement agencies acquire military equipment and training from the Pentagon and from military allies abroad. Impoverished communities of color see and face the power of this equipment regularly, in the on-going domestic wars on drugs and immigrants. This military-grade equipment is distributed and used by many of the same private companies that profit from mass incarceration and mass deportation.

Using just a fraction of the proposed military budget, the US could provide free, top-quality, culturally competent and equitable education from pre-school through college and ensure affordable comprehensive healthcare for all. We could provide wrap-around services for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence; replace mass incarceration with mass employment, assure clean energy and water for all residents and link our cities by new fast trains. We could double non-military U.S. foreign aid, wipe out hunger worldwide. The list of possibilities is long.

Instead, the Trump administration plans to take much of their $54 billion gift for the Pentagon from the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency (even threatening to shut down its already under-funded environmental justice office), the Department of Health and Human Services (slashing family planning and anti-violence-against-women programs), from the State Department (thus privileging war over diplomacy), and foreign aid (so that the wealthiest country in human history turns its back on the world’s most desperate).

Among those most desperate are the 24 million refugees who have been forced out of their homes and countries, more than at any time since World War II. Instead of cruel Muslim bans and cuts to the already meager number of refugees allowed into the U.S., we should be welcoming far more. Alleviating the refugee crisis also means working to end, rather than escalate, the wars that create refugees, and supporting human rights defenders in their home communities. That means more diplomacy and foreign aid, not more military spending.

With its hundreds of billions of un-audited dollars, the military remains the greatest consumer of petroleum in the United States, and one of the world’s worst polluters. The US needs new green, sustainable jobs across our economy targeted to people facing the highest rates of unemployment and low wages. Military spending results in an economic drain. Clean energy production creates 50% more jobs than the same investment in military spending.

The U.S. military also serves as a security force protecting the extraction and transport of fossil fuels domestically and from the Middle East and other parts of the world. U.S. military force thus enables the continued assault on the planet and some of its most impoverished inhabitants by ensuring the supply of cheap fossil fuels, all while subsidizing some of the largest corporations in the world.

A December 2014 Gallup poll showed people in 65 nations considered the United States far and away the largest threat to peace in the world. If the United States was known for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others, instead of attacking and invading other countries, we would be far more secure and face far less global hostility.

We can do this. Reverse the flow. No walls, No War, No Warming!

