On Saturday, October 2nd, a bus provided by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) left from the Essex Junior Academy, next door to the Bloomfield-based New Jersey Peace Action (NJPA), and traveled to the One Nation Working Together (ONWT) rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. NJPA organized 4 buses to the event as part of the 90 peace organizations that comprised the Peace Table of ONWT. At last count, at least 90 New Jersey buses went to D.C.! The Bloomfield bus was nearly full and carried NJPA members and the Deltas, a sorority associated with the NAACP.
Unions, civil rights organizations, environmental organizations and others joined forces in making a strong statement about changing the nation's priorities. News coverage of the historic event didn't always highlight the connection participating organizations made: if it weren't for the $12 billion spent each month on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more money would be available for housing, health care, education, jobs creation and more. In fact, the $720 million spent EACH DAY on the Iraq war is enough to hire 12,478 elementary school teachers!
At the beginning of the 10th year of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan (10/7/10), the human and financial costs of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are monumental. The costs of both wars combined, since 2001, are fast approaching $1.1 trillion.
On October 5th, Jo Comerford, Executive Director of the National Priorities Project (NPP) addressed students and community at William Paterson University in a talk titled "New Jersey Out of Balance: The Impact of Federal Spending in an Economic Crisis." NJPA will gladly share a copy with anyone interested. (Please contact us at email@example.com or 973-259-1126. You can also access this information at www.nationalpriorities.org.) Some of the report is summarized below.
For each $1 New Jersey taxpayers spend in federal taxes, 26.5 cents go to the military; 20. 1 cents go to health care; 5.4 cents toward interest on the military debt; 3.5 cents on veterans' benefits; 7.2 cents for housing and community development; 3.7 cents on food; 2.5 cents on the environment, energy and science; and 1.3 cents on transportation (among other items). Taken together, 35.4 cents on every New Jersey tax dollar is spent on the military or related expense.
According to the NPP presentation, the median income family in New Jersey paid approximately $7500 in federal income taxes in 2009, broken down as follows:
Non-military interest on debt 615
Military interest on debt 405
Income security and labor 735
Housing and community development 637
Veterans benefits 540