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Sun Apr 29, 2012, 06:13 PM

 

Out of control. Military spending during a time of economic hardship

Our country is still in deep economic trouble. Unemployment is still stalking the lives of tens of millions, our fragile recovery, if it could be called that, is threatening to stall, all the while our leaders dither, playing political games and trying to protect their current positions.

Public sector hiring is down, federal, state and local government workers are being laid off in an orgy of budget cutting. Our infrastructure continues to crumble, what was once public is now being privatized as some sort of "cost saving measure," and programs that help provide a modicum of help for those who aren't rich are being cut and cut again.

Yet the big elephant in the room, military spending, is hardly touched. Instead, the amount we truly spend on our military is obfuscated and covered up. Even when Obama attempts a weak solution and dares to announce a desire to cut the military, those proposed cuts go into Congress and after a lather, rinse and wash, presto!, those cuts are now forgotten.

Meanwhile, our military commitments continue to expand. The war in Afghanistan continues to grind on, with only a nominal end in sight. A war with Iran seems to be in our near future, while the US continues to dabble in relatively low level conflicts in places like Yemen, Libya and elsewhere. Not to mention expansion of US military commitments in places like Uganda and Australia(really, Australia?).

We are being bled dry by the Military Industrial Complex, and until the MIC is forcefully reigned in, we will continue to be bled, to the point where our country will collapse under the burden of excessive military spending. Let us get a few facts on the table shall we.

Total military spending in this country is over 1.9 trillion dollars, roughly fifty four percent of our total annual budget. That is roughly 7.89% of our annual GDP. That is more than the next fifteen countries' military spending combined and roughly 47% of what the entire world spends on the military. That's us, that is our military spending and a sad indictment of just how thoroughly the MIC controls things in this country.

I know, I know, the official Pentagon budget is sitting at 780 billion dollars, and the percentage figure is at 20% of our annual budget, but the fact is those numbers simply don't tell the whole story. The fact of the matter is that military spending is built into, and hidden in, virtually every federal department budget. For instance, the budget for the care and feeding of our nuclear weapons(certainly a military expenditure) is built into the Dept. of Energy's budget, and doesn't officially count as part of the Pentagon budget. The same is true of numerous R&D projects, black box budgets, much of the care of our returning veterans, and let us not forget that eighty percent of the interest we pay on our national debt is due to military spending over the years. Let us also not forget that another way for the government to obfuscate the true scale of our military budget is to throw Social Security in as part of the overall budget. Sorry, but SS is an entirely separate entity.

Like I stated initially, all of that, and more, adds up to a whopping 1.9 trillion we spend on our military. This is simply unsustainable. Our people, our country, is slowly collapsing under the weight of all that spending. Really now, do we need all of those bases in Europe, Japan, Australia and elsewhere scattered across the globe(we have bases in over 130 countries, and over 6,000 bases in this country)? Is it really wise to be spending all of that money while people are dying from want here at home? I think not.

Where does all of that money go to anyway? Into the hands of the rich and elite, the 1%. Corporations like Kellog Brown and Root, GE, Exxon, Haliburton, Boeing, the list goes on and on. That money flow has expanded greatly over the years as virtually everything about the military, from the commissary food to vehicle maintenance has been privatized, farmed out in contracts to corporations that continue to suck taxpayer dollars, our money, into their coffers. About the only thing that private corporations don't touch in the military is providing the actual fighting soldiers(and with the advent of corporations like Blackwater even that is starting to be privatized).

So what can be done? I know, I know, the President has proposed 487 billion dollars in military cuts over the next decade. But even if that number isn't made hash of in Congress, even if that number isn't reversed by later Congressional or Presidential actions, 487 billion isn't even a drop in the bucket. Seriously, that amounts to 48.7 billion each year, which is approximately a cut of 2.6% in military spending each year for those ten years. A number that will be more than made up in automatic budget increases to offset inflation.

