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Thread: America: sold out by the Pentagon?

  1. #1
    uniquely dreadful S.A.M.'s Avatar
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    America: sold out by the Pentagon?

    Military spending and US economy:

    It is virtually impossible to overstate the profligacy of what our government spends on the military. The Department of Defense's planned expenditures for the fiscal year 2008 are larger than all other nations' military budgets combined. The supplementary budget to pay for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not part of the official defense budget, is itself larger than the combined military budgets of Russia and China. Defense-related spending for fiscal 2008 will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. The U.S. has become the largest single seller of arms and munitions to other nations on Earth. Leaving out President Bush's two on-going wars, defense spending has doubled since the mid-1990s. The defense budget for fiscal 2008 is the largest since the second world war.

    In an attempt to disguise the true size of the U.S. military empire, the government has long hidden major military-related expenditures in departments other than Defense. For example, $23.4bn for the Department of Energy goes towards developing and maintaining nuclear warheads; and $25.3bn in the Department of State budget is spent on foreign military assistance (primarily for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Republic, Egypt and Pakistan). Another $1.03bn outside the official Department of Defense budget is now needed for recruitment and re-enlistment incentives for the overstretched U.S. military, up from a mere $174m in 2003, when the war in Iraq began. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently gets at least $75.7bn, 50% of it for the long-term care of the most seriously injured among the 28,870 soldiers so far wounded in Iraq and 1,708 in Afghanistan. The amount is universally derided as inadequate. Another $46.4bn goes to the Department of Homeland Security.

    Missing from this compilation is $1.9bn to the Department of Justice for the paramilitary activities of the FBI; $38.5bn to the Department of the Treasury for the Military Retirement Fund; $7.6bn for the military-related activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and well over $200bn in interest for past debt-financed defense outlays. This brings U.S. spending for its military establishment during the current fiscal year, conservatively calculated, to at least $1.1 trillion.
    Many neo-conservatives and poorly informed patriotic Americans believe that, even though our defense budget is huge, we can afford it because we are the richest country on Earth. That statement is no longer true. The world's richest political entity, according to the CIA's World Factbook, is the European Union. The E.U.'s 2006 GDP was estimated to be slightly larger than that of the U.S. Moreover, China's 2006 GDP was only slightly smaller than that of the U.S., and Japan was the world's fourth richest nation.

    A more telling comparison that reveals just how much worse we're doing can be found among the current accounts of various nations. The current account measures the net trade surplus or deficit of a country plus cross-border payments of interest, royalties, dividends, capital gains, foreign aid, and other income. In order for Japan to manufacture anything, it must import all required raw materials. Even after this incredible expense is met, it still has an $88bn per year trade surplus with the U.S. and enjoys the world's second highest current account balance (China is number one). The U.S. is number 163 -- last on the list, worse than countries such as Australia and the U.K. that also have large trade deficits. Its 2006 current account deficit was $811.5bn; second worst was Spain at $106.4bn. This is unsustainable.
    This. is. insane.

    Why does no one care about this?


    http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publis...le_26597.shtml

  2. #2
    Let us not launch the boat ... Tiassa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M.

    Why does no one care about this?
    Because it's not the kind of thing you can fit into a witty sound-bite.

  3. #3
    Be kind to yourself always. cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Sapiosexual
    What in the world is that?

  4. #4
    Some people do care, the media chooses not to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiassa View Post
    Because it's not the kind of thing you can fit into a witty sound-bite.
    I could. I don't think that's why.

    edit:

    I think there is actually bipartisan support for swift action on military spending. I've never run into any disagreement on it.

    Particularly when it comes to the inefficient spending of the military. As someone else said, they buy 400$ hammers and 100$ nails. Their spending also shows signs of corruption.

    It's kind of like the aid to Israel, though in this case I think there is more of a consensus (I don't want to debate whether or not Israel spending is actually justified or not, just to point out that there are other cases where media and politicians co contrary to what the public feels). Despite the feelings of the people, the media never says much, and the candidates swear allegiance by saying the military needs more. Worrisome...
    Last edited by Exhumed; 05-03-08 at 09:22 PM.

  5. #5
    uniquely dreadful S.A.M.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiassa View Post
    Because it's not the kind of thing you can fit into a witty sound-bite.
    I would think going broke at breakneck speed would be enough of a soundbite in itself. Are the people so cushioned from the effects? How much is the allowance before the wire snaps?

    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    What in the world is that?
    http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=441

    Quote Originally Posted by Exhumed View Post
    Some people do care, the media chooses not to.



