Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rebuilding America...and Honesty about the U.S. "Defense" Budget

In my recent "Rebuilding America" post, I described two alternative styles of living and advocated a national debate to decide which type of society Americans want to have. The two "styles of living" are essentially the fraudulent, short-term, dishonest, "live it up" approach that has characterized the last decade in particular vs. an honest, responsible, sustainable lifestyle. The underlying assumption of this whole discussion is that personal lifestyle, domestic politics, and foreign policy are all in the same basket.

Using the so-called "defense" budget rather than at-the-pump prices to pay for imported oil.

One of several issues that need to be considered in order to define a coherent lifestyle for society is the use of the defense budget. Americans would be much less confused about global affairs if our leaders made clear, honest public distinctions between offense and defense, not to mention actually telling the American people what percent of the so-called "defense" budget goes to do such things as subsidize the cost of gasoline.

When something like 40% of the world's total outlay for military forces is spent by the U.S., it is obvious that American military expenditures cover a lot that has little to do with defending U.S. national security. Conquering countries with oil and paying off dictators of other countries with oil may or may not be something Americans want to do, but the fact is that we are doing it - we are just pretending that we don't. Since we pretend that all we are doing is "defending" ourselves, it is next to impossible to discuss such basic issues as the amount of money we are spending to subsidize the price of gasoline or whether or not invading countries is a cost-effective method of lowering the price of gas. The resulting confusion is of course very convenient for members of the elite who like to make such decisions without public interference, but it is not so healthy for devising a long-term strategy for American survival in a world that is posing rising challenges.

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