The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Priorities, priorities, priorities….

August 31, 2011

I have good friends a few miles north of here in Vermont who will be reeling from Hurricane Irene for months. One of my favorite places, Wilmington — just south of Mount Snow ski resort — was completely flooded and Route 9, the major road to the town (and all East-West travel in southern Vermont) will be out for weeks. It’s going to be a long haul getting back.

Despite the devastation, we now hear that House Republicans are holding FEMA hostage by demanding the $3.6 billion in emergency storm relief has to be offset by cuts in other programs.

So where should we cut? National Priorities Project has this handy list of spending priorities. I bet we could find some money in there.

But, for my money, I think Vermont taxpayers should take a look at this tool to figure out which trade-offs work for them. Turns out they will be paying more than $750 million this year to support the Pentagon’s budget. In the past decade, they’ve paid more than $2.2 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including nearly $250 million this year alone. Those would be the same wars that the Wartime Contracting Commission just announced lost as much as $60 billion “due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption.” I bet some of that could be spent at home helping them rebuild….

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Jon Western has spent the last fifteen years teaching IR in liberal arts colleges at Mount Holyoke College and the Five Colleges in western Massachusetts. He has an eclectic range of intellectual interests but often writes on international security, U.S. foreign policy, military intervention, and human rights. He occasionally shares his thoughts about professional life in liberal arts colleges. In his spare time he coaches middle school soccer, mentors the local high school robotics team, skis, and sails.