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

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LOCAL PAPER CALLS FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS ON WAR $$$


The Brunswick Times Record today wrote an editorial calling for public hearings in Brunswick and Bath on the war $$ issue. The video above is from the April 5 testimonies of Brunswick PeaceWorks members before their town council.

Tax Day: Where do our $$$ go?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thursday is “Tax Day,” the deadline day for filing our state and federal taxes for 2009. It will be day of scrambling for last-minute filers, a day of rallies for Tea Party Patriots at Augusta’s Capitol Park and Portland’s Monument Square.

And for the rest of us?

Whatever our politics, it’s probably as good a day as any to reflect on where our tax dollars are going ... and whether those hard-earned dollars are being spent wisely and fairly.

In the buildup to Tax Day locally, we had two presentations last week by local peace and social justice activists calling attention to how much of our federal tax dollars are going to warfare funding. At the April 7 Bath City Council meeting, several residents presented a proposed resolution calling on Congress to “Bring our War Dollars Home.” They asked that a hearing be scheduled to allow for public debate on that topic; the council took that suggestion under advisement. A similar resolution presented at the April 5 Brunswick Town Council was received politely without any action being taken.

What seems to be a less-than-enthusiastic response to these two resolutions probably stems from our region’s longstanding reliance on federal defense dollars supporting the Bath Iron Works shipyard and the soon-to-be-closed Brunswick Naval Air Station.

No doubt there’s a similar reluctance in thousands of communities across the nation dependent on Pentagon funding to raise, let alone debate, the troublesome question of whether our nation spends too much on war and building weapons of war. Local political and business leaders — north, south, east and west — learn early in their careers the saying “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

But one could argue that Bath and Brunswick are ideally suited to having a robust and healthy debate about “war dollars,” given the makeup of our local economies and communities.

Why not schedule the public hearings that have been requested and give everyone — shipyard workers, retired and active-duty sailors, peace activists ... apolitical taxpayers — the opportunity to weigh in on critically important questions concerning national priorities and how our tax dollars are being spent?

In the meantime, to stimulate some thinking about those questions on Tax Day, here’s a suggestion: Put 100 pennies on your kitchen table (representing the $3.8 trillion FY 2011 budget).

Now divide them into piles representing where our tax dollars end up: military, 27 pennies; health, 20; interest on debt, 14; government, 10; income security and labor (including Social Security), 9; housing and community, 7; food, 4; veterans’ benefits, 4; environment, energy and science, 3; education, 2; international affairs, 1; transportation, 1. [Percentages .5 and higher were rounded up, resulting in a total greater than 100.]

The exercise, we believe, should bring home the point that Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks and the Maine Bring Our War Dollars Home Campaign ask a fair question: What local needs are not being fully met when 27 cents of every federal tax dollar goes to military spending? Obviously, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are key to that question, with upcoming votes in Congress on war funding being important opportunities to reassess our nation’s priorities.

Tea Party Patriots are not bashful about giving voice to their priorities — and that’s all well and good, so long as those who might differ with them don’t concede the debate because they’re too busy or fearful to speak up.

Why not host public hearings on bringing our war dollars home? What are we afraid of? Ourselves? Our government? Fear itself?

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