Wolf: Stationing F-35 warplanes in Vermont is incompatible with human rights

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Ashley Wolf, a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center Coordinating Committee. She lives in Burlington.

I am writing as a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center Coordinating Committee, but first, and foremost, a member of the Burlington community. As such, I feel it is imperative to address the rudimentary ways the stationing of F-35 warplanes in the Burlington community not only infringes on the fundamental human rights of Burlington community in a myriad of ways but represents more systemic form of oppression that I know does not align with the values of our community. I would like to share the Vermont Workers’ Center official statement we wrote of why we oppose this:

The Vermont Workers’ Center urges our congressional delegation to stand up against the stationing of the F-35 warplane at Burlington Airport and against the wasteful and dangerous military policy of the U.S. government. A great many local residents and community groups have opposed basing the F-35 in Burlington for a great many reasons. Today, the Vermont Workers’ Center is announcing its position in opposition to the warplanes for two core reasons grounded in human rights principles.

The misplaced and wasteful spending on warplanes is a prime example of why we need a People’s Budget that respects our human rights and has the clear purpose of advancing equity and dignity in our communities.

1. Our government is responsible for using public funds for public goods, not for weapons of war. Public funds must be used first and foremost to meet the fundamental needs of our communities. Yet even in this time of economic recession and increasing poverty, the biggest part of the federal budget continues to go toward military spending, including weapons of war such as the F-35. We call upon our government to redirect these public funds toward the public goods that help meet the significant unmet needs in our communities, such as health care, housing, jobs, education, food, and social security. The misplaced and wasteful spending on warplanes is a prime example of why we need a People’s Budget that respects our human rights and has the clear purpose of advancing equity and dignity in our communities. Instead of cutting federal, state and local budgets and eliminating much needed public services and programs, our representatives must review the economically and environmentally unsustainable effects of out-of-control military spending. Burlington must not become another victim of behind-the-scenes deal making that puts special interests before the will and rights of the people.

2. Public development policies and subsidies must benefit our community as a whole. Any development initiative must be grounded in the human rights of our communities and advance equity and dignity among all residents. Among the greatest development needs in Burlington are affordable, safe housing and good sustainable jobs. Stationing of warplanes in a densely populated residential neighborhood has already lead to a loss of over 200 homes and this proposal could lead to thousands more lost, in an area where many people are unable to realize their basic human right to affordable housing. Development initiatives must never be conceived as a trade-off between different community needs, such as housing or jobs, economic development or environmental protection. Moreover, in this case, the military program is not expected to generate sustainable and good jobs for local residents. Yet its potential human rights violations are clear: high noise levels will pose significant health risks for residents, schoolchildren and churchgoers in large parts of our town.The F-35’s excessive fossil fuel consumption will contribute to climate change, jeopardizing our right to a healthy environment and livable planet.

We call on our elected officials to stop the proposed stationing of F-35 warplanes in Burlington or anywhere else in Vermont or the United States. We call for public policies that protect our human rights, meet the needs of our communities, and enable the participation of all people in the policy decisions that affect our ability to live a life with dignity.

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22 Comments on "Wolf: Stationing F-35 warplanes in Vermont is incompatible with human rights"

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Brian McAllister
3 years 5 months ago
How come EVERYTHING that this “people first” group wants they call a “human right”, and suddenly that means that it’s the governments job to pay for it? And everything that you disagree with is a “violation of human rights”? I am willing to bet anything that the majority of people in Burlington would fall in to two categories when it comes to this innovative and incredible piece of engineering known as the F-35. They don’t care, or they support it. Well, you know what “people first”, your violating my “human right” to be defended from foreign powers by opposing the… Read more »
George Cross
3 years 5 months ago

What a thoughtful and considerate statement. Interesting that the Vermont Workers’ Center creates such a humanistic statement compared to the gobble-gook and political rhetoric spit-out by our congressional delegation, governor, chamber of commerce and GBIC luminaries. Maybe we have elected the wrong folks to office?

Brian McAllister
3 years 5 months ago
My Congressional delegation is the same as theirs as we are Vermonters. Same for the Governor. When it comes to Schumlin, I agree, we elected the wrong person. He’s owned by Green Mountain Power, and other corporate interests, and he scammed many of us. As for “humanistic statements”, it’s all a bunch of crap designed to make them feel good about themselves and to engender class envy. The world doesn’t owe them or anyone anything. Not everything is a “human right” and if something is, that does not mean that it is the governments or anyone else’s job to provide… Read more »
James Leas
3 years 5 months ago
Human Rights were codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ The principles in the Universal Declaration were also codified in two treaties and are now part of international law, as described at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration lists rights at risk from vast military spending. The F-35 is the most expensive weapons system in history. And the F-35 is only a small part of that US focus on military spending that is putting other rights at risk. Housing is just one of those rights, and it… Read more »
Patrick Cashman
3 years 5 months ago
Hmmm…The only threat I see in this to human rights are the fascistic tendencies of those who would seek to subvert our democratic system of representational democracy in order to substitute their own judgement for that of the people as a whole. The go-to move of the drum circle set at the workers center; referring to everything they want as a “human right”, is a perfect example. They cannot achieve their aims through our existing democratic systems, therefore they conclude they must subvert those systems by declaring everything a “right” that is somehow fundamental and exempt from decision by the… Read more »
Fred Woogmaster
3 years 5 months ago
Mr. Cashman: “democratic system of representational democracy” – Do we have that, still, Mr. Cashman, with the increased significance of money in elections and the ability of the super rich to influence those elections at all levels? I think not. Any subversion of the democratic process has come from the corruption of/by money, let loose by the easing of regulations and by the policies set forth by the international financial power elite, supported by both major political parties. Although I do not live in Chittenden County, I have become convinced that even if the F 35 is necessary for the… Read more »
Patrick Cashman
3 years 5 months ago

Exactly.
As soon as the “other guys” win via our system, the system must be wrong or comprimised. God forbid the idea that perhaps a majority of your fellow citizens don’t necessarily agree with your viewpoint. And since the system is broken you are then morally allowed to circumvent the system to get what you want, because obviously your viewpoint is the correct one.
Makes perfect sense.

