Budgeting Morality

In 1940, the great Californian writer, John Steinbeck, made what may be the best argument for California’s independence:

Some time ago a congress of honest men refused an appropriation of several hundreds of millions of dollars to feed our people. They said, and meant it, that the economic structure of the country would collapse under the pressure of such expenditure. And now the same men, just as honestly, are devoting many billions to the manufacture, transportation and detonation of explosives to protect the people they would not feed.

This observation came as the Great Depression years were coming to a close and the drums of war were ushering in a new era in the history of the United States. It was a pivotal moment which Steinbeck’s precise prose captured perfectly, but despite the timely nature of Steinbeck’s observation, his words could just as easily describe the United States seven decades later. Indeed, the absurd injustice of the United States’ budgetary priorities has only gotten worse with the passage of time.

When Steinbeck made note of the fact that the United States was unwilling to provide bread to those it was willing to defend with bombs, the United States had a military budget of about $1.7 billion (that’s about $28.7 billion in modern money). Today the United States spends roughly  $600 billion each year on its military—which is more than the combined military budgets of China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UK, India, France, and Japan.[i] In 2015 military spending was 3.3 percent of GDP.[ii] The nation currently operates military bases in more than a third of the world’s countries.[iii] Recent and ongoing warfare has plunged the United States deep into debt.

Meanwhile, in the country with the world’s largest economy, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty.[iv] In the wealthiest nation in the history of the universe roughly 13 million children suffer from food insecurity.[v] And while the leaders of humanity’s most powerful government are aware of the poverty in which so many Americans live, they have shown themselves powerless to do anything about it. They do not, however, seem to have much trouble finding the funds necessary to pay for weapons systems, even those the military neither wants nor needs.[vi]

National budgets are moral documents. The political choices in a nation’s spending decisions reflect the spiritual health of a country’s soul. The United States’ inability to feed, educate, and provide health care for the same people it appears so eager to defend with deadly force is an indictment of the country’s spiritual health. The United States’ budget reflects a nation that has chosen death over life, and values violence over the health and dignity of human individuals and communities.

I am a member of the California National Party because I want to live in a nation whose virtue is intact, a deeply moral country that is a force for real good in the world. California can be that nation. The California independence movement is founded, in part, on the promise that California can (and should) be a nation that spends money on the well-being of its citizens, and uses taxpayer money to address issues of poverty and inequality in meaningful ways. A nation whose highest patriotic aspirations will be realized when no Californian child sleeps on an empty stomach.

I hope you will embrace the movement as well. Visit the California National Party’s website for more information and to change your voter registration.  Include yourself amongst those seeking to make better and more just use of our common resources. Join us!

[i] https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/us-military-spending-vs-world/].

[ii] http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.GD.ZS

[iii] http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/us-military-bases-around-the-world-119321

[iv] http://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2014/cb14-169.html

[v] http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/hunger-and-poverty/hunger-and-poverty-fact-sheet.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

[vi] http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/01/28/pentagon-tells-congress-to-stop-buying-equipment-it-doesnt-need.html