On April 17, as late filers trailed in to the Post Office to send the IRS their tax returns, Peaceworks volunteers were out distributing thousands of leaflets and talking with fellow citizens about our national priorities. Below is the text of the leaflet we've distributed.
Where Do YOU Want Your Taxes Spent?
Unfortunately, most of us never get asked this question, let alone get to answer it.
Powerful corporations, on the other hand, speak loudly, and Congress listens. Since the year 2000, arms merchants and military contractors have contributed nearly $63 million to federal election campaigns, and, during this same period, have spent more than $500 million on lobbying.+ Is it any wonder that their voice is heard, loud and clear?
Perhaps it’s time for all of us to demand an end to the best government money can buy and insist that our elected officials serve us, the voting citizenry, not powerful special interests.
Consider: What Are Your Priorities?
Our nation is made more secure when we invest in its people. When we provide quality educational opportunities, healthcare and a clean environment for all, we are stronger, smarter and happier.
Since its inception, the Iraq War has cost Missouri taxpayers approximately $7 billion. Huge numbers like this are often meaningless, until we put them in context. For this same amount we could provide for one year all of the following*:
** 1,011,796 Missouri homes provided with electricity from 100 percent clean, renewable sources,
** 431,365 Missourians provided with 100 percent of their healthcare expenses,
** 137 Missouri communities provided with brand new elementary schools,
** 24,744 additional Missouri elementary school teacher salaries provided,
** 116,514 full scholarships provided for Missouri students to attend our state’s public universities,
** 85,211 Missouri youngsters provided with Head Start AND
** 14,569 salaries provided for additional Missouri public safety officers.
If we abandon imperial ambitions, we will free up trillions of dollars in the decades ahead to address our real problems. If we adopt a fair, progressive tax system, we can have the resources to fund our common needs without piling up massive debt.
We are a rich nation, and there is no reason we cannot have a decent quality of life for all our citizens and a clean, sustainable environment. We need to rethink our assumptions and engage in the democratic process. The future is determined by those who show up. Be a citizen, not a couch potato. You owe it to your grandkids.
Iraq War & Bloated Military Budget are Bleeding Our Pocketbooks.
Not only are wars of aggression and militarism wrong; not only are they deadly and destructive; they are also very expensive.
For Fiscal Year 2006, U.S. military spending totaled an enormous $558 billion. While our nation has only four and one half percent of the world’s people, we are spending fully 48 percent of all the world’s military expenditures. What’s wrong with this picture?
This is not about defending our nation. The Pentagon has troops based in more than 130 nations. There are 737 U.S. bases around the world with more than half a million personnel, not counting those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our taxes are going to geopolitical dominance, not our national security.
The costs of this bloated military spending, if apportioned equally among all Americans, would average $7,455 for every family of four.
Our NATO allies, by comparison have a combined population of 573 million, nearly twice that of the United States, but spend in aggregate less than half as much on their militaries as we do. On a per person basis, these affluent countries are spending only one-quarter of what we Americans do. The result is that our economy is weakened and made less competitive. Others make productive investments, while we squander economic resources, as well as precious lives.
Paying for the Iraq War
The cost of the Iraq War through the end of this fiscal year is expected to top $458 billion. And this is the tip of the iceberg. Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has estimated that the overall costs of the war will significantly top two trillion dollars.
Not only are we sacrificing the lives our young men and women, who’ve been sent to fight an unjustifiable and unwinnable war, but we’re also leaving our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt that will take decades to pay off.
It’s high time we, the citizens of this nation, insist that our government—Congress and the White House—end the Iraq War now and enact a budget that will redirect funds to ensuring real security for our people and the protection of our environment.
Rather than using our military to control oil supplies in the Persian Gulf, we should be using our ingenuity to achieve energy independence and a sustainable, clean future through energy efficiency and renewable sources, like wind and solar power.
+ See Center for Responsive Politics
* These examples taken from a report by the National Priorities Project.