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Veterans For Peace: Debt Ceiling Is No Excuse
WASHINGTON - February 13 - Veterans for Peace has released the following statement:
U.S. interest payments on debt are at an historic low, not an historic high. The shortage of funds in the federal government is due to an unemployment crisis, outrageously inflated military spending, and a steadfast bipartisan refusal to impose reasonable tax rates on billionaires, multi-millionaires, or some of the world's most profitable corporations -- which in some cases are paying negative tax rates.
We are spending about $525 billion per year preparing for war, including $170 billion to keep U.S. troops in 177 nations, where more often than not hostility and resentment are generated, arms build-ups are provoked, and the risk of violence is increased rather than diminished.
While we sympathize with those shouting "No cuts!" we propose that some redirection of funding is in order. We oppose cuts to retirement and healthcare funds but support expanding them by cutting and redirecting misspent resources. Updating the critique offered by Dr. King, we see drones carrying guided missiles deployed by misguided human beings.
To be clear, while we prioritize healthcare, we favor a single-payer system under which our nation might pay approximately half what it pays now, while providing universal coverage and a boost to the economy.
Beyond the $525 billion spent each year on war preparation is $89 billion spent on actual current wars, including a war in Afghanistan that we describe as "ending" over a period of two years, a period longer than most wars have lasted from beginning to end. This war is 11 years old, and we're headed toward 13. There we see spending that should be cut.
There's also $53 billion on spying and spy agencies that kill people with drones, $19 billion on muclear weapons, and $7 billion on arming other nations. Costs like these bring the total spent on war making to over half of discretionary spending each year. In fact, the United States spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. Together with its NATO allies it accounts for three-quarters of global military spending.
Our public debate has recently focused on defending this spending as a jobs program, despite the fact that military spending produces fewer jobs for the same dollars than education spending, infrastructure spending, green energy spending, or even tax cuts for working people -- not to mention the sociopathic nature of funding a program of killing in order to generate jobs.
Then there's the State Department with its mercenaries and the work it does to market U.S. weapons sales to foreign governments (now amounting to 85% of international weapons sales). Then there's the drug war, the record deportations, the infiltration of nonviolent organizations including chapters of Veterans For Peace, the militarization of local police with federal dollars, the $7 billion for prisons, the $42 billion for highways rather than greener transportation, and on and on.
Cuts don't kill. Congress members who cut the wrong things and fund the wrong things kill.
Our government is not broke. It is broken.
The debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff, the Super Congress -- these are all ploys to suggest a need to cut our most useful and efficient public programs. Instead, we need a policy of conversion that shifts us away from a war economy, retraining and retooling as we go.
Continuing to ignore this wisdom, which we borrow from the majority of the citizens of our republic, should at the very least not be done in the name of "the troops." We've been those troops, and we stand united nonviolently to say: we will resist continued counterproductive spending on the war machine with everything we have.
This week marks 10 years since the largest public demonstrations in world history. We prevented U.N. authorization of the illegal invasion of Iraq. This week marks 2 years since the start of a nonviolent democratic movement in Bahrain. This should be a time to reflect on the damage done to Iraq and our own nation at the expense of hundreds of billions of dollars invested in violence, and the good that could be done for the people of Bahrain by ceasing to invest in the propping up of that nation's dictatorship. This must be a time to return to the streets in creative nonviolent resistance.
Veterans For Peace is a national organization, founded in 1985 with approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.