Minutes for MPJC Meeting of March 17, 2011

Present: Peter, Glenda Rae, Wanda, Galen , Pam, Ron

Old business
    1.  Approval of Minutes for February 9: The minutes were approved as written

    2. Progress Reports
        a. Topic of the Month: End War, Reduce the Deficit: Peter had prepared a draft statement which we discussed and he will send it to the list serv for further discussion. It is appended to the end of these minutes. We noted that the Congress seems to be going in the opposite direction, voting to eliminate money which would help people instead of defunding the military. These cuts would destroy 700,000 jobs. All the congressional districts have military contractors, so it will take courage for Congress to defund the military. In Elkhart and St. Joseph counties alone, there are 600 children eligible for Head Start who will not be able to participate due to lack of funding. This could be disastrous if there are further cuts. We noted that the energy companies are spending the most on lobbying.

        b. Peace Education Fund Board: We have identified five candidates for this board. Glenda Rae and Peter will call a meeting of the current board in the near future and appoint the new members. Peter will be resigning from the board.

        c. IPJN News: The Midwest Peace and Justice Summit will be on March 26, 2011 at one of the Indianapolis college campuses. No one from MPJC will be able to attend. Rey was interested but he has a conflict as do the rest of us.

        d. April 18 plans: This year on Tax Day, we will not leaflet at the post office. Instead, we will hand out the leaflets over the noon hour on the corners of Jefferson and Michigan. Glenda Rae will get them approved by Downtown South Bend located at 217 South Michigan. Peter will provide the flyers and also the bean poll setup, but will be out of town on the 18th. Lois, who has organized this event for years, has a hard time getting around due to health problems. Peter will give Glenda Rae the names of folks who have come out to support us in the past.

3. Treasurer's Report: Our bank total is $190.06 with $30 in petty cash.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We wove this item in with other discussion.

    2. Setting goals for MPJC: We reviewed the Mission Statement from the web site and noted that the last section includes goals we try to accomplish.

    4. Topic of the Month: Since we are just putting out the Deficit topic of the month to the list serv, we decided to wait for comments before selecting another topic.

    5. Other Topics and Issues: There was a union-sponsored demonstration outside the Morris Civic Auditorium early in March that was quite successful. Pam noticed some signs against the war at this event.

There are a number of demonstrations against the war scheduled for April 12. We should take advantage of any local ones.

March 19 will be the 8th anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. We will try to have appropriate signs at our Monday vigil. Also, Glenda Rae and Rey will join in a commemoration afternoon in Kalamazoo at 4pm during which Mark Braverman will give the keynote address. They invite anyone interested in going to contact them. They will leave about 2pm. We noted that with 55,000 combat troops still in Iraq the war there is not ended. The Kurds are demonstrating for greater freedom. They have been under attack from Turkey and entire villages are in refugee camps.

We are also worried that a full scale war will break out in Libya, especially hearing about the Security Council approval of a no-fly zone and of plans to send U.S., British, and French warplanes in to attack Libyan armed forces. This could be a situation similar to Afghanistan where history tells us that no invading force has ever prevailed going all the way back to Genghis Khan.

On Saturday, March 19, at 7pm at Jeannie's Tavern, 621 S. Bendix Dr., folks will welcome City Council candidates who are suportive of GLBT.

On March 26th from 9-3 at Wiekamp Hall 1001, IUSB, there will be a session of the Community Economic Forum. Preregistration is requested at 574-287-3834 or email sjc.cfed@gmail.com so adequate lunches ($6) can be ordered.

The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a South Bend Mayoral Candidate Forum on Tuesday, March 29, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m., Century Center - Bendix Theatre, South Bend. Free - No registration required.

La Casa and TAP are sponsoring a mayoral candidate fair from 11-1 on March 19th at the West Side Democratic Club at 617 S. Warren St. The candidates will have booths and will each give a brief presentation at noon.

May 3 is the spring election day. Early voting starts on Monday, April 4.

    8. Next meeting: The next meeting will be on Thursday, May 27 at 7pm. Place to be determined. All are welcome.

MPJC position on Ending War and reducing the deficit:

Military spending for the Pentagon, the wars, and nuclear weapons comprises 56% of the discretionary spending requested in FY 2012, according to WAND figures. While all other discretionary spending is subject to cuts or spending caps, military spending would continue to grow. Simple arithmetic tells us that without cuts to this largest portion of discretionary spending even very deep cuts to domestic and international programs will not alleviate deficit spending and the rising debt. Thus, it is not surprising that the recent bi-partisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform called for “substantial defense reductions over the next 10 years.” Furthermore, creating jobs is crucial to our economy and University of Massachusetts economists found that “public dollars invested in clean energy, health care, and education all create significantly more jobs within the U.S. economy than investing an equivalent amount in the military.”*

We believe budget decisions should reflect our nation’s values and we can cut military spending without harming national security or undermining troops. Every dollar we spend on an unnecessary weapon designed to fight the wars of 30 years ago is a dollar we don’t have to educate our future workforce or rebuild a crumbling bridge. As we face some of the most difficult budgeting challenges in our nation’s history, it is essential that we restrain military spending. A good start would be to end U.S. participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, cancel orders for expensive military equipment, and reduce significantly the size of our armed forces. Approximately one quarter of all military spending goes towards the recruitment, retention, wages and benefits for military personnel.

Taxpayers in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District will pay $898.5 million for proposed Department of Defense spending for FY2012. For the same amount of money, the following could be provided, according to the National Priorities Project::

* The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Department of Economics (October 2009)
FY2012 Budget Letter Sponsored By Women’s Action For New Directions (WAND)
Contact: Elaina Ramsey, Field Coordinator 202.544.5055 ext. 2602 eramsey@wand.org www.wand.org