Get our priorities right
The following is a letter received by Portland Phoenix contributing writer Lance Tapley; it is reprinted with the author’s permission:
I was very impressed with that series of articles you wrote on inmate abuse in the Maine correctional system. I want to thank you for them. It is journalism par excellence — as of high a quality as any of those written by Pulitzer Prize winners.
I also want to thank you for the latest of your outstanding articles in the Phoenix, “The Loud Business Drumbeat” (January 18). Regarding the need to cut services to the poor, sick, elderly, and mentally ill, it seems no one at that conference mentioned the root cause of the fiscal pressures: the war.
I am certain you are well aware of that, but on the outside chance you have not seen these figures, I am sending some along from the National Priorities Project (nationalpriorities.org).
According to that organization, taxpayers in Maine will pay $1.2 billion for the cost of the Iraq War through 2007. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
322,224 people with healthcare, or
1,884,923 homes with renewable electricity, or
32,149 public safety officers, or
21,681 music and arts teachers, or
177,669 scholarships for university students, or
92 new elementary schools, or
9591 affordable-housing units, or
309,119 children with healthcare, or
6327 Head Start places for children, or
23,644 elementary-school teachers, or
14,915 port container inspectors.
Unfortunately, the National Priorities Project does not make calculations concerning the shameful existence of hunger among the children of Maine. According to the Good Shepherd Food-Bank, “More than 40 percent of Maine kids under the age of 12 show evidence of hunger.”
Once again, my many thanks for all of your efforts to open some eyes. Keep up the good fight.