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Not exactly headed for Skid Row.
Much has been made, including by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, of the devastating effect that budget sequestration would have on America's ability to defend itself. But, while the suddenness of sequestration of Pentagon spending would cause troubling dislocations in the short run, the idea that cuts in overall spending over the next decade would leave the United States a helpless giant are ridiculous. That doesn't mean the sequester is a good idea, for defense or non-defense spending. But the defense budget cuts contained in it need to be put into perspective.

Based on surveys of the Stockholm International Peace Institute of the 128 nations for which there are data, the U.S. now accounts for 41 percent of all military expenditures on the planet. In fact, it spends more than the next 16 nations combined. Short of some large nation deciding to vastly increase its own spending, that gigantic margin is likely to remain fairly stable. When figuring the impact of these budgets, it's worth remembering that certain items that are actually elements of defense spending—for example, the cost of health care for veterans and the interest on money borrowed to pay for past wars—are left out of the tally.

It also shouldn't be forgotten that in the decade beginning in 2001, Pentagon spending nearly doubled. In inflation-adjusted dollars, it rose higher than it's been in the post-World War II world. It's dropped recently, mostly as a consequence of the end of the war in Iraq and the winding down in Afghanistan. But even if sequestration were to occur, defense spending would fall back only as far as it was in 2007, again adjusted for inflation.

How unsafe did that 2007 level of spending make the United States?

What's more, even with sequestration, between now and 2022, the Pentagon budget would rise an inflation-adjusted 2.4 percent annually, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Which means the core defense budget, without money for war spending, would be higher in a decade than it is now although considerably lower than it would be if the growth in its budget weren't slated to be slowed.

One key reason for this beyond militaristic ideology is that the Pentagon can't prioritize. The players, that is, the contractors helped along with retired generals and colonels on their boards, Congresspeople eager for jobs in their districts and the leadership of the uniformed services themselves—the Eisenhower-dubbed military-industrial complex—are determined to keep buying unneeded stuff, often overpriced stuff that is technologically, tactically and strategically obsolete.

The "stakeholders" don't always agree with each other on individual items, but the web of interconnections and backslapping and arm-twisting conspires to keep the machine going even when the results are nonsense. Please continue reading about Pentagon budget cuts below the fold.

Even when, say, the Army doesn't want any more of a particular weapon, like the M1 tank, contractors and Congress often work together to keep it in production. This is far from a new phenomenon. But the weapons involved are ever more complex, ever more expensive, and often, not that much more capable than those they are meant to replace. What's more, they are often doctrinally unsound, meant to fight wars of the sort that will never happen again. While Obama himself and politicians all the way back to Gary Hart and the so-called Atari Democrats have called for a leaner, more agile and flexible military, it's just not happening. Gopal Ratnam explains:
[T]he defense budget contains hundreds of billions of dollars for new generations of aircraft carriers and stealth fighters, tanks that even the Army says it doesn’t need and combat vehicles too heavy to maneuver in desert sands or cross most bridges in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

“There’s a fundamental need to have a conversation about what kind of military we need to have and what we should expect it to do,” Andrew Bacevich, a West Point graduate and former Army colonel who now teaches at Boston University, said in an interview.

In the absence of such a conversation, the Pentagon faces the prospect of $500 billion in automatic cuts over the next decade, beginning March 1, with no consensus on what to trim. Instead, the budget is driven largely by champions of existing programs in Congress, the defense industry and the uniformed services. As a result, predicts Bacevich: “The behemoth of an entity called the Pentagon is not going to shrink.”

What kind of weapons programs are most out of control?

• the F-35, designed to replace the F-16 fighter, the A-10 “Warthog,” F-18C/D Hornet and AV-8B Harrier jump-jet, is now slated to cost $395.7 billion, a cost overrun of 70 percent since the contract was signed with Lockheed-Martin in 2001.

• the Army plans to spend up to $32 billion to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle with the Ground Combat Vehicle, a 70-ton machine that is only slightly better than the Bradley and could not be quickly moved to where it's needed.

