2006 Annual Report
On November 11, New York City People's Life Fund held its 2006 Annual Meeting at the A.J. Muste Institute on the third floor of the War Resisters League. Following below is the text of our update to membership:
The Year in Review
What a year it has been! With hotspots as ubiquitous as signposts on a highway throughout the world, assessment of the most tragic or the most threatening to world peace is difficult.
Iraq is in early stages of a civil war directly sparked by U.S. military invasion. Underreported conditions of stagnation and glorification of military flare-ups in Afghanistan continue with no sign of improvement in the foreseeable future. And now, Israel—for the provocation of a few military casualties and abduction of two soldiers—has lain waste to much of Lebanon, this, after Lebanon had made a recovery from the horrific war of the 1980s.
A shaky ceasefire is now in effect and could fall apart at any moment. An eerie similarity can be found between the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the beginning of World War I, when the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand sparked the beginning of a world conflict the likes of which had never been seen before. As tragic as any death is, the repeated error is obvious—responding to a few tragic deaths by bringing a massive military machine to bear on what was obviously criminal activity of a desperate few. The results were carnage on both sides and no sense that either side's grievances had been addressed. Of course, it should be obvious that war is incapable of ever addressing any grievances in a lasting way.
Devoted peace activists are faced with an increasing dilemma in recent years—to remain active and to maintain some degree of optimism. The activist may feel at a complete loss. With the economy offering less and less opportunity, it is indeed harder to give oneself to political activism. Most of us just barely get by. The times have neither the spirit nor the optimism of the Sixties and Seventies. Still, if we are not moved by the dangerous times, or the possibility for change, then we are doomed to be passive observers in a country whose belligerence is recognized as a major world problem and whose actions portend wars unending. Indeed, Americans have been designated by some as the “New Romans.” So we must work and organize toward change—the only antidote to endless war.
This is the first period of economic growth since World War II that carries no sustained increase in wages for most workers. The news for American workers has been bleak. No post-World War II period of growth has been as poor for wage earners as the current expansion. In the meantime corporate profits have risen to their highest share since the Sixties. No wonder that the investment bank, UBS, has described this as “the golden era of profitability.” A war draining this country of money, resources and people, accompanied by economic policy that further erodes living standards has resulted in a palpably poorer material life for the American people.
People cut down on food purchases or go to soup kitchens; they double up in apartments; delay going to the doctor; ratchet up credit debt. In short, these effects are a sharp reminder that this country, no country, can squander its resources, exploit its people and escape consequences.
War tax resisters are actuely aware of the toll war takes and the toll that decades of military preparedness has taken from the living standard of the American people. The money that war tax resisters channel to the People's Life Fund is a symbol of the commitment made to overturn an equation that measures a country's greatness in terms of power and war.
We are committed to infuse new life in the New York City People's Life Fund. The gala benefit described below is an important step in that direction.
Gala Benefit for New York City People's Life Fund—Spring 2007
New York City People's Life Fund marks 35 years of funding community endeavors with a first-ever Gala celebration. July 2006 marked our 35th year—no small achievement in this here-today, gone-tomorrow world.
The aim of this Gala Benefit is to spread the word about the Life Fund and to attract new supporters as well as to renew our acquaintance with longstanding members.
And that said, we mean to continue and to chart a unique path in New York City by funding, whenever possible, fledgling groups as well as the longstanding. Building on the very best of the old, we intend to add emerging groups that approach new problems in new ways.
We avoid complicated application forms; we nurture relationships with group leaders; we make every effort to steer clear of bureaucratic procedures. And most of all we encourage endeavors that work toward peace and social justice. More information at a later date on when and where. So here's looking forward to Spring 2007 and a new chapter in the history of the New York City People's Life Fund.
Be a Part of the Pulse for Change
The vision of a revitalized People's Life Fund can only be realized through contributions from our membership. Share the work of the PLF with sympathetic friends. Perhaps they would be interested in being a part of the vital support for PLF's work.
It is essential that the Life Fund receive a regular infusion of money. Here's what you can do. Make a pledge; lend us a given sum for at least a year; introduce a bequest into your will. These are practical and meaningful ways of reviving the Life Fund.
NYC PLF needs new energy and creative thought. Let us know what you think, and set aside Saturday, November 11, to attend our annual meeting. It's your Life Fund and we value your insight and fresh perspective. All comments and suggestions will receive our closest attention.
We're counting on your support, both financial and comments and suggestions.