While I was working at my table at the Peace Fair yesterday in Brunswick Peter Woodruff came up to me and handed me a copy of the New York Times. He pointed out two articles on the front page. One was entitled “Nation Lost 131,000 Jobs As Governments Cut Back” and the other was called “Budget Ax Falls, and Schools and Streetlights Go Dark”. The latter one began with:
Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation and sending working parents scrambling to find care for them.
Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.
Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.
The Peace Fair was an all-day event held in the center of Brunswick on the town green. All day long cars and walkers passed by the event that drew a decent crowd. As they went by they could not miss the Bring Our War $ Home banner nor the big black banner with white letters that read “Make Jobs Not War” created by Maine Veterans for Peace member Tom Sturtevant.
At my table a big stand-up sign had been created by PeaceWorks that had a graph and a pie chart showing how much of every tax dollar is today spent on the military (54%) and how much the U.S. spends annually on the military compared to the rest of the world. Quite a number of people took a good look at this.
The majority of the public though did not stop and browse the many organization tables at the Peace Fair.
But I was OK with that because I knew they were reading these banners as they passed by. They saw the big white tents with many organizational tables and lots of people inside them. They saw the bands on the stage playing music and they saw folks sitting listening to the music. They got the message that many people had gathered and because of those two banners being prominently displayed they had an idea what it was all about.
Those anti-war folks are raising sand again.
And they are talking about jobs and about the cost of the war.
All of this is on the public’s mind as they hear about lay-offs, schools closing, and cutbacks in services.
Every peace group should be out there making these obvious connections between war spending and social collapse. It’s lights out clear to me.