• two versions instead of one of the Littoral Combat Ship are being built for coastal patrols at $440 million apiece. The ship has inadequate guns, as well as cracks and other flaws that make it highly vulnerable. But acquisition has not stopped.

That list could go on and on. And, as we've seen for decades, the system ensures that it will go on and on, even as some budget shrinkage is applied.

Then, of course, there are all those U.S. military bases overseas, some of them small, some gargantuan, but 800 or 1,000 of them, depending on who is counting, with more to come in places like Niger, with few shutdowns. Projecting U.S. power in places like Europe, where, nearly 70 years since the end of World War II, America still has 80,000 troops.

The result [of proposed budget cuts] says Ronald Reagan’s former assistant Secretary of Defense Larry Korb, would be a defense budget leaving the United States “still spending more than the next 14 nations in the world combined, most of whom are allies.” In historical terms, he says, “spending would still be higher in inflation-adjusted dollars than the Cold War average.”
Think about that. Higher than the Cold War average. So while we continue overspending for a military not tailored to accomplish the defense tasks required in a 21st century world, our nation's non-military infrastructure, from roads to schools—as crucial for our national security as the Air Force—crumbles while politicians twiddle their thumbs.

Rebuilding the parts of that infrastructure that should be rebuilt, and developing an innovative new infrastructure where that matters, can easily absorb jobs lost from making real reductions in the Pentagon budget and redirecting the pared-down version into defense spending appropriate to the modern world. Not only would such a move improve the U.S. economy, it would provide a model for other nations to emulate without reducing our security one iota.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:07 PM PST.

Also republished by Group W: Resisting War and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Reagan left America better prepared militarily (19+ / 0-)

    than at any time in its history to fight World War II.

    One of the effects of living on a domesticated planet is that all wars are civil wars and soft power becomes more important than hard power.

    Of course, since Bismark it's been obvious that a solid economy is the backbone of a strong military but now it's important beyond the military.

  •  Money is made to be spent. (17+ / 0-)

    What Dubya's people actually did was trick the Congress into spending without limit under the guise of going to war. It was also as Commander-in-chief that the President gets to be the unitary executive. The Supreme Court told Richard Nixon that the President is not above the law, but when he's directing a war, he is.  That's what they AUMF accomplished -- the creation of an elected sovereign whose decisions cannot be challenged.
    To a certain extent, congressional intransigence is prompted by the perception that they created a tyrant and now the wrong person is occupying that chair. Worse, that tyrant is not going after foreign enemies and homeland security is treating everyone like terrorists. What's to be done? The Cons haven't a clue. Because they never do.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:28:37 PM PST

  •  Well, I've been a drunken sailor (20+ / 0-)

    And I never spent money like this.

    Please proceed, governor

    by Senor Unoball on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:30:05 PM PST

  •  $1.2 Trillion is what we spend on "defense"... (20+ / 0-)

    ...these days, on an annual basis (which is about twice what's formally/"technically" acknowledged in D.C.), our government memes to the contrary.

    Here's a LINK to a comment I made in another diary, yesterday, which provides details and extensive links about these inconvenient, greater truths.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:33:12 PM PST

    •  Meanwhile... (10+ / 0-)

      ...we frequently point out that the GOP are the great obfuscators in our House of Rep's (and, that is true, IMHO), but what about the 93 Democratic congresspeople that didn't sign THIS the other day?

      (I know this is slightly off-topic, but there ARE a lot of elected Dem folks in many states that rely upon the M.I.C.; and, in many instances--and for a variety of other reasons, too--there are those in our own Party that aren't exactly getting with the proverbial program!)

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:49:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But even though we spend the most on defense (7+ / 0-)

      of any nation on earth, just as with our health care system, we don't really get our money's worth, do we?

      Guessing: what we could save on worthless defense spending would more than cover what we need for an efficient national health care system.

      Or that money, talent and labor could go to strengthening the national infrastructure.

