It was encouraging to see hundreds of thousands of people gather in New York City for the People’s Climate March. People streamed through the streets demanding bold action to address global climate change. While it is clear that there are significant efforts that must be made to do something now about our climate crisis, it’s essential that we identify where the investments will come from to transform our fossil-fuel addicted society.

Americans understand that in the business world, profits rule, and that shareholders tend to have an insatiable appetite for “more.” As we watch the first night’s shock and awe of Tomahawk missiles reaping destruction in Syria (the first night’s 47 missiles cost $1.5 million each!), it seems worthwhile to ask, who profits from this chaos? Fortune Magazine answers the question: It’s the munitions makers who “stand to reap the biggest windfall, especially in the short term” citing Raytheon’s long-range Tomahawk missiles, and Lockheed Martin’s Hellfires, among others.

Now that we’ve engaged new bombing campaigns and expanded our war-making, the Pentagon (which refuses to audit its expenditures) will inevitably be liberated from the pesky sequesters that impacted the money flow last year. Elected officials will continue to shout, “be afraid” while they bring home the factory jobs that build the weapons that keep the wars alive. (Are we aware that weapons are the Unites States’ number one industrial export?)

The problem is, the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst has done the study which found that public dollars invested in health care, education, mass transit, home weatherization and infrastructure maintenance create more jobs than investing an equivalent amount in the military. In fact, twice as many jobs are created by equivalent spending on education and mass transit as on the military.

So we spend our resources and talent to build (and sell) the weapons that exacerbate instability around the world, increasing the violence, which supports the recruitment of militants determined to fight back and destroy. While at home our roads are damaged, our bridges need repair, our schools crumble, and commuter traffic gridlocks.

There is no question that we need a change, and there is a clear vision. We need to wrestle money away from war-making and weapons manufacturing so that we can begin to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. We need to cancel plans to fight to control and dominate fossil fuel, natural gas and other natural resources around the globe. Rather, our resources need to be focused on creating the alternative energy infrastructure needed to survive climate change.

The federal government will not get on this bandwagon until its clear the people of the country want it. Last year in Connecticut, citizen activists created a campaign that resulted in the legislature passing a law to create a statewide commission to help its state plan for diversification to look beyond its heavy reliance on military production. What else can be made in Connecticut’s factories that society needs? If Connecticut can do that, why can’t we do the same here in Maine?

From Oct. 11-20, Maine Veterans For Peace will organize a Walk for Peace & A Sustainable Future from Rangeley to North Berwick to address these issues. Rangeley is one of four sites along the east coast being considered for deployment of an expensive and destabilizing “missile defense” interceptor base. Saco’s General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems has a multi-million dollar contract to build gun barrel kits for the Army. In North Berwick, Pratt Whitney has a $2 billion contract to build F- 35 Joint Strike fighter engines (the most expensive fighter plane in our history).

And of course, here in Bath, BIW has billions of dollars in contracts to build more destroyers for the Navy that are firing the cruise missiles into Syria and are being used in the U.S. “pivot” to control China.

As a people, we need to demand access to the nearly one trillion dollars a year that now goes into fighting endless wars, continuously designing and building more lethal weapons, launching expensive NSA satellites to spy on us, “homeland security” program that seems to be most focused on militarizing our local police departments, and so on. Survival depends on a different vision, one that has us coming together, working in good jobs to build the alternative energy infrastructure our people are so clear we need. Join Maine’s Veterans for Peace in engaging this debate.

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Mary Beth Sullivan is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath.


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