U.S. Anti-war, Climate Justice, Racial Justice, Women’s, Immigrant Rights, Economic Justice Movement Leaders All Oppose Trump’s $54 Billion Increase in Pentagon Budget

FOR RELEASE APRIL 4, 2017

Media Contacts:
Phyllis Bennis, pbennis@ips-dc.org, 202-309-1377
Domenica Ghanem, domenica@ips-dc.org, 202-787-5205

A coalition of leaders in the anti-war, civil rights, immigration, climate,  women’s, and faith movements have come together to denounce Donald Trump’s proposed $ 54 billion increase in the military budget.  The broad-based #No$ 54BillionforWar Campaign includes city-based resolutions against increased military spending.

We are launching this campaign on April 4th, 50 years after Martin Luther King’s profound speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence speech,” a speech that recognized the urgent need to end militarism and war. King called for a revolution of values, affirming that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The Trump administration’s budget does exactly that. It takes money from urgent social needs to feed the already-bloated Pentagon budget. It proposes to compensate for the additional $ 54 billion by slashing the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency (even threatening to shut down its already under-funded environmental justice office), the Department of Health and Human Services (slashing family planning and anti-violence-against-women programs), the State Department (thus privileging war over diplomacy), and foreign aid funds (so that the wealthiest country in human history turns its back on the world’s most desperate).

Full statement and partial list of signatories:

“Our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent. We need to transform our economy, our politics, our policies and our priorities to reflect that reality. That means reversing the flow of our tax dollars, away from war and militarism, and towards funding human and environmental needs, and demanding support for that reversal from all our political leaders at the local, state and national levels.

We and the movements we are part of face multiple crises.  Military and climate wars are destroying lives and environments, threatening the planet and creating enormous flows of desperate refugees. Violent racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and other hatreds are rising, encouraged by the most powerful voices in Washington DC.

President Trump plans to strip $ 54 billion from human and environmental spending so as to increase already massive spending on the military. The plan raises Pentagon spending to well over 60 cents of every discretionary dollar in the U.S. budget — even as Trump himself admits that enormous military spending has left the Middle East “far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago.”  The wars have not made any of us safer.

Washington’s militarized foreign policy comes home as domestic law enforcement agencies acquire military equipment and training from the Pentagon and from military allies abroad. Impoverished communities of color see and face the power of this equipment regularly, in the on-going domestic wars on drugs and immigrants. This military-grade equipment is distributed and used by many of the same private companies that profit from mass incarceration and mass deportation.

Using just a fraction of the proposed military budget, the US could provide free, top-quality, culturally competent and equitable education from pre-school through college and ensure affordable comprehensive healthcare for all. We could provide wrap-around services for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence; replace mass incarceration with mass employment, assure clean energy and water for all residents and link our cities by new fast trains. We could double non-military U.S. foreign aid, wipe out hunger worldwide. The list of possibilities is long.

Instead, the Trump administration plans to take much of their $ 54 billion gift for the Pentagon from the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency (even threatening to shut down its already under-funded environmental justice office), the Department of Health and Human Services (slashing family planning and anti-violence-against-women programs), from the State Department (thus privileging war over diplomacy), and foreign aid (so that the wealthiest country in human history turns its back on the world’s most desperate).

Among those most desperate are the 24 million refugees who have been forced out of their homes and countries, more than at any time since World War II.  Instead of cruel Muslim bans and cuts to the already meager number of refugees allowed into the U.S., we should be welcoming far more. Alleviating the refugee crisis also means working to end, rather than escalate, the wars that create refugees, and supporting human rights defenders in their home communities.  That means more diplomacy and foreign aid, not more military spending.

With its hundreds of billions of un-audited dollars, the military remains the greatest consumer of petroleum in the United States, and one of the world’s worst polluters. The US needs new green, sustainable jobs across our economy targeted to people facing the highest rates of unemployment and low wages. Military spending results in an economic drain.  Clean energy production creates 50% more jobs than the same investment in military spending.

