"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

$1.2 Trillion Spent on the Military While the Rest of Us Fight Over Crumbs


Once in a while someone tells the story so completely, so graphically and so succinctly that it is staggering!!!  Laura Flanders has done just that in the following piece from AlterNet.  It is, quite ironically, the ages old story (think back to the Caesars of Rome) of keeping the little people fighting over the crumbs while those in power continue to spend our treasure on the Empire's destructive bacchanalia.

Interestingly enough, many people are waking up and speaking out against the bloodletting of wasteful and immoral military spending.  One such campaign is Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation's Bring Our Billions Home campaign.  The only suggestion I have for them - having read Laura's article - is to make it Bring our Trillions Home!!!  I know; it destroys the alliteration, but hey folks, this is a bloodletting - literally, figuratively and economically.

So read Laura's article, or watch her on the tube.  Then, let's get to work bringing the TRILLIONS home!!!




$1.2 Trillion Spent on the Military While the Rest of Us Fight Over Crumbs

By Laura Flanders, AlterNet.org, March 6, 2011

So after all that cash is gone, what are we left with? Not a whole heck of a lot for the rest of us.

There’s been a joke going around the labor protests. It goes something like this:
A union member, a CEO and a Tea Party member are sitting at a table with 12 cookies. The CEO grabs 11, turns to the Tea Partier and says “The Union’s out to take your cookie!”

I’ve been thinking that the joke applies pretty well to another situation. For instance, the military. Our military spending grabs 11 cookies and leaves us all battling over the 12th.

Christopher Hellman at TomDispatch added up all the military-related spending in the budget and came to a startling number: for fiscal year 2012, the actual military budget is something like $1.2 trillion dollars.

Trillion with a T.

Just to put that in perspective for a second, a million seconds is 12 days. A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

So after all that cash is gone, what are we left with? Not a whole heck of a lot for the rest of us. “Discretionary” spending is nearly 40% of the budget, but if Hellman’s numbers are accurate, that $1.2 trillion eats up nearly 90% of discretionary funds, leaving just 10% for the rest of us. (That doesn’t include mandatory spending on things like Social Security and Medicare, which are separate.)

To be fair, Tea Partiers have called for military spending cuts, too. Rand Paul, hardly a progressive, pointed out that you could cut all of the non-military discretionary spending and not balance the budget—and Politifact rated it True.

The point behind the joke still holds, though. Instead of fighting over the last crumbs, maybe it’s time to team up and grab some of the cookies back from the people who’ve been hanging on to far more than their share.

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at GRITtv.org.

(Source: http://www.alternet.org/news/150142/$1.2_trillion_spent_on_the_military_while_the_rest_of_us_fight_over_crumbs)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pentagon $671 Billion; Peace $0


In February 2011 President Obama sent Congress a $671 Billion proposed military budget for Fiscal Year 2012.  Where the numbers will finally land once this thing is done being batted about between those wishing to cut programs and those fighting to keep them is any one's guess, but it is a pretty sure thing that "defense" contractors don't have much to worry about.  We always seem to be able to fund war.

On the other hand PEACE, that ever so elusive and priceless commodity, consistently gets the Rodney Dangerfield treatment (NO RESPECT), and with it ever decreasing funding for programs that can lead us to peace and away from war.  Two such government programs are about to get the funding axe if some members of Congress have their way.

The just passed House continuing resolution, which is necessary to fund the government through September 30, 2011 eliminated the Complex Crises Fund and zeroed out all funding for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).  It would seem that far too many people don't seem to understand that it is far better to prevent violent conflict both from the human and economic perspectives than to jump in with guns-a-blazing.

According to Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) the Complex Crisis Fund "provides unprogrammed, flexible funding for civilian agencies such as the State Department and USAID to allow them to act quickly when conflicts escalate or to undertake rapid stabilization, prevention, and crisis response activities. After years of lobbying by FCNL and others, Congress finally appropriated $50 million to create the fund in 2010. Though small, this fund has already helped to address conflicts in countries such as Kenya and Kyrgyzstan. If the fund is eliminated now, it will be very hard to get it back."

Again from FCNL: "USIP is a Congressionally mandated, nonpartisan, independent institution that works to help prevent, end, and rebuild after wars. FCNL does not always agree one hundred percent with USIP, but defunding the institution would be a major setback for our common work to improve U.S. capacities for preventing deadly conflict."

Both of these institutions do something positive in contrast with the forces constantly poised to throw military solutions at every possible situation.  It is laughable that members of Congress are trying to axe these programs when their economic impacts are barely measurable by any standards and which, if given adequate funding and direction, could save countless lives, prevent immeasurable human suffering, and save billions of dollars that should be spent on non-military programs to benefit humanity.

The Senate will soon consider its own version of the continuing resolution.  Please ask your senators to fully fund both these programs.  We need to constantly remind them of what should now be obvious: The are NO military solutions to the problems we face!!!  CLICK HERE to send a message courtesy of FCNL!

PEACE IS THE ANSWER, NOT WAR!!!  We need to reverse those numbers.

In Peace,


Note:  Photo of January 15, 2011 vigil and nonviolent direct action at Trident submarine base Bangor gate; by Leonard Eiger