February 5, 2007 by Marc Lamont Hill
Nonprofits have the responsibility of outrage when government policy creates and exacerbates misery: Charities need to speak up and demand that Congress get Washington’s foreign policy and its financial priorities in order.
Nonprofits In A Time Of War
By Mark Rosenman
Nonprofit organizations are scrambling for charitable dollars because recent experience has taught them not to depend on government money to solve public problems. It seems the money just isn’t there. Or is it?
Government does manage to finance what it wants to do, but sometimes with trade-offs. Regardless of the views nonprofit leaders have had about the war in Iraq and how it has been waged, one thing is clear to people on all sides: The costs of the war have propelled government-spending cuts that affect millions of Americans and the nonprofit organizations that serve them.
Even while handing out more than a trillion dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, the Republican-controlled Congress approved enough extra off–budget spending for the Iraq war to have paid for about 50 years of Head Start for each of the million or so kids enrolled in that program. Those same dollars could have covered about 16 years of medical insurance for every child living in poverty in the United States or paid four-year state tuition for every undergraduate at every college and university in America — and still have had a bit left over to send some on to graduate school.
In fact, federal spending on the war could have financed enough new public housing to accommodate every homeless American in permanent residences and even provided some with vacation homes. But that’s not what President Bush asked for, and not what Congress gave him. The reality is that in education, housing, nutrition, and other areas, federal support for nonprofit groups that provide services was cut — so organizations had to do more with less in the face of growing need — while government money went elsewhere.
Instead of doing good, the money was used to finance a war, started with shameful deceit and continued in a fog of failure, denial and lies, that has cost more than 3,000 American lives, wounded more than 22,000 other American men and women, and resulted in the deaths of between 52,000 and 600,000 Iraqis — the larger estimate is made by Johns Hopkins University scholars after careful study. Congress has already appropriated more than $350–billion for that war beyond regular military budgets, and costs are projected to total more than a trillion dollars when continuing care for the wounded is counted.
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