Set to the tune of “Frere Jacques”, the Raging Grannies performed a rousing anti-war medley that fit in well with an afternoon devoted to a discussion of defense spending.
The Orange County chapter of the Raging Grannies, a national a cappella activist group of elderly women, performed at N.C. Peace Action’s “Bring Our War Dollars Home” event.
The event, which took place at the United Church of Chapel Hill at 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., featured speakers from Chapel Hill and Carrboro who discussed the cost of war to taxpayers.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt mediated a discussion amongst local leaders about funneling defense dollars to domestic programs following the Raging Grannies’ performance.
State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, said she felt current military spending doesn’t fit modern methods of warfare.
“This is 20th century warfare spending with massive fleets of ships,” she said. “But why do we need these to fight a cyber war?”
Kinnaird said these new methods of warfare have distanced the public from the issues surrounding defense spending.
“The public is disconnected from modern warfare, and it removes the thought of war from the forefront of our minds,” she said.
Kinnaird said events like Saturday’s can help incite change in the way defense dollars are spent.
“I have spoken to our Congressional representatives, but I’m challenging people to come up with a solution that fits the 21st century,” Kinnaird said.
“We need to be good citizens of the world by an approach that builds, not destroys.”
Participants in the forum also discussed alternative ways the state could use defense dollars.
N.C. State University sociology professor Michael Schwalbe said defense money could be used to create jobs.
Schwalbe said diverting $1 billion from the national defense budget could create thousands of jobs in different industries in North Carolina, such as health care and green energy infrastructure.
Several members of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen participated in Saturday’s discussion, as well as Orange County Commissioners and members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.
U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said he hopes state and national leaders can work together to channel some of the nation’s defense tax dollars to domestic programs.
“The domestic appropriation budget is under the gun from Republicans and that is not where to look for savings,” he said.
Price said he hopes Orange County residents will get involved in future budget discussions.
“People in Orange County are well informed and politically savvy and now is the best time to voice their concerns,” Price said.
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