Pentagon cuts can work to our advantage

May 2, 2013

The April 29 front-page article “Defense cuts prove a paradox for the left” missed an important point.

Yes, as a “liberal,” I have an abiding interest in diverting federal funds from developing and using bigger and better devices for killing people in faraway lands toward upgrading our aging infrastructure and toward feeding, healing, housing and educating the less fortunate among us. However, this may not necessarily require cutting Pentagon funds.

The Pentagon has an outstanding management structure for handling multibillion-dollar contracts, required for building bridges, flood-control structures, electrical networks and other infrastructure projects. It is already in the business of feeding, housing, healing and educating hundreds of thousands of military personnel. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already shown the Pentagon’s willingness to engage in public infrastructure projects.

Thus, a major shift of the Pentagon’s priorities toward domestic programs should keep both hawks and doves happy. But, more important, it would spare thousands of capable government workers the specter of unemployment, food stamps, Medicaid and foreclosure. It will upgrade our aging infrastructure and help our less fortunate. It may even persuade folks in faraway lands to hate us a bit less.

Alex Hershaft, Bethesda

It’s neither a quandary nor a conundrum. It is an addiction.

The post-9/11 increase in defense contracting created an economy dependent on the Pentagon budget. Congress created the addiction. Now it’s time for it to wean the Pentagon by using the money cut from the defense budget to fund a transition to production for civilian use. It’s not a new idea. This has been done in the past.

We need the political will from liberals and conservatives alike to reduce the waste in the Pentagon budget in order to fund jobs in sectors that contribute to the economy for the long term.

The real conundrum: Will Congress move the money from weapons we no longer need to manufacturing that produces what we do need? Our military contractors, our communities and the federal budget need this transition from an addiction to military contracts to manufacturing to meet human needs.

Judith Le Blanc, New York

The writer is field director for Peace Action.

The problem can be solved by a reallocation of resources from defense spending to needed infrastructure and the restoration of programs such as Head Start. If the sequestration can be adjusted for air travel (which particularly benefited members of Congress), it can be adjusted in a way that creates employment for millions. Let’s have a “peace dividend.”

Ernest C. Raskauskas Sr., Potomac

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