The era of neoliberalism has brought upon an age when people are terrified of new taxes despite the costs of reducing taxes. For expenses keep rising and the costs must come from somewhere – if not taxes, then fees or other backdoor ways of accumulating revenue. But a budget is a spreadsheet of values and it tells us not about what is possible but what is important. A government that spends exponentially more on bombs and drones than on bread and domes tells us what and who it finds most important.
The question is not whether or not we have or can find the money, the question is what is best. It is not Is our government too big or too small?, but Does our government protect us and foster life?
Is our government, in other words, us?
At this moment, more than half of our discretionary federal budget goes towards military expenditures. In Chicago, 1.5 billion goes directly to the police and this year the numbers increase despite the fact that classes are overcrowding. Nearly 40% of Cook County’s budget goes towards the sheriff and jails. These numbers are repeated throughout the country, while the amount spent on aid and infrastructure is dwindling. The amount used for death and containment of human beings continues to rise while the amount spent on life and sustainability continues to erode.
A budget is a moral document, and our government has never been known for its morality. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
What if we could halve the trillions invested in the military and policing forces – the occupational forces of White Supremacist Capitalist Empire –and instead use those funds in ways that would benefit the people? What if instead of military might we invested in people power? What could that look like?
- What if we spent that money on infrastructure – creating millions of jobs while redeveloping our public transit, roads, and transportation modes for the 21st century?
- What if instead of creating more trauma for veterans and occupied territories, we trained and sent out therapists able to assist ending the cycles of violence?
- What if we concentrated infrastructure development in poor communities and communities of color?
- What if we built greenhouses in every neighborhood for fresh fruits, vegetables and plant life?
- What if we can use the money to harness renewable, sustainable energy resources while lowering our energy needs?
Would it not make more sense to take the jobs and resources that are used to control, intimidate, and destroy and instead use them to develop, nurture, and lift up?