THE U.S. IS THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD—AND ENDOWED WITH BOUNTIFUL NATURAL RESOURCES--
BUT IT SPENDS ITS MONEY ON THE WRONG THINGS, AND HAS DONE SO FOR DECADES—TO THE GREAT DETRIMENT OF THE WORLD AS A WHOLE, AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
The figures shown in this graphic reflect a bad enough situation—in that U.S. defense spending is disproportionate and excessive—but the reality is a great deal worse.
This is because total U.S. spending—if you factor in all expenditure to do with National Security such as the Veterans Administration, Intelligence, the Black Budget, and Homeland Security (which really should be part of the Defense Budget) —actually exceeds a $1 trillion a year. That is nearly real money.
The Defense Budget undercounts the reality by a significant amount—but is politically more acceptable.
This has a number of consequences. Virtually all are adverse.
- It makes a relatively small number of the ultra-rich, and the corporations they control—better known as the MICC (Military Industrial Congressional Complex), ever richer. This, in turn, promotes wealth and income inequality, and gives the ultra-rich the resources to dominate the political system. A corrupt Congress, which feeds off this money flow—and thus has no incentive to mitigate it—is the result. As a consequence, this disastrous situation is self-perpetuating.
- It makes unfriendly nations feel threatened—with very good reason—and drives a global arms race.
- It encourages the U.S. to become involved in one unnecessary war after another—wars which drag on for years, but where the U.S. rarely wins—which have a profoundly destabilizing effect upon the world, and cause untold misery.
- It fosters greed and undermines integrity. People are much motivated by incentives, and the National Security field is one of the prime areas “where the money is.” Unfortunately, laying your hands on enough of it—ahead of the competition—has come to require engaging in some decidedly dubious behavior. Bluntly, Pentagon custom and practice fosters a culture of opportunism, careerism, and corruption—which is unhealthy for society as a whole, and incompatible with the purported ethos of those dedicated to National Defense. Duty, Honor, County is what is advertised, but is not what is practiced. “Going along to get along” is the prevailing code. Faust did much the same thing.
- It drains energy and talent away from areas where it might do the most good—and utilizes them in a much less productive way. It short it wastes a nation’s greatest resource—it’s human capital—on a truly epic scale. The U.S. remains an innovation powerhouse but it has been losing ground commercially in sector after sector—though it totally dominates the international arms trade.
- It wastes finite natural resources and manufactures on a scale to match—and, inevitably, drives prices up for the rest of the community.
- It damages the only world we’ve got. Because so much military activity, and its associated materials (fuel, explosives, depleted uranium, mines, nuclear weapons etc.) are detrimental to the environment in some way, it does incalculable harm in that area—to which must be added a distressingly large human health toll stemming from the toxic nature of many of the items used. Simply put, no matter how much care is taken, the very nature of what the military do is polluting, destructive, and harmful—and that is before the effects of combat are factored in.
- Above all, it distorts overall government expenditure so that fundamental matters of import—such as infrastructure—are neglected, while defense thrives. When a nation will spend over a trillions dollars a year on military matters yet refuse to help its long-term unemployed, its priorities are seriously adrift.
The argument here is not that the U.S. does not need to be strong—and eminently able to defend itself—but that current defense expenditure is out of balance with the underlying need—and is not only distorting government expenditure, but is actually undermining America’s real strength—its economy.
A final, and most disturbing point to note, is that even though there is a legal requirement for the Department of Defense to be audited every year—the Pentagon is not audited. The organization that spends most taxpayer money year after year is unaccountable.The official story is that it can’t be because there are too many incompatible accounting systems. A reasonable person might think that with the kind of resources that the Pentagon has at its disposal, this issue could, and should, have been resolved decades ago. It hasn’t been. It festers on. Congress—which is responsible for both allocating funds and oversight—keeps on shoveling money in regardless. Congress is, of course, complicit—and is a key component of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex. Its members get paid off though PAC (Political Action Committees) donations and though having defense-related jobs located in their constituencies—and jobs buy votes. An underlying characteristic of the MICC is that everyone in it gets paid off. It is all very cozy, extraordinarily profitable, criminally dangerous—and out of control. The MICC is absolutely a threat to world peace because, to justify its existence, it has a vested interest in keeping the U.S., and its allies, in a state of chronic insecurity—whether the enemies are real or not. In many cases, though the hostility is real enough, the capabilities of such enemies are grossly exaggerated.
And thus the champion of democracy defends itself.
The U.S. has created a thieves’ paradise—and they are making the most of it.
But here is the irony. Despite a massive breakdown in trust of almost all U.S. institutions, the military are still approved of by over 70 percent.
That would be commendable if support for our fighting troops was the issue—but when the MICC is able to bathe in the same glow of approval, it is another matter entirely.
Oh, and by the way—why does the U.S. have over 800 military bases around the world (whereas other countries, in total, have about 30)?
U.S. defense overspend—and its related consequences—constitutes an existential structural defect which, like so many of its other core problems, is being largely ignored.