Article 25

‘The Only Way Forward’

In Uncategorized on 08/06/2012 at 12:47 pm

Image‘The Only Way Forward’

The connection between war and deficits

Interview by Janice Sevre-Duszynska

Photo by Sequoia Powers

 

Sister Simone Campbell has been executive director of NETWORK since 2004. A member of the Sisters of Social Services, a politically active women’s religious order founded in Eastern Europe, she is also an attorney and poet. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of peace, immigration, health-care reform and economic justice.

 

A25: What do you hope to accomplish by this tour?

Campbell: We started out bringing the message from D.C. about the budget, and we’re finding out from the people about the struggles and the challenging reality that they face every day in caring for their families.

Yesterday up in Toledo we met 10-year-old twins, Mat and Mark. These kids had often been in a bit of trouble in school, acting up and getting suspended. They got into the Padua Center, a neighborhood center. Sister Virginia, who works at the center, found out that these kids’ mom has MS, diabetes and is really sick and the kids are raising themselves because she’s really sick but nobody knew. Mat is really sad and shy. Mark is the take-charge kid who took me around and showed me the new bathroom in the center’s old house. He pointed out the new tile, and he was so proud of it. For him, it was an expression of beauty. This center is supported by private-public partnership money: some federal education money, some health and human services money and then private donations.

A25: What are some of the cuts proposed in the Ryan budget?

Campbell: Eight million people in this country will be affected by the cut in food stamps. They will no longer have them. Bread for the World figured out that, to replace the money, every synagogue, church, mosque and house of worship will have to raise an additional $50,000 every year for 10 years.

A25: How did the Faithful Budget Campaign develop?

Campbell: In Washington, D.C., interfaith people got together and developed an alternative budget. You can read it on FaithfulBudget.org. The Ryan Budget wants to give $8 billion more to the military than the military is asking for. Every congressional district has a contractor, and so it’s about jobs, they say: military equipment jobs and military procurement. Most of the military jobs are done by private contractors. The fact is that the deficit that the people are using as the excuse to cut these social programs was caused by the wars, which we not only did not pay for through taxes. We cut taxes and made it worse.

A25: What can people do at the local level to make things better?

Campbell: People are being couch potatoes about the budget and politics, and, therefore, our democracy is failing. … They haven’t made the connections between war, deficits, social programs and the soul of our country.

A25: Talk about the soul of our country.

Campbell: This was an experiment by our founding fathers and mothers to see if democracy could work. A democracy requires an educated populace willing to talk together about the hard questions. And we’re failing that requirement.

A25: What’s behind it?

Campbell: I think it’s a lot of fear of losing what we have, so therefore people are afraid to talk to each other. I also think that those with a lot of wealth – many of those think they are entitled to just get more and don’t know that the only way forward is community and being together.

 

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