February 24, 2011 / Cleveland, Ohio
Greg Coleridge, Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
Increasing tensions in Ohio, other states and in Washington, DC between maintaining vital social and economic services and reducing budget deficits and debts appears irreconcilable. But are they? Not if our vision and understanding expands beyond the narrow construct we’ve been conditioned to accept – which has been reinforced by a distracting corporate media, an educational system designed to nurture the status quo rather than critical consciousness, and by either unaware or corporate-influenced public officials.
Three “off the table” solutions at the federal level to the economic and human crisis need to be placed on the table – for good.
1 Slash funding for military. The military/war budget consumes roughly 59% of the funds Congress can vote on. This includes a dizzying array of Cold War-era military weapons systems; more than 700 empire-reinforcing bases and installations world-wide; military aid to prop up dictators and regimes – many of which are now being challenged by popular democratic uprisings; and hot wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and to a lesser extend Yemen. Hundreds of billions of dollars could be saved – to be reinvested in economic conversion of our weapons plants, to balance the budget, to spend on vital social and economic needs, and to reduce taxes.
2 End the most destructive and debt-increasing federal subsidy of all – the license given to banks to print money. All other government subsidies pale in comparison to the subsidy the federal government has provided to banks for most of our nation’s history – the right to print money, which is loaned back to us and which must be repaid with interest. We the People should print our own money – debt and interest free – as stipulated in the Constitution. This would allow us to save roughly $200 billion alone this year in interest payments. It would also permit us to spend money to address vital needs without having to go into debt. Rep. Dennis Kucinich is set to reintroduce the National Emergency and Employment (NEED) Act – which calls for the government to print federal money to address the $2.2 trillion the American Association of Civil Engineers says is needed in infrastructure repair and billions more needed to address education and health care services.
3 Increase taxes on the superrich. Economist and Professor Richard D. Wolff computes that the 2.9 million High Net Worth Americans whose investible assets totaled $12.09 trillion in 2009, if taxed at just 15%, would have yielded more than total government borrowing of $1.7 trillion in 2009. Obama’s stimulus program would have required no deficit, no borrowing, and no additional taxes for 99% of US citizens. The same could be done for this year. There would be no need to even tax the earnings of the top 1% — just the investible assets.
It’s time to discuss these options – those that would make our priorities more sane and humane. They would also increase democracy – of our own money system and of people and nations abroad.