Sunday, November 12, 2017

38.3 - Question: why has the left dropped military spending as an issue?

Question: why has the left dropped military spending as an issue?

I have a question.

In the midst of all the talk about Tweetie-pie's proposed tax gift to the rich and the hack-and-slash treatment proposed for Medicare, Medicaid, and much more, another part of budget considerations has been met with a massive yawn.

On November 8, House and Senate negotiators agreed on the Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), setting authorized levels of spending for the War Department. The figure? $700 billion.

That stunning figure includes $634 billion for core Pentagon operations and $66 billion for our various wars.

That is not just an increase over last year, it is an increase over what Tweetie-pie asked for: It's $31 billion more for Pentagon operations and $1 billion more for the wars.

It is a total increase over last year of $81 billion, more than 13% - an increase so large that had the DOD budget simply stayed the same level as FY 2017, not cut, just stayed the same, the US could have paid this year's tuition for every public college student in the country and still have $11 billion left over for board and books and so much for "free college is unaffordable."

Instead, we're supposed to waste it on crap like the F-35 strike fighter, the most expensive weapons system in history, with more than $100 billion invested over 25 years and it is still, according to recently-retired Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, at least two years and $1 billion from being combat ready.

We're supposed to spend it on more bombers, more submarines, more destroyers, more aircraft carriers.

And we are supposed to pay for war and more wars and wars you haven't heard of and wars that are secret.

The New York Times reports that the United States has been at war continuously since 9/11 and now has nearly a quarter-million active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen but also in Niger, Somalia, Jordan, Thailand, and elsewhere. In fact some 38,000 troops are on assignment in places the DOD lists as "unknown" doing who knows what.

So here's the question: Where the flaming hell is the left?

Why the silence? Why the acquiescence? The NDAA passed the House by 344-81 and the Senate by 89-9.

Looking for, proposing, ways to cut war spending used to be a rallying cry of the left. Money for life, not death! we said. Fund human needs! we said. What the hell happened?

Is it truly that just because it's not Americans doing a lot of the dying that we just don't care? Is that what we are saying? Or are we embracing the militarized paranoia of "the terrorists are coming! the terrorists are everywhere?" Is that what we are saying?

Well, I'll tell you what I say and I'll do it by paraphrasing something I wrote about 25 years ago:

Killing is what too much of our federal budget is about. I’m not going to get into the argument about what portion of federal spending goes to the military, not only because of disagreements over exactly what should and shouldn’t be considered “military spending,” but also because, frankly, I just don’t care.

Forget the number-crunching, forget the arguments about discretionary versus non-discretionary spending, about ratios and operating budgets and “trends,” forget the blather and the bother. The issue is not the percentage of federal spending going to the military, the issue is military spending. And the military budget has been and continues to be too big.

As long as we can afford to build rail guns but not railroads, the military budget is too big.

As long as we can afford humvees but not health care, the military budget is too big.

As long as we can afford military housing but not public housing, the military budget is too big.

As long as we can find money for mass murder but not mass transit, the military budget is too big.

As long as we can pay to make our bombs smart but not our children, the military budget is too big.

As long as military aid is given higher priority than development aid and world hegemony matters more than world hunger, the military budget is too big.

In short, as long as it’s easier to approve money for matters of death than for matters of life, the military budget is just too damned big.

But that’s still the political reality, no matter the current numbers: For domestic programs or non-military foreign aid, spending has to be justified - but for military programs, not spending has to be justified. The bias remains in favor of the Pentagon, the burden of proof remains on its opponents.

That bias, to be blunt, is the mark of militarism. And as long as that remains true, the military budget Is. Too. Big.

And I am ashamed of how the left seems to have forgotten that.


Patricia Kayden said...

Great question. This wasteful spending on the military is one of the big reasons we can't have nice things. The neverending War on Terror is going to continue to suck up trillions of tax payers' dollars with nothing meaningful to show for it. The left should be pushing back but as you correctly point out, military spending doesn't even seem to be a major issue for Democrats.

Racer X said...

Because they are gutless cowards whose very souls can be bought and sold. Next question.

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