    I could. I don't think that's why.

    edit:

    I think there is actually bipartisan support for swift action on military spending. I've never run into any disagreement on it.

    Particularly when it comes to the inefficient spending of the military. As someone else said, they buy 400$ hammers and 100$ nails. Their spending also shows signs of corruption.

    It's kind of like the aid to Israel, though in this case I think there is more of a consensus (I don't want to debate whether or not Israel spending is actually justified or not, just to point out that there are other cases where media and politicians co contrary to what the public feels). Despite the feelings of the people, the media never says much, and the candidates swear allegiance by saying the military needs more. Worrisome...
    Seems odd that economists and government officials would sleep on it.

    Who likes to see their country going down the drain?

  6. #6
    It is boggling. I can only guess that no one wants to face the retaliation of perhaps the most powerful interest group(s) in the country.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Exhumed View Post
    It is boggling. I can only guess that no one wants to face the retaliation of perhaps the most powerful interest group(s) in the country.
    I'd say that's accurate.

    But as large of those numbers sound, it's still only around 5% of the GDP.

  8. #8
    Let us not launch the boat ... Tiassa's Avatar
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    Cool This and that

    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M.

    I would think going broke at breakneck speed would be enough of a soundbite in itself.
    Well, that's the thing. And then the other side brings on an expert to offer a soundbite that it's just liberal hysteria that says we're going broke at breakneck speed.

    Now, mostly the pundits just go 'round and 'round on superficial points, but if you try to delve into the deeper argument, one of a couple things happens. Either people turn out, or the opposition will sit quietly mocking you until you finish and then say, "Gee, you seem to be spending an awful lot of time inventing your propaganda. That's not healthy."

    The one thing American politics cannot seem to generate right now is an honest discussion.

    Are the people so cushioned from the effects?
    Well, maybe. But many of them will blame the messengers. Imagine a strange scenario. Imagine that McCain wins in November, and again in '12. So around 2014 we're facing financial collapse. Democrats in Congress finally start to get some spine and in 2015, they introduce a plan to dig the country out of its hole.

    The GOP could turn around and, despite the war and slashing taxes, say, "The Democrats have run this country into the ground and now they want to steal from your wallet!" Toss a coin. They might actually get away with it. Americans, as a collective—and perhaps this is true of any "mob" psychology—prefer to get angry instead of find solutions. After all, how do you think we got into this Iraq mess in the first place?

    How much is the allowance before the wire snaps?
    Snaps? When the bottom falls out, a significant portion of the populace will be surprised. I mean, yeah, I wouldn't have guessed on September 10 that the next morning was Zero Hour, but I still don't understand why people were so goddamn surprised that someone finally hauled off and kicked us in the teeth.

    Part most of the people are conditioned to accept myths and rely on them in times of trouble.

    • • •

    Quote Originally Posted by Exhumed

    I could. I don't think that's why.
    You're welcome to try. More importantly, though ....

    Despite the feelings of the people, the media never says much, and the candidates swear allegiance by saying the military needs more.
    This is because it's really easy to exploit fear. And Americans are, as I mentioned to S.A.M., predisposed to myth.

    Remember that, as part of their Contract on America, the Gingrich Republicans tried to spend money on bombers that the Pentagon didn't even want. Yet if you oppose military spending, the voters will freak out. Like Zell Miller's spitwad speech at the 2004 GOP convention. People freaked out because Kerry voted against what was later determined to be a bad military spending bill. Nobody seemed to care that Cheney, as Secretary of Defense, advised Congress to actually terminate the very programs Miller indicted Kerry over.

    Politicians have every reason to pander to defense spending. Our myth-laden electorate demands it.

  9. #9
    It's scandalous. Eisenhower warned us about the threat of the military-industrial complex.

    http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst3...ts/indust.html

  10. #10
    Valued Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cluster
    But as large of those numbers sound, it's still only around 5% of the GDP.
    If the primary - by an order of magnitude, probably - source of government waste and debt is only 5% of GDP, and that's nothing to worry about, why is anyone worried about government waste and debt at all ? Sounds like a 5% tax hike - or a 10% hike on the upper half, which could be accomplished merely by repealing the recent tax cuts for the wealthy - would take care of it no problem, whenever we pleased.

  11. #11
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    It would be interesting to see how the Pentagon spending trickles down into the general population from universities to private industry. As my dad used to say "When the country hits bad times, go to war". It stimulates the economy. That aside, we should all worry about our spending, what is for defense, what is for research, and what is for offense. To much of it is in hidden costs! In the business end of things, we would call constructive bookkeeping. Its like the old 3 cups and pea thing, round and round it goes.

