A US state has begun examining the conversion of military industry to socially-useful production. On 14 May, the Connecticut legislature created a ‘futures commission’ which will draw up a strategy for ‘the diversification or conversion of defense-related industries with an emphasis on encouraging environmentally-sustainable and civilian product manufacturing’.
This follows the success of a ballot in November, in New Haven, Connecticut, on the question: ‘Shall Congress reduce military spending; transfer funds to convert to civilian production; create jobs to rebuild our infrastructure; meet pressing human needs?’
The vote was 23,398 residents in favour, and 15% of voters against. In Massachusetts, 91 towns voted on a similar question in November, with 74% approval.
Bill Shortell, an official with the ‘International Association of Machinists’ in Connecticut, said in February: ‘There is little precedent for using government funds to manufacture anything but weapons. But if we don’t try to understand it and embrace it, the likelihood of achieving other benefits of the peace dividend fades, as the military workers and our unions cling to militarism.’