Monday, December 10, 2012

Fiscally Responsible Idea Of The Week: #FreeBrad

My CODEPINK sister Janet Weil Sunday, December 9, 2012, San Francisco. I carried a Free Bradley Manning sign at my bridge vigil yesterday, too, in Skowhegan, Maine.
Imagine if you added up the cost of all the un-Constitutional activities Bradley Manning leaked word of via Wikileaks. If you had the time and the smarts to quantify every helicopter sortie that shot up kids in a van -- the cost of the soldiers' pay, the fuel for the helicopter, the bullets -- and every creepy diplomatic encounter where the U.S. urged a client government to crack down on dissent -- the airfare, the State Dept. salary, the baksheesh, the tear gas pledged -- what would it add up to? In dollars and cents, I mean. Then, ok, go ahead and quantify the cost of all the pollution for the plane trips, bombings, depleted uranium dustings, trucking supplies through the Khyber Pass to conduct war to protect supply lines for fossil fuels. Roll all of it into one great big price tag. What would the price be? Would it equal the federal budget deficit, or exceed it?

Now take that number and add to it the cost of keeping Bradley Manning incarcerated for more than 900 days, first in a tiger cage in Kuwait where he passed out from heat exposure and was completely convinced he would die right there; next at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia where he was kept in solitary confinement for nine months and woken up constantly by guards drawing a paycheck from the U.S. taxpayer, and where the biggest phalanx of every kind of cop imaginable shut down the public highway and arrested a bunch of peacenik grandparents for holding a vigil outside the gates for him; and now at the maximum security prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Factor in the cost of flying Manning and his guards back and forth to Ft. Meade in Maryland for his pre-trial hearings. Factor in the whole cost of court martialing Manning for sharing information that was, in some cases, not even classified (his most famous leak, video of Apache helicopter soldiers shooting civilians in Baghdad, was not classified at all). Add it all up.

What would be the point?

My point is that the bottom line of all the economic-speak and legislative-speak around fiscal cliffs and sequestration and discretionary v. mandatory expenditures and entitlements is what they are meant to obfuscate: a budget is a moral document.

We all spend our money on what we value.

An addict spends his money on the drugs to stay high and/or ward off withdrawal symptoms.

The U.S. government spends our money on bombs and drones and stealing other people's land (and airspace) and advertising itself to youth as a job opportunity. On the designed-to-be-endless war on terror.
Obama's next budget, if Congress enacts it. Source:
Your personal budget or that of your family is probably spent primarily on housing, food, heat and electricity, potable water and disposal of sewage and garbage. If you spent as much of your income on weapons as your government does, you'd probably end up eating Ramen noodles several nights a week for supper.

Austerity, here we come.

What to do? Call Congress, Occupy, communicate with your neighbors about the problem, and the need to bring our war dollars home. Write letters to the editor and reach lots of them at the same time. And, if you're anywhere near Maine next weekend, come join a diverse group of concerned citizens to brainstorm more ideas for action December 15, 2012 in Augusta. I'll see you there.

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

Addiction is a pallid term to apply to the habit of racism even if you apply all the Madison Avenue panoply of "Reefer Madness" sorts of ill-effects. Racism is the act of the mind before it is the effects on the body. Someone chooses to praise Israel because, as Leon Wieseltier wrote in the New Republic this week (Haaretz called him the most influential Jew in the US in trumpeting this essay), the loss of a Jewish state would be bad: "for Israel not to be a Jewish state would be a Jewish catastrophe, and for it not to be a democratic state would be a human catastrophe..." What's wrong with civil rights and personal faith and heritage commitments, Leon? I read that effort, and Haaretz's praise for it (even though he ends up saying there's no hope for peace--but isn't that the premise for racism?) as a refusal to engage the question. What is the perennial complaint from the Israeli political elite: "we have nobody to negotiate with". I.e., everybody they talk to wants rights, and that's the one thing they can't give. Why not?
Racism's an expensive habit.