Greenfield then introduced Cohen, whose
remarks were more pointedly political. He noted that the
philanthropic work done by Ben & Jerry's was influenced by the philosophy
of Martin Luther King Jr., who drew connections between racism,
poverty, and militarism. "Since the days of the Cold War," Cohen
noted, "our country has been spending half of its discretionary
budget --- that's the amount of money Congress has available
to allocate each year --- on the Pentagon. And the amount
spent on health care, education, and housing pales by comparison."
To illustrate his point, Cohen produced a tin can and a
container of BBs. He dropped one BB into the can to represent
15 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs and 6 BBs into the can to
represent enough nuclear weapons to blow up all of Russia.
He concluded by pouring 10,000 BBs into the can to represent
the size of America's current nuclear arms arsenal.
"For two days' worth of the Pentagon budget, we could fully
fund Head Start and provide Head Start for the one-third
of all eligible kids who can't get into the program. For
six days of the Pentagon budget, we could provide health
care for all uninsured kids in the United States. For 12
days of the budget, we could rebuild all of the crumbling
schools in our country over a period of 10 years. For 10
days, we could eliminate the need for Middle East oil. And
for 12 days of the Pentagon budget, we could feed all of
the 15,000 kids around the world who are dying of starvation
and preventable disease each day," Cohen added.
As his comments were met with a mixture
of cheers and jeers from the audience, Cohen urged the
graduates, "Even if you've
never voted before, if you've never helped get people registered,
if you've never been political, now's the time to start.
We've got to stand up and do our patriotic duty as Americans
and say no, this is not the way our country was meant to
be. No, I will not allow this to be done in my name and with