Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our National Priorities, the trend

Jo Comerford,  Executive
Director of the National Priorities Project
explains the federal budget in Bangor 10-9-10.

I found an old sign out on the back porch yesterday. It had a pie chart of the FY09 federal budget with 51% for military. Our current pie charts show 54% of the federal budget pie spent on military. If Obama's FY11 budget request is met, the new pies we'll soon be making will show 57% or even 58% depending on whether we round up the true number. This is a disturbing trend.

I found the old sign while looking for a piece of foam core to mount bright pink poster board on for a sign that could stand up to a stiff breeze. I was joining Peace Action NH, Peace Action ME, Veterans for Peace, and students from UMaine Farmington whose new group is called Peace Activists in Training, or PAinT. About twenty of us stood near the Maine-New Hampshire border to protest a $3 million Regional Recruiting Battalion Headquarters under construction at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Will Hopkins, a veteran of Iraq who is now director of Peace Action NH, organized the protest which we agreed to continue monthly -- next date is Sat., 11/27 from 3:30-5pm.

Targeting rural youth in economically depressed areas like northern New England is a recruiting strategy for our military. Recruiters are embedded in many schools and often use school time and resources to get out their messages out. Student organizer Jade Forrester said promises of money for college are the most compelling sales tactic recruiters use. She makes a point of sharing data showing that students actually receive relatively little money from the military for college, despite the claims made in recruitment ads and by recruiters prowling around junior high and high school students.

Far more federal money flows to U.S. college students in the form of Pell Grants and Stafford Loans. And you don't have to kill anybody to get it.
 But here's some encouraging news from a different National Priorities Project report, this one on how the Army is cooking the books to appear to be meeting its recruiting goals:
"At the beginning of Fiscal Year 2009 the Army announced that it would require 78,000 new active-duty recruits to meet their needs. In March 2009, the recruitment goal was reduced to 71,000 and then in April it was reduced again to 65,000. This final FY09 recruitment goal was substantially lower than in recent years when the goal was 80,000 recruits. The Army reported exceeding this lowered goal with 70,045 recruits for FY09."
If only I could have found my other old sign, the one that said MILITARY RECRUITERS LIE TO YOU.

photo credits: Nicole Moreau,, UMF

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