By Anthony Donovan, Pressenza, April 29, 2022
In recent years we have full out launched into another nuclear arms race, without discussion of facts nor citizen input. By far, we have put forth the largest outlay in history for our Pentagon budget. Instead of using the wisdom of decades of experience in deescalating conflicts, we have not skipped a beat from turning around the focus of a deadly pandemic to flooding open the peoples coffers to fund the most destructive force in the world, war, threatening our environment and all civilization.
Shamelessly telling, was our General Lloyd Austin retiring to become CEO of Raytheon, prime maker of our nuclear weapons, who was then grilled by our U.S. Senate in his confirmation hearings, to insure that should he become our Secretary of Defense, he would strongly advocate, as “a top priority”, the replenishment and building up of our nuclear Triad (land, sea, air based nuclear weapons and their facilities).
Under oath retired General Austin affirmed his intent with their demands. Now Secretary of Defense Austin serving in President Biden’s Cabinet in our House of the People, hold’s the position that our Constitution specifically required to be a civilian, non military.
Our town is home to Wall Street, the conduit of this industry of continuous war, the profiteers of the weapons of mass extinction, the channel of the great and present threat of future generations existence.
Fortunately the city has concerned leaders who are pushing back. Corporate media purposely does not cover their efforts with any due diligence, so these leaders need to be more vigorously applauded.
Our newly elected City Comptroller Brad Lander has instructed his office to begin the initial work of divestment from NYC’s pension plans from the nuclear weapon industry. This past week of Earth Day the Comptroller’s Press Office released a statement that their office “is currently assessing the pension system’s exposure to nuclear weapons investment”. The five large plans of NYC Firefighters, Police, Teachers, Board of Education employees, and civilian City employees each have their large boards which discern their plan’s investments, but the Comptroller’s office has a say and helps guide the process, offering the best information possible that will support their fiduciary responsibilities.
Comptroller Brad Lander was a City Council Member in 2018 when he signed in support NY City Council’s Chair of Finance, Daniel Dromm’s letter to the previous Comptroller Scott Stringer. Council Member Dromm was prescient and determined. “I am writing to request that NYC’s Pension fund and finances divest from banks and corporations that profit from nuclear weapon production.” Expert witness filled to capacity the Public Hearing held in NYC’s City Hall making the clear case, dispelling the myths of nuclear deterrence theory’s false security, exposing the costs and grave eminent danger to all. Comptroller Lander was one of the 44 City Council Members that was involved in passing this past December a resolution calling for the Comptroller’s office to begin the divestment process from the nuclear weapon industry.
The resolution further calls on our nation to sign the historic achievement, the new international law, The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Despite the misinformation about it, this Treaty is the most comprehensive, safe, verifiable and most secure way to globally begin countering the renewed deadly arms race with the process of ridding the world of nuclear weapons, before it’s too late. After years of worldwide conferences on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, the months of painstaking finalizing the deliberations to birth this Treaty occurred right here in NYC. 122 States said to the nuclear states, stop endangering all of us. https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/
Dear downtown neighbor Wall Street, not that you wish to hear, but unnoticed by the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, the TPNW (The Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty) had another supporter walking the talk before the Treaty signing at the UN in 2017; New York City based Amalgamated Bank.
A national bank devoted to worker’s rights, human rights and for over a decade investing in environmental/climate solutions. With policies they disallow any trading or investing of their monies with armament companies. https://www.amalgamatedbank.com/anti-violence-and-gun-safety
Individuals please applaud yourself for being concerned and acting on this. How do you participate and Divest personally?
Let’s be frank: If you don’t want to support the instruments of war, of sheer militarism over diplomacy to resolve conflicts, if you don’t want trillions beyond a normal budget going toward a murderous industry, 60 % of our discretionary funds taken for that instead of our urgent needs…. then follow your money, for you/I/we are paying for it all. The weapons of mass destruction, as Fr. Daniel Berrigan made clear in his 1980 trial, belong to and are paid for by you and me. “They are ours.”
When we have a checking account, or savings account in a bank, that bank uses those resources for its transactions, its lending and investments. Plain and simple, all my life I’ve been supporting this industry without being aware of doing so.
Let’s name it. If your bank is Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, BNP, TD, Wells Fargo, Citi, Bank of China, RBC, HSBC, Santander, etc, and any number of smaller local banks now owned by larger entities, your and your organizations money, no matter how modest it is, is what is funding the industry of war and militarism. This is how each of us are complicit and involved in the horror around the world, and too oft, on our streets.
