USA: AN UNHAPPY STATE OF AFFAIRS AND WHY WE STAND ON TAX DAY

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ONCE AGAIN, we stood outside NYC Federal Office on TAX DAY, April 15th, organized by the War Resisters League with support from Granny Peace Brigade, Raging Grannies, Bud’s Filthy Rotten System, Paul’s accordion, and many others to say, “No more taxes for war!” Since 2001 USA has spent $5.6 TRILLION on WAR: $32 MILLION per hour, and $24,000 per taxpayer!** And ironically 60 companies, all making huge profit, like Amazon, Honeywell, GM, paid $0 in Taxes. People pay while companies profit! Say NO to our huge Defense/war budget. Invest in PEACE.

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What does it mean: invest in peace? If we look at our neighbor Canada, basically their tax rates are similar to USA, maybe a bit more in some categories. What do they get for their tax dollars: free health care for everyone, low drug prices, up to 18 months of subsidized parental leave when they have children, good quality public education, less costly colleges and universities and Canada is in the top 10 countries in the “happiness index.” Canada spends 1.3% of its GDP on Defense.*** Similar benefits are found throughout Europe.

How does US fare? In the “happiness index” US continues to decline, in 2019 falling from the 18th place to 19th place. *** What are the variables: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy. What are we getting for our tax dollars: the strongest military in the world, with our defense budget more than that of the 11 top other countries combined. And every year this goes up, not down. In one way or other almost half our countries tax dollars goes to support defense, the veterans past and present, over 800 bases world-wide and active military action currently in over 70 countries.
And so, what does this leave us with? Just a few ways it affects our lives:
—US life expectancy is lower than in Canada and has dropped for the second year in a row according to CDC and is other comparable countries.
—Infant mortality rates 71% higher than comparable countries (Europe/Japan)
—A rising maternal mortality rate due to preventable causes (it is declining in most other countries) and highest among comparable countries
—32 million still without health coverage; most families paying high costs for health insurance for incomplete coverage; high drug costs;
—130 estimated die daily from opioid overdose. In 2017, over 70,000 people in US died from opioid overdose. The figures have been rising steadily from the 1990’s.
—Over 1.2 million students drop-out of high school yearly. 2000 schools in the country graduate less than 60% of their students. The US which used to have high graduation rates now ranks 22 out of 27 developed countries. Low investments in public education are found throughout the country.
—And then, high income inequality, low wages/wages not livable, decaying infrastructure, environmental degradation ranging from lead in pipes in schools and homes to elimination of regulations which protect our air, water, land and so much more.
—USA spends 3 times or 3.1% of GDP on Defense.

And all of this and more cannot be adequately addressed because we allow our Congress to allocate more and more to the military-industrial complex which profits well and enables our giving and selling more weapons for wars and bases all over the world.

Keep calling your members of Congress. Say NO to $800 billion defense budget. Say NO to $$$ trillions to upgrade our nuclear weapons capacity. Say YES to using our tax dollars to invest in our children, our environment.

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THIS IS WHY WE STAND ON TAX DAY AND OTHER DAYS TO SAY: END ENDLESS WARS.

– Marty Rajandran
– Photos: Eva-Lee Baird, Linda Novenski & Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

**Source: Stephanie Savell, co director of the Cost of War Project at Brown University and as published in OtherWords, 21 March, 2018.

***The World Happiness Reporta is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network