Opinion

It’s time to deflate the military budget

This year Minnesotans will pay 405.81 million in tax dollars to the Department of Defense Fiscal Year for 2014. That’s enough to give Pell Grants to 73,000 Minnesota students, VA Medical Care to 52,000 Minnesota veterans or wind power to 417,000 Minnesota homes.

Tuesday, April 15th wasn’t just Tax Day; it was also a Global Day of Action Against Military Spending. Nonprofits, faith communities, labor groups, student orgs, city councils and peace and social justice groups all over Minnesota came together to inform their communities about how our tax money is spent and urge political action.

I have two main grievances with the United States military budget. The first is political: I believe that the United States is involved primarily in military campaigns that unjustly affect civilians instead of managing actual security threats.

I recognize that many people disagree with this analysis, but my second preoccupation is less contentious. The military budget is bloated with the cost of outdated and hugely expensive technologies like F-35 Strike Fighter jets. The military bears these expenses because of historical relationships with defense corporations, and, more generally, because they have enough of a budget to be inefficient. Significantly reducing the military budget would encourage an elimination of inefficient technologies, programs, and military campaigns. That would foster a less violent world and more funding for programs Americans need.

Of course, financial tradeoffs are not simple: I am not advocating dropping the military budget to zero and converting it all to Pell Grants or health care. But, as, citizens, it is within our power to hold the state and federal government accountable to using our tax dollars on our priorities. For more information and to learn how you can help, visit mnasap.org or nationalpriorities.org.

April 18, 2014

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