NJ State IUC

Calling on Congress to Adopt New Priorities to Create Jobs, Meet Domestic Needs, and Put the Nation on Course to a More Just, Equitable and Sustainable Future

WHEREAS, the economic crisis we are experiencing is the worst in eighty years and has had a disproportionate impact on working and poor people; and

WHEREAS more than fifty million Americans lack health care; home values have plummeted forcing millions into foreclosure and bankruptcy; 43.6 million Americans now live in poverty—the most poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept; thousands of teachers, fire fighters, police and other dedicated public workers have lost their jobs; real unemployment and underemployment together are in excess of 15% and in some communities of color, over 50%; class size increases as educational resources are slashed; social services and public programs are being cut or eliminated; parks and libraries are being closed; public infrastructure continues to deteriorate yet goes unrepaired; and

WHEREAS, the burden of these conditions is borne overwhelmingly by working and middle class Americans whose standard of living has declined as a small wealthy elite has enriched itself at the expense of the majority, producing a nation that is growing far more unequal, with the top 0.1% (those earning $2 million per year or more) enjoying a 94% increase in income between 2002 and 2007 and the wealthiest 1% claiming one-quarter of all income and 40% of all wealth, with six times the financial assets of the bottom 80% of all households, and the 400 richest Americans holding combined net worth of $1.37 trillion, or an average of $3.425 billion each; and

WHEREAS, the crisis in the U.S. can be directly traced to (1) $3.8 trillion in tax cuts given over ten years by the Bush administration and Congress to investors, large corporations and the wealthiest households; tax loopholes that allow the rich and many corporations to avoid paying taxes, with some like GE and Bank of America paying none at all; (2) deregulation of the financial system that allowed greedy reckless banks, hedge funds, stockbrokers and investors to take irresponsible risks that produced an economic catastrophe; (3) bailouts to Wall St. and giant corporations paid for by taxpayers to the tune of trillions of dollars; (4) run-away military spending that supports a bloated Pentagon bureaucracy and profiteering military contractors, developing and stockpiling what Nobel prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz described as “weapons that don't work against enemies that don't exist”; and (5) the cost of illegal wars that Professor Stiglitz calculates have cost us $3 to $5 trillion when costs of replacing equipment, paying interest on war debts, medical care for returning veterans and other residual costs are included; and

WHEREAS, the people of the United States this year alone will pay approximately $172 billion dollars to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of millions more for military actions in Libya—all three without a declaration of war from the Congress; and will devote over one trillion dollars to its national security budget (a 60% increase to the Pentagon since 2001), including a $180 billion ten-year commitment to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal which are useless against terrorists; and

WHEREAS, more than 6,000 members of the US armed forces have died in these wars, hundreds of thousands more have been wounded, suffer from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, mental health problems or addiction; and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan have been killed, maimed, and wounded, while millions more have been turned into refugees; and

WHEREAS, both countries are rife with corruption, and in Afghanistan in particular, the Karzai regime is packed with war lords, drug lords, and other criminal elements who profit handsomely from continuation of hostilities; and

WHEREAS, Osama bin Laden is dead and according to the CIA there are fewer than one hundred al Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan, and it is now quite clear that we don't need to commit 100,000 troops to chase down, apprehend or eliminate terrorists, and that established criminal investigative methods, diplomacy, multilateral intelligence collaboration, economic development to address poverty, and other non-military means can more effectively and efficiently achieve these ends; and

WHEREAS, the severity of the economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government that call for a re-examination of the allocation of resources and national spending priorities;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NJ State Industrial Union Council supports efforts to bring these wars to a speedy end, starting with the withdrawal of all U.S. military and private security personnel and closing of U.S. bases in Iraq by year's end, as called for in the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, and a significant drawdown of military personnel from Afghanistan this year, setting a firm end date for total withdrawal immediately; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NJ State Industrial Union Council calls on the U.S. Congress to bring these war dollars home and to make a substantial reduction in overall military spending, instead using those resources to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal, county and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy and technologies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NJ Industrial Union Council calls on the U.S. Congress to radically reform the tax code so that the burden of taxation is fully progressive, removing loopholes and preventing schemes by which the rich and multinational corporations avoid and evade taxes, so that the tax rate on millionaires and billionaires is raised at least to the level in effect when Ronald Reagan took office or double the present top rate of 35%, and so that corporations no longer are able to avoid paying taxes by shifting revenues to foreign subsidiaries or to tax havens like the Cayman Islands or Switzerland where they are able to evade U.S. taxes; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NJ State Industrial Union Council shall communicate this resolution to its members and actively seek to inform and educate them about these issues to more effectively mobilize them to hold elected officials accountable to fulfill the intent of this resolution—to create a more just, equitable and sustainable economy in a world in which moral leadership is more important than military might and security is defined by the welfare of our people, not just the size of our military budget; and shall communicate this resolution to its parent organization and intermediate bodies and request that they take similar action.

People's Organization for Progress Vigil