The Federal Budget: A Moral Choice

Apr 1, 2012

What kind of country do we want in 10 years? And how can Congress help get us there?

As a nation, we have the resources and imagination to make a valuable contribution to the survival of the planet and the well-being of the world's people. But will our government choose to make the investments in human capital and peaceful coexistence that move us towards this future? Or will we continue to put our treasure into military spending, shaping a world based on war and the threat of war and denying people in our communities the health, education and environmental security they need to thrive?

Since 2001, total U.S. military spending has more than doubled, while spending on priorities such as education, veterans’ assistance, international aid and environmental protection has stagnated. Reversing this trend is essential to bringing about the world we seek.

The day-to-day workings of our political system can seem discouraging. We can become frustrated with congressional unwillingness to successfully tackle big problems. Yet problems like hunger, poverty and climate change have solutions, and significant progress can be made if our government changes the priorities in our federal budget over the next decade.

What would it look like if our country ended its addiction to military spending? If we took seriously our commitment to the well-being of all the participants in our democratic government? If we invested federal resources in start-up industries—especially those that offer solutions to critical problems such as climate change, supporting a healthy population and educating all children? If our tax code reflected our values of fairness, and our budget supported what our country needs, could we afford to create a society that leads the world, not in military power but in innovation, collaboration and problem solving?

In that country, no child would go to bed hungry, and every child would have access to a good education and health care. That country would invest in new and emerging industries and services, such as energy conservation; carbon-free energy production; clean air and water; preventive health care; farms that offers the best nutrition; and research that supports planet survival, disease prevention, and cures. That country would assure that individuals damaged by wars would find treatment, productive employment and a place to call home in the country that sent them to fight. That country would be a creator of peace and builder of international cooperation in the world, not with military might but with knowledge and heart.

This vision seems utopian, but it is possible. The choices that lead us there are happening right now in our Congress. This year, Congress will decide whether to set the U.S. on a path away from runaway military spending or to continue on that path. The details, facts, and figures of how that could happen are important, and you’ll find those throughout this newsletter. But in the long run it is even more important to keep a clear vision of what these choices mean for how we live into the world we seek.

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