Consider priorities (as you file your 2010 taxes)

For jobs, healthcare, education, mortgage relief, housing, infrastructure, environmental protection, veterans benefits, childcare, city and state budget relief–to restore vital social programs and to meet urgent human needs:

Bring all the troops and war $$$ home now!

Consider, as you file your 2010 taxes, the wars our country is continually fighting. It’s so easy to forget about them, since they are off the media’s “radar screen.” Someone came up to an antiwar protester with a large sign against the war and actually, sincerely, asked: “War? Are we still at war?”

Before you do anything else, please click “Cost of War” and watch the numbers grow right before your eyes.

$1.168 trillion–and counting. Think about it. More than a trillion dollars since 2001. What does that number mean? A trillion seconds takes 32,000 years to elapse!

Still on the “Cost of War” counter, click Trade Offs (or just click here) and enter your state, county, city, or Congressional District. Then examine the trade-offs between different military spending “programs” and what you might have instead of that program: healthcare, education, renewable energy, veterans’ benefits, firefighting, police protection–whatever. Think about it.

From U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW):

It’s time for new priorities. It’s time to move the money!

Did you know?

  • Military spending now consumes 58 cents of every discretionary tax dollar.
  • The government will spend more than $1 trillion to support the direct and indirect costs of our national security in 2010.
  • The White House’s annual budget request for the Defense Department ($534 billion for 2010) is only a portion of what the United States spends on its military.
  • Each year other federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, contribute additional billions to the official annual defense budget.
  • This annual defense budget does not include the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • The U.S. ranks #1 in the world for military expenditures.
  • The U.S. spends 45% of all world military expenditures.
  • U.S. military expenditures are greater than the total military budgets of the 14 next largest countries–combined.
  • Again, since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars together have cost $1.168 trillion. And with projected future costs, the total will exceed $5 trillion. (Perspective again: 5 trillion seconds = 160,000 years!)
  • The cost of those two on-going wars amounts to $3,300 for every man, woman, and child in this country. (But you can be sure, that the greatest burden falls on the middle class, not on the tax-evading rich.)
  • Each troop we keep in Afghanistan for a year costs taxpayers $1.2 million, equivalent to 24 good, green union jobs.
  • From 2001 to 2008, federal budget authority increased twice as fast as federal grants to state and local governments. During the same period, federal military expenditures increased THREE times as fast as the overall federal budget.
  • What we’ll spend this year on Afghanistan alone would cover all the state budget deficits combined, with money left over for other needs.

Consider: militarism is essentially an institution of domination. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1967 about our country: “America is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” As Frederick Douglass noted a century and a half ago: “Power concedes nothing without a demand from below.”

Yes, state and local governments are in fiscal trouble. Yes, the federal deficit and the national debt are huge problems. But we should not balance the budget on the backs of the middle class and the poor, who have already given so much. We need to go after the corporate rich–and we need to curtail the military profligacy.

Here are the principles of USLAW, as documented in its mission statement:

To protect our members and the lives and livelihoods of working people everywhere, we will advocate, educate, and mobilize in the U.S. labor movement for:

  • A just foreign policy that will bring genuine security and prosperity to working people. A policy that strengthens international treaties, supports human rights institutions, respects national sovereignty, and upholds the right of self-determination for all peoples.
  • A foreign policy that solves disputes by diplomacy rather than war.
  • A policy that promotes global economic and social justice rather than the race-to-the-bottom, job-destroying, discriminatory practices favored by multinational corporations.
  • An end to U.S. occupation of foreign countries, replaced by the reconstruction of war-devastated nations with the full support of the international community and the full participation and decision-making power of affected peoples.
  • Redirecting the nation’s resources from inflated military spending to meet the needs of working families for health care, education, a clean environment, housing, and a decent standard of living based on principles of equality and democracy.
  • Supporting our troops and their families by bringing the troops home now, by not recklessly putting them into harm’s way, and by providing decent compensation, veterans’ benefits, and domestic policies administered without discrimination that prioritize the needs of the working people who make up the bulk of the military.
  • Protecting workers’ rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and the rights of immigrants by promoting democracy, not subverting it. Ethnic, racial, and religious profiling and stereotyping must be replaced by policies that promote dignity, economic justice, and respect for all working people.
  • Solidarity with workers and their organizations around the world who are struggling for their own labor and human rights, and with those in the U.S. who want U.S. foreign and domestic policies to reflect our nation’s highest ideals.