Why we're not even debating the largest defense budget in history
I cannot do better than the words of Dwight Eisenhower on this topic:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road. the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.". April 16, 1953.
the sad thing about this is that investing in PEOPLE, in FAMILIES, in CHILDREN is where the profits will come ... but apparently such investments are boring compared to shiny new weapons of (mass?) destruction that all these military contractors have a massive hard-on for.
Not only would one expect more discussion of the amount of military spending. We should also have a discussion of the role of the U.S. in wars. What is the role of the United Nations? Are we sleepwalking into more wars, more escalation, more deaths, injuries, environmental destruction, rising risks of nuclear war? Where is the path we are currently on going to lead us? Many countries around the world don't view the U.S. and NATO as peacekeepers.
"Why no debate" in congress and the media, you ask. You know the answer: who has power? The monopolistic monumental corporations, the financiers - playing roulette, adding no value, and the merchants of death. Remember Gilens and Page (2014): 70% of the population is disenfranchised, has zero impact on any political decisions. And there is absolutely no sign of rebellion from the people who do pay the taxes. Why? The propaganda machine keeps the easily hoodwinked population distracted and dazed in the headlights of all the screens thy are glued to. We have been robbed (Rand Corporation working paper of September 2020, estimate $47 TRILLION from 1975 to 2018) and subjected. Anger boils. The solution for the "masters of mankind" (Adam Smith "The Wealth of Nations" 1776) to keep us subjected: move to autocracy. It is an old story. The US could have chosen the path of hope for the future of humanity. So regrettably tragic.
In my work designing and constructing military facilities, I have seen firsthand the amount spent on new or renovated facilities for many of these new weapon systems and the prioritization of these facilities over facilities such as lodging, housing or welfare for our troops. Robert, thank for putting some numbers up to show this and the need to at least debate the best value for the monies we’re spending.
Thanks again Dr. Reich for bringing this topic to the forum. When I first read about the passage of the "Defense" Department bill several days ago and that there was unanimity and NO debate, I was disgusted as I am every year. And the answer from the political realm is always the same "Look at all the money this is bringing into the State. I will use Dr. Reich's word RUBBISH! instead of my usual obscene word. Not only we do have more weapons (of the lethal type) than we have residents, we spend more money on weapons of mass destruction than even Russia or China. So, who are the bad guys in this picture? In the words of Walt Kelly's Pogo "We have seen the enemy and he is us" And as Dr. Reich so succinctly points out who benefits? Certainly not the 99% of us living paycheck to paycheck. No, it's the obscenely wealthy. Our rank and file military folk are paid as poorly as the rest of the working class. What's worse, if they are unlucky enough to be badly injured in the line of duty, we DON'T take care of them. The VA, I understand is improving, but has a long way to go. I did not approve of our attack on Vietnam, Granada, or Iraq; but I disapprove even more of the disgusting way our government treated those who participated, suffered horrible injuries like they were useless detritus. Jon Stewart went to Congress begging and pleading for assistance for these veterans. He did get some action, but not enough.
Defense Department. Such a wonderful euphemism. It more appropriately use to be called the War Department.
When you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.
It’s not because politicians don’t want to look weak on defense, at least not solely, no, it’s that they get huge amounts of $ from the military suppliers ( the industrial welfare state) and those defense department $ get spent in each and every one of their precincts.
One factor among many in this spending extravaganza seems to be a tendency for defense industry to make sure an F-35 for example, is built with some contribution from nearly every state, so the politicians there will support this effort. We used to read regularly about defense officials asking to stop this weapon which they did not like.
There is also the fact that Senators and Representatives have military bases and defense contractors in their states/districts, and they feel they have to keep feeding these "job creators."
I read a New York Times article awhile ago that reported China's annual defense spending is between $200 billion and $300 billion, less than half of ours. The same article said that in some areas their military capacity is exceeding ours, indicating that China is getting far more bang for its buck. A reassessment is definitely needed.
Of course there is no debate. Bernie Sanders is allowed to be the outlier, but few others. Can you imagine a national political candidate who campaigned on a pledge to audit the Pentagon and cut spending to affordable levels? Pretty sure he or she would have an unfortunate accident, like stepping in front of a bullet. Americans are at the mercy of too many powerful forces: the military industrial complex, Big Oil, Pharma, and Big Ag, Insurance, and the 1%. They don’t have a prayer, saving their democracy or their planet or their health.
Once again, the professor has nailed it.
As did Eisnehouwer - in his farewell speech. If only he had governed like that! But it's worth looking up that speech. Highly prophetic. Sadly, fulfilled.
We can’t have our cake and eat it too. Fighting for democracy in Ukraine is expensive. We are in every sense fighting a war by proxy. I’m hundred percent all in. I’m not smart enough to know if we can help ourselves the way we should. I’m sure the billionaires will get their tax cuts. We shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden by ourselves
There is no need in civilian life for an assault rifle. Those that have them, just take cans out to a quarry and shoot for fun. That’s it!
Sleepwalking through history is perfect! Congress is the good cop bad cop act . Result same whether dem or republicans are in charge. I am beginning to think we need more of tha AOC team to reshape or shake up the system.
Implicit in all of this is a severe criticism of the media. Okay, Democratic and Republican politicians aren't talking about this because it serves their interests. But why isn't the press?