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A. Garcia    climbing poetree
Adam Shah    Senior Policy Analyst, Jobs With Justice
Alice Slater    Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Alice Walker    poet and writer
Angela Kelly
Ann Wright    Veterans for Peace
Annie Leonard    Greenpeace USA
Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson    Highlander Research &a Education Center
Ayesha Gill    IWW
Basav Sen
Barbara Cicalese    Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia
Beverly Guy-Sheftall    Professor, Spelman College
Bonnie Gorman    Mass. Peace Action
Bonnie Hughes    Berkeley Arts Festival
Rabbi Brant Rosen    American Friends Service Committee
Bill goonan
Bonnie Lockhart    System Change not Climate Change
Brian Trautman    Veterans For Peace
Buzz Davis    Vets for Peace
Carrie Schudda
Chris Kaihatsu    RevLeft (affiliation only)
Chuck Kaufman    National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice
Chuck Woolery
Cindy Wiesner    Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Collin Rees    SustainUS
Corey E. Olsen    CEO Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm
Dara Baldwin    President and CEO of DMADRINA, LLC, Social Justice Policy expert
Daniel Carrillo    Enlace
Dan Gilman    Veterans For Peace
David F. Gassman    System Change not Climate Change
David Hart    New Economy Maryland, Institute for Policy Studies
David McReynolds    former Chair, War Resisters International
David Swanson    author, radio host, co-founder of WarIsACrime.org & World Beyond War
David Schwartzman    DC Statehood Green Party
Dayne Goodwin    Secretary, Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice, Salt Lake City
Don Harmon
Ed Bennett
Eddie S. Glaude Jr.    Princeton University
Eve Ensler    V-Day and One Billion Rising
Erich Pica    President, Friends of the Earth
Frank Cordaro    Des Moines Catholic Worker
Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa    the Nuclear Resister
Gene Keyes
Henry Lowendorf    Greater New Haven Peace Council
George Martin    Liberty Tree Fiundation
Gloria Steinem    Author, feminist
Gregory Cendana    Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO & Executive Committee Member of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
Gwyn Kirk    Women for Genuine Security
James Early    Institute for Policy Studies Board Member
j hoegler
Jamie DeMarco    Program for Nuclear Disarmament & Pentagon Spending, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jane Fonda    actress & activist
Jaron Brown    Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Jaron Browne    Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Jay Schaffner    Moderator, Portside
Jeff Cohen    co-founder, RootsAction.org
Jeff Furman    Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors
Jenny Lynn    California for Progress
Jim Barton
Jo Comerford    Campaign Director, MoveOn.org
Joan Phillips
Joanne Landy    Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Jodie Evans    CODEPINK
Jonathan Boyne
John Kailin    Member, Jewish Voice for Peace
John Cavanagh    Director of the Institute for Policy Studies
John Lindsay-Poland    American Friends Service Committee
John Sellers    Other 98%
Josh Ruebner    Policy Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
Joseph gerson    American Friends Service Committee
Judith LeBlanc    Native Organizers Alliance
Julie Levine    Topanga Peace Alliance and MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles
Kathleen A Maloy    Strategic Consulting for Health Equity
Kathy Bradley
Kathy Kelly    Voices for Creative Nonviolence
kathy lipscomb    senior & disablity action
Kathy Spillar
Kelley Ready    Dorchester People for Peace, Congo Action Now
Keith McHenry    Food Not Bombs
Kevin Lindemann
Kevin Martin    President, Peace Action and the Peace Action Education Fund
Kourtney Andar    Veterans For Peace
Kimberle Williams Crenshaw    The African American Policy Forum
Lari Phillips Mussatti    CTA
Laura Flanders    host of The Laura Flanders Show
Leslie Cagan    Peoples Climate Movement NY
Leah Bolger    World Beyond War, Veterans For Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Lindsay Koshgarian    Research Director, National Priorities Project
Lindsey Allen    Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network
Litsa Binder    NJ Peace Action, FCNL, AFSC, Greenpeace
Liz Moore    Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane
Lukas Ross    Climate and Energy Campaigner, Friends of the Earth
Mab Segrest, Southerners on New Ground
Lydia Davis
Madelyn Hoffman    New Jersey Peace Action
Maggie Martin    Co-director of Iraq Veterans Against the War
Marjorie Cohn    National Lawyers Guild.
Mark Almberg
Mark Foreman    Veterans For Peace
Marie Dennis    Co-President, Pax Christi International.
Martha Hennessy    Catholic Worker
Martin Melkonian
Mary Sue Meads
May Boeve    350.org
Medea Benjamin    CODEPINK
Megan Amudson    Women’s Action for New Directions
Mehrene Larudee
Michael Eisenscher    US Labor Against the War
Michael Kaufman    Communities for a Better Environment
Michael T. McPhearson    Veterans For Peace
Michelle Alexander    author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness
Michelle Dixon    Global Progressive Hub
Michelle Manos    California for Progress
Mike Tidwell    Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Miriam Pemberton    Institute for Policy Studies
M.K.Brussel
Monisha Rios    Veterans For Peace, National Board of Directors
Monique Salhab    Veterans For Peace
Murshed Zaheed    Vice President and Political Director, CREDO Mobile
Nabil Mohammad    ADC
Nadine Bloch    Beautiful Trouble
Naomi Klein    author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate
Nicolas J S Davies    Journalist, Consortium News
Norman Solomon    Co-Founder and Coordinator, RootsAction.org
Olivia Alperstein    Communications and Policy Associate, Progressive Congress
Opal Tometi    Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration; & Co-Founder, BLM Network
Oscar Chacon    Alianza Americas
Patrick McCann    Veterans For Peace, National Education Association
Paul Shannon    American Friends Service Committee
pedro    Escuela de La Paz
Peter Buffett    American musician, composer, author and philanthropist
Phyllis Bennis    Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies & Director, New Internationalism Project
Rabbi Brant Rosen    American Friends Service Committee
Rafael Jesús González – poet    Xochipilli, Latino Men’s Circle
Richard Greve    Veterans for Peace, Peace Action
Robert Applebaum
Richard (RJ) Eskow    Host, The Zero Hour radio pro
gram
Robert Naiman    Just Foreign Policy
Robert Shetterly    Americans Who Tell the Truth
Robert Weissman    Public Citizen
Rosa Clemente    2008 Green Party VP candidate
Rosette M. Bagley    Pax Christi Illinois
Rebecca Vilkomerson    Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace
Reece Chenault    National Coordinator, US Labor Against the War
Regina Birchem    Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom
Samina Sundas    Founder, American Muslim Voice Foundation
Saru Jayaraman    Co-Director at Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC-United)
Staceyann    Poet
Steph Guilloud    Project South
Stephen Miles    Director of Win Without War
Steve Cobble
Steve Ongerth    IWW, IBU (ILWU), Climate Workers, Railroad Workers United, System Change not Climate Change, and Sunflower Alliance
Tarak Kauff    Veterans For Peace
Terry Kay Rockefeller    September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Terry O’Neill    President, National Organization for Women
Thea Paneth    Arlington United for Justice with Peace, United for Peace and Justice
Thenmozhi Soundararajan    Equality Labs
Thomas L Harrison    Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Tom Swan    Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG)
Vince Warren    Exec Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
Alice Slater    WORLD BEYOND WAR
Wendy Thompson    UAW, L. 22
William D. Hartung    Center for International Policy
Winnie Wong    co-founder, People for Bernie
Zillah Eisenstein    writer, anti-racist feminist, International Women’s Strike/US