The U.S. military also serves as a security force protecting the extraction and transport of fossil fuels domestically and from the Middle East and other parts of the world. U.S. military force thus enables the continued assault on the planet and some of its most impoverished inhabitants by ensuring the supply of cheap fossil fuels, all while subsidizing some of the largest corporations in the world.

A December 2014 Gallup poll showed people in 65 nations considered the United States far and away the largest threat to peace in the world.  If the United States was known for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others, instead of attacking and invading other countries, we would be far more secure and face far less global hostility.

We can do this. Reverse the flow. No walls, No War, No Warming!”

Available for interviews:
Phyllis Bennis, New Internationalism Director, Institute for Policy Studies, 202-787-5206 or cell 202-309-1377, pbennis@ips-dc.org
Basav Sen, Climate Policy Program Director, Institute for Policy Studies, 202-787-5215 or cell 202-997-0479, basav@ips-dc.org
Judith LeBlanc, Caddo Tribe, Native Organizers Alliance, 917-806-8775, judithleblanc1@gmail.com

Partial list of signatories*

Michelle Alexander – author of The New Jim Crow
Lindsey Allen – Rainforest Action Network
Olivia Alperstein – Progressive Congress
Medea Benjamin – CODEPINK
Phyllis Bennis – Institute for Policy Studies
Basav Sen – Institute for Policy Studies
John Cavanagh – Institute for Policy Studies
Regina Birchem – Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom
May Boeve – 350.org
Jaron Brown – Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Peter Buffett – American musician, composer, author and philanthropist
Leslie Cagan    – Peoples Climate Movement NY
Daniel Carrillo –  Enlace
Reece Chenault – US Labor Against the War
StaceyAnn Chin – Poet
Jamie DeMarco – Friends Committee on National Legislation
Michael Eisenscher – US Labor Against the War
Zillah Eisenstein – International Women’s Strike/US
Eve Ensler – V-Day and One Billion Rising
Jodie Evans – CODEPINK
Laura Flanders – The Laura Flanders Show
Jane Fonda – actress & activist
Jeff Furman – Ben & Jerry’s
Dan Gilman –  Veterans For Peace
Eddie S. Glaude Jr. – Princeton University
Rafael Jesús González – poet Xochipilli, Latino Men’s Circle
Stephanie Guilloud – Project South
Saru Jayaraman- Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC-United)
Chuck Kaufman – Alliance for Global Justice
Naomi Klein – author, This Changes Everything
Lindsay Koshgarian – National Priorities Project
Judith LeBlanc – Native Organizers Alliance
Annie Leonard – Greenpeace
Mairead Maguire – Nobel Peace Laureate
Kevin Martin – Peace Action and the Peace Action Education Fund
Maggie Martin – Iraq Veterans Against the War
Michael T. McPhearson –  Veterans For Peace
Stephen Miles – Win Without War
Nabil Mohammad –  Arab-American Anti-Discrimination committee
Terry O’Neill – National Organization for Women
C. Dixon Osburn- Center for Justice & Accountability
Rabbi Brant Rosen – American Friends Service Committee
Lukas Ross – Friends of the Earth
Josh Ruebner – US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
Linda Sarsour – MPower
Mab Segrest – Southerners on New Ground
John Sellers – Other 98%
Adam Shah – Jobs With Justice
Thenmozhi Soundararajan – Equality Labs
Kathy Spillar – Feminist Majority
David Swanson – World Beyond War
Mike Tidwell – Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Opal Tometi – Black Alliance for Just Immigration & Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter Network
Rebecca Vilkomerson – Jewish Voice for Peace
Alice Walker – poet and writer
Vince Warren – Center for Constitutional Rights
Cindy Wiesner – Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Robert Weissman –  Public Citizen
Kimberle Williams-Crenshaw- The African American Policy Forum
Winnie Wong – People for Bernie
Ash-Lee Woodard-Henderson – Highlander Research & Education Center
Ann Wright – Veterans for Peace
Murshed Zaheed – CREDO Mobile
*organizations for identification only

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The Leaders of 1776 Philadelphia Would Be Appalled at Today’s Staggering Inequality

philadelphia-1776-inequality

(Photo: Flickr / fretur)

Later this summer, just a few weeks after this year’s Fourth of July celebrations, Democrats will be gathering in Philadelphia to make some presidential nomination history.

Democrats — small-d variety — gathered in Philadelphia soon after the original Fourth of July to make history, too.  In September 1776, they would go on to adopt their new nation’s most egalitarian state constitution.

Before the Revolution, only men of property in Pennsylvania could vote and hold office. The new state constitution, notes historian Clement Fatovic in his recently published America’s Founding and the Struggle over Economic Inequality, totally removed property qualifications for voting and office-holding.

In the new and free Pennsylvania, declared teacher and mathematician James Cannon, “over-grown rich Men will be improper to be trusted.”

Many citizens of the new Pennsylvanian “commonwealth” wanted this sort of egalitarian sensibility expressly written into their new constitution.

“An enormous Proportion of Property vested in a few Individuals is dangerous to the Rights, and destructive to the Common Happiness of Mankind,” read one proposed passage for the new constitution, “and therefore every State hath a Right by its Laws to discourage the Possession of such Property.”

The final constitution adopted didn’t carry that exact language. But Pennsylvania’s new state government did move quickly to discourage grand fortune. Before the end of 1776, the state had a progressive tax code that placed a new levy on the speculative holdings of rich Pennsylvanians.

After the Revolution, lawmakers in the Pennsylvania Assembly carried that same spirit into the debate over a newly created state bank that many saw as concentrating the state’s wealth in the hands of a few.

“The accumulation of enormous wealth,” the official Assembly committee statement against the powerful bankers ran, “will necessarily produce a degree of influence and power, which cannot be intrusted in the hands of any set of men whatsoever, without endangering public safety.”

A year later, the controversial state bank would see its charter revoked.

The Pennsylvania crackdown on concentrating wealth reflected a widespread agreement throughout the former 13 colonies that their new nation needed to become a much more equal place.

Large landowners, merchants, and affluent lawyers had dominated the political life of the British colonies. These powers-that-be expected farmers, artisans, and other laborers to know their place.

But the struggle for independence upset this “politics of deference.” The colonial elites, explains historian Clement Fatovic, found it “more and more difficult” to reconcile “great disparities of wealth with the animating principles of the Revolution.”

In this new political environment, relates Fatovic, economic inequality become a pervasive topic in political, religious, and everyday conversations.

Basic rights like a free press and trial by jury, proclaimed Noah Webster of later dictionary fame, cannot contribute nearly as much to freedom as “a general distribution of real property among every class of people.” To avoid the fate of failed ancient republics, the new American nation had to overcome economic inequality.

Of course, not everyone in the new American republic shared that distaste for grand fortune. But even many of America’s early rich tended to see extreme inequality as a danger to the new American project — and tended to support progressive taxation and other moves that would discourage great wealth disparities.

Even wealthy merchant Gouverneur Morris said “taxes should be raised from individuals in proportion to their wealth.”

Should any of this matter to us today? The generation of 1776, after all, did its thinking more than a couple centuries ago. Outside the Fourth of July, how much attention should we pay to our Founders?

A great deal, contemporary defenders of privilege seem to think. Conservatives today claim to represent the spirit of 1776. The most in-your-face of them even call themselves the “Tea Party” to evoke that spirit.

Attacking grand fortune amounts to an attack on liberty, these Tea Party types — and their billionaire backers — pronounce. Only “limited government” can save us. And if limiting government means letting billionaires accumulate as many billions as they can grab, they assert, no harm done.

The actual leading figures in the generation of 1776 essentially believed just the opposite. They took “great pride in the relative economic equality they believed distinguished their country from those in Europe.” Fatovic notes.

These attitudes should matter to us today. The founders, Fatovic’s book explains, were undertaking “an experiment in self-government” and “the recognition that this experiment could fail made them highly sensitive to the conditions necessary for its success.”

