If you haven’t read this article at Tom Dispatch, you have missed perhaps the most important story about the budget debate (or lack thereof). Over and over we hear false charges that Social Security, which has contributed nothing to the deficit and which both parties are trying to raid as we speak, “should be cut,” but little about the truth of the so-called security budget, which is more like assured insecurity. The truth is that defense spending is ballooning and unsustainable. And so far, rather paltry, pitiful attempts at making cuts to that side of the budget have been attempted. Defense spending is making the rest of America poor and even contributing to the destabilization of the world. We pretend we can be the world’s police force. But we cannot. Merely trying robs us of what we can truly become as a nation. We are much more than a military presence, but we do not act like it. Now we hear we may yet become involved in a third war, and maybe a fourth. We callously neglect our returning veterans even while enriching white collar defense workers and privatized mercenary armies.
Meanwhile, daily the extant and so-called media rant fabrications against workers, while failing for the most part to report the basest exploitation of workers to further line CEO pockets. Yet almost nothing is so infuriating as the callous disregard for good stewardship of our defense dollars.
While we are told military expenditures range roughly in the 600 billions, they are more realistically twice that (see the article linked above). Spending our way to security is a fool’s bargain and, it seems we have never been less secure, even as we spend historic sums of money, often just throwing money at problems. One year ago, a CSM article spoke of the last vestige of US empire.
With continued profligate spending, we have come even further to the end of the line. President Johnson learned you can not have both “guns and butter.” Presidents Bush and Obama have not learned.
President Obama promised to build a more transparent budget, which he has partially accomplished. Yet his transparency mission will never be served without an complete and straightforward reporting of the many ways “defense” spending is masked, buried and the public deceived about the true cost of wars and Homeland Security. Halving our “defense” spending and ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich would more than solve our budgetary problems, but there is little chance of those two things happening in our corporate and frighteningly profligate Congress. There are so many missed opportunities to get it right. While Jim Webb has fought for accountability in defense spending, few others seem to care.