Join the above signers here:
https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/un-trump-the-budget

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Let Trump Golf, Let the Public Draft the Budget

One idea behind a representative government is to approximate what the public as a whole would do if it had the time to sit down and consider each matter itself. Of course the entire U.S. public does not have that time. But when a random sample of the public is asked to take the time on one topic, its results typically line up with opinion polls, not to mention basic human decency, far more closely than does the work of the Congress or the White House.

An example is found in the matter of the fiscal year 2018 federal budget. This can be a tricky topic to poll the public on, principally because most of the public has little idea what the budget looks like, and most discussions of the budget only make matters worse. Passionate pleas not to cut this or that valuable program leave people imagining that such programs make up a significant part of the budget, and that the White House proposal would shrink the government by cutting such programs.

In fact, only one item makes up a significant part of the discretionary budget — over half of it, in fact — and President Donald Trump’s proposal is for the same size government, but with funding moved out of virtually everywhere else and into this one budget item: the military. Trump’s budget proposal would push military spending up to above 60% of discretionary spending (not counting secret budgets, of course).

What would be the point of asking for budget recommendations from people who believe that military spending is 10% and foreign aid 20% of the budget? How responsible would that be? If the public were to decree that we must “increase” military spending to 15% of the budget, how would we implement that policy?

A democratic solution to this conundrum, short of an improved communications system, has been found by the staff of the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland. They simply show people the current 2017 budget, so that they know what it is, and ask them how to improve it. The results would only shock an elected “representative.”

“By far the biggest gap,” the researchers report, “is for … military spending. Overall the Trump administration favors a $53.4 billion increase while the public favors a $41 billion cut – a $94.4 billion gap.” And, of course, Trump favors cuts to pay for his militarism that the public opposes: on education, public housing, the State Department, medical research, the environment, and mass transit.

I’m with the public on this and every other topic I know of. A sample of informed public opinion should override any veto, filibuster, house resolution, or executive order as far as I’m concerned. We’d all be better off.

Dumping $700 billion into a never-audited department named “defense,” against the will of the public, is certainly not defensive of democracy. Neither is it defensive of anything else. Only 20 countries reach $10 billion in annual military spending, nine of them NATO members, 8 more U.S. allies, and 3 potential allies if not treated with such hostility. One of them, Russia, has cut its military in the past 3 years from $70 billion to $48 billion. Somehow that’s the government considered so terrifying in Washington, D.C., that all you’d have to do to stop Trump’s budget would be to claim 1,000 times on television that a Russian wrote it.

That’s going to be my Plan B. First let’s try this. I suggest we cut the President some slack. Let him go golfing more often. The public can handle the government just fine.

Liberalism's Communications Problem

Liberals in the United States are relatively educated, yet extremely inarticulate when it comes to Trump, his budget proposal, or the U.S. military.

In a typical email, Moveon.org sent out the message this week that nobody should confirm a Supreme Court nominee until it’s determined that Trump is a “legitimate president.” Until then, the U.S. military should go on slaughtering families for him? And once he’s “legitimate” then a horrible fascist Supreme Court nominee should be approved? And what would it take for Trump to become “legitimate.” According to the email, it would take proving that Trump didn’t collaborate with Putin to rig the U.S. election. According to the linked video, it would take that plus seeing Trump’s tax returns, plus proving that Trump is not violating the foreign emoluments clause. All three demands are given a xenophobic slant.