We need a President that will take a bold stand, and cut the military back down to size. This can start by ending the war in Afghanistan, now. Not tomorrow, not next year, not in 2014 but now. Our military presence in that country serves absolutely no good, and is in fact causing a great deal of harm. The President can also start closing down military bases, both at home and abroad. I mean really now, do we truly need bases in England, Germany, and the Antarctic, among other places? We have been the world's police for far too many decades and it is time for that to end.

He can also start reporting the true numbers behind our military spending. Rather than continuing to cover up and obfuscate how much we spend on the military, he can come clean about the full extent of our military spending and make it public knowledge. The sheer size of what we spend on the military would outrage the citizens of this country, and they in turn would put pressure on Congress to reign in all military spending.

Finally, he can push for real cuts in military spending. Not a percentage point here and there, but real cuts. Fifty percent would be, in my opinion, a good place to start, and negotiate from there. He could also stop deferring those cuts for ten years out, but make them effective immediately.

Over the years we have cut non-military discretionary spending to the bone, to the point where our country is suffering from those cuts in infrastructure, education, and other programs that benefit the population. The next round of cuts, to Social Security, Medicare, and the elimination of what is left of our social safety net is on the horizon. Unless we change our priorities, putting people ahead of guns, our country is going to enter a death spiral that we won't recover from. It is time for the President to lead on this one, and he needs to start now, before it is too late.

Otherwise, our future is going to be a much poorer one.

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Out of control. Military spending during a time of economic hardship (Original post)
MadHound Apr 2012 OP
think Apr 2012 #1
dkf Apr 2012 #2
MadHound Apr 2012 #4
ellisonz Apr 2012 #3
freshwest Apr 2012 #5
MadHound Apr 2012 #6
varelse Apr 2012 #7
MadHound Apr 2012 #8
varelse Apr 2012 #9
MadHound Apr 2012 #10

Response to MadHound (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 06:17 PM

1. Agree 100% Thank you /nt

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Response to MadHound (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 06:40 PM

2. Government consumption fell by 3.0% led by an 8.1% drop in defense spending...

 

and was the main drag on GDP taking .8 of a % pt out. Inventories added .6 of % pt to GDP.


GDP grew only 2.2% in Q1 vs expectations of 2.5% and hopes for 3.0%.

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/04/real-gdp-misses-by-3-nominal-by-9/

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Response to dkf (Reply #2)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 06:57 PM

4. You are making the typical mistake,

 

Defense spending is the number used solely to describe the Pentagon budget. It is not, as I explained above, the total amount of money we spend on the entire military.

Furthermore, I think the numbers that you are linking to are suspect, since the Pentagon budget has gone up every year for over a decade. Hard to have a drop in defense spending when the budget is increasing.

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Response to MadHound (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 06:43 PM

3. Couldn't agree more...

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Response to MadHound (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 07:19 PM

5. The problem is, the people getting the money from the MIC contracts vote.

Until those who aren't in on the deal decide to vote against the million of people who do make money on this in their own states, nothing will change.

A smaller percentage of Americans vote than in other countries. A percentage of people who are against the MIC don't vote for any changes because even the slightest reduction is not good enough for them.

But the ones getting paid show up every single time. The only place we can force a change in this is in the voting booth or the mail-in ballot envelope.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #5)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 07:35 PM

6. Even with apathetic voting,

 

The number of voters who are harmed by excessive military spending vastly outweighs those who benefit from it, by an order of magnitude or two.

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Response to MadHound (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 08:14 PM

7. The number of voters who understand the extent of said harm

are sadly a tiny minority of the electorate.

I wish it were otherwise, but so many people still believe that war is good for the economy.

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Response to varelse (Reply #7)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 10:20 PM

8. Actually I don't think that is the case

 

There is actually a fairly large majority who want serious cuts to the military, and it's been that way for a couple of decades. Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been widespread support for that position, and in fact many were, and are, disappointed that we never got a peace dividend, ie a large drop in military spending, under Clinton or anyone since.

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Response to MadHound (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 11:26 PM

9. K&R

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Response to MadHound (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 06:50 AM

10. kick n/t

 

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