Five Borough Report June 2003
Weapons of Mass Construction
latest emergency appropriation to pay for the invasion of Iraq, $80
billion, could instead have been used to construct 800,000 units of badly
needed low and middle-income housing, with no debt. Such expenditure would,
by itself, transform and indeed liberate urban America overnight. So why
are the human needs of ordinary citizens off the government’s radar
screen? Because we have become
a nation engorged on military power and prowess.
The Militarization of our Productive
spent on war preparations hardly leads to socially useful and productive
goods, services and activities, the kinds of items that make life easier
and better for the average American. Once, magic bullets were made of
penicillin; now they are made from depleted uranium. Rather than improve
the general welfare for the many, our trained personnel, research,
technical priorities and government procurement have been massively misdirected.
former superpower rival, once among the world’s largest economies,
collapsed under the weight of its unaffordable defense budget. America’s
wealth too has been squandered; our civil sector subsidizes the military at
expenditures for defense, nuclear weaponry, veteran’s benefits and
indebtedness related to past military activity are more than half again as great as all other discretionary federal spending put together. They
exceed the military budgets of the next 25 countries combined.
Decline of the Civil Sector
have failed to invest in our own civil economy. It has undergone
significant shrinkage and de-industrialization, exposing the economy to
unsustainable trade imbalances and a depreciating currency. The
infrastructure of America, its railroads, sewers, mass transit, roadways,
and water systems are in desperate need of repair and modernization, but
there is no money. Without
bringing the permanent war economy under control, there is no chance to
rebuild and invest domestically for productive purposes or to address the
urgent needs in every community.
state and city faces budget deficits of historic proportions. We cannot
afford decent housing, schools, healthcare, daycare, libraries in this
environment. Massive cutbacks are presented as the only solution, and blame
is placed on the recession.
From Delusions of Power to Re-visioning
a few distracting moments, all eyes were riveted on images of our
military’s devastating firepower in Iraq. The clear message to the American
people: believe that it pays to spend your national fortune to have the
world’s best weapons of mass destruction.
But this belief is profoundly self-destructive
and, ultimately, deeply unpatriotic. It is no over-reaction to fear that
our democracy, as we know it, will not survive. The real road to security
and freedom will be traveled only if our wealth, our knowledge, and our
muscle are directed to developing and building weapons of mass construction,
both at home and abroad.