Of course Trump is blatantly violating the foreign and the stronger domestic emoluments clauses. That’s not a question to be investigated or doubted. But there has been zero evidence made public by anyone that he and Putin “rigged” his election. However, examining what Robert Reich in the video linked above, and others, mean by “rigged” points to one of numerous reasons that considering the election “legitimate” would be ridiculous. What they mean is that there exists the slimmest possibility that Trump sent Putin and Putin sent WikiLeaks the emails that added extra evidence to the transparent sabotaging by the Democratic Party of its own strongest candidate. Under those known circumstances, the election is already knowable as illegitimate. Add to that Trump’s losing the popular vote, Trump’s openly intimidating and threatening voters, Trump’s court battles against counting paper ballots where they existed, the absence of verifiable ballots in many places, the exclusion of voters by Republican Secretaries of State stripping them from the rolls, the exclusion of voters with ID requirements, the nomination of Trump by the corporate media through disproportionate coverage, the open and never-denied system of bribery used to fund all the campaigns, etc. Suggesting that explaining away a xenophobic fantasy would make such an election legitimate is disgusting.

The idea that Trump could be a legitimate president if he had been fairly and properly elected is equally outrageous. He’s murdering people in large numbers in numerous countries. He’s creating so-called laws through executive orders. These include unconstitutional acts of discrimination. He is opposed by the vast majority of the public. He is protected in Congress by the Democrats’ weakness and inability to communicate honestly, but also by an election system rigged in many of the ways noted above, plus gerrymandering in the extreme.

As I have been pointing out, the liberal line on Trump’s budget proposal is dangerously dishonest. Trump doesn’t propose cutting anything at all. He proposes moving money from everything else to the military. Denouncing supposed “cuts” while avoiding mention of the military stirs up the “small government” advocates in favor of the supposedly smaller budget. It also licenses an infinite military. The current proposal plus an expected supplemental puts the military at 60% to 65% of discretionary spending. Every indication is that it could reach 100% before liberals would mention it, at which point they would cease mentioning the federal budget at all.

As Dave Lindorff notes, even when a liberal economist like Dean Baker claims to be explaining the budget and correcting misunderstandings, he just states what a small percentage of the budget various good but relatively tiny programs are, without ever mentioning the existence of the U.S. military. The reader is left to assume that every big government program is just 1% or 2% of the budget because, of course, there are hundreds of big government programs. The idea that the military costs money, much less the majority of the money, never enters awareness.

Saturday evening I attended a panel discussion that was part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, attended by hundreds of people in the old Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia. The director of the festival opened by denouncing Trump’s supposed cuts to the arts, never hinting that Trump’s proposal is actually to move the money to the military. She also declared a welcome to all immigrants — which had nothing to do with the event at hand. One of the authors during the discussion brought up “alternative facts.” This was clearly a forum in which it was not verboten to mention horrible crises that are upon us or to badmouth a U.S. president. And yet, nobody would ever mention where the money was moving or what would be done with it.

In fact, one of the books under discussion was related to work that had been funded by the U.S. military. More such work might be funded under Trump’s budget than under the current budget. And many more people might die as a result. That uncomfortable situation was totally avoided. That African American women were able to work on rockets after World War II was discussed — and the whole event was quite intelligent and positive and fascinating — without ever mentioning the leading rocket makers and former utilizers of slave labor who came through Operation Paperclip, without even mentioning all the people and villages blown up over the years by the rockets. When a woman asked a question about the good work of other women mathematicians who helped create nukes at Los Alamos, only positive responses were heard. Sounds like another great book to be written, commented the moderator.

What 2017 U.S. liberalism fails to grasp, I think, is that — while racism and misogyny are indeed outrageous — other outrages do exist. The people Trump is murdering by the hundreds are mostly dark-skinned women, children, and the elderly. I spoke on a panel on Thursday on which one of the other speakers described a mass-murder operation in Yemen thusly: “We lost a naval officer.” When did morality die? Nobody was lost. A participant in a mass-slaughter of families was killed in action. That’s horrific. But so are all the deaths he helped cause, and all the deaths that will result from the cycle of violence to follow. And “we” suffer all of those deaths, not just the ones in U.S. uniforms.

If inventing nuclear bombs is noble because women were involved, if Trump’s funding for “more usable” nukes is unworthy of comment because pretending he’s shrinking the budget is the best way to fail and Democrats are addicted to failure, if wars no longer outrage, I can only draw this conclusion, which ought to thrill every liberal soul: Hillary Clinton has won after all.

