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Our federal budget should fund human needs, not war and militarization

News & Commentary  |  By Joseph Gerson, Mar 15, 2019
Photo: AFSC

Take a stand. Join AFSC from April 13 to May 9 for the Global Days of Action on Military Spending.  

For years, we've known that building popular movements is the surest way to impact national and state policies. We have also learned and rooted our organizing in intersectionality: the understanding that the inter-related causes of injustice, war, and environmental degradation and the need for our movements to collaborate to overcome. From the Black Lives Matter manifesto to the movements for immigrant rights, climate justice, to end the endless wars, people are catching on. 

Issues connected? 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. And it’s about to get worse! 

President Trump’s budget, released earlier this week, contains another massive 5 percent increase in the Pentagon budget, while slashing spending for human needs, diplomacy and infrastructure by 5 percent across the board: 31 percent from the Environmental Protection Agency, 12 percent from the Department of Education, 16 percent from Housing and Urban Development, and more.  

 

There’s $9 billion in the Pentagon budget for “emergency requirements,” widely understood to augment the $8.6 billion explicitly in the budget for Trump’s racist border wall. Part of the military’s increase will also go toward the wall. 

That’s money that could be used to provide for people’s real security – health care, housing, education and much more.  

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 (SIPRI) to organize the annual Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS). AFSC's Peace and Economic Security Program is coordinating GDAMS local activities, from educational events, leafletting campaigns, lobbying, vigils, and demonstrations. 

From the weekend leading up to Tax Day (April 13 and 14) and May 9, when SIPRI releases its annual report on global military spending, people will organize actions to call on our governments to invest in health, education, employment, and stopping climate change instead of spending on military. (We’ve already primed the pump with nationwide briefing calls about Trump’s Budget and alternatives, the costs of war and the New Green Deal.)  

And you can join us!

We need to push back against the Trump budget and the forces behind it. Together we can continue to block expansion of Trump’s wall, invest in sustainable energy technologies and infrastructures, ensure that no one in the country remains homeless or hungry, and end crushing burden of educational debt.   

The Pentagon’s core budget, with Trump’s $91 billion war making Overseas Contingency Operations’ slush fund, Department of Energy spending for nuclear weapons, and the "black budget" of so-called "intelligence operations" (including the CIA and National Security Administration) is actually closer to $1 trillion. And this figure doesn't include funding for militarization of our border communities and police and another trillion dollars over the next 30 years for a new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. 

A number of GDAMS events have already been organized in the U.S. and will soon be posted on our website. 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. 

Visit our website for more information, To list an event or if you have additional questions, please email me

Endorsing organizations include: AFSC, Granny Peace Brigade, New York War Tax Resistance, United for Justice and Peace, and World Beyond War. We welcome other organizations to sign on.  

And we look forward to having you join us for this year’s Global Days of Action against Military Spending! 

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.