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May brinksmanship on budget not blind us


While Congress caught itself up in a kerfuffle over shutting down the government over budget deficits, the House had before it a way to save $2 trillion. House Resolution 77 would embrace provisions of the "Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons" to prohibit funding expansion of the nuclear arsenal, which could start another arms race.

Do we really need another nuclear arms race to oblivion and annihilation? Are the upcoming generations as alert to the ongoing need to end the nuclear arms race?

From the 1950s to 1990s in the Cold War, people expressed opposition to the arms race. Enough people spoke out that the nuclear arsenal was decreased by 50,000 bombs. An estimated 14,000 nuclear weapons—still too many—still exist, threatening human survival worldwide today. The U.S. and Russia have 90 percent of them.

HR77 points out that use of even "a tiny fraction of these weapons could cause worldwide climate disruption and global famine," killing about a billion people immediately and being a "grave risk to humans as a species."

Have we forgotten?

Not only does tossing another $2 trillion toward nuclear arms potentially fund suicide for the human race, but also not spending it is an obvious way to cut the budget.

Typically, military spending is off the chopping block for the deficit-worried budget cutters. Most who cry the loudest about how awful it is to overspend would rather take the funds from the poor, the aging, hungry children, house-less people and low-income folks—the vulnerable people in whom Jesus/God calls us to see Jesus/God's image.

The seeming deficit busters also would rather not tax fairly those whose taxes were cut and who benefit most from military contracts and the economic system that allows them to accrue more and more profits.

Two big areas could balance the budget: 1) taxing those who own 90 percent of the wealth and 2) looking seriously at how much the U.S. really needs to spend on rebuilding the nuclear arsenal.

HR77 cites the Congressional Budget Office, which projects that plans for nuclear forces in the defense and energy department's 2021 budget requests would total $634 billion from 2021 to 2030 and more than $60 billion a year for 10 years.

Instead, HR77 calls for negotiating new arms control and disarmament agreements, renouncing first use, ending the President's sole authority to launch a nuclear attack, taking weapons off hair-trigger alert and canceling plans to replace the U.S. nuclear arsenal with modernized, enhanced weapons.

The regular use of brinkmanship is a tool of a few in Congress who want to have their way economically. They threaten a government shutdown—which adds to costs—almost as a habit. We must challenge such a habit that dulls us to nuclear brinkmanship on the edge of which we live.

Choices! There are choices for people of faith, for caring people, for people of conscience, for people not willing to be duped or blinded or diverted.

Choices are an opportunity for those concerned to raise their voices.

Voices are heard at more times than at the ballot box. In our country, we can raise voices by writing letters to the editor or writing letters to or calling elected officials from city hall to Congress. We can raise voices by visiting Representatives and Senators in their local offices or by standing on streets with signs expressing our outrage or support.

No one wins a nuclear war. Climate change may be irrelevant if billions of people are already killed by nuclear war. We can cut $2 trillion from the U.S. budget by not building more bombs that will destroy life on this planet.

We need more funding for those skilled to lead the world with diplomacy to bring us back from the brink, the edge of the cliff toward nuclear self-destruction.

The debate in Congress over shutting down the government because we are spending too much is a "shell game" diverting attention from where real cuts can be made, cuts that can save lives not further harm those who are already struggling in our military-industrial economy and society.

Mary Stamp in collaboration

with Cheryl McDaniel, retired nurse - new member of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, October 2023