American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
According to a Sept. 4 AP report on an analysis by a civil engineers' group, "America's infrastructure is full of cracks, leaks, and holes and is getting worse." The report, issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), assessed trends over the last two years in 12 categories of infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, drinking water, and energy. It gave them an overall grade of D-plus for 2001.
The engineers' group cited as likely causes a weak economy, limited federal programs, population growth, and the threat of terrorism, which diverted money to security. Thomas Jackson, ASCE president, noted that whether a dam fails because of a terrorist attack, or because it wasn't maintained, "the towns below the dam will still be devastated."
The Bush administration in May proposed spending $247 billion on roads, bridges, and mass transit, 13 percent more than the previous six-year plan. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has proposed a $375 billion spending plan, to be paid for by indexing the gasoline tax to inflation.
Dwayne Kalynchuk, president of the
American Public Works Association, warned that crumbling infrastructure
is "an emergency that is going to catch up to us in the next
few years if we don't deal with it today."
In its Aug. 13, 2003, issue, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the "Proposal of the Physicians' Working Group for Single-Payer National Health Insurance." Following are some abridged excerpts from the proposal, which has been endorsed by more than 7500 physicians (see www.physiciansproposal.org).
For nine decades, opponents have blocked proposals for national health insurance, touting private sector solutions. But vows of greater efficiency, cost control, and consumer responsiveness are unfulfilled; meanwhile the ranks of the uninsured have swelled.
Many propose pushing on with the marketization of health care. They would shift more public money to private insurers; funnel Medicare through private managed care; and further fray the threadbare safety net of Medicaid, public hospitals, and community clinics. It is time to change fundamentally the trajectory of America's health care delivery system to develop a comprehensive National Health Insurance (NHI) program.
Four principles shape our vision of reform:
We envision a national health insurance
program (NHI) that builds on the strengths of the current Medicare
system. Coverage would be extended to all age groups, and expanded
to include prescription medications and long-term care. Payment
mechanisms would be structured to improve efficiency and assure
prompt reimbursement, while reducing bureaucracy and cost shifting.
Investor-owned facilities would be phased out.
Under an NHI program, the financial
threat of illness to patients would be eliminated, as would current
restrictions on choice of physicians and hospitals. Taxes would
increase, but except for the very wealthy, would be fully offset
by the elimination of insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
Most important, NHI would establish a right to health care.
Wednesday, October 8th, 10 am
Hearing: Gardner Auditorium
Lobby Day Coordination: Rm 222
State House, Boston
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute based in Washington, DC. This article by them appeared on Tom Paine-Common Sense (www.tompaine.com) Sept. 13.
On September 7th, President Bush asked Congress for an additional $87 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, acknowledging that the engagement in Iraq is going to cost many hundreds of billions of dollars. This was a surprise considering that prior to the war, the administration dismissed such estimates, and even fired its top economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, for suggesting those estimates were correct. To get some perspective, here are some real-life comparisons about what $87 billion means.
