by Peter Deutsch, Secretary
PA 4th CD Chapter, Progressive Democrats of America
September 8, 2010
As you may already know the NAACP has called a national march for jobs and justice on Oct 2, 2010. The AFL-CIO, La Raza, SEIU, and the United Auto Workers have now joined in support with One Nation United serving as an umbrella organization. The Progressive Democrats of America and over 190 other organizations are involved with other organizations joining in.
Why should we who focus on peace join a labor and justice march on Washington this fall? Don’t issues of peace and justice connect intimately through economics?
Peace is necessary in order to have an effective impact on the issues of jobs and justice being taken up by those organizing the October 2nd march. Competition for resources from the war machine needs to be exposed. To date the U.S. has spent cumulatively over $1 trillion on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq1. Total annual U.S. defense spending is around $1 trillion dollars2 ,. Little is left over in the annual federal funds either on or off budget to recover economic rights or safety net structures of the past, let alone to address new social needs.
Moreover military expenditures are infamously inefficient at creating jobs. To support a U.S. soldier for a year in Afghanistan it costs $1 million.3 By contrast a Medicare for All program would be at least several times as efficient as the current domestic economic stimulus, generating richly diverse new activity across the economic spectrum.4,5
Thus any realistic call for jobs and justice demands that we have peace and a great diminution of activity in the military industrial complex. The requisite call to redirect war activity towards peace certainly resonates with Dr. King’s opposition to war and the U.S. war machine.6 We can bring this message to the October 2nd March on Washington.
Our participation on October 2nd will give us an opportunity:
• To gain visibility and to forge effective relationships with other groups by working to aid them in activities they have energy for.
• To communicate our thoughts and opinions on peace to a wider audience.
• To participate in a march on a large city or cities airing issues allied with our own priorities.
I have two examples in mind here: Firstly, several years ago my southwestern PA Progressive Democrats of America chapter determined we would support all significant issues of the local unions, which are a significant part of the Democratic Party in our area. By supporting the unions in any way we could, we gained a good deal of positive experience and interaction that we would not have had otherwise.
More recently environmental, infrastructure, and public health questions about the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale have been emerging throughout Pennsylvania, and quite visibly near Pittsburgh. We now see many communities arrayed around these concerns. Ranging from the Green Party and environmental groups to hunting or fishing clubs with even the local garden clubs beginning to participate, they are beginning to interact and collaborate.
If it only helped to enhance and broaden such connections our participation in the October March would be more than worthwhile. But of course there is even more at stake than this. All of our attempts to improve our communities both near and wide are dependent on winning resources to enact those improvements. Participating in the October 2 March will improve our relationships within the progressive coalition and strengthen the coalition as it demands those resources.
2 Robert Higgs “The Trillion Dollar Defense Budget is Already Here” http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=194 This was written on March 15, 2007 but it estimates about one trillion dollars even back then.
3 http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home. “…funds to support the “surge” of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan announced by the Obama administration on December 1, 2009.” A single yearly application of that $30 billion supplemental funding requires $1 million per troop for that year.
4California Nurses Association reports on extended Medicare coverage. See for example http://www.calnurses.org/research/ and (IHSP) studies therein such as http://www.calnurses.org/research/pdfs/ihsp_sp_economic_study_2009.pdf
“Single Payer/Medicare for All An Economic Stimulus Plan for the Nation Ver. 1.1” I extract the multiplier effects determined here to conclude that they are more efficient than the Obama economic stimulus.
5 “It’s Time to Fight for Full Employment: The Progressive Path out of Our Crisis” by Randy Shannon. See page 48 for a treatment parallel to reference 4. This can also be accessed at http://www.solidarityeconomy.net/2010/06/09/randy-shannon-the-case-for-full-employment/ See the section entitled “National Health Insurance”.
6 http://www.mlkonline.net/quotes.html Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967. Search the above link for many pertinent quotes.