The high cost of war

July 28, 2011

I received the following email from former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson about a week ago, and think it important enough to share with you. Our news media keep us distracted with non-news; smoke and mirrors. The bogeyman which confronts us isn’t taxes, the high price of gasoline, or child murderers, etc., as horrific as these are, but rather the high cost of constant war. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya consume nearly 50% of the United States budget, and enrich the few at the expense of the many. These wars are directly responsible for millions of Americans being out of work, and for the middle-class erosion that continues. Following is the text of Alan Grayson’s letter:

There are 23 million Americans who can’t find full-time work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are 50 million Americans who can’t see a doctor when they are sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

There are more than 15 million American families who owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth, according to Zillow.  That’s almost a third of all the families who own homes.

If I were in Congress right now, these are the problems that I would be trying to solve.

But instead, we see a bizarre preoccupation—no, really, an obsession—with cutting federal benefits.  Some kind of weird contest to see who can inflict the most pain on the American people.  With the proponent of each new sadistic plan announcing proudly, “mine is bigger than yours.”

I’ll be honest—the federal deficit for the year 2021 is not something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, these days.  But let’s assume—arguendo, as they used to say back in Ancient Rome – that for some reason, there were some compelling, emergency need to work out how to cut $2 trillion from projected federal budget deficits over the next ten years.

I have an idea about how to do that.  It’s a very simple idea.  In fact, I can sum it up in one word, with five letters:

PEACE.

 

Now, I know that peace may not be as popular as it used to be.  The polling is very iffy.  The focus groups are mixed.  But let’s look at the facts.

Last year, we spent $154 billion in appropriated funds on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That is in addition to the $549 billion in appropriated funds for the Pentagon – you know, just to keep the lights on.  And the non-appropriated cost of war was even higher – especially when you include the cost of care for the 15% of all the American troops in Iraq who come home with permanent brain abnormalities.  According to Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, the war in Iraq alone is costing us $4 trillion and counting. That’s more than $13,000 for every one of us, and roughly 8% of our entire net worth as a nation.

The cost of war is enormous.  So enormous that, as I pointed out in H.R. 5353, The War is Making You Poor Act, if we simply funded that cost through the Pentagon’s own budget, rather than through supplemental appropriations, we could eliminate taxes on everyone’s first $35,000 of income ($70,000 for married couples), and still reduce the deficit by more than $10 billion a year.

And that was last year.  Since then, the number of wars has gone up by 50%.

This is what Pat Buchanan—of all people, Pat Buchanan—said two weeks ago:

“The United States is strategically over-extended, worldwide. What are we doing borrowing money from Japan to defend Japan. Borrow money from Europe to defend Europe. Borrow money from the Persian Gulf to defend the Persian Gulf. This country is over-extended. It is an empire and the empire is coming down.”

You say that you want to save $2 trillion in ten years?  It’s simple:  end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and end whatever it is that they are calling it now in Libya.  I’d rather do that than throw Granny from the train.

But that’s just me. 

Guns or butter.  It’s not a new choice.

I prefer butter.

What about you?

Courage,

Alan Grayson


Third annual Woodstock Walk

July 8, 2011

This year’s Woodstock International Walk for World Peace is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, August 6, 2011. We will meet at the parking lot at the intersection of routes 375 and 212 in Woodstock, NY, where the flags of every country will be handed out for our procession through town to Comeau Field, where the World Peace Prayer Society will once again hold the Flag Ceremony.

We hold this walk each year to reaffirm our commitment to peace. The walk is always held on the weekend closest to the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, to recognize that we never again wish to see nuclear weapons used. We hold that all life is sacred, and that there is no such thing as a “just” war. The only way to peace is through peace, and we support the peaceful resolution of all disputes. This year’s walk happens to fall on the actual date of the bombing, and we will say a prayer for the casualties of this horrific event.

Our founder, John Nelson, is in Hiroshima, setting up events there for Live Peace International, a worldwide event where concerts for peace will be streamed live from venues throughout the world. More info is available on YouTube, and I’m awaiting more details from John; as soon as they are made available I will post them here.

The same goes for events at the third annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace; as performers and speakers are confirmed, we will post them here. The Parrots for Peace will once again be on hand, too. We look forward to seeing you all there! Peace and Love!


Thanks!

August 13, 2010

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I hope you enjoy the slide show above (all photos © 2010 Cameron Williams or © 2010 Doug Potoksky, all rights reserved); this is the first opportunity I’ve had since Sunday’s second annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace to say thank you to all of you who helped make our event a success.

