Protection Racket

Santa Barbara County’s financial contribution to the invasion and occupation of Iraq is $13 million a month for the past 86 months [“Rent-a-Dog.Kom,” 5/13/10]. Afghanistan’s financial burden to Santa Barbara County averaged $4 million a month for the 101 months we have been there. Since 2001, Santa Barbara County has directly contributed $1.5 billion to fight these two wars. This is money that normally would have funded local education, police, firefighters, road repair, etc. (This information is available at the Web site of the National Priorities Project, which also shows you the data and methodology behind their figures.)

No amount of layoffs and cutbacks will offset such a hemorrhage of money from our local economy into the federal war chest. We must stop the money from leaving in the first place. If this hemorrhaging continues it will crush our prosperity, impoverishing us to the point where we fulfill the specter of calamity and terror that we have been convinced is menacing us. Then we will truly be unsafe.

Our local financial quandary is not a money shortage problem. It is a money distribution problem. Santa Barbara County is financially ruining itself by giving away $1.5 billion to Washington, D.C., and its military-industrial machine in the biggest protection racket ever devised: The Global War on Terror.

I would like our local leaders to include war spending as part of the budget dialogue. Perhaps I’m wrong, and war spending is irrelevant to our budgetary deficit. Maybe it has a big impact. I believe the numbers suggest the latter.—Martin Schaefer, Lompoc

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