America Out of Work
All the Talk of a Depression Is ... Depressing
On November 1st, in Montpelier, the capital of Vermont, one hundred activists gathered to protest against General Dynamics, a weapons manufacturer operating in the state. The diverse group of activists rallied in support of building a peace economy and movement beyond election day. Speaking to the crowd in front of the statehouse, VT-based filmmaker and writer Eugene Jarecki talked about the presidential election and activism. "There's a moment of real crossroads here," he said. "But it's a crossroad for all of us not to be happy and go to bed but for all of us to be absolutely unrelenting and dissatisfied until real change happens."
General Dynamics has profited more than any other defense contractor from the Iraq War; its revenues have tripled since 9/11 and in 2007 it earned $27 billion. In spite of this wealth, the company received $3.6 million in Vermont tax breaks in 2007. It's not as though the state doesn't need this money -- bridges and roads are in disrepair, 2/3 of Vermonters can't afford the median price of VT home, and 60,000 residents in the small state lack health insurance.
These realities underscored the November 1st rally. While the VT Food Not Bombs group spooned out lunch, and seasoned anti-GD activists mingled with children and college-aged activists, Jarecki and others spoke of the billions of dollars spent on US defense while unemployment soars and the funding for schools and healthcare is slashed.
I asked Jarecki, the producer of "Why We Fight" -- a film which explores the roots and results of America's military industrial complex -- to comment on the irony of GD operating in VT, a state known for its liberal politics and green businesses. "It's a stain on Vermont's record," he said. "Vermont is at its best when it strays from the widespread corruption that is a national affliction."
Benjamin Dangl is the editor of TowardFreedom.com, a VT-based progressive publication.