To Our Montgomery County Delegates and Senators in the MD General Assembly

Montgomery County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly
Priorities Hearing: November 19, 2009

Testimony of Jean Athey, Peace Action Montgomery

Last week, the California Democratic Party passed a resolution entitled “End the U.S. Occupation & Air War in Afghanistan.”  We ask you, the Montgomery County Delegation, to pass a similar resolution.

As our state government representatives, you have a special fiduciary responsibility to address economic costs of state and federal policies borne by Montgomery County citizens, and so tonight I am addressing only the dollar costs of the occupation of Afghanistan.

The share of Afghanistan war spending by taxpayers in Montgomery County since 2001 is $986 million—that’s just the direct costs, and so this figure grossly underestimates the true cost of this war to us.

Nevertheless, just taking the $986 million–for that amount of money, we could instead have provided:

  • All expenses at a public university for four years for every 18-year-old in the County in 2009. Or
  • Renewable electricity for three years for all the homes in the county. Or
  • Over 5,000 new affordable housing units.

Or, probably all the critical needs presented to you tonight , which you know you can’t support because  of the dramatic budget crisis in the State and the County.

The impact of war spending is abstract, we don’t really see it. It is nevertheless real.  Oftentimes, the greatest losses are those things that might have been but never were: careers you could have had, loves you could have pursued, talents you could have nurtured, family or friendship ties you could have maintained, kind words you could have said.  The Great Society instead of the Vietnam War.

Here are a few of the very real things that are going to happen over the next 20-30 years because of the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq:  All of us will have less to invest in new businesses and new ideas and new ways of doing things, less to spend on art, culture, infrastructure, health and education.  We will have to work harder and longer hours.  Our kids will have less time with their parents.

Because of their immense costs, the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are a major, continuing impediment to meeting the challenges faced by the residents of Montgomery County, now and for the foreseeable future.  You should try to remove that impediment.

Please pass a resolution to end the occupation of Afghanistan.

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