L.D. 1781, currently being considered by the Maine Legislature, would funnel $60 million of Maine citizens’ tax dollars to the multibillion-dollar corporate entity General Dynamics, which owns and operates Bath Iron Works.

Calling this “corporate welfare” is a misnomer, as General Dynamics is one of the most profitable defense contractors in the world. The saying in the aerospace industry, according to consultant Loren Thompson, is “Boeing makes planes; Raytheon makes missiles; General Dynamics makes money.” A “corporate giveaway” is more accurate, following the huge corporate tax breaks just passed by Congress.

More to the point, the “story behind the story” is how we as a society view what makes us safe. Investing that same $60 million in education, for example, could conceivably enrich and broaden access to learning for those who will be fashioning our future. Investing that $60 million in health care could allow thousands of individuals whose well-being is now at risk because of a tattered and arbitrary insurance system to achieve their full potential. Investing that $60 million in realistic and effective drug treatment could rescue those trapped in the cycle of addiction and help them achieve recovery and lead productive, fruitful lives.

This is a different approach to safety, one that believes that a healthy, resilient society is as much, if not more of a defense against extremist ideologies and international terror than battleships whose sole function is to “project power” in far-off regions of the world.

Thomas Kircher