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The most expensive form of socialism

We dump a huge percentage of our tax revenue into weapons programs that we don't need, and are never actually delivered. This is above and beyond the money we spend in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are new planes and tanks and missles and "defense" systems that have absolutely no value in a war against terrorists. The pentagon budget is essentially a black hole. We know that the money goes to Lockheed-Martin and Boeing and other such groups, but we don't really know what they do with it, despite the efforts of the General Office of Accounting and independent government watchdogs. The Pentagon, of course, feels no inclination to disclose anything.

This leads some people, understandably, to conspiracy theories, thinking that the money is being funneled off into weird clandestine programs (and perhaps some of it is), but the truth is that we really have a combination of cronyism and incompetence. Defense contractors give out heavy campaign contributions (and of course they can afford to - using our money), and anyone who questions the value of these projects can be accused of a lack of patriotism.

Saying we have the largest military budget in the world doesn't put things in the right perspective; we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined. Considering that our main opponents right now are people that are armed with boxcutters and home made bombs, you can imagine that our money can be spent more wisely, and the amount we spend can certainly be reduced. We could cut our budget by almost a third, focus half of that on special forces anti-terrorist operations, and still have more money devoted to traditional arms than China and Russia combined. There is no reason to be spending as much as we do.

One of the main remaining rationales is that our defense spending creates jobs. Our representatives often fight to bring home defense contracts to their districts, or keep unnecessary naval bases open, so that they can go home and talk about the jobs they've created in their areas. This is the most inefficient form of socialism imaginable. If we want the government to create jobs (and during a recession, we certainly do) there are much more valuable things we can have people doing (imagine building a modern national mass transportation system, retrofitting homes and buildings with solar power and greywater systems, increasing funding for schools, increasing hospital staff, etc., etc., etc.). But if the government is going to be in the business of creating jobs and sustaining the economy (certainly i think it should but conservatives will disagree - once the military fig leaf is removed), it shouldn't do so through the back door. It should do so overtly, so we can have our candidates debate it and we can vote for the plan we like best, and so it can be managed openly and governed by a central, non-secretive agency, and so that we can adjust it when reports like the most recent GOA report come out. Instead, we're basically just throwing our GDP away.

By fnord12 | April 1, 2008, 10:05 AM | Liberal Outrage