And no condition, many of those founders felt, would be more important than avoiding the staggering inequality so then common in Europe.

The developed world’s most staggering inequality has now shifted over to the United States. The generation of 1776 would not be pleased.

The post The Leaders of 1776 Philadelphia Would Be Appalled at Today’s Staggering Inequality appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Sam Pizzigati is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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US-Nordic Leaders’ Summit Joint Statement – Whitehouse.gov (press release)

US-Nordic Leaders' Summit Joint Statement
Whitehouse.gov (press release)
Building on the U.S.-Nordic meeting in 2013 in Stockholm, today we have pledged to deepen our cooperation on key international issues related to security and defense; migration and refugees; climate, energy and the Arctic; and economic growth and

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We must shine a light on corrupt leaders who keep citizens locked in poverty – The Guardian


The Guardian
We must shine a light on corrupt leaders who keep citizens locked in poverty
The Guardian
Instead, they suffer human rights abuses while the corrupt enjoy impunity. We give this phenomenon a … In Africa, this marriage of corruption and crime is draining the continent of its natural resources – ivory, timber, and diamonds. In doing so, it

and more »

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European Leaders Remain Committed to Financial Transaction Tax, Could Raise Billions for Climate Action

* * * FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE * * *

 

European Leaders Remain Committed to Financial Transaction Tax, Could Raise Billions for Climate Action

PARIS, Dec. 8, 2015 – A coalition of ten European countries moved forward with a proposal to implement a tiny tax on financial transactions at today’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting in Brussels. European finance ministers took note of the proposal, tabled by the Austrian delegation, and asked for further work to be done to iron out details. Institute for Policy Studies’ climate policy program director Janet Redman, in Paris for the UN climate summit, had the following reaction:

“A financial transaction tax would help make our global economy more stable and raise billions of dollars each year for public goods like climate adaptation and a clean energy transition. It’s part of a menu of innovative ways to raise the money that developed countries promised to deliver to communities on the front line of the climate crisis. We’re encouraged that leaders from the majority of the biggest economies in Europe are decisive that a broad-based FTT that could help curb reckless speculation in derivatives will go forward.

It’s unfortunate that some countries that would benefit from a more responsible financial sector and money for shrinking social services – like the UK – are fighting the proposal tooth and nail. However, we’re hopeful that the introduction of an FTT in the near future by the coalition of forward-thinking governments will put pressure on other European nations and our own government in the U.S.”

Contacts:

In Paris Janet Redman, +33 638 44 1818, janet@ips-dc.org

Experts from the Institute for Policy Studies available for interview from the Paris negotiations from November 30th through December 12th.

For more information about our work on climate change, please visit: www.ips-dc.org/climate

The Institute for Policy Studies has been linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally for more than 50 years.

The post European Leaders Remain Committed to Financial Transaction Tax, Could Raise Billions for Climate Action appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Janet Redman directs the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Black Women Labor Leaders Call for an End to Violence Against Black Youth and Those Who Stand Up for Them

WASHINGTON, DC – A national network of black women labor leaders featured in a new report, And Still I Rise: Black Women Labor Leaders’ Voices, Power and Promise, released the following statement today in response to recent attacks in Milwaukee and Minneapolis on law-abiding citizens protesting police killings of black youth.

A woman featured in the report, Milwaukee native and former Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, Jennifer Epps-Addison, was among those arrested, harassed and detained for over 12 hours in Milwaukee on Nov 19th. Epps-Addison, the mother of two young children, was one of six protestors and the only woman arrested while participating in a peaceful rally calling for justice for Dontre Hamilton, a Milwaukee youth who was shot and killed in Red Arrow Park in April. No charges were ever brought against the officer.

 

Statement by And Still I Rise Leaders

More likely than not, slain black children are the sons and daughters of mothers who work tirelessly outside of the home to put food on the table and roofs over their children’s heads. Imagine the heartbreak of spending countless hours on the job worrying about whether your children will make it home alive. Far too many black mothers don’t have to imagine this nightmare because they are living it. At an alarming rate, black mothers are experiencing the heartbreak of their children dying at the hands of those who swore to protect and serve them.

