The deadline for posting 1040’s this year is April 18 instead of April 15, thanks to Patriot’s Day. That day is coming right up. If you are a procrastinator and show up at the Brunswick Post Office around noon on Monday, please take a moment to greet the PeaceWorks members vigiling there. For so many years now, friends have been there to ask: “Do you know where your Tax dollars go?”

During the weeks leading up to Tax Day, our kitchen table (and maybe yours too) becomes a repository colonized with piles of bills, invoices and receipts. They distill down into a few pages, adorned with post-it notes, paper clips, stickers with pointy fingers. Signed, dated, stuffed into an IRS envelope, we drive to the post office and wait in line to make sure it is postmarked before midnight.

All of this accounting forces a candid evaluation of the economic well-being of our family. How did last year go? Did the bills get paid? Did income meet expenses? Need to cut out Netflix? Too many phone lines? Any cash left over? Can you invest more on the kid’s educational fund? On the cats? On roof repairs? On solar panels? Give more to the food pantry? Moving into the new year, what budget will best keep the family healthy and stable?

PeaceWorks asks for a National budget that preserves the health and stability of our country. Tax Day reminds us that most U.S. revenue comes from our individual income taxes, from Trust Funds (like Social Security and Medicare Taxes), from duties, and from borrowing. All of that money goes to Interest Payments, Mandatory Spending or Discretionary Spending “pies”. The Mandated Spending includes entitlements like Medicare, Social Security, & Unemployment. The Discretionary Spending is the portion of the budget that Congress approves every year by annual appropriations – it includes things like defense, education, FBI, Coast Guard, foreign aid, space, science, highways, agriculture, immigration.

It is this year-to-year Discretionary Spending that helps drive our prosperity and security.

President Trump has just released his “skinny” budget. Over 50% of Discretionary Spending is already spent on the military, but he calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending and imposes corresponding cuts on everything else., including a decrease for foreign aid and domestic programs. Foreign aid supports stability in parts of the world where the U.S. has safety or national interests. It’s even recognized by military leaders as a necessary tool in their strategy toolbox. Defunding diplomacy can’t be healthy. It’s not healthy to defund domestic programs either. During major snow and ice storms events, FEMA helps Maine’s infrastructure recover. The Coast Guard protects Maine’s coast, they are the first responders during maritime emergencies. Cuts to public safety could have a very direct local impact in Brunswick.

One of the reasons that Climate Neo-skeptics (people who do not believe in global warming, that it is caused by humans, and that it can be addressed by decreasing greenhouse gases) are not concerned about the growing evidence around them: they believe that they personally are going to be OK. They can move to higher ground, they will have a “green zone” with concierge type disaster coverage. With their hi-end survival options they have lost any incentive to support and repair domestic infrastructure. But there are 3 reasons why funding the pentagon instead of domestic programs poses a moral and ethical dilemma: Jobs, Justice and Climate.

Jobs: The US is number one in global military spending and already spends more than the next 7 countries combined on its military. Studies show that $1 billion spent on domestic spending priorities creates substantially more jobs within the U.S. economy than would the same $1 billion spent on the military.

Justice: The costs of war include those civilians killed and wounded. It includes refugees looking for a safe place to live. It includes US veterans and military families.

Climate: The US military burns over 1.25 billion gallons of fuel a year. The Department of Defense is the single largest consumer of fossil fuels in the U.S., impacting climate and thus increasing global climate insecurity and instability.

Taxpayers here in Brunswick pay roughly $24 million annually for the Department of Defense. In solidarity with the international Global Day of Action Against Military Spending, PeaceWorks asks for US to #movethemoney from the Pentagon and Invest in domestic programs and diplomacy instead. That is why you’ll see us from 11-1 in front of the Brunswick Post Office on Monday 17 April, and at a noon rally at Monument Square in Portland the next day. We hope you might join us.

For more information visit peaceworksbrunswickme.org and peaceworks, Brunswick ME on Facebook.

Martha Spiess is a member of PeaceWorks. She lives in Freeport.


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