In 1953, at the beginning of his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech in which he said, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

That quotation is apt today. According to the War Resisters League, the United States spends 59 percent of its budget on the military. When spending on veterans’ affairs and nuclear weapons programs are added, Businessinsider.com says, the grand total is $1.01–1.35 trillion spent on national defense in 2010.

"Businessinsider.com published some facts about what it calls 'ridiculous military spending,' facts that show America 'can’t afford to police the world any more.'"Businessinsider.com published some facts about what it calls “ridiculous military spending,” facts that show America “can’t afford to police the world any more”:

  • U.S military spending is greater than that of China, Russia, Japan, India and the rest of NATO combined.
  • The total U.S. military spending constitutes approximately 44 percent of all the military spending on the planet.
  • Together, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost more than $150 billion per year.
  • According to Nicholas D. Kristol, writing in the New York Times on July 28, “A recent report from the Congressional Research Service finds that the war on terror, including Afghanistan and Iraq, has been, by far, the costliest war in American history aside from World War II. It adjusted costs of all previous wars for inflation.”

    The price tag for one Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter plane is around $90 million, according to a March 15, 2011 article “The F-35: A Weapon That Costs More Than Australia" in The Atlantic.

    In 1997 MIT received nearly $400 million from the Pentagon for military research, David Schweikart wrote in his book After Capitalism.

    According to Harper’s Magazine, this year the Pentagon will spend over $44 billion on the “Star Wars” program.

    The government just announced that the country’s nuclear arsenal consists of 5,112 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy the earth many times over.

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    With all this, Congresspeople and other public officials say the United States can’t afford to educate its children properly, provide jobs for everyone, guarantee health care for all, and supply food, shelter and clean air and water for all its citizens.

    Bringing the numbers home is informative. Indiana’s share of the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 is more than $14.91 billion. For both wars, Indianapolis has paid over $1.85 billion.
    "Indiana’s share of the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 is more than $14.91 billion. For both wars, Indianapolis has paid over $1.85 billion."
    Stated another way, if you paid $8,000 in federal income tax two years ago, 43 percent, or nearly $3,500, went to military-related spending. The war machine receives more than $4 of every $10 the U.S. government receives in tax revenue.

    Americans put vast amounts of money into systematically killing other people. Is this fair to Americans or the slightest bit sensible when there are so many needs at home?

    U.S. Labor Against the War has found the following:

  • One in six workers is unemployed or underemployed.
  • Fifty million Americans lack health care.
  • Millions of people have lost their homes because of foreclosure.
  • Roads, bridges and other types of public infrastructure are falling apart. 

  • Schools are overcrowded and underfunded.
  • Cities are shutting down public services and laying off public workers.
  • “There is no way to fund what we must do as a nation without bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan,” an Aug. 3 AFL-CIO Executive Council Statement noted.

    For $1 trillion, says the War Resisters League, Americans could provide every unemployed citizen with a job paying $50,000 a year (total, $765 billion). Furthermore, unemployment could be reduced to zero and still have $235 billion left over to meet human needs – to provide health insurance, build schools and offer job training.

    For what Americans have spent for just one day of the Iraq War, says the American Friends Service Committee, they could have funded: 95,364 Head Start places for children, 12,478 elementary school teachers, health care for 163,525 people, 34,904 four-year college scholarships or homes for 6,482 families.

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    These issues are the topic of a talk, “The War Economy and You,” that internationally renowned peace and justice activist Cindy Sheehan will give in Bloomington on Wed., Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. at the First United Church, 2420 E. Third St.
    "For $1 trillion, says the War Resisters League, Americans could provide every unemployed citizen with a job paying $50,000 a year."
    Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in action in the Iraq war on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has become an activist for peace and human rights.

    Sheehan travels and speaks widely and has returned recently from France and Japan. The author of five books, she is currently writing her sixth, on Hugo Chavez, Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution. She is also the host of her own radio show, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox.

    For Sheehan, war is also an environmental issue. “The U.S. military is both the largest polluter in the world and the largest consumer of fossil fuel,” she says. “The current U.S. military missions not only pollute the world using conventional weaponry, but the war machine's increasing use of weapons and equipment enhanced with depleted uranium is also contaminating the planet and further compromising the delicate balance of life.”

    This will be Sheehan’s first visit to Bloomington.

    The talk, sponsored by the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, the Bloomington branch of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, the 9/11 Working Group of Bloomington, and the Just Peace Task Force and Green Sanctuary Task Force on Global Climate Change of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, commemorates the 10th anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan war, Oct. 7.

    Sheehan’s talk is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow it.

    Linda Greene can be reached at lgreene@bloomington.in.us.