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September 30, 2008

New Tomdispatch


We Have the Money
If Only We Didn't Waste It on the Defense Budget

By Chalmers Johnson

There has been much moaning, air-sucking, and outrage about the $700 billion that the U.S. government is thinking of throwing away on rich New York bankers who have been ripping us off for the past few years and then letting greed drive their businesses into a variety of ditches. In fact, we dole out similar amounts of money every year in the form of payoffs to the armed services, the military-industrial complex, and powerful senators and representatives allied with the Pentagon.

On Wednesday, September 24th, right in the middle of the fight over billions of taxpayer dollars slated to bail out Wall Street, the House of Representatives passed a $612 billion defense authorization bill for 2009 without a murmur of public protest or any meaningful press comment at all. (The New York Times gave the matter only three short paragraphs buried in a story about another appropriations measure.)

The defense bill includes $68.6 billion to pursue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is only a down-payment on the full yearly cost of these wars. (The rest will be raised through future supplementary bills.) It also included a 3.9% pay raise for military personnel, and $5 billion in pork-barrel projects not even requested by the administration or the secretary of defense. It also fully funds the Pentagon's request for a radar site in the Czech Republic, a hare-brained scheme sure to infuriate the Russians just as much as a Russian missile base in Cuba once infuriated us. The whole bill passed by a vote of 392-39 and will fly through the Senate, where a similar bill has already been approved. And no one will even think to mention it in the same breath with the discussion of bailout funds for dying investment banks and the like.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 30, 2008 02:20 PM

It would be worth putting up with some short-term financial trouble, to see both the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex wither away . . .

Posted by: Monkay at September 30, 2008 09:09 PM

I think that somebody out there has 11 trillion or so IOU slips that says we don't have the money.

Posted by: tim at September 30, 2008 09:20 PM

The military has broad consent from the people. It's seen as a necessary evil. I'm not sure people think or know about quite how much it costs, sometimes dismissing the actual numbers as left-wing exaggeration.

I like this chart:

Posted by: me at October 1, 2008 05:14 AM

Thanks for posting this, Jonathan. Chalmers Johnson is a national treasure and he has the presence of mind to recognize the elephant in the room: our feckless, overfed, counterproductive arms industry.

Nothing's completely worthless though. It can always serve as a bad example. Also, by lavishing more on our military and related enterprises than the rest of the world combined, we're succeeding in at least one area: ending the American empire.

However, we're killing way too many people and wrecking their societies in the process. Makes for hard feelings and many of the bereaved are on very good terms with our creditors. Since America's now the world's biggest deadbeat, we need to figure out a better way to suborn Congress to maintain aggregate demand.

Posted by: Pvt. Keepout at October 1, 2008 09:44 AM

"There is no doubt that a society that supports its global position and social order through $1 trillion a year in military spending, most likely far exceeding that of all the other countries in the world put together, unleashing untold destruction on the world, while faced with intractable problems of inequality, economic stagnation, financial crisis, poverty, waste, and environmental decline at home, is a society that is ripe for change. It is our task to change it".

Quoted from article below--worth reading.

The U.S. Imperial Triangle and Military Spending

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 1, 2008 05:28 PM