      Citing the Bible as proof of God is like citing comic books to prove the existence of Superman. (h/t to Stevie Ray Fromstein @ TheHolyAtheist.com)

      by rdbaker43 on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:18:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We don't according to this report, military.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobswern

        ..spending is an inefficient way to create jobs.
        Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) - PDF - December 2011

        This study focuses on the employment effects of military
        spending versus alternative domestic spending
        priorities, in particular investments in clean energy,
        health care and education.

        We first present some simple alternative spending scenarios, namely devoting $1 billion to the military versus the same amount of money spent on clean energy, health care, and education, as well as for tax cuts which produce increased levels of personal consumption.

         Our conclusion in assessing such relative employment impacts is straightforward:

         $1 billion spent on each of the domestic spending priorities will create substantially more jobs within the U.S. economy than would the same $1 billion spent on the military.

        We then examine the pay level of jobs created through these alternative spending priorities and assess the overall
        welfare impacts of the alternative employment outcomes.

        We show that investments in clean energy, health care and education create a much larger number of jobs across all pay ranges, including midrange jobs (paying between $32,000 and $64,000) and high-paying jobs (paying over $64,000).

        Channeling funds into clean energy, health care and education in an effective way will therefore create significantly greater opportunities for decent employment
        throughout the U.S. economy than spending the same amount of funds with the military.

        The conclusion is much more detailed but in short:
        Overall then, as we concluded in the previous two
        versions of this study, there is a great deal at stake
        as policymakers and voters establish public policy
        spending priorities. By addressing social needs in
        the areas of clean energy, health care and education,
        we would also create many more job opportunities
        overall as well as a substantially larger number
        of good jobs.
        Wish we could convince more politicains of all stripes from all districts (with military industries or not) that there are better ways to provide people jobs and opportunity
  •   Cutting domestic programs in half is horrible but (19+ / 0-)

    cutting the "Defense" Department in half is a just a good start.

    Since members of Congress don't have the courage to cut pork Defense projects one-by-one, perhaps the sequester taking effect will at least give them the opportunity not to put them back in when the deal is cut.

    I will also repeat my suggestion that we return the department to its historic name, the War Department, since after all that it what it's for. Even the foundling fathers had that right.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:38:43 PM PST

    •  That and the fact (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tb mare, Eric Nelson

      that the last time we were actually on "defense" was Pearl Harbor.  It's been all Offense ever since.

      The War Department is the only accurate name.

      You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

      by Johnny Q on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 03:15:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  also constitutional status (0+ / 0-)

      to maintain a Navy, and fund an army when needed for two years.  It is interesting how all the tea party people who claim to read the constitution conveniently skip the part where our standing amy is illegal.  It is arguable an air force needs to be maintained.

      It is also interesting when talking about how excsively federal employees are paid, they leave out the huge raises for the military.  For example, according to US documents a grade E-7 with 10 years in 2000 was paid about $2252 month.  In 2012 that was rate was $3555. That is $500 a month over inflation.  I know public employees who, except for step raises, are making the same they made in 2000.  Where is the wage freeze, conservatives?

      And it is also clear they don't care about the average worker who needs assistance with food and housing, only about the contractor who wants a new boat.  And this goes for liberals as well.  Sure Seattle raised the minimum wage to over $9, but to have the same ability to buy goods and services as in urban Texas, they would have had to raise it to $11.  Obviously some one is in Starbucks Pocket.  In fact progressive companies in Texas try to pay over $10/hour to start, a fair wage, which in Seattle would be 17 or so.

    •  M1 Tanks - Assembly Line to Desert (0+ / 0-)

      They roll off the assembly line straight into desert storage, all in the name of jobs and pork, nothing more.  My argument  is that if something is going to roll off an assembly line straight into the desert, why not solar power?  Spend the same amount of money, sell the power for a net gain socially and fiscally.

      And Leon Panetta - you're a  pathetic putz, nothing more than a MIC water carrier bitch.  Military readiness my ass, how much more do you want?  (other than all of everything)

  •  What is really impressive (16+ / 0-)

    is how our Defense budget must remain at Cold War levels with nobody even remotely credible in the role of the Soviet Union.

