Somebody in the Occupy Movement shared this video on Twitter today. It is a nice complement to yesterday’s post on military spending.
Don’t get me wrong. United States military spending is obscene. It should be reduced dramatically. The United States is currently responsible for about 43% of the world’s total military spending. No other country, China included, comes even close to the U.S. in amount of military spending. As outlined in a great post by Global Issues, The United States outspends China by a ratio of about 6:1 and indeed spends more than the next highest 14 countries combined. $0.39 out of every $1.00 in taxes goes to pay for current military spending and costs associated with past wars.
What do we get for all that spending? In my evaluation, not much. I don’t believe that a decade of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have produced any constructive outcome.You can judge for yourself.
Objectively speaking, however, much of the U.S. military spending is waste. A recent Department of Defense report, publicized by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, noted that hundreds of defense contractors who defrauded the U.S. military received $1.1 trillion in contracts over the past decade. The contractors included big names like Northrup Grumman & Lockheed Martin. The received little more than a slap on the wrist and indeed continued to receive huge contracts.
In the midst of our unemployment crisis, continued high military spending has recently been defended from the standpoint of jobs creation, but military spending is much less efficient in creating jobs than spending on things that actually help people, like education or healthcare.
So with the Congressional GOP and some Democrats howling about the Federal deficit and massive debt, why can’t we cut military spending? Why not pick the low-hanging fruit before making harder choices about spending on human needs like Social Security, Medicare, Pell Grants, and Food Stamps?
The answer is, like the answer to most “Why can’t we…” questions these days…corporate money in politics. Defense contractors own key members of Congress and they will see to it that military spending continues to increase, not decrease.
This point has been driven home for me in recent days as I’ve seen frantic Tweeting by at least a couple of members of Congress:
Randy Forbes, a Republican, represents Virginia’s 4th district. He is Chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. Randy Forbes’ top campaign contributors include defense contractors like Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Earl Industries, WE Curling, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and others.
Buck McKeon, also a Republican, represents the 25th District in California. McKeon is Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Buck McKeon has received over $250,ooo in contributions this cycle from the defense sector. McKeon’s top donors include Boeing, General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, to list just a few.
These same two Congressman have been hounding President Obama and Democrats about the debt and deficit spending:
So the defense industry fills these guys campaign coffers and, in return, they lobby to leave military spending untouched while push drastic custs on spending that meets human needs. While this may not meet any legal definition of public corruption, in my estimation it is absolutely corrupt. Things won’t change until we can stop corporations from buying legislators. To rationalize military spending, we need to get corporate money out of politics and get corrupt politicians out of office.
I find it breathtakingly ironic that my Republican Congressman, Peter Roskam, is spending my tax dollars to send out a self-promotional mailer warning out the dangers of uncontrolled government spending. Roskam has made the national debt his signature issue. So why is this self-proclaimed hero of the taxpayer contributing to the national debt by bombarding his constituents with what is, essentially, campaign mail, paid for by the hard-earned money that they send to Washington to spend on important priorities like national defense, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, funding public education, and caring for the poor & elderly.
With just one of these mailings, Roskam no doubt frittered away my annual Federal income tax payment of about $11,000 and probably those of a good number of other constituents. And he does this numerous times every year.
Peter Roskam has collected $352,320 thus far this cycle from the corporations whose interests he votes to advance instead of mind. Let them fund his campaign mailers. Peter Roskam, stop wasting my tax dollars on junk mail.