More than a year ago, the Occupy movement arose to express national frustration with high employment, enormous student debt and foreclosures. Occupiers had it right when they highlighted the gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. Wealthy individuals and corporations are not paying their fair share in taxes. Some corporations pay nothing in taxes and still get tax breaks. Here in Boston, Occupiers asked, “How do we solve the deficit?” and answered, “End the wars and tax the rich”. This simple formula might go a long way towards solving our country’s woes.
In the current debate about cutting military funding, it is never mentioned that the defense budget practically doubled under the Bush administrations. Nor is it mentioned that the U.S. has 800 to 1,000 military bases. The U.S. military budget is larger than the military budget of the next seven to eight countries combined. Why does the U.S. need a military budget that is so much greater than China, Russia, England, France and Canada? What is mentioned is job loss, without acknowledging that we could hire more people in civilian jobs and endeavors for the same money.
Why should we fund defense rather than programs such as Head Start, job training, Meals on Wheels, Social Security and WIC? Why should seniors be asked to work until they are 70 years old to get Social Security? If those of us lucky enough to have jobs have to work until we are 70, won’t we be taking up jobs that younger workers need? What about the people over 55 who can’t find jobs due to age discrimination? If education and job training are not adequately funded, won’t we enter a process of de-development?
Here in JP, most of us enjoy a good quality of life. However, we too have neighbors who depend on food banks, fuel assistance and subsidized housing, along with other vital services. Do we really want to have more people entering the ranks of the homeless, the hungry and the unemployed and underemployed? Do we want a society where only those who can afford it get quality medical care and education?
Let’s follow the directive of the Occupiers: Tax the rich and end the war. Let’s go back to working on enacting the dream of the Great Society with the goal of a level playing field where success is measured by investment in what Dr. King referred to as programs of “social uplift” rather than military might. And, with our added knowledge of the crisis of climate change, let’s embrace the wisdom of Van Jones, who asserts that green jobs are the solution to both the bad economy and climate change. If we direct our elected officials to look more assertively at tax havens, unnecessary military bases, getting out of Afghanistan, etc., we’ll find that we have the all money we need. It is simply a matter of the political and social will.