    You can literally run through every boogeyman nation on Earth and refute the notion that they are an existential threat to the US in a few minutes. Gotta love when Conservatives start going on and on and on about China. How fiendishly clever of them to become so intermingled with the US that, should they wake up an invention of Glenn Beck's ghostwriter and start posturing for another run at world war three, they will destroy their own economy in the process.

    No terrorist group on Earth, save for maybe Oligarchy, could destroy the US. You get these babbling idiots talking about dirty bombs and suitcase nukes smuggled in and germ warfare. None of which can be defeated by new nukes, or Star Wars missle shields, or multiple fighters or stealth fighter bomber models in play.

    That's some serious grade A pants shitters and bought-off bullshitters they've got running the big scam on the Hill.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:48:29 PM PST

  •  We don't have to be defense or arms experts... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, ColoTim, skohayes, JohnnySacks

    ...to say enough. Too many people fall for the threats that cuts in defense & war footing will mean job losses. Virtually all budget cuts are equivalent to job losses and since almost all federal depts. do some kind of defense work the losses would be wide spread. Good. We don't hve to be willing to retain military and defense dept. jobs in over 130 countries and over 1000 bases world wide. Enough. The cost is too high and people should think twice about working for defense industry because it is not a virtuous position to retain employment at the price of peace or domestic investments.

    The ridiculous but once in a lifetime chance for draconian cuts from the sequester seems to be worth embracing. Indeed, take the short term hit and transition those newly unemployed into infrastructure investments.

    In large corporations when the senior mgmt is either unable or unwilling to make deep cuts the use of radical across the board cuts is often done. I've been there, done that. It works. Well. Even without staff cuts.  The larger the system the easier to take draconian cuts. And just like gun control laws, IMO it's worth doing even if it doesn't solve all of the problems.

    •  Don't blame the workers, especially today (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund

      A job is a job (excluding those involving gas chambers and the like), and working for a defense contractor is just another job.

      Do you blame the soldiers for the excesses of the military?

      Also, making draconian cuts in a corporation is much different than what the sequester is requiring. A corporation has many ways of 'healing' itself. If a department is cut by x%, and that affects the bottom line, it gets fixed, pronto.

      But when the budget of.... oh, let's say.... the IRS is being cut by 8.5%, there's no fix for that. Taxes don't get audited, errors don't get found, revenues go down..... good grief, of all the government functions to indiscriminately slash, they have to include the revenue-producing one?

      I'm actually more ambivalent about the sequester than I sound - like you I believe there is some good to come out of it.

      If it was up to me, these types of spending cuts would be phased in gradually - if you want to cut $1.2 trillion over 10 years, go for $20 billion the first year, $40 billion the next, then $60, 80, 100, 140, 160, 180, 200, 220.

      Sort of like how you eat an elephant - one bite at a time, but always take a slightly bigger bite!

      Cheers.

      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

      by databob on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:50:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Call It What It Is - Welfare (0+ / 0-)

      Money for nothing.  Suburban Camry driving welfare queens.  And I was one of them for years.  Pay the workers to stay home and cut out the corporate middlemen - net gain.

      What else can all those white collar and blue collar folks do?  We spend our work days tracking tank/airplane, etc. parts and assembly to put together the product, in the end, we have a tank/plane, etc. ... every time.  Nice and clean.  Home in time for kids soccer practice, unlike the soldiers who use them.

      Health care?  Imagine us in an environment treating 50 somethings for depression, substance abuse, diabetes with coronary artery disease complications.  Not so clean, not so cut and dry deterministic.

      Construction?  Not enough air conditioned cabs of heavy equipment, and it's god damned hot (or cold) outside!

      Only solution is decades of slowly weaning from GI Joe action adventure toys to more socially beneficial projects.

  •  When the wailing goes on (6+ / 0-)

    nobody ever mentions the fact that the war and defense spending has doubled since Bush II took office.

    I still think they will find a way to dodge these cuts.  The question is, who is working on that right now if Congress is on recess?  Hmm.  Think tanks and lobbyists writing legislation again?


