Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rebuilding America & the U.S. Military Budget

The U.S. today faces multiple domestic crises: the Wall Street financial crisis, the broader economic crisis affecting both major U.S. corporations and the man on the street, the mortgage crisis, and the health care crisis, just to name the most obvious ones. At the same time, the U.S. curiously finds itself in the midst of a seemingly endless international campaign to enhance its influence through brute force, a rather expensive method for achieving the goal.

I have previously suggested that the U.S. military budget is the obvious source for funds to address America's domestic problems. The chart below, from the War Resisters League, estimates the real size of the U.S. military budget. The actual economic cost to the country of its foreign adventures is of course even higher, since that includes such costs as the loss of productivity of the tens of thousands of Iraq war vets who are disabled and the loss of real national wealth resulting from the production of war materiel that just gets destroyed in the Iraqi desert or Afghan mountains rather than contributing to domestic welfare. Nevertheless, to understand that half the Federal budget is devoted to military purposes is sobering enough.

The details on the War Resisters League website are well worth reading. Then consider the enormity of the total U.S. military budget figure for 2009: One Trillion, Four Hundred Forty Nine Billion. That amount of money would guarantee a lot of mortgages, rebuild a lot of bridges, save a lot of companies, employ a lot of citizens, and fund a lot of health care.

But if there is still someone out there who really thinks that having two naval battle groups steaming in circles around the Persian Gulf and a string of city-sized army bases with swimming pools and bowling alleys and soldiers' dependents scattered across the Iraqi desert actually enhances U.S. national security, I'd be more than happy to publish your thoughts.

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