Monday, July 26, 2010

more on the federal budget

Wow I didn't realized I haven't posted in so long. I'm back. For now anyway.

The feds sure spend money on war. We used to call it that--The Department of War. This changed last century to the Department of Defense. How Orwellian.

Well, here is a look at the 2011 budget. Billions of dollars (did you know the lowest number starting with "b" is "billion?) and the biggest slice is for war. 30% is for current military spending. 18% is for past military, including veteran's benefits, and (ominously) interest on the national debt from previous military spending. $1398 Billion. That's $1.3 TRILLION. Any way you slice it, that's real money. And obscene amounts of it.

Non military spending -- that is, every other thing the feds do, is more than this. This is right. We should spend most of our money on nonmilitary things, like international relatons, foreign aid, justice, environmental protection and (my favorites) National Parks.

I agree that national defense is a federal function, but our military is a cancer on the federal government. It consumes it. Its product? Wealth to military contractors, and death and destruction for "others." For the womend and children and poor in other places. It's wrong in so many ways.

Oh yes, that military largess also paid for the F-15 and F-16 in the air show I saw yesterday. Was the entertainment value worth what that bird and its well-trained pilot cost us? No way.

I would like the military to hold bake sales and give billions to schools. What about you?

Peace, y'all


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stuffed and Starved

Yesterday I finished reading Raj Patel's "Stuffed and Starved." Enlightening, showing how all the dots connect to food, poverty, and power on our planet. Raj is not American, and I truly valued the perspective of America's role in the world. Sobering.

The fear of the restless masses destabilizing governments and threatening the bottom line for businesses has made the poor poorer and the rich richer. The poor grow our food, the rich profit from their labors. On the receiving end, the poor cannot afford good healthy food. Instead they are subjected to subsidized, processed crap, cheap carbs, high fructose corn syrup, soy, etc. So as this unhealthy diet spreads, so does diabetes and heart disease.

There are so many things wrong with this picture it would, and did, fill a book. Raj Patel's to be precise.

His prescription is a blend of what I'm starting to do already (locavorism, eating lower on the food chain, CSA, fair trade...), which are personal actions, and the group actions that are so much more challenging-- using those wonderful rights in the USA's First Amendment

Petitioning the government.

My birthday gift to USA is to flex these rights. That which we exercise gets stronger.

Peace, y'all


Monday, July 5, 2010

Is the Federal budget a reflection of our country's moral values?

So claims the Friends Committee for National Legislation, a fine Quaker lobbying group. So also claims Matthew in the Gospel: For where your treasure is, they will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21

But the cynic in me (small but still present) says them who have the gold make the rules, and that fits our budget picture more clearly.

For each dollar of federal income tax we paid in 2009, our government spent
33 cents on Pentagon spending for current and past wars (3 cents on veterans, 6 cents on interest on debts, 24 cents on Pentagon and related spending.
27 cents supporting the economy -- recovery and bailouts, 26 cents, other jobs, education and social programs, 1cent.
17 cents on health care, mainl Medicare, I suppose
11 cents responding to poverty
9 cents for general government
2 cents for energy, science, and the environment
1 cent for diplomacy, development, and war prevention

FCNL says if these expenditures don't reflect your values, talk to Congress. Good idea. Also talk to your family and friends, your neighbors, your Facebook community, anyone you can.

FCNL makes it easy to reach your reps in Congress. Visit, follow the "contact Congress" link, and there you go!

Honest to goodness, it is so much cheaper to prevent a war than to wage one and pay one off decades later. But there's profit in war and not so much for working on making lives better for the multitudes of poor and disenfranchised.

Okay, I'm going to silence the cynic, who is rarely constructive, and bring back cheerier outlook.

Peace, y'all


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Where I am right now

Just reminded myself to start wherever I am, which is at this moment, in my dining room. So I am going to turn up the thermostat a few degrees, because just as we do outdoors, we should use clothing to regulate our comfort rather than electricity.

Now I want to share the preamble to the platform of the state Democratic platform. It resonates with me and I hope you too.

We are Democrats, the party of the people. We believe in teh values of community, dignity, equality, opportunity, fairness, tolerance, respect, and the common good of the world we share. gthese values provide the basis for our ideas, supported by our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Now here's the preamble for the state Republican party platform:


The Washington State Republican Party is dedicated to preserving a constitutional republic. We believe that active participation by citizens is absolutely necessary to protect and preserve conservative values which include preserving a free society, free markets, free trade, the sanctity of human life, limited government, low taxes, a minimal bureaucracy, a strong national defense, private property rights, and the concept that government should do for individuals only those things they cannot do for themselves.

Washington State Republicans believe that good government is based on respect for, and trust in, the ability of individuals to chart the course of their own lives. We believe that respect for each person’s ability, dignity, and liberty is the foundation for a free and prosperous civic body politic. Good citizenship begins with protected rights and ends with accompanying responsibilities.

We believe individuals are more enlightened than governments, that markets are more efficient than bureaucracies, and that the citizen is more visionary than the collective. To this end, we reaffirm the words in the Declaration of Independence, “That all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness -That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”

To each generation falls the responsibility to uphold the values that have made the United States the most free, wealthy, compassionate and successful civilization in history. As we confront security threats from international terrorism, economic threats from ever-increasing state intervention, and social threats from liberal cultural elites, we must also see these times as an opportunity to move society in the right direction. We are committed to ensuring that the two-centuries-old experiment that is America never fails.

It has been over two centuries since our Founders established the American creed — government under God and accountable to the people. We believe their vision is best preserved by supporting the policies outlined below.

Well! I wish I could embrace just the parts I like. There are some parts I like. If less government really mean less government, it might be OKAY. But when less government means turning folks loose to profit from exploiting people and the environment, I flinch.

There it is--I believe government's role is to help those who cannot help themselves. This means the environment, animals and fish, children, disenfranchised, the weak, and the poor.

That's where I am right now,

Peace, y'all


P.S. Happy Birthday USA! My gift to you will to be a more engaged citizen, to exercise my rights, and keep working to make this country a better place.