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Federal budget should fund human needs, not war

News & Commentary  |  By Joseph Gerson, Apr 5, 2017
Photo: AFSC

Take a stand. Join AFSC from April 18-28 for the Global Days of Action on Military Spending. 

For years, we've known that to build popular movements that can prevail, we need to recognize interrelated causes of injustice, war, and environmental degradation. From the Black Lives Matter manifesto to the Women's March in January to the upcoming People's Climate March, people are catching on.

Issues connected? Remember that more than half of our government's discretionary spending goes to the Pentagon—not to meeting people's essential needs like food, housing, and education.

Consider that even with the United States already spending as much as the world’s next seven largest military spenders combined, the Trump administration plans to increase U.S. military spending by another $54 billion. That increase alone is more than Russia's total announced military budget for 2017.

And, $54 billion is precisely the amount that President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan want to cut from essential human needs and social services, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Departments of Housing and Education, as well as other areas, including eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and funding for public radio and television stations.

Who will feel the impact of Trump's budget? In addition to the soldiers and civilians killed and wounded in our wars, and those made refugees, we all do. Think about the lack of affordable housing, crushing student debt, immigrants rounded up and detained in military-style raids, people who go hungry in our land of plenty.

Over the past several years, the American Friends Service Committee has collaborated with the International Peace Bureau and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute to organize the annual Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS).

Between Tax Day on April 18 and April 28, people will organize actions to call on governments to invest in health, education, employment, and stopping climate change instead of spending on military. AFSC's Peace and Economic Security Program is coordinating GDAMS local activities, from educational events, leafletting campaigns, vigils, and at least one major demonstration from the Bay Area in California to Portland, Maine.

And you can join us!

We need to push back at Trump and those in Congress to stop them from further militarizing the wall on the Mexican border and urge them to roll back the militarization of the police and ensure housing, education, and medical care for all.

The Pentagon budget, along with Department of Energy spending for nuclear weapons, and the "black budget" of so-called "intelligence operations" (including the CIA and NSA) is already nearly $1 trillion. This figure doesn't include funding for militarization of our border communities and police and another trillion for a new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.

More than 20 GDAMS events have already been organized in the U.S., and our goal is to have nearly 50 planned in the coming weeks.

We hope you will initiate or join a GDAMS event, anything from writing letters to Congress and your local newspaper, to holding a forum in your school or congregation, to organizing a public action.

More information—including a list of events, resources, and possible actions—can be found on our website

For more information or to list an event, please email me.

Endorsing organizations include: AFSC, Budget Priorities Campaign, Peace Action, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries, Nonviolence International, United for Peace and Justice, Women’s Action for New Directions, Western States Legal Foundation, Win Without War and World Beyond War. We welcome other organizations to sign on. 

About the Author

Joseph Gerson serves as director of AFSC's Peace and Economic Security Program, based in Cambridge, Mass. He has worked with AFSC since 1976. More.

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