In the past four years, the Bush administration and congress have allocated about $361 billion for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the recent $50 billion allocation which passed 97-0 in the Senate on October 7 (AP, 10/7/05). This is on top of the Pentagon’s already bloated $400 billion per year budget.

The crisis in New Orleans could have been lessened if some of the money thrown away on the Pentagon were used to fix the levees. Hurricane Katrina is only the starkest example of how our resources are lost to imperialist adventures.

Many communities throughout the country are facing economic catastrophe: workers are laid-off, millions go without access to healthcare, public services face massive funding cuts, and Social Security is under attack.

This disaster in our communities is hitting young people hard. Young workers are stuck in dead-end jobs in the service and retail industry, with low wages and little hope of advancement. Americans under 25 make up a quarter of the nation’s 45 million uninsured and face a poverty rate that is nearly twice the national average.

Many young people look to a college education as a way to climb out of poverty. But for many, the opportunity to attend college is being taken away. State funding for higher education is at its lowest level in 25 years. Per-student spending has dropped 17% in the last three years (Boston Globe 18 Oct 2005). A bill proposing cutting higher education funding by 9% over the next six years is currently moving through the House of Representatives.

Because of this, average tuition increased by 36% in the past five years. Funding for grants and loans, meanwhile, has been eroded away.

These cuts affect people of color and low-income students the most. African American and Latino students obtain college degrees at roughly half the rates of white students (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). Children in low-income communities are seven times less likely to graduate from college than children in higher-income areas (Education Trust, 2002). Poor and working-class students are getting the door to education slammed in their faces.

Money for Education, Not War!

The average cost to attend a public four-year university is $11,354 per year. At this rate, the $361 billion wasted on four years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan could have provided nearly 8 million students with full scholarships, including room and board.

Lack of access to an education plays right into the hands of the Pentagon. Military recruiters cynically try to bribe working-class youth with promises of college money and job training. But nearly two-thirds of soldiers returning home never see the money they expected. Veterans, on average, make 11-18% less than non-veterans. Veterans are twice as likely to end up homeless – that is, if they are lucky enough to return home at all.

Corporate America and their political parties offer no future for young people. All they can promise for the vast majority is a future of war, low wages, dead-end jobs, prison, and environmental catastrophes.

But that is not how it has to be. We are fighting for a real future for young people. We are campaigning to build a powerful movement of youth and workers to not only say no to war and military recruitment, but also to say yes to living-wage jobs, yes to education funding, yes to healthcare for all, and yes to a decent future for ALL of us.

We need to link the fight against war with the fight against the exploitation of working people in the U.S. If the antiwar movement can become seen by millions of working-class youth as more than just a moral crusade, but also a fight for our futures, the power of the movement would dramatically expand.

No more blood for oil profits! Money for jobs and education, not war!

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