Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Now is the Time to Raise Holy Hell!

  • I had a message this morning from Sputnik News/ Ria Novosti News Agency in Russia.  They asked me to comment on the Obama administration decision to seek a base Pentagon budget of $534 billion and another $51 billion for wars when it sends its 2016 spending request to Congress next week.  (Not counted in these numbers are the offline costs of military portion of NASA, Department of Energy nuclear weapons programs, military retirement costs, Homeland Security, secret black budget and more.  Add it all up and the military budget is more than $1 trillion per year.) The article reporting on this is here

I sent my comments right back to Sputnik News:

The 2016 Pentagon funding request by the Obama administration indicates an on-going commitment to empire building and the encirclement of Russia and China.  There will be bi-partisan efforts in Congress to remove the sequestration caps on the military budget as both parties now view the Pentagon as virtually the only federal jobs program. 

Communities across the nation are increasingly becoming dependent on war funding which raises serious moral questions about the ‘soul of America’ that we have to have endless war in order for workers to feed their families.

It is more than interesting that Obama is requesting $51 billion for the war in Afghanistan – a war that the president has said is now over.

The 2016 military budget will continue the process of cutting troop levels and benefits while increasing spending on high-tech weapons programs that are already well over budget.  The weapons corporations, whose stock values have risen in recent years, are driving this expansion of war spending as their profits continue to go up. 

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank said last September, “To the extent we can shift away from relying on troops and rely more heavily on equipment – that could present an opportunity.”  Ablin oversees $66 billion including Northrop Grumman and Boeing stock shares.

The Navy says their ship building budget is “unsustainable” as they seek to build more aircraft carriers, new nuclear submarines, and high-tech destroyers outfitted with so-called ‘missile defense’ systems – all to be used in the confrontation with Russia and China.  The entire space dominance project of new military satellites, ground stations, launch vehicles, and cyber warfare is punching a hole in the national treasury. 

As a result of this continued expansion of US war spending social progress across the nation continues to be defunded.  Unemployment grows, education funding is collapsing, the physical infrastructure of the nation is falling apart and the people are more depressed than I’ve ever seen them.  They understand that corporations control our government and they feel helpless to do anything constructive about it.  The demonization of Russia and the fear-mongering about ISIS keeps the people afraid and off balance. 

The electoral victory of the left in Greece is a wonderful antidote to this despair and we hope to see more public rejection of the corporate austerity strategy in the coming year.


  •  In a related story last night MB and I attended a local county meeting of the Democratic party who had a speaker addressing the new budget proposal by our right-wing Gov. Paul LePage.  He has proposed to again cut income taxes on the rich in Maine, get rid of the estate tax, and increase sales taxes which disproportionally fall on the poor and the working class.  Our annual state budget is $3 billion per year (population in Maine is about 1.2 million people) and the governor wants to cut $600 million in taxes and replace that with $424 million in sales tax.  So do the math and you see that education, health care, and public infrastructure in Maine will continue to collapse.
The corporate oligarchy is hitting the American people at both ends.  At the national level they are destroying social progress and expanding military spending.  Social program responsibility gets shifted to state and local communities - most of whom can't afford to deal with it.  Then at the state levels the same kinds of cuts are happening as $$$ gets shifted into the pockets of the rich.

Put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming!

I asked the speaker last night (Garrett Martin from MCEP) what the governor's own party was saying about his budget proposal.  One state elected official in the audience answered that the Republicans in Augusta were "perplexed" since they always oppose increases in sales tax.  Martin said the Democrats were keeping their mouths shut for now - sort of waiting for Godot.

Now is not the time to be quiet and complaint.  The social swamp is being drained.  This is the time to raise holy hell while we still can. It's also way past time to link the national social spending cuts and increases in Pentagon spending to the local and state cuts.  Trying to keep them separate is a losing strategy.

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