Just weeks before Tax Day, April 15, Governor Deval Patrick, Obama’s “close friend,” signed into law a bond bill that dispenses $177 million in Massachusetts State Taxes to the Pentagon for construction and “upgrades” of U.S. military bases in the state. That’s right, not federal taxes but state taxes.
On April 15, the federal govt. collected about $1 trillion in personal income taxes. The Pentagon will get $600 billion this year, and along with the CIA, NSA, the costs of overseas wars as in Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, the bill for the imperial-military complex will come to about $1 trillion. Does not the war machine get enough as it swills down at the federal trough, without gouging us at the state level?
Meanwhile cities and towns are in dire need of more state aid for schools and other crucial spending, like ravaged roads, crumbling bridges and decaying senior centers. Taxes have been raised in many cities and towns because of the lack of such funds from state coffers, further burdening the taxpayers.
But it is worse; Massachusetts is not alone. Similar legislation, for $40 million, has already been enacted in Connecticut for the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. And there is rumor that similar legislation has been proposed in other states. Thus the $40 million in Connecticut and the $177 million in Massachusetts may well serve as pilots for more giveaways by other states. In fact it is likely that states which refuse to pony up may be threatened with loss of their military bases and the jobs that go with them, setting off an unseemly bidding war to house the machinery of death and destruction.
Still worse, the bill in Massachusetts passed 150-0 without any opposition voiced in the House and with only two nay votes in the Senate which houses 40 solons. It scarcely needs to be pointed out that the Mass. Legislature is almost exclusively Democrat and that many of these Dems tell their liberal constituents that they are against the war on Iraq and Afghanistan – or at least they were while Bush was in office.
The technique of guaranteeing passage of the bill was tried and true, with beneficiary military installations located in many locations across the state, guaranteeing that some substantial pork would come to a neighborhood near many legislators or their buddies. The installations covered are: Westover Air Force Base, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Natick Soldiers Systems Center, Fort Devens, Hanscom Air Force Base and the Massachusetts Military Reservation.
$177 is no chump change as Senator Tarr said, when he introduced the bill for fleeting “debate” in the Senate: “These capital dollars, this is (sic) unprecedented in its magnitude.” That, by the way was, supposed to be praise, not condemnation, of this latest bit of robbery. And of course the most corrupt form of government spending next to the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, etc. is construction where many hands are inevitably in the till up to their elbows. The state where the very leaky Big Dig had huge cost overruns and the Brothers Bulger reigned supreme is no stranger to such thievery. Finally you can bet that, once the Pentagon gobbles up this first tribute, they will hunger for more – and more and more.
Now let us give credit where credit is due. Senators Patricia Jehlen and James Eldridge, both liberal Democrats, were the sole two aforementioned nay votes in the entire legislature and their comments in the brief debate deserve to be read in full, especially by Massachusetts residents. They are to be found in footnotes below (1 and 2). With these exceptions the brief Senate debate heard only perfervid expressions of patriotism and huzzahs all around for the “men in uniform,” as the lawmakers casually dispensed the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars to the bloated Pentagon.
A personal disappointment to this writer was the yes vote of my own Representative in Cambridge, Democrat Marjorie Decker, who has cultivated a reputation as a peacenik, a reputation no longer deserved. Equally disappointing was the yes vote of the supposedly libertarian, Republican, “antitax” Senator Robert Hedlund and the two GOP reps in the House who have enjoyed libertarian backing. Here we have them throwing away tax dollars and propping up an imperial war machine, both of which ought to be anathema to rock-ribbed libertarian Republicans. The progressive peace organizations and the Ron Paul libertarians must cut off support to those who betray them on an important issue like this; otherwise they will be seen as patsies. Severe punishment for foul legislative deeds is warranted, and it is effective politics.
There was virtually no mention of this bill in the liberal mainstream media here in Massachusetts, until we were going to press with this article. The Boston Globe on April 27, finally ran a piece which diverted attention from the central issue, the squandering of millions on the Pentagon, to the sleazy “lobbying” efforts of Governor Patrick’s former chief of staff, Mo Cowan. But the Globe article is worth reading simply to see how pervasive and rotten the elite network of politicians and military contractors remains in the great Bay State. As far as the progressive organizations go, Mass Peace Action, almost a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dem Party, repeatedly whimpered about “transparency” and “accountability” more than the money grab itself. To these timid folks it seems theft is just fine so long as it occurs in broad daylight. Nor was there anything to be heard from the libertarian corner on the issue.
With the deposit of this legislation an unseemly stench wafts up from the Cradle of Liberty. The bill should be rescinded – period. And other states should be on the lookout for similar bills. Pentagon spending is not growing fast enough for the imperial elite, and they will be looking for new avenues whereby to fleece the taxpayer. Deval Patrick, Mo Cowan and the co-conspiring lawmakers may have handed them a new form of robbery, which is likely to be visited on taxpayers from Massachusetts’s shore to the other shining shore.
John V. Walsh writes for Antiwar.com, CounterPunch.com, The Unz Review and DissidentVoice.org. By day he has toiled away on the physiology of neurons and other excitable cells. He would like to hear from those who have detected a similar scam in their state. He can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com
1. Massachusetts State Senator Eldridge. “I became aware of it in the spring and did my due diligence. I took a step back and thought about where we are no military spending. We are authorizing state dollars but part of the effort is in partnership with the military. We support the military in defense of our country, but questions are raised on spending state dollars for a national purpose. Think back, military spending has increased by 69 percent since 2001. It’s now 594 billion dollars in the FY 14 federal budget. We are now spending more on military than before the Cold War. The money we are putting forth is intertwined with that spending. There is a base in my district, Fort Devens, mostly used as a training facility. I toured it. I saw superb and excellent facilities and men and women. Soldiers are being trained to serve overseas. There were modern buildings. There was new infrastructure. In my conversations, the gentleman providing the tour said many of the buildings were new. Money is flowing to our bases. It’s been mentioned since my tour that some of this money could be used to enhance training facilities. I am sure that is true. Schools and senior centers could be upgraded. Roads and bridges could use improvements. We have many, many domestic needs. In 2012 the Political Economic Research Institute did a study and recognized a cut in military spending could lead to a minor loss of jobs, but realized funds are shifted to other uses like education, construction, health care and clean energy and there could be an increase in jobs created. When we are thinking about the use of this bond money to match the federal dollars to create jobs, let’s pause and think that a much better use of our taxayer dollars, whether state or federal, is for domestic purposes. There have been infrastructure improvements at Devens and there’s been private investment and there are schools there, the Devens part that is not owned by the military. There are more jobs than when it was a military base. I have seen the ability for state dollars, for federal dollars for domestic purposes to create more jobs than existed under the military at Fort Devens.
2. Massachusetts State Senator Jehlen: “I know this is an important issue, especially in many of our districts. But whenever we spend or bond money there are opportunity costs. There are limits of our bonding capacity. Despite your good arguments, I will vote no. The state has a role to build public infrastructure that will benefit everyone. Investments in education and transportation should be neutral in terms of the sector it benefits. The state should allow the invisible hand of the free market to determine what gets built. The federal government is one of many employers that looks at this state and hopes for subsidies. Every argument can be made about attracting other sectors. All sectors pay for the improvements and they should all have the opportunity to benefit. Investments should be sector neutral. We just this morning read about residents going without fuel aid because the federal government is withholding assistance. Massachusetts sends more to Washington than we get back and it’s ironic that we are being asked to spend on something that is so clearly a federal function. Our funds are not unlimited.”