military spending

One Reason the U.S. Must Continue Funding Foreign Aid

"For every 5 percent drop in income growth in a developing country, the likelihood of violent conflict or war within the next year increases by 10 percent. Poverty-focused development assistance supports economic growth, protects vulnerable people, and helps curtail desperation that may lead to violence" (Bread for the World).

On Wednesday, the Senate will vote on the budget for foreign aid. Should the proposed cuts occur, it would prove disastrous for the rest of the world, potentially leaving millions without food, education, and livelihood.

Please, contact your Senators today and tell them to continue funding poverty-focused development assistance.

A Tribute to Mark O. Hatfield

1100808-markhatfieldMark O. Hatfield's political witness shaped a whole generation of students, teachers, pastors, and social activists in the evangelical community and beyond. The voice of Christians today who plead for social justice and peaceful alternatives to war would not have emerged with its strength and clarity in the 1970s without his leadership. His death underscores the vacuum of such spiritually rooted voices uncompromising in their commitments to peace and justice within the cacophony political rhetoric today.

One of my life's greatest privileges and joys was to work as an assistant to Senator Mark O. Hatfield for nearly a decade, from 1968 to 1977. I saw first-hand what courageous leadership, combined with unswerving compassion and civility, looked like within the political life of that turbulent and formative era. Those experiences are shared in my book, Unexpected Destinations (Eerdmans).

What Would Jesus Cut?

The painful combination of high unemployment, falling incomes, and rising deficits has put the nation in a crisis situation.

The painful combination of high unemployment, falling incomes, and rising deficits has put the nation in a crisis situation. Tough choices are now upon us -- but they must be smart, courageous, and compassionate. Unfortunately, the choices being made by those in power seem more political and ideological than responsible.

In its budget proposals this spring, the House is not cutting spending where the real money is, such as in military spending, corporate tax cuts and loopholes, and long-term health-care costs. Instead, it is cutting programs for the poorest people at home and around the world while defending the largesse handed out to big corporations and military contractors. This is not genuine fiscal conservatism; it's just political.

These budget-cutters' priorities are to protect the richest Americans and abandon the poorest. The proposed House cuts are full of disproportionate cuts to initiatives that have proven to save children's lives and overcome poverty, while leaving untouched the most corrupt and wasteful spending of all American tax dollars -- the Pentagon entitlement program. This is not fiscal integrity; this is hypocrisy.

U.S. military spending is now about half of the world's military expenditures and is more than the military budgets of the next 15 countries combined. To claim that all that money is necessary for genuine American security is no longer credible. To say it is all more important than bed nets that prevent malaria, vaccines that prevent deadly diseases, or child health and family nutrition for low-income families is simply immoral.

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Let Them Eat Tanks

Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen talks with Jim Wallis about ice cream, Oreos -- and how the bloated military budget is destro

Jim Wallis: Why should you, a successful businessperson, be worried about the military budget? Why did this become such a life mission for you?

Ben Cohen: It was the same spirit that led Ben & Jerry's to work to improve the quality of life in the communities that we're a part of. There are things a business can do to integrate concerns for social justice and people who are being oppressed, but there are also things that only a country can do.

When I was working through Ben & Jerry's, it was clear that even big businesses, even huge foundations that have gobs of money, pale in comparison to how much money the federal government has. To restructure the edifice that creates injustice and poverty, you really need to look at the federal budget. That's where there's enough money to solve all these problems, without raising taxes, just by moving some money around. So that’s how I got to that point.

Wallis: How did you first become aware of how much money we're talking about and what that could mean for everything else?

Cohen: Part of it was getting just the vaguest idea of how much $1 billion is. You hear numbers such as 500 million, a billion, 500 billion, and they're all more than you can ever imagine. As Ben & Jerry's became a $100 million business and then a $300 million business, I began to understand how much that really is. Three times that is still less than $1 billion. It is shocking to me that we now spend $700 billion a year on the Pentagon budget. When I first started working on this issue a decade or so ago, the Pentagon budget was about half that amount.

Wallis: How do you help people visualize a number that large?

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Friday Links Round Up: Ice Cream. Capitalism. The End of the World.

Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:

  • One in four children in the United States are in poverty.
  • Ben&Jerry's Ben Cohen talks to Sojourners about ice cream, oreos, and military spending.
  • Female college graduates are getting paid less than their male peers.
  • Is Capitalism's popularity waning?
  • If your house was burning, what would you take with you? (My house almost burned down once. I had time to grab my computer, family photos, and a signed copy of Deadeye Dick.)
  • Have you ever been to Paris?

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