Saturday, April 23, 2011

Military Mis-Appropriations

I wonder how serious the debt and deficit would be if, twenty-three years ago at the end of the Cold War, American voters and legislators had taken an honest and realistic look at defense spending. My guess? Trillions of dollars would have been saved, and our country would feel safer and more secure than it does now. A recent feature investigation in Time Magazine asks - and answers - the same questions.

For at least a decade, I have argued with debt and deficit critics about the need to cut military spending. From unnecessary and unproved or outdate weapons systems to convoluted and secretive appropriations programs linked to local jobs with military contractors to hundreds of thousands of soldiers stationed around the world in stable societies, the military is a behemoth of spending that results from lack of oversight. As Time points out with the famous quote from Truman about the "military industrial complex," the nation needs "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry" to carefully analyze and budget for our military needs and peaceful goals.


steven said...

Michael, most Americans think we should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but this doesn't stop the ruling class from going ahead full steam with more plans for war. So how would "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry" help to reduce "defense" spending?

It's in the ruling class's best interest to wage war. They gain power and wealth, while soldiers and taxpayers shoulder the cost of war. That's why war is so popular with the ruling class. Our pain is their gain.

And you think that society couldn't get along without the state. We just need to elect the right people, then everything will be fine. Right?

mmazenko said...

Sounds pretty bleak when you put it that way. I still have hope, though. The "educated electorate" thing that Jefferson hoped for.

steven said...

I think that the future is bleak, unless enough people can learn to embrace non-political solutions and evenutally let the state wither and die. My favored strategy is to refuse to participate in politics and encourage others to do the same. I don't see any other way. The state will always be under the control of special interests and the elite, and will always serve the interests of those that control it. There is no such thing as a benevolent state that looks out for the welfare of everyone. That idea goes against human nature.

Darren said...

1. Do you not remember the "peace dividend"? Do you not know that the military today, 10 years after 9/11 and two wars (with a kinetic action underway), *still* smaller than when I served in the 80s?

2. Unless Truman used the phrase first, something of which I'm not familiar, it was Eisenhower--50 years ago this week--who uttered the phrase "military-industrial complex".

mmazenko said...

My mistake - you're right on Ike.

"Smaller" is relative. It's a fiscal behemoth, and as a fiscal conservative, you should know that.

A former student just returned from Afghanistan infantry, and is facing a pay cut. But military contractors are raking it in, and the military is still being manipulated by weapons contractors.

If you aren't critical of a bloated budget like that, you aren't fiscally conservative