The crosshairs trained on our children are now turned on us when we stand up to call out injustice in our criminal justice system. Recounts Jennifer Epps-Addison, Milwaukee native and former Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now of her November 19tharrest, “I was badgered, intimidated, made to change into an inmate jumpsuit and subjected to a body search, unlike the men who were arrested.” Continued Epps-Addison, “While I have been prepared to take arrest in the past, I was shocked at what a terrifying and dehumanizing experience this was for me.”

When mothers and sisters are arrested and harassed for singing in a public park; or are targeted and shot for demanding police accountability—our nation has taken a dark and dangerous turn away from what we value in America.

As mothers, fast food workers, sisters, union presidents, aunts, former elected officials and leaders in our communities—we call for ALL mothers and ALL leaders across the country to be the conscience of our nation and to protect the human and civil rights of black young men and women and those who risk their safety to stand up for them.

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And Still I Rise, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative, brings the voices, power, and promise of black women labor leaders to bear in shaping strategies for economic justice and social change. The project launched with the release of a groundbreaking report by the same name in May 2015.

The post Black Women Labor Leaders Call for an End to Violence Against Black Youth and Those Who Stand Up for Them appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

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Why Some Leaders in Poorer Countries are Championing the Environment

El Salvador's San Andres ruins

(Image: Shutterstock)

We have heard surprise expressed that two religious leaders from poorer countries, Pope Francis from Argentina and Cardinal Turskon from Ghana, have emerged as leading voices for action on the environment with their compelling June 2015 encyclical.  The surprise comes from the assumption that poorer countries invariably prioritize economic growth and financial revenues—not the environment—and that only when beyond a certain threshold of per capita income do they shift priorities and take action in favor of the environment. As many readers know, this theory that only richer people in richer countries care about the environment is what some call the Environmental Kuznets Curve or the post-materialist hypothesis.

Our research on decisive action to protect the environment in El Salvador and Costa Rica suggests that this stereotype is outdated and the theory wrong. We zeroed in on El Salvador and Costa Rica because both have halted potentially lucrative metallic mining within the last decade due to its negative environmental impact.

In our new article in the journal World Development, we ask “why did these two governments do this?” Our goal now is to share our answers to that question. We posit three conditions under which governments of poorer countries take action to protect the environment, at times sacrificing large-scale financial gain.

(1) The first condition is related to civil society: Poorer people, whose natural resource base is threatened by mining, can move from individual awareness to concern, to become organized, and then to engage with other sectors of civil society in pressuring their government to implement policy changes. This involves a combination of poorer people who have lived in the area long enough to grasp the environmental damage, with other segments of domestic civil society providing additional support and voice. Organizing begins locally in the mining areas but moves to a national level, putting pressure on governments.1

(2) The second condition is related to domestic business elites: In our case studies, we find that segments of the domestic economic elite who have interests based in protecting natural resources are more powerful than the elite and corporate interests that benefit from exploiting minerals.  The power of global corporations is not strong enough, or is not connected enough to local economic elites, to change this calculus. Thus, foreign mining firms that want to mine often move from the national level (where they have not been successful) into the global arena, where they sue the governments under investment agreements and investor-state dispute structures.2

(3) The third condition is related to governments: We find that individuals and agencies within democratic governments who are willing and able not only to respond to civil society, but also to understand the ecological realities of natural-resource exploitation, can play a central role. We also find that far-sighted political leaders or bureaucrats, regardless of their party’s politics, who come into office with either an understanding of environmental issues or a willingness to listen to non-governmental experts, can also become catalysts.

In both Salvadoran and Costa Rican mining policy, all three of these conditions came into play and reinforced one another, leading to decisive government action to halt environmentally-destructive mining. In both countries, there was strong local citizen opposition to mining that combined with other civil society actors to form powerful national movements against mining.  In El Salvador, rural farmers and communities provided the initial spark, with the church playing a significant integral role.3 In Costa Rica, rural communities were crucial, but urban environmentalists played an important role, as did academics and the media.

