peace economy

Guns or butter? Butter, says Peace Economy Project

What’s better: a military-based economy or a peace-based economy?  Jason Sibert of the Peace Economy Project, says that cutting military spending and funding human needs would create a peace economy, which would work better and become more effective and prosperous.

Sibert, a Navy veteran and the recently hired executive director of the St. Louis Peace Economy Project, has an extensive background in journalism and reporting, from sports to news. Whether writing for the Java Journal or the Progressive Populist, he reported on topics and issues he is passionate about. He is the only paid employee of the Peace Economy Project.

Since its founding in 1977 by Sister Mary Ann McGivern, the Peace Economy Project has raised questions about how much money our country spends on the military and whether those funds could be better used to support middle- and lower-class people. Basically, what it comes down to is more spending on human needs and less on guns, nuclear weapons, and F-35s. A simple question this project asks is: What should we spend money on – guns or butter?

From the Cold War to the present, the Peace Economy Project has addressed many issues: It has criticized the military-industrial complex and advocated for for healthcare, education and infrastructure reform. Not affiliated with a political party, the organization will criticize any president of any party, says Sibert.

An unchecked military-industrial complex brings many hazards, says Sibert. Overspending on the military causes the rest of the economy to suffer. Other countries allocate more money to development, and that attracts high-tech companies. Overspending on the military has also resulted in cuts to education. In addition, noting that 40 percent of US workers earn less than $15 per hour, the Peace Economy Project has become involved in the Show-Me $15 initiative aimed at raising the minimum wage in St. Louis.

“We rot internally when we spend everything on the military,” says Sibert.

Legislative and policy changes are important in the quest for a peace economy, says Sibert. So, in addition to advocating for ideas, his organization is often out on the streets collecting signatures, and then visiting legislators to show them what their constituents want.

Critics of the Peace Economy Project contend that the military is the only decent thing about America. But Sibert argues that the United States can spend less money on military, while still having an effective and beneficial foreign policy. Sibert notes that Switzerland has a smaller military, which is cheaper, but is in need of natural resources, and that other countries depend on trade. Sibert’s idea of a better world economy would be to see more cooperation between power nations, such as Russia, China, the European Union, and the United States, as well as more cooperation in the United Nations.

“We all live in the same world,” says Sibert, “which explains why we need an economy that focuses on  human needs and peace for everyone.”

The Peace Economy Project collaborates with several other organizations, including the St. Louis Chapter of the United Nations Association, Veterans for Peace, and Jobs With Justice. Support for the Peace Economy Project comes from membership dues and individual donors.

Sibert hopes that more citizens will become aware of the need to change from a military-based economy to a more stable, peace-based economy. To do that, we need to become more educated, by reading and watching the news, paying attention to the world, and knowing the political pushes and pulls of it.

“The State Department and its diplomats are as important as the generals,” he says. “Problems need to be solved diplomatically instead of lethally.”