Build the Future in Bath
Times Record Op-Ed
By Bruce K. Gagnon
The Times Record recently reported that Meals on Wheels programs are being cut. Here in Maine education programs continue to be slashed and tuition continues to rise for already- beleaguered college students. The new Republican-controlled Senate wants to shut down the food stamp program. It’s as if the American people have become the enemy.
We are told that the Pentagon- NSA-CIA budgets (nearly $1 trillion a year once all added up) are for our ‘security’. But real security — job security, health security, food security, education security, environmental protection— are all crumbling around us.
Even BIW will see cutbacks as the Times Record reported on January 12. The Navy has determined that its shipbuilding budget is “unsustainable.” It can’t afford to cover the mounting costs of new aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and the Zumwalt destroyers being built at BIW. The latter costs more than double what the previous Aegis destroyer cost. The Navy’s solution for its budget crisis? Cut jobs, outsource to non-union workers, and, over time, likely move to get rid of the unions at shipyards like BIW.
What is the Plan B for Bath? Who ever thought the Navy base in Brunswick would close and that thousands of jobs would be lost? How can our nation afford the expensive high-tech weapons systems that are costing the taxpayers an arm and a leg? How can we effectively deal with the coming ravages of climate change unless we immediately begin a transformation of our industrial policy from endless war to building rail systems, wind turbines, a solar society, and tidal power – all of which would help us in some degree deal with climate change?
Where is our congressional delegation when we need it to advocate for a new sustainable technology direction? Collins, King, Pingree and Poliquin remain on bended knees begging for more Pentagon funding because military production is the only real federal jobs program left. They might talk a good game about environmental sustainability, but what are they doing to lead our state and the nation toward the kind of conversion that will be necessary if our children and grandchildren are to have any chance of decent lives? The Native Americans said that all decisions must be made based on how they impact the next seven generations. Sadly, our elected officials are thinking only about their next election!
Studies have long revealed that our tax dollars create fewer jobs in military spending than in other fields. Building commuter rail systems at BIW would, in fact, nearly double the jobs. In addition, rail would get us out of our polluting cars and offer future generations a chance of survival.
The corporate oligarchy that runs the show in Washington has plans for more war. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria are a royal mess after our interventions there. Next on the target list for war are Ukraine, Iran, Russia, China and Venezuela. Imagine the tax dollars that will be wasted in those future futile battles. Our American economy has become addicted to war spending. What does it say about the soul of our nation that we must have endless war in order to provide workers with jobs so that they can feed their families?
The American people are told that we are the exceptional nation — the exceptional people, but in fact people are really the same all over the world. They love their children, they love to laugh, and they love to share food with one another. By making us fear and hate one another, the corporations can persuade us to make war. In that way they can get control of natural resources and markets and make big money off the preparations for conflict.
Our only hope is to join hands across the nation and insist that these expensive, endless wars cease. We should listen carefully to the words of former President Dwight Eisenhower who warned as he left the White House: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed…. Beware of the power of the military industrial complex.”
- Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath, Maine