  12. #12
    It boggles my mind just how expensive prosecuting a modern war actually is. The war in Iraq is about as primitive a conflict as the US military will ever find itself fighting, and the cost is simply staggering. Of this $1T, a huge percentage is going toward our efforts there.

    It really makes me wonder if the world's economy is at all capable of sustaining a war between two industrialized nations anymore. The cost would be mindblowing.

    Think of today's military spending, as in the DOD budget itself (especially R&D and recruiting/retention) as an investment to prevent that kind of financial outlay. It is much cheaper to maintain a military hegemony than it would be to relenquish that position and wind up fighting a war because of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by spidergoat
    It's scandalous. Eisenhower warned us about the threat of the military-industrial complex.
    This nation's energy's problems will be solved once we tap into the friction of Eisenhower spinning in his grave.

  13. #13
    Valued Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by echo
    Think of today's military spending, as in the DOD budget itself (especially R&D and recruiting/retention) as an investment to prevent that kind of financial outlay.
    That didn't work so well for the Russians. No one else has been fool enough to try.

    And the DOD budget isn't the half of it.

    We're outspending the rest of the world combined, and the result is us getting into expensive and stalemated wars all over the planet. As investments go, that's called negative return.

    Let's save the money, put it into infrastructure and manufacturing capability, and if some other country ten or fifteen years down the road starts to begin to maybe look like the shadow of a possible threat we'll be able to respond from a sound economic base.

    As it is, all someone has to do is blow up a couple of buildings in New York, and then sit back and watch us ruin ourselves.

  14. #14
    I find it facinating that basically all the tax collected in the US seems to be needed to pay for the interest payments on a debt that just keeps rising. How much would it take to pay off the US debt and actually bring the budget back into something sustainable?

    If you haved the defence budget that would be a start

  15. #15
    Propelling The Farce !!!! Killjoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asguard View Post
    How much would it take to pay off the US debt...?
    About nine trillion dollars.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    That didn't work so well for the Russians. No one else has been fool enough to try.

    And the DOD budget isn't the half of it.

    We're outspending the rest of the world combined, and the result is us getting into expensive and stalemated wars all over the planet. As investments go, that's called negative return.

    Let's save the money, put it into infrastructure and manufacturing capability, and if some other country ten or fifteen years down the road starts to begin to maybe look like the shadow of a possible threat we'll be able to respond from a sound economic base.

    As it is, all someone has to do is blow up a couple of buildings in New York, and then sit back and watch us ruin ourselves.
    The first couple years of WWII taught us that you can't wait for a threat to materialize before responding to it. By that time it is already too late. Every penny we save in peacetime will cost us a dollar when crunch time comes.

    Also, the amount we spend on our military doesn't necessarily determine how it is employed. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  17. #17
    Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke MacGyver1968's Avatar
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    I wonder if we get a bulk discount for fighting more than one war at a time?

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Echo3Romeo View Post
    Every penny we save in peacetime will cost us a dollar when crunch time comes.
    I find that hard to believe. We seem to spend an exorbitant amount on nukes that we can't possibly deploy. We have a lot of redundancy.

    It's hard to believe our pre-Iraq occupation spending has saved us money.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by echo
    The first couple years of WWII taught us that you can't wait for a threat to materialize before responding to it.
    It also taught us that when a modern industrial country creates a huge standing army and puts itself on a war footing, it will find a reason to go to war.

    The threats that might show signs of beginning to materialize sometime in the future is all but infinite, and would not be met by devoting the entire GDP of the United States and drafting every single citizen into the army.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Exhumed View Post
    I find that hard to believe. We seem to spend an exorbitant amount on nukes that we can't possibly deploy. We have a lot of redundancy.

    It's hard to believe our pre-Iraq occupation spending has saved us money.
    A portion of our nuclear arsenal is deployed right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura
    It also taught us that when a modern industrial country creates a huge standing army and puts itself on a war footing, it will find a reason to go to war.

    The threats that might show signs of beginning to materialize sometime in the future is all but infinite, and would not be met by devoting the entire GDP of the United States and drafting every single citizen into the army.
    Again, your problem is with policymakers and not their favored instrument. Stop electing politicians who favor interventionist foreign policies and we won't need the tools to implement them.

    It is true that nobody can say with certainty what the national threat set will consist of in 2025. However, we can stay abreast (or ideally ahead) of the technology curve and plan for the more likely contingencies. That way if war does break out - something that can occur on a resolution of months - we have a force that is trained and equipped to deal with it - something that is developed on a resolution of decades.

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