First, thanks to the legendary Pete Seeger, to whom the Woodstock Council awarded the first “Noble Peace Prize”.

Pete Seeger’s "Noble Peace Prize”

Thanks also to Joyce Beymer, and all the wonderful folks at the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and the Arts, Woodstock Town Supervisor Jeff Moran, Woodstock Police Chief Clayton Keefe and the Woodstock Police Department, Terrie Rosenblum, Cathy Magarelli, Bill McKenna, Jay Wenk, Angela Sweet, Jacquelyn A. Earley, Michael Reynolds, Paul Andreassen, Ray Brundage, who was so helpful in setting up Comeau Field, Adam Slagsvol and all the other folks at American Printing, Michael and Ziedel Epstein at Hurley Ridge Market, Nick Altomare, Mark McDunna, Fumi Stewart and The World Peace Prayer Society, Gloria Waslyn and The Parrots for Peace, Victorio Roland Mousaa, Princess WOW!, founder of The Smile Revolution, Mary Poppiins, Caitlin O’Heaney, Hank Woji, Luke Hunzberger, Norman (who played and sang, and whose last name I don’t know), Mighty Xee, Christina Valentine and Monica, Tinya Seeger, Phil Sauers, Sonia Malkine, who repeated her moving rendition of Pete’s song “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”; Greg Reitman and Britta Peterson of Blue Water Entertainment, who are filming Rooted in Peace, Russell Richardson of the INDIE project, and Marie Uridia, also of INDIE, who filmed our walk; Carol Johnson, Catskill Mountain Plumbing & Heating, Vivo Gallery, and Cucina restaurant; David and Fiona Saxman of The White Gryphon, Catskill Mountain Pizza, Reverend Josh Bode of the Dutch Reformed Church (congratulations!), Bill McKnight and Melinda Terpening McKnight, Doug Potoksky; the inimitable Father Jack Nelson, without whom this would not be possible; Elaine Maggiore, B. Vos, Michele Elyse Flanders, Bob Place, Tony Angel, Pierre and Terry LeRoy of the Haitian People’s Support Project, and anyone else whose name I may have omitted. Special thanks also to Ronnye Jai and Alan Shapiro, who serve as inspiration to us all. Peace! —CW


Countdown!

August 7, 2010

A photo from last year's walk. ©2009 Doug Potoksky

We have less than 24 hours left until the Second Annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace, and much to do!

Went to the Beacon Sloop Club potluck last night to make final preparations with Victorio Roland Mousaa and Pete Seeger, and we’re going to see them at the Peace Corner in Wappingers Falls today; also sound check, meeting Jack Nelson, and lots more to do. Thanks to everyone at the sloop club for their generosity toward Tony Angel’s Spirit Journey; we raised $120.20 for Tony last night, which we will deposit in his account this morning.

What is clear is the need for a more peaceful world. The best thing we can do is to be the change that we wish to see in others; we state again that if each of us is dedicated to a more peaceful world, we will have one. Please come support us in our mission by walking with us through town with the flags of all nations in Woodstock, and show the world the pro-peace spirit that is the true legacy of the Woodstock Nation lives.

Peace and love!


Universal Peace Day and The Woodstock International Walk for World Peace

August 6, 2010

Today, August 6th, 2010, is the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.  “Little Boy” was the name of the fission bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The 30 year old pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets, named his B-29 Superfortress the “Enola Gay” after his mother. The immediate death toll was approximately 70,000 men, women & children, who were instantly vaporized. Many others perished in the months and years that followed. August 6 has been internationally recognized as Universal Peace Day, though due to the International Date Line, it is often observed in the U.S. on August 5th.

Yesterday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and Nobel Prize-winning author and Hiroshima survivor Kenzaburo Oe wrote a moving article in The New York Times.

A photo from last year's walk. ©2009 Doug Potoksky

We ask all of you to join us this Sunday, August 8, 2010, for the Second Annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace. We walk on the weekend closest to Universal Peace Day each year as a reminder to all that we wish to never again witness nuclear devastation, and to express our profound wishes for an end to all wars. If each of us is dedicated to a more peaceful world, we will have one.

We thank The Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Arts, The Town of Woodstock, The World Peace Prayer Society, Pete Seeger, Victorio Roland Mousaa, Princess WOW!, Tony Angel, and all the other individuals who have given so generously their time and efforts to support our goals.

Now come on out Sunday morning for a great time!


Latest flyer

July 27, 2010

This will go up around town on Thursday.


Second Annual Woodstock International Walk for World Peace

July 23, 2010