By Chris Venn, Member of San Pedro Neighbors for Peace and Justice / Random Lengths News
The arrival of Fleet Week in San Pedro from Aug. 29 to Sept. 3 raises the question of what effect military spending has on society and on our democracy.
With thousands of sailors in San Pedro along with visitors from Southern California, some local businesses reported that sales increased significantly during Fleet Week and are expecting an economic benefit this year.
Many communities have become dependent on this spending and the glorification of war and the military budget which Fleet Week represents.
The budget for fiscal year 2017 will not increase but the military budget is proposed to increase by $53 billion. This money will come directly from social programs that are important for the health and well-being of our communities.
Fifteen years of bombings and war have not led to peace in Afghanistan, Iraq or the countries that are a focus of U.S. military action. Bombing campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria do nothing to address the reasons for violent extremism and do a great deal to radicalize the people being attacked.
What will happen to our society with greater and greater military spending? Experience from other countries and history is unequivocal. The build-up of the military has severe consequences on civil liberties, democracy, veterans and youth who join the military because there are few options. Most importantly, foreign policy and economy increasingly dependent on the military drive up the likelihood of war.
A May 9, 2017 study by the Friends Committee on National Legislation indicates that:
- Further increasing the Pentagon’s budget is fiscally irresponsible.
- Pentagon spending rose sharply after 9/11, increasing more than 40 percent in 10 years.
- Even after Congress instituted a cap on federal spending, the $600 billion Pentagon budget is still at or near the levels of the Cold War and the Vietnam War.
- The build-up of the military does not decrease but rather increases the threat of war.
In 2016, U.S. taxpayers paid $57.52 million for Department of Defense each and every hour. The military receives $3,979 from the average California taxpayer, according to National Priorities Project (www.nationalpriorities.org). To date no amount of Pentagon spending has appreciably affected the disappearing job market.
“For every $1 billion spent on the military 11,000 jobs are created, for every $1 billion spent on education 26,000 jobs are created,” according The Job Opportunity Cost of War (http://tinyurl.com/JobOpCostofWar).
Diplomacy and peace through means rather than the militarism which has permeated our society is our only recourse.
The pen is mightier than the sword.