2009 Aug 2

written by Sherri Joubert

I had no idea this project existed, but The National Priorities Project celebrated their 25th anniversary in October 2008.

Here is a 12 minute video about the project and those who work on it:

America’s priorities are made very clear and very real by how our government spends the money we pay in taxes. NPP follows that money all the way to the local level. If we don’t have a handle on where the money is going and what it means in human terms, we can’t change the nation’s priorities.

To most of us, the federal budget is so huge it’s like Monopoly money. The amounts are unfathomable. If we break those numbers down into chunks we can swallow, we can understand how they effect our lives. We can only change the nation’s priorities when we get the people involved on a grass roots level, but we can’t do that if they are lost about what the numbers really mean for each of them.

We can’t reduce and eliminate the military/industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us about in his 1960 farewell speech if we don’t know what is being spent on Cold War projects. Between now and then, President Reagan brought back the military/industrial complex in a huge way at the expense of everything else in the U.S. federal budget.

This year, for the first time in a very long while, Congress finally cut something out of the Pentagon’s budget. They put an end to the production of F-22 fighter planes that the Pentagon doesn’t want, the Air Force doesn’t want and the rest of the military doesn’t want.

It’s all very far from over, but that one change to a different priority in military funding is a start in the right direction. The wars we fight now are guerrilla wars on the ground, not country-against-country where both have a full compliment of military mite. Al Qaeda and the Taliban don’t have a Navy or an Air Force. We don’t have dog fights with them. F-22’s are for dog fights. That money can be spent on other military needs, such as F-35 fighters that support guerrilla ground troops.

I am not against equipping our fighting soldiers with the best that we can get them. But we need to make sure what we are providing them is in fact what they need to improve their safety, performance and allow them to win more quickly in the type of warfare they have to fight today.

By critically reviewing what the military spends money on, it can result in some budget savings by equipping them with what they really need rather than continuing to produce weapons, ships, guns, and planes designed to fight the Soviet Union. Should a hot war arise against Russia or China someday, we have the capability of nationalizing all our production facilities to produce what that type of war would need. They did it in 1940 with the technology of the time. We can sure as hell do the same type of thing today if we have to.

In the meantime (should this type of war ever happen again), we don’t have to be completely prepared for a large scale, nation-to-nation, conventional, hot war. The money being spent on those projects can be used to rebuild infrastructure, reduce poverty, improve education, provide jobs, develop alternative energy and fund health care for every American.

What is the federal budget doing for your community and what has been cut from it since Reaganomics? Visit NPP and find out. Then start a dialogue with your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, state legislators, governor, Senators and Representatives. Armed with the numbers and where the funding is going v where it is needed, we can have meaningful conversations, discuss much smarter policies (which dictate where money is spent), turn this country around and get it going in the right direction for a new century and a new millennium.

Lets start the discussion in the comments.

National Priorities Project
Media Education Foundation

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