In terms of the business sector: in both countries, local and national business interests collectively had more to lose than gain from industrial mining and its ensuing environmental damage. In El Salvador, the farming and tourism sectors need water that mining seemed likely to further contaminate. The economic elites connected to these sectors were more numerous and powerful than local businesses that would benefit from foreign mining companies gaining mining concessions. In Costa Rica, the many sectors that benefit from eco-tourism (and agriculture) are similarly more numerous and powerful than the relatively small mining sector.

As for government, in both countries, at different times, there were key individuals and sometimes whole agencies within government who spoke out or took action against mining.

Comparing the influence of the three conditions: The first two conditions, strong civil society and weak pro-mining domestic business elites, seem particularly important since the recent histories of both El Salvador and Costa Rica reveal much more variation within key government agencies during the period in question. In El Salvador, even a relatively corrupt and pro-foreign business administration such as Antonio Saca’s (2004-2009) could take action against gold mining given the country’s strong civil society and weak pro-mining national business elites in the context of the country’s extreme environmental degradation. In this case, individuals in the Saca government did indeed make a difference. And, in Costa Rica, there is the two-year period of 2008-2010 when, even with strong civil society, weak pro-mining national business elites, and a democratic government, the administration of Oscar Arias (who one might have assumed to be more pro-environment than the Saca administration) gave permission for Canadian firm Infinito Gold to mine at a very controversial site. Yet, even in this instance, a strong civil society and an independent Supreme Court eventually overturned Arias’s pro-mining policies and stopped Infinito’s mining.

The key point is that these two governments halted environmentally-destructive gold mining even though both are relatively poor, small countries which would, according to conventional theory, choose short-term economic gains over longer-term environmental concerns.

Based on this work, we were not at all surprised that it was two religious leaders from poorer countries who have emerged as among the most vocal voices for action on environment (including climate).

1 This first condition builds on our 1994 research (also published in World Development) regarding the three conditions under which poorer people take decisive pro-environment stances and actions.

2 For more on investor-state disputes, see Broad, R. (2015 forthcoming), “Corporate Bias in the World Bank Group’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes: A Case Study of a Global Mining Corporation Suing El Salvador,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law 36. Pre-publication version available here.

3 For more on this, see Broad and Cavanagh, “El Salvador Gold: Toward a Mining Ban,” in Princen, Martin and Manno, Ending the Fossible Fuel Era (MIT Press, 2015), pp. 167-192.

The post Why Some Leaders in Poorer Countries are Championing the Environment appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Cavanagh is the Director of the Institute for Policy Studies. Robin Broad is a Professor of International Development at the School of International Service, American University, in Washington, D.C.
Their most recent book is Development Redefined: How the Market Met Its Match.

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Richard Trumka: Black Women Leaders of Labor Show Us a “Bright Path Forward”

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, spoke about And Still I Rise, a report from the Institute for Policy Studies. Calling the report “exceptionally important,” Trumka elaborated on the need for black workers to organize in today’s society. Watch below:

The post Richard Trumka: Black Women Leaders of Labor Show Us a “Bright Path Forward” appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

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Industry leaders discuss urban mobility at the EMBARQ conference in Delhi – YourStory.com


YourStory.com
Industry leaders discuss urban mobility at the EMBARQ conference in Delhi
YourStory.com
The last decade has witnessed entirely new means of public transport, which in cities has been greatly shaped by the use of apps and collaborative consumption. Both autonomous vehicles and connected cars have seen a widespread growth, while electric …

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World Economic Forum inequality warning a wake-up call for leaders

World Economic Forum inequality warning a wake-up call for leaders

Responding to the World Economic Forum’s Outlook on the Global Agenda, which places “Deepening Income Inequality” at the top of its list of concerns for world leaders in 2015, Kevin R

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