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Investment of tax dollars has gone astray

GUEST VIEW

By Guy Maynard

As another tax day approaches, we hear more insanity out of Washington: “Trump budget to propose slashing domestic spending, boosting defense,” read a recent headline in The Washington Post. We are approaching a point of no return with climate change.

Critical components of our infrastructure desperately need major investments for repairs and modernizations.

More than 27 million American are still without health care, a number that increased in 2017, the first time that had happened since the Affordable Care Act went in effect — thanks to Republican efforts to gut that program.

With those and other dire needs, and the national deficit soaring thanks to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, Trump still wants to give more money to the military. He proposes a 5 percent increase to the already astronomical defense budget of $716 billion, an increase of $35.8 billion.

That budget also calls for cutting almost a quarter of the budget of the State Department — the agency that, if it had sane leadership, should lead efforts to avoid military conflicts. As the real emergency of climate change worsens, Trump’s budget calls for a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency and 25 percent cut to the non-nuclear programs of the Department of Energy. As you might expect, it also slashes spending for Medicare and Social Security and agencies that promote the well-being of our people, such as the departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Labor.

It cuts investment in the sort of programs that could build a more peaceful world, protect the planet, create a truly sustainable economy, and serve human needs, reducing the devastating societal effects of growing income inequality.

The real gut punch is that it is our money, our tax dollars, being spent in ways that violate our most basic values and ignore our true needs.And as is well-known to anyone paying real attention, the military is the most wasteful, unaccountable part of the government.

A recent Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi summarized, “The military has become an unstoppable mechanism for hoovering up taxpayer dollars and deploying them in the most inefficient manner possible.”

Even before the recent radical transfer of funds from domestic programs to military spending in the Trump budgets, our tax dollars were tragically misspent. Of $1,000 you or I paid in federal taxes in 2017, $234 went to the military, but only $28 for education, $16 on the environment and energy, and $13.50 for diplomacy, which is always a better alternative to war. And we can’t forget the $132 we each paid for interest on the debt, which has skyrocketed thanks to tax cuts for the rich. And it’s getting worse.

Trump probably won’t get all that he wants in his budget.

But trimming at the edges will not solve the fundamental problems of the current direction of our country. The trend of more and more military spending while climate change, income inequality, access to health care and the availability of decent education for all Americans get worse is not just bad policy; it is an existential threat to the fragile balance of our environment and the already battered underpinnings of American democracy. More military spending creates an illusion of strength.

It’s a con game that only weapons makers and their flunkies in Congress win. In truth, such spending makes us weaker, more vulnerable to real threats to the American way of life.

Join Community Alliance of Lane County and allies on April 15 as we rally to demand our tax dollars be redirected from war spending to fund social programs and tackle climate change.

Events start at 3:30 p.m. at the old Federal Building: 7th Avenue and Pearl Street in Eugene.

Guy Maynard is a member of the Planet vs. Pentagon Working Group, which includes representatives of Community Alliance of Lane County, 350 Eugene, Oregon Women’s Action for New Directions, Veterans for Peace, and Taxes for Peace Not War.

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