 

 

 

 

City of Charlottesville Passes Resolution Asking Congress to Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion

Charlottesville, Va., City Council Monday evening, March 20, 2017, passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, which shifts funding to the military from many other programs. The draft resolution brought up for consideration reads as follows. It was passed with a few alterations. The final version should soon be posted online by the City, as should video of the meeting in which it was read aloud and discussed.

Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion 

Whereas President  Donald J. Trump has proposed to  divert $54 billion  from human and environmental spending at home and abroad in order to increase the military budget, bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending; and

Whereas the citizens of Charlottesville already pay  $112.62 million in federal taxes  for military expenditures, an amount that each year could fund locally: 210 elementary school teacher salaries;  127 new clean energy jobs; 169 infrastructure jobs;  94 supported employment opportunities for returning citizens; 1,073 preschool seats for children in Head Start; medical care for 953 military veterans; 231 college scholarships for CHS graduates; 409 Pell Grants for Charlottesville students; healthcare for 3,468 low-income children;  enough wind power to power 8,312 households; healthcare for 1,998 low-income adults;  AND solar panels to provide electricity for 5,134 households.

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program;[1] and

Whereas our community’s human and environmental needs are critical, and our ability to respond to those needs depends on federal funding for education, welfare, public safety, and infrastructure maintenance, transit and environmental protection; and

Whereas the President’s proposal would reduce foreign aid and diplomacy, which help to prevent wars and the victimization of people who become refugees in our  community, and 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing these cuts;

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress, and our representative in particular, to reject the proposal to cut funding for human and environmental needs in favor of military budget increases, and in fact to begin moving in the opposite direction, to increase funding  for human and environmental needs and reduce the military budget.  

1. “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,”  Political Economy Research Institute,
https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

*****

Passage of the resolution followed the proposal of a different version by a large coalition of local groups.

At Monday’s meeting, the resolution passed by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention.

City Council Member Bob Fenwick, a veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam with two sons veterans of that in Afghanistan, said that cutting back on military adventurism makes people better off. “We have had enough of war,” he declared.

City Council Member Kristin Szakos drafted the resolution version above.

Also voting in favor were Council Members Wes Bellamy and Kathy Galvin.

In my view, this is an important statement to Congress, the country, and the world from our city council which has chosen to represent us. Charlottesville did not make a familiar and misleading statement exclusively against spending cuts, which would have fueled predictable and irrelevant demands for smaller government. Charlottesville addressed the reality of money being moved from everywhere else to the military, and urged the deeply moral action of moving money in the opposite direction.

It’s worth noting that the assertion that military spending is an economic drain is a reflection of the fact that tax cuts produce more jobs than military spending. Military spending produces fewer jobs than does never taxing money in the first place. The study cited above does not, of course, assert that military jobs do not exist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

City to Vote on Resolution Opposing Trump's Budget

Charlottesville, Va., City Council has on its agenda for Monday, March 20th, a vote on a resolution opposing President Donald Trump’s proposal to shift $54 billion from human and environmental needs to military spending. The resolution calls on Congress to shift funds in the opposite direction.

The resolution is endorsed by Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville, Clergy and Laity United for Peace and Justice.

Trump’s budget proposal would cut the Environmental Protection Agency by 31%, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13%, the State Department by 28%, the Department of Agriculture by 21%, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by 100%, the Institute of Museum and Library Services by 100%, and the National Endowment for the Arts by 100%.

Military spending would rise by $54 billion to something over 60% of discretionary spending, a percentage not seen since the Cold War. Then, according to reports, Trump will ask for $33 billion more off-the-books as a supplemental budget for the current (not the next) fiscal year for the military to spend on programs that candidate Trump denounced such as the F-35, and including $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to spend building a wall and detaining and deporting immigrants. Assuming a similar future supplement to the fiscal year 2018 budget, actual discretionary spending could see over 65% go to militarism.

Trump’s budget proposal does not fund any of the infrastructure he promised during his election campaign.

“The Sierra Club supports full funding of the Environmental Protection Agency so that it can adequately protect communities through enforcement of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Toxic Substances Control Act and other important laws,” said John Cruickshank, Chair of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club.

“We cannot look away any longer. Last week ground troops entered Syria and the press barely mentioned it. The week before, Pathfinders returned from combat in Africa. Who knew we are fighting in Africa? We have military deployed to over 150 countries. How many countries are there?” asked Daniel Saint of the Charlottesville chapter of Veterans For Peace. “President Obama, in his last State of the Union Address, proudly claimed that the United States spends more than the next eight countries combined–China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, United Kingdom, India, Germany, and Japan. Combined! Now Trump wants to dramatically expand adding another $54 billion. It costs $12 thousand to drill a well bringing fresh water to a village with no clean source of drinking water. For just the budget increase proposed by Trump, we could provide 4.5 million new wells across Africa, India and Latin America. Imagine if children from around the world grew up with a vision of the United States as bringing clean drinking water rather than bomb fragments stamped ‘made in the USA.’ Would our children and grandchildren be safer with new fresh wells or more nuclear weapons?”