Amalgamated Bank remains the first known U.S. bank to make such polices, and may still be the only. Maura Keaney, First VP of Commercial Banking for Amalgamated Bank states “I can’t speak for other banks. That I know of, no other U.S. bank has these policies. I can only speak for sure that we do not fund, lend to, or bank for companies that make or distribute armaments. We do a lot of banking for businesses, mostly social responsible businesses and non profits, right? But our policy says there are various entities we will not bank for. For example we don’t bank for payday lenders. We won’t bank for oil pipeline developers, nor weapons manufacturers and distributors.” Armaments are “all weapons from hand guns to weapons of mass destruction.”
In the Public Hearing supporting the NY City Council resolution, First V.P. Keaney testified that Amalgamated Bank saw such policies as not only doing the right thing but that thier choice toward social responsible and environmental/climate funding has been very rewarding, profitable for the bank. She suggested then that the city pension funds divesting from armament companies could not only be fiducially responsible and morally satisfying, but improve the performance of the fund.
U.S. Representatives need to feel the pressure and the support from you. Banks need to feel the need to change. Only we make that happen. If one is banking with of the above mentioned, do not leave that bank before you sit and have a conversation with them. Tell them why you are compelled to move your money. Give them a certain time to think about it.
Switching banks seems daunting, but was much easier than imagined. I had 40 years with Chase (Chemical), with all financial instruments and auto pays long facilitated by this one source. Nothing personal, I knew and liked the people of the branch. It was also close to home. But once I awoke to how the war industry is being funded by our innocence, by millions of us hard working citizens, with our modest savings, I made the move. The entire switching of all took less than an hour to set up safely. What a tremendously positive feeling afterwards, with the only regret being not having taken the moment to do it earlier.
In terms of investments for those who have more money than those living pay check to pay check, there are many funds now that advertise as armament free, fossil fuel free, tobacco, big pharma free, etc.. Moving these personal investments is vital, but we are emphasizing here the importance of your basic money in your savings and checking accounts.
Any investments you might have especially hidden in large funds, will need careful dissecting with an advisor. We are still developing clearer tools that identify armament involvement. Armament companies, and our governments dealing with them are more often not transparent.
One tool that helps. https://weaponfreefunds.org
Some divestment organizations understandably focus on the top 25 armament corporations. Know there are thousands involved in the industry, and in every state. When I was divesting several years ago, I consulted SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute to identify the top 100 companies.
It is still not all, but a good start.
Corporations follow profit. The new international law on nuclear weapons advocates for more transparency.
So, where do we Invest? The tools for climate/green investments are now fairly well developed. One such tool is to help is: www.green.org
Some people quickly respond, “I’m good, my money is in a credit union.” Although by nature credit unions are non-profit, unless they are transparent and upfront about their policies, one can’t assume they do not lend or invest in armaments or something else you don’t believe in.
The newer internet only, non brick banks and financial services are also growing in appeal and use among the younger generation. However, at this point they have little transparency on how their assets with your funds are being used.
If because of physical limitations, or if you deal with cash and need a nearby bank for deposits, one can keep an account open maintaining the minimum to not be charged extra fees, and electronically transfer the bulk of your monies to an institution you trust will use it to promote the earth and humanity.
In D.C., U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton had also sent in testimony to support NYC’s resolution’s call. She has had a congruent bill in Congress that calls to support the TPNW and to move the vast money spent on the these weapons of mass destruction to our great needs of housing, healthcare, infrastructure, education, climate measures, etc.
NYC’s Representative Carolyn Maloney has signed on. Have your local, state and national Representatives do something, support the TPNW, today.
Finally, a historic gathering will be open to all of us to share, to listen in on to a world’s people trying to halt earth’s destruction by brutality, and instead encourage civilizations uplifting unfoldment:
The First Meeting of States for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is being held in Vienna, Austria this June 21st, 2022.
Please spread the word, request that your Representative plan to observe this Treaty, support it, and join with the many organizations doing something about it. Money talks loudest, please divest today.
Resources for involvement and updated info:
- and others.
A political campaigner and activist from the age of 12, ending up in jail three times for Vietnam War nonviolent civil disobedience. Donovan is the producer of several documentaries, including: “Dialogues: A more effective path to deal with global terrorism” (2004), and “Good Thinking, Those Who’ve Tried To Halt Nuclear Weapons” (2015). His long time passion remains the abolition of nuclear weapons.