The Huffington Post reports that the United States spent $695.7 billion on defense in 2011. That’s 58% of the $1.19 trillion spent by the ten biggest military spenders in the world.
With all that cash (our tax dollars) floating around, no one should be surprised that there’s a dust-up starting over the fancy housing given to U.S. generals. In Germany, one top officer put in a request for $1.4 million to renovate his house. One house. The work of course, wouldn’t be done by the military but by private contractors, so all that renovation spending would go to prop up the economy in Germany, and not here in the U.S. And in Germany, they offer their people public healthcare (a public option that covers about 90% of the populace) and a free college education. Imagine that.
We spend plenty on private contractors in the name of defense, both at home and abroad. It’s being reported that the Defense Department uses our tax money to support 1.2 million private contractors. Remember when the military did what the military did, without the need for all those private contractors? What happened? Could this be one more way for those on the right in conjunction with the wealthiest one-percent to extract all the tax money they can through privitization? As for military bases, by one estimate, we now have 865 military outposts in more than forty countries. The Roman Empire, had nothing on us. Could today’s Washington, D.C. Mall be tomorrow’s Roman Forum?
American security is one thing. Profitability is another. Never underestimate the addictive power of greed.
The Pentagon is throwing so much money around that the Government Accountability Office can’t keep track of where it’s all going. The GAO says that it could not “render an opinion on the 2011 consolidated financial statements of the federal government”, with a major problem once again being “serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable”. But hey, it’s only tax money.
I have to keep reminding myself that we are not at war. With anybody. We are supposed to be out of that terribly misguided military misadventure in Iraq, and withdrawing from our presence as a military police force in Afghanistan, where, as with the Soviets and the British before them, the longer we stay, the more they hate us. And still, all that money continues pouring out to the military industrial complex while right-wing politicians do all they can to cut away at the heart of America, attempting to further devastate the middle class with blows to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, fire and police protection and public education while our infrastructure falls apart. Detroit, America’s “Motor City,” just went bankrupt. They’re $18 billion in the red. According to Sen. Bernie Sanders, 60% of the city’s children are living in poverty. 78,000 buildings have been abandoned.
It’s now being estimated that our spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, will run somewhere between 4 and 6 trillion dollars. A trillion, is a thousand billion. We can’t save Detroit, but we can rebuild Baghdad, after blowing it to bits. America and Iraq both lose, while war contractors extract the wealth.
This is madness.
An old proverb keeps popping into my head. It’s the one about being certain your garden is free of weeds before giving others advice on how to garden.