Friday, July 14, 2017

Veterans weigh in on defense spending

We agree with this statement that was posted today by Maggie Martin, co-director of Iraq Veterans Against the War :

As we've been trying to follow the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and all of it's many amendments I remember back to my time in the Army. It seemed like everyone (even lowly privates that have nothing to do with acquisitions) knew the unwritten rule that units needed to spend all the money they were budgeted so they would have a bigger budget the next year.
It also seemed like leadership evaluations and awards focused on managing large dollar sums of assets and equipment as an important part of performance. 
I asked our members if they experienced the same thing and overwhelmingly people had stories of wasting large sums of money on unneeded equipment in order to spend the full fiscal budget and ensure it will be risen and not cut the following year. 
Jacob Flom testified about this story he shared at our 2008 Winter Soldier Hearings, here's part of what he saw:
When I was just an E-3 I was given a card and told to spend $80,000 by the end of the day. Ordered copy machines, servers, and an obscene amount of top of the line surge protectors, probably other stuff. Must have been the last day of the fiscal year or quarter. This was when I was assigned to the IT section of our CE squadron in the air Force for about 8 or 12 months. I included this in my testimony at Winter Soldier, pretty sure they recorded the audio interview or something
We've heard lots of stories like this and it leads us to this conclusion: Defense Spending is Insatiable and Wasteful. We know that this is happening across the branches and up to the top and that isn't even getting into defense contractors, which are even more egregious in their misuse of taxpayer dollars and warrant their own discussion. It's clear to see we don't need to increase defense spending, we need to audit the pentagon, break the hold of the military industrial complex, and reclaim our resources.  Not only that, we also need toend the 1033 program to stop this excess equipment from being passed down to local police departments and even schools.
The Pentagon and defense corporations aren't going to stop being greedy on their own, especially when the corporate defense and military leaders have become so intertwined that there is clearly high levels of personal enrichment happening thanks to this cycle. That's why our Drop the MIC campaign is so important. Who better than veterans to challenge the lie that we need to spend more for security? That's simply not the truth and it's not going to fly anymore as services, social programs, and benefits are being cut and our infrustructure deteriorates. Help us raise awareness by using #DroptheMIC #ReclaimOurResources to call out the profiteers and build a movement to break the cycle.
We cannot accept that we don't have money for healthcare and education while we waste billions on so-called defense spending. We are safer when we have stronger healthier communities and when we pursue diplomatic and humanitarian solutions to the problem we face, or better yet, we stop wreaking havoc on the world with our military exploits. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Texas Conservation Corps gets the job done

This is good news published in the Austin American-Statesman about funding of the great local Americorps program, Texas Conservation Corps.  If you like working outdoors doing work like trail-building, disaster relief and environmental restoration, check this out.  Americorps provides a wage while you are working, health insurance, good experience for your resume AND an education award (money toward college or to repay student loans) when you complete your service.  Not only that, you are doing important work that helps our community and the natural world.  Some of Austin's hike and bike trails have been built by Americorps members with the Texas Conservation Corps.  Here is the Statesman story:

YouthWorks gets AmeriCorps funding
American YouthWorks has received $805,800 in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering and service programs.
Building on the American YouthWorks’ Texas Conservation Corps program, the grant will fund 76 AmeriCorps volunteers who will tackle problems in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Their activities will include disaster response, coastal restoration and public land maintenance needs.
The Corporation for National and Community Service also will provide up to $348,900 in education scholarships for those AmeriCorps members to help pay for college, vocational training or student loans.
The Austin-based American YouthWorks is recruiting for AmeriCorps members to begin service this fall. For more information: