The War Economy
Did you know that currently 53 cents of every federal discretionary dollar goes to military spending and only 15 cents is spent on anti-poverty programs?
Military spending in 2017 was $668 billion and out of federal discretionary spending only $190 billion was for anti-poverty programs. Under the current administration’s proposed budget, by 2023, 66 cents of every dollar of federal discretionary spending would go to the military and only 12 cents to anti-poverty programs.
Most of these resources allocated to war are not benefitting our troops. In 2015, the Department of Defense obligated more money on federal contracts, $274 billion, than all other federal agencies combined. In 2016, CEOs of the top five military contractors earned on average $19.2 million each — more than 90 times the $214,000 earned by a U.S. general with 20 years of experience and 640 times the $30,000 earned by Army privates in combat.
This expanded military budget ends up claiming more lives abroad while making us less safe and inflicting harm here at home. More than 68 percent of the civilian casualties in 2017 from aerial attacks were women and children. Nearly half of female military personnel sent to Iraq or Afghanistan reported being sexually harassed and nearly 25 percent said they had been sexually assaulted. In 2012, suicide claimed more military deaths than military action and as of September 2017, an average of 20 veterans died by suicide every day.
On the environmental side, the Department of Defense was responsible for 72 percent of the U.S. Government’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2016.
Further, city police departments are getting military weapons and equipment — from grenade launchers to armored tanks – left over from the Pentagon’s wars, escalating the criminalization of and violence against poor communities. The War on Drugs and drug policing became the excuse to bring military grade weapons and equipment to local communities and arm local police to look like soldiers in combat. Today, young Black males and Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than other racial groups.
This militarization has also contributed to the mass proliferation of guns. From 1968 to 2016, there were about 1.6 million gun deaths in the United States. U.S. homicide rates were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher.
Finally, federal spending on immigration, deportations and the border has increased from $2 billion in 1976 to $17 billion in 2015, with ten times as many deportations. From 1993 to 2013, immigration detentions increased from 85,000 to 441,000 per year.
More complaints of abuse have been filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement than any other Department of Homeland Security agency. LGBTQIA immigrants are 15 times more likely to experience sexual assault in confinement than other immigrants held in detention. And 21.6 percent of immigrant children are impoverished.
The truth is that instead of waging a War on Poverty, we have been waging a War on the Poor, at home and abroad, for the financial benefit of a few. It is morally indefensible to profit from perpetual war.
We have the right to protect our communities from the ravages and weapons of war.
We demand an end to military aggression and war-mongering.
We demand a stop to the privatization of the military budget and any increase in military spending. We demand a reallocation of resources from the military budget to education, health care, jobs and green infrastructure needs, and strengthening a Veterans Administration system that must remain public.
We demand a ban on assault rifles and a ban on the easy access to firearms that has led to the increased militarization and weaponization of our communities.
We demand the demilitarization of our communities on the border and the interior. This includes ending federal programs that send military equipment into local and state communities and ceasing the call to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
We demand an immigration system that, instead of criminalizing people for trying to raise their families, prioritizes family reunification, keeps families together and allows us all to build thriving communities in the country we call home.