    "Justice is a commodity"

    by joanneleon on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:01:49 PM PST

    •  And Romney wanted to keep (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JohnnySacks, joanneleon

      all the additional funds earmarked for the wars in the budget.
      Republicans are very impressed with toys, which is why the Defense contractors spend so much money showing their crap off.
      You mentioned above that cyber-warfare is where the future is, and you're right. But Republicans aren't impressed with faster processors, or self replicating viruses.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:56:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you haven't seen it, you must see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, desert rain

    Pentagon Wars.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:09:07 PM PST

  •  What shall we do with a drunken sailor? :) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Senor Unoball, Aunt Martha

    Put him in the guardroom till he gets sober.
    Early in the morning.

    (if only)

  •  The defense industry is not something (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Martha

    ...that is apart from all facets of American Culture. It is holographic on a larger scale.

    On Thursdays, when the neighborhood gun store gets its ammo delivery, there is a line that forms outside around 7 AM.



    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:14:16 PM PST

  •  Military overspending is the worst threat... (6+ / 0-)

    ...to our security.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:31:19 PM PST

  •  the entire US military (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt, tb mare

    structure is quickly becoming a crime against humanity.  So many resources that could be better utilized, so many more people could be helped.

    People frequently argue that we can't cut the military because jobs, but we could retask a large proportion of the cuts,  still cut spending some, and make this country stronger,  the economy stronger and save lives.

  •  Why do we keep calling it sequester (0+ / 0-)

    instead of austerity???

  •  When I was a drunken sailor... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    ...I never spent like that.

  •  While we waste money on tanks, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, JohnnySacks
    While Comment Crew has drained terabytes of data from companies like Coca-Cola, increasingly its focus is on companies involved in the critical infrastructure of the United States — its electrical power grid, gas lines and waterworks. According to the security researchers, one target was a company with remote access to more than 60 percent of oil and gas pipelines in North America. The unit was also among those that attacked the computer security firm RSA, whose computer codes protect confidential corporate and government databases.
    link

    They won't have to fire a shot.

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:59:37 PM PST

    •  Not Much Imagination Or Tech Involved (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dkmich

      I drive by those power transfer stations every day and wonder how easy it would be to inflict physical damage.

      After all, we've spent trillions and lost thousands of lives instead of a couple thousand per plane for locking cockpit doors.

  •  I don't see the problem. (0+ / 0-)

    The defense industry provides good paying jobs in many areas of the country that would otherwise have little/nothing.

    Due to many of the regulations regarding procurement, the jobs are not liable to get shipped to China, and in addition to manufacturing labor, the defense industry provides steady, good jobs for millions in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields. Couple that with the military as a source of gainful employment (and educational opportunities) for people with no other skills, and you have a system that works for a lot of people.

    What I'm seeing is the ultimate in govt. stimulus. Good jobs, domestic manufacturing, AND we get to show the world that we have the biggest dick . Whats not to like?

    •  Sadly, no. (4+ / 0-)

      With regard to government stimulus, our military spending comes periously close to Keynes's suggestion that in really bad times, the government could throw money out of airplanes, or pay people to dig holes and pay other people to fill them.  

      That is, there's no huge advantage paying people to produce things of no particular value to the US and its citizens, even in bad times.  And the fact that the budget increases in good times and bad is even worse.

      That's not even "gun control". It's more like "massacre control".

      by Inland on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:12:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JohnnySacks

        And yet the fact is that military spending is the ONLY government spending that can be passed through Republican oversight, and it HAS booted the US out of multiple recessions and the Great Depression.  It is undoubtedly the most useless way we can choose to spend money, but it is the only one that the uber-wealthy fainting lilies who control most of the resources and collect all of the rents in our society are willing to pay taxes to fund, because when it comes down to  it, the ultra-rich are cowards and will pay anything to have America's poor farm kids protect them with guns and tanks and bombs.

        The Right cannot forget 9/11 because THEY were attacked.  Directly.  The heart of financial heaven, two blocks away from the vaults of the Federal Reserve where the world's supply of GOLD is stored, was destroyed.  STOCKBROKERS AND BANKERS DIED.  For the first time in a century and a half, they were faced with actual physical danger.  Played properly, the fear engendered can pay for a lot of stimulus.  As Clinton showed, there's a great deal that can be done by micromanaging the Defense budget to provide the most domestic spending.

