What Are We Building?
Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
Matt. 7:24-25 NRSV
In case you hadn’t heard, the theme for this year’s Annual Meeting is “Building on a Firm Foundation.” The interns are preparing their speeches, program displays and “meet the lobbyist” presentations. We were prompted, when designing our program displays, to be creative, to include the successes of the past year, the opportunities for the next and to design for an already active and knowledgeable group of people. In meditating upon my design, I wanted something that was visually arresting and emotionally compelling. Stumped, I turned to the theme. I asked: What choices do we make in the Federal Budget that affect what future we are building? Are we building on a firm foundation?
One of our partners, The National Priorities Project, has a wonderfully useful tool on their website called Federal Budget Trade-offs. This tool allows you to enter in your city or state, and compare how your taxes were used for a specific program, such as the Iraq War in Fiscal Year 2011, and what the effects of the same amount of money would have for a different program, such as low-income health care. For example, taxpayers in Pennsylvania will pay $718.2 million for proposed Atomic Energy Defense Activities in Fiscal Year 2011. For the same amount of money, 107,321 Head Start slots for children for one year could be provided.
President Obama’s Deficit Commission is a rare opportunity to look at the options we have, side-by-side and ask critical questions: How does this program that I support fit into the rest of the budget? How does it fit into a long-term strategy? What foundation does it build? What future does it contribute to? The Deficit Commission will publish a report in December that will recommend to Congress specific programs to cut or reduce funding. The choices that Congress makes now regarding the proportion of military funding as part of the federal budget will profoundly impact the direction our future will take. As constituents, we have the opportunity to contribute queries and possible answers to those commissioners now. We also have the opportunity to lobby for programs that invest in a sustainable future: one without war and an earth restored.
Here’s a link to our Action Alert asking candidates to reduce Pentagon spending in favor of investing in programs that will create jobs and sustainable futures here at home.