FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Sacred Cow of American Defense Spending

by LYNN FITZ-HUGH

2012 headlines were full of horrible depressing news: cuts on the federal, state, county and the city level.  The nation was subjected to a full time diet of descriptions of cities agonizing over whether to cut libraries or sewage treatment, or of the city that, in one fell swoop, cut all its employees—from firefighters to garbage collectors— to minimum wage.  Or the story of the governor who left the budget discussion to hide her tears over the cutting of hospice while one of her family members was in hospice dying.  We have argued as a nation over whether teachers and firefighters are “greedy” because they want a cost of living raise as compared to other private employees who also don’t have dignity in their pay.

But in all these discussions the sacred cow in the middle of the room remains invisible and unmentioned:  the Pentagon.   Never in the same article that talks about the painful cuts being made to public services do we discuss that the Pentagon (and the debt from our wars) got about half of the discretionary US federal budget in 2012.  In all the articles about the fiscal cliff and the prospect of the 10 percent across-the-board cut applying to the Pentagon, it is also never mentioned that our military budget dwarfs all others and is as large as the next 14 largest countries combined. Nor do we mention that it is five times that of China, the next largest military budget.  So if we cut our military budget by 50 percent, we would still far outstrip all the other countries of the world.  How much bigger do you personally feel it needs to be?

When our huge debt is endlessly decried, it is sometimes argued whether it is the Democrats’ or the Republicans’ fault.  It is never mentioned that we have not returned to a peace time budget since before the Vietnam War, nor are we informed that waging two wars simultaneously has created a huge debt.

However, when we utter the phrase “cutting our defense,” suddenly this specter of insecurity is raised.  But I must ask you as a parent are you personally more secure when a drone hits a village killing one “militant” plus a dozen civilians including children, or are you more secure when your children can get a good education, or when money is available for them to go to college?  Are you more secure when a nuclear missile sits in a silo unused or are you more secure when there are fireman and police in your community?  Do we really believe that there is enough money in the world to make us completely invulnerable to any attack? Are we as safe as the citizens in neutral countries like Switzerland, Sweden, Costa Rica or Japan?

Many years ago some friends had a booth at a county fair and with a big jar for each US dept: defense, education, health, agriculture, energy, etc.  When people approached the booth they were given a roll of 100 pennies and told to allot in accord with their budget priorities.  I don’t recall which dept usually won, but I do know it was not the Pentagon.  Day after day when they started new it came out very much the same.  Human needs were funded by average fair goers much more generously than by Congress.  What we are doing right now is not what we really need or want. Rather than believing that we are broke perhaps we could begin to notice that we are not getting our money’s worth when we fund the Pentagon.  When they start discussing eliminating Social Security COLA’s, or cutting Medicaid, or other human services, we need to remember where 60 percent of our money is sitting.  Can we afford this sacred cow?

Lynn Fitz-Hugh, Seattle, is a therapist, a lifelong peace proponent, an organizer with Just Sustainable Economy, and a mother.

 

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 20016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail