According to the Burlington Free Press, 10 people were arrested yesterday (May Day) inside the Lakeside Ave headquarters of military contractor General Dynamics. The protesters had “locked down” in the building’s main reception area, a tactic whereby they chain themselves together in a manner that requires heavy duty equipment, including bolt cutters and sometimes industrial saws, to remove individuals.  Several dozen supporters demonstrated outside.

In all, it took almost six hours for police, firefighters, and other rescue personel to unchain the protesters. They were brought to the BPD and cited for criminal trespassing.

According to a statement released by the protesters, they were there demanding General Dynamics “stop giving campaign contributions to the politicians responsible for regulating it, stop making Gatling guns, missiles and other weapons of mass destruction and give back the 3.6 million dollars in Vermont tax breaks General Dynamics received in 2007”. I don’t know about you, but that last line sure caught my attention: $3.6 million in State subsidies and tax breaks?

“This corporate welfare in the form of tax breaks belongs to working Vermonters, not a war profiteer which made $27 billion last year, and who’s stocks have tripled while the Vermont economy has tanked,” said demonstrator Jonathan Leavitt. “While our state struggles with Jim Douglas’ budget cuts and layoffs, gas prices, affordable housing and lack of health coverage, war profiteers like General Dynamics steal tax breaks from working families. We’re here today as Vermonters to say no more handouts for war profiteers.” 

The demonstrators are a part of a campaign- in which they’re pushing for a “peace economy, not war profiteering”.  I would urge everyone to consider, if “good jobs” like those at GD come at the expense of global peace, millions of lives lost, thousands of families torn apart, and billions (trillions!) of dollars spent making the very richest even richer, is that the best way to strengthen Vermont’s economy and communities?To borough a page from Bernie’s playbook, I’ll suggest looking instead to what has been accomplished in Scandinavia.  Instead of creating wealth at the expense of peace, stability, and security, those countries have invested their resources in environmentally sound and sustainable agriculture practices that come as close to a “secure” food supply as is possible; they have focused their resources on solving environmental and social problems, and ensuring that near to 100% of their populations have safe food and materials, comprehensive and pro-active health care for all, and the guarantee of a higher education for everyone.

Scandinavian economies don’t show tremendous annual growth, but that is because such a thing is only “sustainable” when accompanied by occasional drastic “slow downs” and recessions (to say nothing of the absolute destruction of our planet- which, as it turns out, we are pretty reliant on).  Instead, they have healthy, stable economies which focus on providing for the overall health and happiness of everyone.

If the “good jobs” of GE and GD require that we allow them to destroy our environment (depleted uranium at the Ethan Allen Firing Range), offer huge subsidies to them despite huge profit margins ($3.6 million tax break for a company earning $27 billion!), and that their overall success requires continued U.S. imperialism (which is not only arrogant and inhumane, but in fact does far more to de-stabilize and bring greater insecurity to us and the world); well, I think we’re better off without ’em.

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