$87b Is More Than The Combined Total Of All State Budget Deficits In The US
The Bush administration proposed absolutely zero funds to help states deal with these deficits, despite the fact that their tax cuts drove down state revenues. [Source: Center on Budget & Policy Priorities]
$87b Is Roughly The Total Of Two Years Worth Of All US Unemployment Benefits
The US spends about $50 billion a year on unemployment insurance. At least 1.1 million people have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits without finding a job, and yet Congress has refused to extend benefits. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
$87b Is Enough To Pay The 3.3 Million People Who Have Lost Jobs $26,363 Each
The unemployment benefits extension passed by Congress at the beginning of this year provides zero benefits to "workers who exhausted their regular, state unemployment benefits and cannot find work." All told, two thirds of unemployed workers have exhausted their benefits. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
$87b Is More Than Double The Total Amount The Government Spends On Homeland Security
The US spends about $36 billion on homeland security. Yet, Sen. Warren Rudman (R-H) wrote "America will fall approximately $98.4 billion short of meeting critical emergency responder needs" for homeland security without a funding increase. [Source: Council on Foreign Relations]
$87b Is seven Times What The Government Spends On Title I For Low-Income Schools
President Bush proposed a budget of just $12 billion for Title I, leaving a $6.2 billion hole in what he promised to spend on Title I in his No Child Left Behind Bill. [Source: House Appropriations Committee]
$87b Is 87 Times The Amount The Federal Government Spends On After School Programs
President Bush proposed a budget that reduces the $1 billion for after-school programs to $600 million--cutting off about 475,000 children from the program. [Souce: House Appropriations Committee]
$87b Is About 9 Times What The Federal Government Spends On Special Education
Legislation authorizes the federal government to pay 40 percent of the cost of special education, but because of budget shortfalls, it only pays roughly 18 percent (or $9.9 billion), driving up local property taxes. [Source: House Appropriations Committee]
$87b Is More Than 10 Times What The Government Spends On All Environmental Protection
The Bush administration requested just $7.6 billion for the entire Environmental Protection Agency. This included a 32 percent cut to water quality grants, a 6 percent reduction in enforcement staff, and a 50 percent cut to land acquisition and conservation. [Source: Natural Resources Defense Council]
$87b Is 8 Times The Total For Pell Grants--The Major College Program In The US
In 1975, when the Pell Grant program was established, it financed about 84 percent of the cost of attending a four-year public college. Today, that share is down to about 40 percent, and under Congress's current proposal to freeze Pell Grant funding at about $10 billion, it would drop to 38 percent. [Source: House Appropriations Committee]
$87b Is More Than The Total Cost Of The First 3 Years Of The President's Medicare Drug Proposal
[Source: Congressional Budget Office]
$87b Is Enough To Give Every Man, Woman And Child In America $300
"[We] want to control spending.
And I hope Congress lives up to their words. When they talk about
deficits, they can join us in making sure we don't overspend.
They can join us and make sure that [they are] focused those items
that are absolutely necessary to the American people (President
Bush, Jan. 6, 2003)."
Jack Malinowski, Philadelphia PA
The specter of war profiteering is increasingly evident in the aftermath of invasion and war in Iraq. The Halliburton Corporation is just one of the most dramatic cases. Perhaps your readers would find food for thought in these reflections from the illustrious Dr. Johnson two-plus centuries ago.
"The publick perceives scarcely any alteration [in its fortunes, from war], but an increase of debt; and the few individuals who are benefited are not supposed to have the clearest right to their advantages. If he that shared the danger enjoyed the profit, and, after bleeding in the battle, grew rich by the victory, he might show his gains without envy. But, at the conclusion of a ten years' war, how are we recompensed for the death of multitudes, and the expense of millions, but by contemplating the sudden glories of paymasters and agents, contractors and commissaries, whose equipages shine like meteors, and whose palaces rise like exhalations!"
"These are the men who, without virtue, labour, or hazard, are growing rich, as their country is impoverished; they rejoice, when obstinacy or ambition adds another year to slaughter and devastation; and laugh, from their desks, at bravery and science, while they are adding figure to figure, and cipher to cipher, hoping for a new contract from a new armament, and computing the profits of a siege or tempest."
--Samuel Johnson, from "Thoughts
on the Late Transactions," 1771
Letter submitted to the Philadelphia Inqirer 9/8/03 from Christa Loffelman, AFSC Women's Program
After reading the latest census figures ("Census survey says more people were in poverty in '02," Inquirer, Sept. 3), I have to wonder: What exactly did President Bush mean when he promised to "leave no child behind?"
The 2002 US Census reports that poverty is increasing nationwide. Appallingly, 34.8 million of us were living in poverty last year, and 19.8% of our kids under the age of 5 were poor. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation is quoted as saying, "In terms of child poverty, it's a very optimistic picture." 12.2 million impoverished children--600,000 more than in 2001--is "optimistic?" No, it's unacceptable.
The Census figures prove that trickle-down economics have neither spurred the economy nor helped needy families, and that Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF), or "welfare reform," has not protected children from poverty.
It's time for America to stop
leaving its families behind. Instead of giving away tax cuts to
the wealthiest families who don't need the money, Congress
should act now to reverse escalating poverty in America.