  •  The obvious answer is that Defense is a jobs (10+ / 0-)

    program that has nothing to do with defense. Perhaps the solution is to come up with a deal that allows the same money to be spent per district on non-defense jobs, such that Reps and Senators don't lose net funding to their districts, in order to free up defense priorities. That, of course, would require that our elected officials not be a bunch of crooks though.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:05:21 PM PST

    •  Which is a complement to my suggestion in... (5+ / 0-)

      ...my two final paragraphs.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:19:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is, Obama admin announced they (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tb mare

      will cut troop readiness instead of all these bloated weapons programs.

      We'll have all the fancy toys with no one skilled enough to run them!  

      All the spending to the cronies of everyone in Congress will still go on.

    •  Yes, absolutely it is (0+ / 0-)

      a jobs program. Much of our standing army functions this way. Not all of it is bad, in that many people in the military today would be unemployed if it weren't for their service.

      Furthermore, it's a way that some people can get a job that would be turned down for jobs outside the army. They might not get a great slot, but if they aren't a criminal, and can pass high-school level tests, they can have a job in the army.

      But gosh, if all we really want is a giant jobs program, think what we could do here in the US in the civilian sector with that money. we could run civilian jobs programs much more economically.

    •  A lot of spending (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades

      could be titled "defense" with very limited connection to actual military operations.  You have only to consider what they already do.  I spent a decade in a nice University job that was 20% funded by Defense contracts to do basic biomedical research.  Half a dozen well-educated people got their salaries for mostly trivial work on the biodisposition of nerve gases in various small rodents.  I doubt that that particular work did much to advance knowledge overall, but it kept various skilled people in jobs and contributing to the economy while practicing their scientific skill-base and keeping up with literature.  If you want to use government money for economic stimulus, you can do much worse, although today I think we could easily stamp a lot of alternative energy research and production "DEFENSE" in order to do much better.

      •  Yeah. I hear you on that one. (0+ / 0-)

        The CMDRP or whatever it's called is total BS. The Defense Dept actually sponsors Alzheimer's and Parkinson's research! Such a joke.

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 03:03:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Two fundamental things have to happen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes

    before we have a chance to build a prosperous country.  First is campaign finance reform, if we can't get that we can't get people in power that are not beholden to the status quo.  Second is to break the stranglehold of the military on the fruits of our labor.  Currently its like having a junkie in charge of the checkbook.

    The unfortunate thing is that you almost can't get the first done without already having people in power that are not in love with power, and you can't get the second done while those trillions of dollars are flowing to the pockets of those in control.

    "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man.'" J. R. Robertson.

    by NearlyNormal on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:12:51 PM PST

    •  Prioritize (0+ / 0-)

      spending inside the DOD.  Clinton did this very adroitly.  So Congress has insisted that 50% of spending has to have the DOD brand on it.  But the Executive has a lot of internal control on what DOD spends, asks to spend, and proposes to Congress, through SecDef (that's one reason why the Republicans are livid at the thought of Chuck Hagel getting that job).  Anyone who's worked inside the DOD knows about end-of-fiscal-year shuffling about of funds and quick spending to use up money that will otherwise disappear not only this year, but next year as well.  There's an awful lot of managerial discretion as to what to do with the small change.  Clinton deliberately reduced spending on equipment and fancy weapons, and increased salaries and benefits for personnel.  This is directly cutting the salaries of a few hundred rich CEO contractors, in order to raise those of a million or so low and middle-grade employees.  Furthermore, by investing in base housing, housing allowances, medical care, and child care for military families, he distributed more money to communities around bases and consumer spending in general.

      The military has already initiated moves towards vehicles and base equipment, especially generators, that utilize alternative energy sources, for the simple reason that oil supplies can be a real logistic and strategic issue for troops in the field around the globe.  By shifting more money to these programs, you could use Defense money to fund and develop alternative energy technologies.  If Congress is only willing to pay for Pig, well, put lipstick on it and call it a pig.

