How about a war on poverty? - Generocity Philly


Jan. 10, 2020 11:30 am

How about a war on poverty?

Less than a fifth of what we've spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past 17 years is all we would need to address extreme poverty worldwide, says guest columnist Rob Wetherington.

Protest sign created by one of Pathways to Housing PA staff members who participated in the march.

(Courtesy photo)

This guest column was written by Rob Wetherington, the director of community inclusion and advocacy at Pathways to Housing PA.
As tensions between the Trump administration and Iran escalate, there is a call to protest further action in Iran. Hundreds of marches took place across the U.S. yesterday, including one here in Philadelphia.

From our perspective, the biggest issue at hand is the cost — the cost of lives lost, and the funds required for war.

In the past 17 years the United States has spent over $4.5 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan resulting in nearly 500,000 deaths. Tracking the detrimental and long lasting impact of war-related trauma on mental health is nearly impossible, for both the soldiers involved as well as the more than 20 million refugees and internally displaced people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Expanding this conflict into Iran sets us up to spend more money, lose more lives, and traumatize millions more with no foreseeable benefit at a much quicker pace than what we have seen in the past two decades of war.

Imagine that we utilize those funds to support social programming here in the United States.

Less than a fifth of that figure is all we need to address extreme poverty worldwide.

Another portion could cancel student loan debt.

And the remaining funds could meet the needs of America’s 850,000 chronically homeless individuals, who incur twice the cost on taxpayers by continuing to live unsheltered.

From our Partners

We often hear the refrain that “it’d be nice to have these things, but how will we pay for it?” when we’re seeking better funding and wider reaching services for our program participants, advocating for comprehensive mental and physical health care, supporting people in substance use treatment, or making arguments that housing is a basic human right.

Well, we know how to pay for it.

Take the funds that currently pay for long-lasting wars and invest them in caring for our neighbors in need instead of destroying more lives, here and abroad.


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