Its priorities this fall should include enacting policies
that will lessen, not increase, our growing economic divide. The
first step is to pass a fair and humane TANF bill that will help
families weather the rising tide of poverty and unemployment.
Oct. 10 11, Simmons College, Boston
Contact Joseph Gerson,
"Corporations with close ties to the Bush Administration are making hundreds of millions of dollars off the death and destruction of war, all at taxpayer expense," reports Rania Masri, of the non-profit Institute for Southern Studies and co-director of the Campaign to Stop the War Profiteers (www.southernstudies.org). The Washington Post reports that "As much as one-third of the monthly $3.9 billion cost of keeping US troops in Iraq" is being handed out to for-profit, big business contractors, led by Halliburton and Bechtel, both major contributors to the Bush Administration.
The campaign demands:
By Amat Marar of Gush Shalom (The Peace Bloc, www.gush-shalom.org)
On September 18, 2003, the trial resumed at the military court in Jaffa. For long hours, the prosecutor, Captain Yaron Kostelitz, cross-examined two of the defendants, Haggai Matar and Matan Kaminer. Both defendants rejected the prosecutor's claim that conscience is nothing but a nice word meant to enable anyone to do whatever he or she wishes.
The prosecutor presented Haggai Matar with a list of hypothetical situations, in order to find out under what conditions he would agree to be drafted into the Israeli army. In his answer, Matar described the complexity of his conscientious decision and the way it is anchored in current circumstances. "I cannot sum up my opposition in one short sentence. At the moment, I see evil and inhumane acts committed by the Israeli army, and since its actions are inhumane, immoral and in my opinion also illegal, I conscientiously refuse to take any part in this army under present circumstances." When the prosecutor attempted to characterize his refusal as political rather than conscientious, Matar replied that his position is both political and conscientious, and that it is impossible to break these two spheres apart.
Both Matar and Kaminer, replying to the prosecutor's questions regarding the duty to obey the law in a democratic state, said that Israel is not fully democratic. A state ruling over 3.5 million people denied the right to vote, cannot presume to be a state whose decisions are reached democratically. South Africa during Apartheid wasn't a democratic state, they said, and the classical Greek democracy was faulty since only men of certain status enjoyed the right to be represented, whereas the rest of the inhabitants did not. "Either recognize the right to vote of the inhabitants of the occupied territories, or stop ruling them," said Kaminer.
The next court session, with the crossexamination of the three other defendants, Shimri Tzameret, Adam Maor, and Noarn Bahat, will be held on October 20th, 2003.
In related news, on Sept. 24, twenty-seven Israeli reserve pilots announced their refusal to obey orders to bomb Palestinian neighborhoods. They called such orders "targeted liquidations " that were "illegal and immoral. "
Christian Peacemaker Team Protests Israeli Military's Home Demolitions
Christian Peacemaker Teams (www.cpt.org) is a ministry of active peacemaking initiated by Mennonites, Brethren, and Quakers with broad ecumenical participation.
Israeli troops bulldozed the homes of the Najeeb, Mohamed, and Omar el-Rajaby families in the Beqa'a valley east of Hebron on Sunday morning, September 14, leaving thirty people homeless. "Everything is still inside," Mohamed said. "We didn't have time to take anything out, not even the refrigerator and the washing machine." When asked where they will now live, two women in the family said, "In tents from the Red Cross." In the afternoon, the Israeli soldiers moved across the road and demolished two shops and a cistern belonging to Nader Jaber. The Jaber family is a partner in the Campaign for Secure Dwellings.
This land is not being confiscated for wall-building, and these demolitions were not retribution for any acts of violence by these families or their relatives. There was no military operation in the area at the time. These homes, shops and cisterns were ostensibly demolished because the Israeli military administration said they were "built without permits." (Palestinians have routinely been denied permits to build on their own land for the past thirty-six years.)
Gush Shalom Denounces, Israeli Cabinet Decision Authorizing Arafat's Assassination
Gush Shalom placed the following ad in the Israeli dailies Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post on Sept. 9, 2003.