  •  We have to figure out a way (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, Meteor Blades, Eric Nelson

    to cut the defense budget at least as much as the sequester requires, because we cannot afford to spend that much anymore. Period.

  •  From the first moment I heard about the SUPER- (0+ / 0-)

    CONGRESS, I assumed that if we ever hit the sequester, the military industrial legislative complex would immediately restore funding to our military contractors in a seperate bill and just let the poor go to hell. Can anybody explain to me why this will not happen if we go over the cliff?

  •  as for location and size, (0+ / 0-)

    drones gotta come from somewhere, right ?

    "Hummingbird" ??
    that's about as bad as "crispy bits."

    There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.--@Hugh * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:43:50 PM PST

  •  Here's what I can't seem to understand all the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Major Kong

    top brass and officers has to study military history and they know that excessive military spending has brought down great Kingdoms,Empires and Nations so they swear an oath to protect the USA and they know Stupid Military Spending destroys more Great Nations than any invader has so why do they not do something about the situation to honor their oath if for no other reason.?

  •  Republished to Group W (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Eric Nelson

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 03:11:39 PM PST

  •  We are so being ripped off (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    and all half the people in this country can focus on is whether a park service bathroom cost more than they think it should.

  •  Sequester, anyone? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    It's the only tool I can think of that will force enough change - meaning management rigor - at the Pentagon. They ain't ready for reform!

    There is the case that cries out for bludgeoning and meataxes.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 04:20:27 PM PST

  •  The F-35 is a boondoggle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    Imagine all those engineers and all that money working on something productive and not destructive.

  •  Sad part of the F-35 is it is a terrible Jet (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Meteor Blades

    The F-35 is out performed by not only the Russian jets but sadly the Chinese also.

    In making it a jack of all trades, it not good or exceptional at anything.  

    What a horrible and backwards plan.

    And then there is the back up engine fiasco, a back up or 2nd engine design the military didn't want, but was kept in by pork barrel push by the Congressman where it would be made.

    There is dramatic trimming down the military could take.  Yeah it would hurt some economies with base closing / combining.  But in the long run it is something we need to do.  

    And it would be better for the soldiers when some of that savings could be turned around for support for them.

  •  The Littoral Combat Ship (0+ / 0-)

    That came to mind as I started in on this essay. To me it's a great example of last year's design for next year's war. Instead of a modern version of a PT boat we're given a light cruiser with as hallow draft.

    The Ground Combat Vehicle puts me in mind of the Crusader artillery system, which was so big and unwieldly even SecDef Rumsfeld canceled it. If that happened then perhaps there's hope.

  •  Heh, and it is already planning to become (0+ / 0-)

    Less productive and less competent.  When Dubya took us to war, much of the knowledge of war we had learned in Vietnam had been lost.  Some of it was trashed on purpose too.

    It is a sad fact that you can study war, but I digress.

    We are now much better at war, but in order to save money I have already seen that the powers that be will dump the real knowledge....you know, that shit that might make you rethink what you are proposing to do here....and we will preserve a sort of ignorance for short term use while demanding more money for more war stuff that will first be used ignorantly at the start of any ill informed by advisors skirmish.  The Pentagon, sucks the same as it ever did.  Must always be kept in check and then checked again because they planned on that first check on their power.

  •  We could cut and cut and cut... (0+ / 0-)

    our military budget and never come close to threatening national security. The enormous waste... I get so angry whenever I think about it. A family friend works for a government contractor and it is sad and frustrating how he always talks about how all this mess is "necessary" - obviously it serves his purposes for a lot of that wasted money to go to his employer, but he seems to be so into making people fearful so his company can protect them...

    It's crazy.

    The billions of dollars that is needlessly wasted on weapons and equipment that doesn't work, is redundant or outdated - think of all the kids who could receive a world-class education, or never have to worry about health care ever again... the military-industrial complex is alive and well, but feeling threatened... so they are pulling out all the stops to make us afraid of our own shadows.

    It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

    by firstalto on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 03:21:49 PM PST

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