Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Put pressure on Van Hollen and other members of the Super Committee/Economist's perspective on cutting military budget


Fund Our Communities-Baltimore is working on convincing the Super Committee to cut military spending by at least 25% so that tax dollars can instead be used for rebuilding cities and states.  We are also gathering signatures on a petition aimed at Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen.  Consider downloading the petition and gathering signatures.  Our goal is 1,000 signatures by November 1.

Consider contacting all members of the Super Committee.  Contact info is below.  Finally, the talk by Kostis Papadantonakis, an economist,  given at the September 26 Baltimore Town Hall is available below.  



Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) – (202) 224-2651 &


Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) – (202) 224-2621 &

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) – (202) 224-2742 &

Rep. Chris VanHollen (D-MD)- (202) 225-5341 &

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) – (202) 225-6235 &

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) – (202) 225-3315 &

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) – (202) 224-3353 &

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) – (202) 224-4521 &

Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) – (202) 224-4254 &

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) – (202) 225-3561 &

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) – (202) 225-3484 &

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) – (202) 225-3761 &


Kostis Papadantonakis


1.       The greatest likelihood is that the Super Committee will not reach the required consensus and that a secondary discourse will be initiated on how to work out a “compromise” implementation of the across-the-board cut stipulated in the original resolution.

·         This “compromise” will aim at avoiding or softening the mandated deep cuts in military spending cuts in favor of deeper cuts in social spending.

2.       This new round in our deepening political crisis will bring into clearer focus the “military vs. social spending” debate that, along with “containing inflation sooner than reducing unemployment” has been the focus of US fiscal policy since the end of World War II:

·         Think of Truman’s betrayal of the 1946 Full Employment Act.

·         Think of Eisenhower’s “containment’ of the Welfare State in order to stoke the Arms Race with the USSR.

·         Think of Johnson’s War on Poverty hitting a wall against the mounting inflation triggered by escalating expenses on the Vietnam War.

·         Think of the rhetoric of fighting inflation by generating more and more unemployment through the Ford, Carter, and Reagan years, when the so-called Welfare State was blamed for inflation while the truly inflationary spending on nuclear escalation and Star Wars continued unchecked.

·         And when the Cold War ended and many of us hoped for a Peace Dividend, they invented the War on Terror and worked at it diligently until it came to our shores and hit home with 9-11—which provided the excuse for our present generalized state of war against one fifth of the human race.

3.       It is worth looking into what was happening to our economy throughout these fateful turning points, when war was chosen over social justice and working class prosperity. It is part of the “conventional wisdom” that military spending reduces unemployment and raises the American standard of living. In reality, what has been happening is the exact opposite:

·         Progressively, our imperial wars (covert, hot, or cold) opened up the labor markets of Latin America and Asia, along with these continents’ natural resources as well as those of Africa, to our transnational corporations. Once rendered safe for investment, these markets saw a rush of American capital inflows—which of course caused a relative drying up of domestic investment in the US.

·         The burgeoning of foreign investment and corresponding neglect of investment at home led to the hollowing out of America’s industrial might: Instead of investing in state-of-the art infrastructure, our public spending has been channeled to our destructive war machine; and in lieu of modernizing and expanding capitalist industry at home, our capitalists followed our spooks and troops, cashing in on investment opportunities abroad.

·         As our jobs were being outsourced we relied on bloated mortgages and consumer debt in order for some of us to hold on to our lagging standard of living, while more of us were sinking to poverty and relied on the shrinking “welfare state” for survival.

·         And what did our growing private debt and accompanying government debt buy us? More and more, we were being sold imported goods profitably produced abroad by our expatriate capital. This led to a mushrooming of America’s foreign trade deficits and piled up mountains of dollar holdings abroad: Eurodollars, petrodollars, and now of course China’s trillion-plus stockpile of dollars!

·         —and all of us were blamed for the capitalist crisis to boot!

·         Ostensibly to correct this imbalance, from Reagan straight through Bush II, the corporate lobbies sold us massive tax cuts. These made our public sector poorer and redistributed income and wealth from all of us to the richest 5% of Americans. And what did these fat cats do once they were larded up with even more money? Instead of investing in stronger domestic production, they speeded up shifts from the old industrial “rustbelt” to the largely non-unionized “sunbelt”—and even faster, they speeded up outsourcing American jobs abroad!

·         As Japan, Europe, the oil-rich countries, and China were being flooded with American investors’ as well as consumers’ dollars, they were frantically shopping for anything of value to buy with them. But what our bankers and brokerage houses sold them was not investment opportunities that would build America’s productivity and create American jobs. Instead, they sold them Americans’ corporate and government bonds and homeowners’ mortgages—mixed into toxic packages that were more and more noxious as domestic production became more and more hollowed out by outsourcing and bloated imports.

4.       So that’s what our military strength has been fostering over the past sixty years! They call it “national defense” but in fact it has been a phenomenal undermining of our national strength. As we take stock of this sordid history, let us channel our anger into fighting for the redeployment of the vast resources wasted in our imperialistic military/foreign-policy ventures so that we can…

·         …reverse our extreme dependence on imports,

·         …generate steep growth in both employment and productivity at home, and

·         …address both immediate social ills (such as poverty, urban decay, access to health services) and long-term critical needs (such as education, energy, public transportation).

How to organize for this fight is the topic of tonight’s town hall discussion and many such gatherings ahead…



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