“Indivisible Charlottesville, along with thousands of Indivisible organizations across America, is committed to resisting the Trump administration’s efforts to reverse the progress of the last century, and to building a diverse country that can face the challenges of the next one,” said David Singerman. “Trump plans to destroy the programs that let Virginians drink clean water, breathe clean air, live in affordable housing, attend some of the world’s best universities, and sleep without fear of chemical and industrial accidents. He would do this in order to pile money into what’s already the strongest military in history, and in order to cruelly build walls across our borders and end aid programs that give succor to the most vulnerable people in the world.”

“Not only is the military the wrong place to put more money,” said David Swanson, director of World Beyond War, “but nobody can even say where all that money goes. The Department of so-called Defense, which President Trump says has created a hornet’s nest of the Middle East, is the one department never audited.”

“We have known for many years that the Department’s business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty,” Chairs John McCain (R-AZ) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees said recently in a joint statement. “The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.”

“If we can stop a Muslim ban,” added Swanson, “we can stop an immoral budget too!”

A CNN poll on March 1-4 asked for opinions on this proposal: “Increase military spending by cutting funding for the State Department, Environmental Protection Agency and other non-defense agencies.” Nationally, 58% disapproved, and 41% approved.

Charlottesville provides an example of how federal budget priorities are out of line with popular opinion. Using the calculations of the National Priorities Project at CostofWar.com, “Every hour, taxpayers in Charlottesville, Virginia are paying $12,258 for Department of Defense in 2016.” That’s $107.4 million in a year. Much of military spending is in other departments. The National Priorities Project provides the numbers for a few of them: $4.1 million from Charlottesville for nuclear weapons, $2.6 million for weapons for foreign governments, $12.6 million for “homeland security,” and $6.9 million for the 2016 off-the-books extra slush fund. That’s $133.6 million, not counting various other expenses, and not counting the extra $54 billion or an additional $30 billion, which would bring the cost to Charlottesville up by another $16 million to $149.6 million.

According to National Priorities Project, that is enough money to provide 1,850 Elementary School Teachers for 1 Year, or 2,019 Clean Energy Jobs Created for 1 Year, or 2,692 Infrastructure Jobs Created for 1 Year, or 1,496 Jobs with Supports Created in High Poverty Communities for 1 Year, or 16,788 Head Start Slots for Children for 1 Year, or 14,479 Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for 1 Year, or 4,504 Scholarships for University Students for 4 Years, or 6,431 Students Receiving Pell Grants of $5,815 for 4 Years, or 63,103 Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or 168,519 Households with Wind Power for 1 Year, or 42,024 Adults Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or 104,093 Households with Solar Electricity for 1 Year. Each of these items is more than Charlottesville, which does not have 104,093 households, could possibly use.

The resolution drafted for Charlottesville’s City Council follows:

PROPOSED RESOLUTION

Whereas Mayor Mike Signer has declared Charlottesville a capital of resistance to the administration of President Donald Trump.[i]

Whereas President Trump has proposed to move $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to military spending[ii], bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending[iii],

Whereas part of helping alleviate the refugee crisis should be ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees[iv],

Whereas President Trump himself admits that the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer[v],

Whereas fractions of the proposed military budget could provide free, top-quality education from pre-school through college[vi], end hunger and starvation on earth[vii], convert the U.S. to clean energy[viii], provide clean drinking water everywhere it’s needed on the planet[ix], build fast trains between all major U.S. cities[x], and double non-military U.S. foreign aid rather than cutting it[xi],

Whereas even 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cutting foreign aid[xii],

Whereas a December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world[xiii],

Whereas a United States responsible for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others would be more secure and face far less hostility around the world,

Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,

Whereas the military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum we have[xiv],

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program[xv],

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.

