PHILADELPHIA - September 20 - On Thursday, September 20, the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker social justice organization, launches a nationwide effort to highlight the economic effects of war and to demand that Congress shift war funding to support human needs at home. The Cost of War uses a series of ten, seven foot banners to contrast the cost of the war with vital human needs here at home. The banners go on display at various legislative and congressional offices around the country.
- In Chicago, Federal Plaza, Adams and Dearborn, beginning at noon — local human needs caregivers call for an increase in domestic spending
- In Boston, at City Hall, beginning at noon — human care activists join Iraqi blogger and peace activist Raed Jarrar, who highlights the human cost of war on Iraqi civilians
- In Philadelphia, banners leave Friends Center in center city at noon headed for stops surrounding Philadelphia’s City Hall
- In Sioux City, Iowa, after a rally at Federal Plaza at noon on September 20, the banners go on display at the Peace Fair in Des Moines on Saturday, September 22, recognizing International Day of Peace
- In San Francisco, at the Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate at 11 a.m. — local faith leaders mark Five Years of War with a call for peace
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"Our government spends $500,000 per minute fighting the war in Iraq instead of funding early childhood education, health care or renewable energy projects," according to Michael McConnell, director of the American Friends Service Committee Great Lakes region and creator of the exhibit. "According to recently released census data, about 36.5 million people in the United States are officially ‘poor’ — over one-third of them are children."
Based on studies by Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Kennedy School of Government professor Linda Bilmes, the banners illustrate crucial human services that one day of the Iraq war could buy here at home. Those figures conclude that -- when costs of caring for wounded Iraq vets, rebuilding Iraq and increases in the Department of Defense budget are factored in -- the war is costing us more than $1 trillion. Since war funding is borrowed from the budget, that's on top of the interest paid on the national debt, which will be more than $200 billion alone, according to figures based on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Congress now faces a decision on funding another year of war. The American Friends Service Committee calls on our elected officials to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq and take care of the needs of people in the U.S.
Since the war began, dozens of federal programs have been cut, including Head Start, the Community Food and Nutrition program, youth job training and maternal and child health programs. Millions lost their health insurance.
What could those millions spent on the Iraq war buy here at home?
- Health insurance for a child costs $1,700 per year. $720 million could cover 423,529 children
- The average cost of a four-year state university is $20,628. $720 million could put 34,904 students through college
- An average school teacher's salary is $57,000. $720 million could put 12,478 new teachers in the classroom
- A year of Head Start costs $7,550. $720 million could open 95,364 new slots
WHO WE ARE
Backed by a 90-year history of peace building and humanitarian work, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is perhaps best known for launching massive food programs that fed millions of children in post-war Germany. The Service Committee has played a lead role in efforts to end the war and bring troops home.
AFSC is a cofounder of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, which helped win the federal raise and numerous state raises. In partnership with dozens of faith, labor, community and human-needs groups, The Service Committee is also campaigning to make the minimum wage a true living wage and to increase human needs spending in the federal budget. An AFSC-sponsored toll-free number generated more than 100,000 calls to Congress in the last two years.
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Cost of War Research
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service.Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.