CHICAGO – As they put their taxes in the mail today, some Illinoisans will join others across the world for a Global Day of Action on Military Spending. According to Mary Zerkel, co-coordinator of the Wage Peace campaign of the American Friends Service Committee in Chicago, 57 percent of all U.S. discretionary dollars go to the Pentagon, while critical human service needs such as education and health care are underfunded.
“We all pay taxes because we want to have a safe and secure society for us all to live, in so we pay taxes to make sure that we have the things that we need as a community,” Zerkel said, “but I think people are increasingly starting to reflect, ‘Where are those hard-earned tax dollars going?'”
According to the National Priorities Project, in 2013 the average taxpayer in Illinois paid more than $12,000 in federal taxes, with more than a third of it going to fund the military. In Illinois, a Tax Day educational event will be held at the Evanston Post Office, one of dozens of events nationwide bringing attention to federal budget priorities.
Zerkel said the sequestration process put caps on both domestic spending and the military budget. While human services suffered from the cuts, she said, money continued to flow to the military through the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund, which is exempt from spending caps.
“While those wars are actually winding down, that amount of spending has actually gone up because what they’re doing is transferring money from the base budget of the Pentagon on things like operations and equipment and they’re putting it into this OCO, this Overseas Contingency Operation fund,” she charged.
Zerkel said billions of tax dollars are going to the Pentagon that could be used to strengthen communities and help those Americans in need of food or shelter. She declared that there is too much wasteful spending, including that on the F-35 warplane, which has cost $1.5 trillion, double the original price, and is ten years behind schedule.
“Let’s stop these budget gimmicks, let’s stop all this wasted money, and let’s start moving that money from spending it on wars and huge expensive weapons systems and use it to start funding things that we need for true security in our communities,” she said.
It’s estimated that in 2012, global military spending amounted to $1.75 trillion.
Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service – IL