 


[i] “Signer Declares City a ‘Capital of Resistance’ Against Trump, Daily Progress, January 31, 2017, http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/politics/signer-declares-city-a-capital-of-resistance-against-trump/article_12108161-fccd-53bb-89e4-b7d5dc8494e0.html

[ii] “Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending,” The New York Times, February 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-military.html?_r=0

[iii] This does not include another 6% for the discretionary portion of veterans’ care. For a breakdown of discretionary spending in the 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project, see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states

[iv] “43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes,” World Beyond War, http://worldbeyondwar.org/43-million-people-kicked-homes / “Europe’s Refugee Crisis Was Made in America,” The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/europes-refugee-crisis-was-made-in-america

[v] On February 27, 2017, Trump said, “Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East . . . and we’re nowhere, actually if you think about it we’re less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there’s not even a contest . . .  we have a hornet’s nest . . . .” http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html

[vi] “Free College: We Can Afford It,” The Washington Post, May 1, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-college-we-can-afford-it/2012/05/01/gIQAeFeltT_story.html?utm_term=.9cc6fea3d693

[vii] “The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html

[viii] “Clean Energy Transition Is A $25 Trillion Free Lunch,” Clean Technica, https://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/03/clean-energy-transition-is-a-25-trillion-free-lunch / See also: http://www.solutionaryrail.org

[ix] “Clean Water for a Healthy World,” UN Environment Program, http://www.unwater.org/wwd10/downloads/WWD2010_LOWRES_BROCHURE_EN.pdf

[x] “Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries,” The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/10/cost-of-high-speed-rail-in-china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries

[xi] Non-military U.S. foreign aid is approximately $25 billion, meaning that President Trump would need to cut it by over 200% to find the $54 billion he proposes to add to military spending

[xii] Letter to Congressional leaders, February 27, 2017, http://www.usglc.org/downloads/2017/02/FY18_International_Affairs_Budget_House_Senate.pdf

[xiii] See http://www.wingia.com/en/services/about_the_end_of_year_survey/global_results/7/33

[xiv] “Fight Climate Change, Not Wars,” Naomi Klein, http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars

[xv] “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,” Political Economy Research Institute, https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

 

 

UPDATE:

“We have published so many books detailing the terrible consequences of war! We’re firmly committed to redirecting as much spending as possible from the military-industrial complex to the urgent needs of people here at home– and there would still be plenty left over to help communities around the world devastated by our military’s actions.”
 

~ Helena Cobban, CEO, Just World Books

“Agencies like the NEA, NEH, and the CPB are about a positive vision for a society where the government makes things better by marshaling our common wealth for public goods. Where we do fund the arts because the arts make our lives better. Where we do fund public broadcasting because it’s a critical source for information and music that’s not being blatantly sold to us for profit. Where we do fund cultural institutions that improve our communities and help people lead richer, more flourishing lives. Don’t believe for one second the line that cutting these programs is about saving money. In the overall federal discretionary budget, the NEA, NEH, and CPB combined represent the equivalent of someone who makes $40,000/year buying one soda per year. The damnedest part of it all is that Trump doesn’t seem to have any particular enmity toward public broadcasting or the arts or the Appalachian Regional Commission or the others on the list to be slashed. But he’s surrounded by schemers like Steve Bannon who want to blow the whole thing up just so they can see how pretty the shrapnel might be. And by groups like the Heritage Foundation that are more than happy to fill the void and provide a budget blueprint to carry out their demented vision of America.”

–Nathan Moore, co-organizer with Together Cville

Charlottesville to vote on resolution urging Congress to fund human and environmental needs, not more militarism

On Monday, March 20, 2017, please attend the 7 p.m. Charlottesville City Council Meeting (at City Hall, 605 E. Main Street, on the Downtown Mall near the pavillion). On the agenda is a vote on a resolution to urge Congress to fund human and environmental needs, not more militarism. If you’d like to speak for 3 minutes in support of this resolution, sign up here: http://bit.ly/cvillespeech

To let all City Council Members know you support the resolution, email council@charlottesville.org

Bring your voices to be heard.
Bring your signs to be seen.
Bring your hands to clap.
Join us to speak.
Join us to listen.
And, join us to celebrate.

Endorsed by Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville.

Ask more organizations of all kinds to endorse by emailing david [AT] davidswanson.org.

A Model City Resolution to Resist and Overcome

Resolution Proposed for __________, ___

Whereas President Trump has proposed to move $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to military spending[i], bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending[ii],

Whereas part of helping alleviate the refugee crisis should be ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees[iii],

Whereas President Trump himself admits that the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer[iv],

Whereas fractions of the proposed military budget could provide free, top-quality education from pre-school through college[v], end hunger and starvation on earth[vi], convert the U.S. to clean energy[vii], provide clean drinking water everywhere it’s needed on the planet[viii], build fast trains between all major U.S. cities[ix], and double non-military U.S. foreign aid rather than cutting it[x],

Whereas even 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cutting foreign aid[xi],

Whereas a December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world[xii],

Whereas a United States responsible for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others would be more secure and face far less hostility around the world,

Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,

Whereas the military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum we have[xiii],

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program[xiv],

Be it therefore resolved that the ____________ of ___________, ________, urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.


