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Taxes! What should be a willing sacrifice for the greater good of our country and its people, feels more like an annual ritual fleecing by the military-corporate complex. Half of every tax dollar goes to military spending, much of which flows to private wealth - weapons manufacturers and other war profiteers. Out of our pockets and into theirs. It's “a racket,” as a highly decorated U.S. Marine, Maj. Gen. Smedly Butler, understood back in 1935.

Today, the United States spends more on “defense” than the next seven countries, combined. We're led to believe an exorbitant military budget keeps us free and safe, softening us up for more wars and even greater military spending - always more. While this arrangement benefits a very few, millions in targeted nations, mostly civilians, must suffer and die for it. Americans sacrifice our own social fabric, our well-being, our moral bearings. I don't feel safer or freer.

United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Phillip Alston, made a recent fact-finding trip to the United States, the richest nation in the world, with its staggering inequality. He found a democracy undermined by big money, rising homelessness, infant mortality rate exceeding that of all industrialized countries, a health care system ranking near the bottom, the highest incarceration rate in the world, entrenched racial disparities. This is unacceptable. I believe Americans have the will; let's find the way to redirect our nation's priorities towards peace-making and projects that actually benefit people and our precious planet Earth.

Gretchen Newlin

Corvallis (April 5)

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