Fred Woogmaster
3 years 5 months ago

Mr. Cashman: Your last comment puzzles me, especially if it was made in response to mine. Would you please elaborate?
I see challenge, not circumvention.

Henry J. Smith
3 years 5 months ago

The only problem I have with our “democratic” system is that when someone other than your party or person wins, we fault the system and automatically claim that the vote was rigged. Now in a two party system, an strong independent like Ralph Nader could suck enough votes away from a Democrat to let the other guy walk in, it is the only way we have other than going to a run off if the winners doesn’t get 50%+1 which I really do favor!

timothy price
3 years 5 months ago
McAllister says:”..your violating my “human right” to be defended from foreign powers by opposing the deployment of the f-35. ” Right, like you want to feel security within the Empire from the people of the world who suffer so much from US military and economic policies. You have no “human rights” to protection; the Empire can not protect you from the world’s judgment. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Enough tyranny imposed by the Pentagon and the investors in war machinery, enough expansion of the banking cabal, enough militarization of Vermont’s economy, enough waste of resources. Let’s say “no” to the greed… Read more »
peter jonigkeit
3 years 5 months ago

This article lost me as soon as I saw F35 and climate change in the same sentence.

3 years 5 months ago

Peter,

If you were to stand anywhere within a quarter mile behind an F-35 (or almost any jet fighter for that matter) while it was taking off; Your climate WOULD CHANGE.

How’s that?

AA Cunningham
3 years 5 months ago

No doubt Wolf received all of her “knowledge” on the Constitution and economics from Barry Soetoro himself.

This nonsense serves as prima facia evidence that public education is a dismal failure.

Al Blow
3 years 5 months ago
What a load of socialistic drivel! Human beings first and foremost have a “right” to freedom and liberty, end of story! And you might start by appreciating that you live in a nation both capable and dedicated to protecting and preserving those rights on your behalf! As opposed to, say, living in anyone of a hundred other nations in this world where your rights would be on par with those of dogs! Particularly if you happen to be born a female!!! Billions of people in this world only dream of the freedoms and liberty you take so much for granted,… Read more »
rosemarie jackowski
3 years 5 months ago

The USA Military is the largest polluter on the planet. The Carbon Footprint of the F-35 will only make everything worse.

BUT the main problem with the F-35 is that it is a weapon system designed to kill. The killing power of the US is already far beyond that of any other nation. This is a dangerous, redundant system designed to enrich Lockheed Martin.

http://www.iacenter.org/o/world/climatesummit_pentagon121809/

Randal Murray
3 years 5 months ago
I work next to the airport, every time the F16’s take off I am reminded of the brave men and women that are risking their lives to protect my family’s freedom. These are not war machines, these machines were built to protect us against the evils that don’t agree with a free country. We should be proud as Vermonters to have the honor to be chosen for the new planes. That says a lot about the men and woman stationed at the base in Burlington. The second reason these new planes are so important is that if we don’t win… Read more »
Elsie Gilmore
3 years 5 months ago

Your post was extremely logical right up until you failed to know the difference between weather and climate. Climate is an aggregate of all the weather that happens every day. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/weather_climate.html

3 years 5 months ago
Mr Murray, The romantic days of the military are over, sorry. John Wayne is dead. You should read a little about some of our country’s true heros like Ike Eisenhower. Its too bad we Americans don’t even know our own history. The dumber our government can keep us, the dumber we will be. I’m surprised that you really think we are going to be invaded or need to police the world with such costly, loud and obnoxious weapons. I have a neighbor who’s in the guard who is undeniably the biggest threat to my safety than guys like you would… Read more »
Fred Woogmaster
3 years 5 months ago
M. Murray: Although I disagree with your analysis and your conclusion, your perspective makes sense – until the last line. “If you don’t like it here, leave.” I have always experienced such sentiments as being offensive and simplistic. Certainly, you are entitled to say whatever you please; I served in the military so that you and I could enjoy free speech and participate in meaningful dialogue. I have no plans to leave Vermont or the United States of America, or Washington County, where I live. Like many other issues, this is a far more complex issue than meets the eye,… Read more »
Randy Koch
3 years 5 months ago

Wow, what an atavistic thread! “If you don’t agree with the government, shut up” “If you can’t shut up, leave the country” It leaves me downright nostalgic for the political dialog of the Vietnam War era.

Dave Bellini
3 years 5 months ago

I don’t have anything against the F-35 is a military tool. I do have a concern about noise. I work in Winooski and the current fleet of jets can be extremely loud. Getting louder jets would worry me if I lived in an impacted area. Solve the noise problem and it’s a much easier sell.

Alex Barnham
3 years 5 months ago

Noise doesn’t bother me…I’s deaf from all the crock music I’ve been abused by. Bombs don’t bother me, my home town was never blown up. I pledge allegiance to the reptiles that run this country with liberty and justice for all. I have absolutely no control over the check after I write it and dutifully submit and drop it in the pit.

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