[i] “Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending,” The New York Times, February 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-military.html?_r=0

[ii] This does not include another 6% for the discretionary portion of veterans’ care. For a breakdown of discretionary spending in the 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project, see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states

[iii] “43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes,” World Beyond War, http://worldbeyondwar.org/43-million-people-kicked-homes / “Europe’s Refugee Crisis Was Made in America,” The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/europes-refugee-crisis-was-made-in-america

[iv] On February 27, 2017, Trump said, “Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East . . . and we’re nowhere, actually if you think about it we’re less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there’s not even a contest . . .  we have a hornet’s nest . . . .” http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html

[v] “Free College: We Can Afford It,” The Washington Post, May 1, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-college-we-can-afford-it/2012/05/01/gIQAeFeltT_story.html?utm_term=.9cc6fea3d693

[vi] “The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html

[vii] “Clean Energy Transition Is A $25 Trillion Free Lunch,” Clean Technica, https://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/03/clean-energy-transition-is-a-25-trillion-free-lunch / See also: http://www.solutionaryrail.org

[viii] “Clean Water for a Healthy World,” UN Environment Program, http://www.unwater.org/wwd10/downloads/WWD2010_LOWRES_BROCHURE_EN.pdf

[ix] “Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries,” The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/10/cost-of-high-speed-rail-in-china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries

[x] Non-military U.S. foreign aid is approximately $25 billion, meaning that President Trump would need to cut it by over 200% to find the $54 billion he proposes to add to military spending

[xi] Letter to Congressional leaders, February 27, 2017, http://www.usglc.org/downloads/2017/02/FY18_International_Affairs_Budget_House_Senate.pdf

[xii] See http://www.wingia.com/en/services/about_the_end_of_year_survey/global_results/7/33

[xiii] “Fight Climate Change, Not Wars,” Naomi Klein, http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars

[xiv] “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,” Political Economy Research Institute, https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.  It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.  These are massive projects, but these costs as projected by the United Nations are tiny fractions of U.S. military spending. This is why the top way in which military spending kills is not with any weapon, but purely through the diversion of resources.

windFor similar fractions of military spending, the United States could radically improve U.S. lives in each of those other areas in that pie chart. What would you say to free, top-quality education for anyone who wants it from preschool through college, plus free job-training as needed in career changes? Would you object to free clean energy? Free fast trains to everywhere? Beautiful parks? These are not wild dreams. These are the sorts of things you can have for this kind of money, money that radically dwarfs the money hoarded by billionaires.

If those sorts of things were provided equally to all, without any bureaucracy needed to distinguish the worthy from the unworthy, popular opposition to them would be minimal. And so might be opposition to foreign aid.

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $25 billion a year.  Taking it up to $100 billion would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering.  It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth.  A December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world.  Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, especially if one other factor were added: if the $100 billion came from the military budget. People don’t appreciate the schools you give them as much if you’re bombing them.

trainsInstead of investing in all good things, foreign and domestic, Trump is proposing to cut them in order to invest in war. New Haven, Connecticut, just passed a resolution urging Congress to reduce the military budget, cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs. Every town, county, and city should be passing a similar resolution.

If people stopped dying in war, we would all still die of war spending.

War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes.  And wouldn’t that be reprehensible if it were true?  We imagine that for 4 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world’s resources we need war or the threat of war.  But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind.  Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption.  Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war.  That’s what’s meant by unsustainable.

So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t do it first?  Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth’s climate and ecosystems?

Isn’t it time we made a choice: war or everything else?

Talk Nation Radio: George Lakey on Viking Economics

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-george-lakey-on-viking-economics

George Lakey recently retired from Swarthmore College where he was Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change and managed the Global Nonviolent Action Database research project. His first arrest was for a civil rights sit-in. He has served as an unarmed bodyguard for human rights defenders in Sri Lanka. Lakey has led over 1500 social change workshops on five continents, and founded and for fifteen years directed Training for Change. In 2010 he was named “Peace Educator of the Year” and published his authoritative text on adult education, Facilitating Group Learning. We discuss his ninth book, Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got it Right — and How We Can Too.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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