There are two points I want to get across in this post. #1: the federal government spends far too much money on the military. #2: we're running up a huge deficit at an unprecedented rate primarily due to the unchecked militarism of the United States of America.
‘Death and Taxes’ is a representational poster of the federal discretionary budget; the amount of money that is spent at the discretion of your elected representatives in Congress. Basically, your federal income taxes. The data is from the President’s budget request for 2008. It will be debated, amended, and approved by Congress by October 1st to begin the fiscal year.
The poster provides a uniquely revealing look at our national priorities, that fluctuate yearly, according to the wishes of the President, the power of Congress, and the will of the people. If you pay taxes, then you have paid for a small part of everything in the poster. –Death and Taxes: A Visual Guide to Where Your Federal Tax Dollars Go
Visit the above website and play with the control for zooming and panning the poster. You can zoom in by department and branch of government. Very cool. Now let's briefly evaluate what we're spending our current federal budget on using the TrueMajority.com's graphic.
The big red slice at the top that accounts for more than half our federal budget is our military spending. The 15% X is a proposed decrease in this spending being proposed by the Common Sense Budget Act (CSBA). The proposal of the Common Sense Budget Act proposes we cut military spending by 15% and apply this $69 Billion dollars to:
- Provide health insurance to 9 million American kids who lack it
- Rebuild or modernize our public schools over 12 years
- Retrain a quarter million workers
- Cut our reliance on foreign oil in half over 10 years
- Restore recent cuts in life-saving medical research
- Invest wisely in Homeland Security by inspecting cargo containers entering our ports
- Save 6 million children who die of hunger-related diseases in impoverished countries annually
- Begin to reduce the deficits
Common sense really. This is a sound investment in our nation's future. I'm not 100% on board with the details of the proposed spending categories, but cutting our military budget by 15% is a damn good idea.
It is important to note that the above numbers on military spending are not accurate. This does not account for the hundreds of billions of dollars we're over budget on largely due to Iraq and "defense" spending This is not represented on the 'Death and Taxes' poster or the CSBA pie chart. We’re borrowing exorbitant amounts from other countries. Most experts have our daily borrowing pegged somewhere around $1.9 billion a day (some experts estimate as low as $1.36 billion). Yes a day. You read this correctly, almost $2 billion a day is being borrowed by the United States from other countries. The United States achieves this borrowing by selling interest-bearing promissory notes called Treasury bonds to foreign investors. One of the primary "investors" is China. The enthusiasm of foreign countries to purchase American Treasuries has for decades financed a false prosperity in the United States. This concerns many economists because our borrowing is like a house of cards constructed partially from the economies of other countries. We can't possibly afford to pay back these interest bearing bonds. When this house of cards collapses the repercussions will be felt by the counties that are currently financing our wars with their investments. Also, remember we're spending $2 billion a week on the occupation of Iraq alone.
Do we really need this much money budgeted for military spending? Not even accounting for the hundreds of millions were over budget, should more than half our federal budget be allotted for military spending? Of course not. Some may think that because of the prominence of the United States this outrageous amount of money is a necessary cost to protect us from people who "hate freedom". Not so. In fact, let's examine a rough break down of budgeted military spending by nation. The lunacy of our budgeted spending should be evident. Bear in mind this simple chart does not account for the $700 Billion in borrowing, which is largely poured into military spending.
$463 billion budgeted to the Pentagon is so unaccountable that not only could the Dept. of Defense not pass an audit, but the books are in such bad shape that an audit cannot be performed. We simply have no idea, nor does the Pentagon, where money is spent. See Financial Mismanagement in the Department of Defense Report.
What's driving us to spend this ill conceived spending? The American Corporatacracy of course. This is the American corporate oligarchs and apparatus warned of by Eisenhower that has been fully realized. What can you do? Write your state and federal representatives. Support the Common Sense Budget Act. Support the Sunshine in Government Initiative. Support state and federal term limits. This isn't a Republican/Democrat issue. This is a corruption issue that cuts across parties lines. Support some real campaign finance reform. Finally, simply telling your friends about this and building awareness will help. Forward this blog post or some of the links contained herein.
Some sources not previously linked to: