It is virtually impossible for a member of Congress or an ordinary citizen to obtain even a modest handle on the actual size of military spending or its impact on the structure and functioning of our economic system. Some $30 billion of the official Defense Department (DoD) appropriation in the current fiscal year is “black,” meaning that it is allegedly going for highly classified projects.
I remember some years ago it came out that the Pentagon had budgeted huge sums on simple tools that had been marked up to twenty or thirty times their usual cost. The scandal was such that everyone was outraged, but was anything done? Are things different today?
For fiscal year 2006, Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute calculated national security outlays at almost a trillion dollars - $934.9 billion to be exact - broken down as follows (in billions of dollars):
Department of Defense: $499.4
Department of Energy (atomic weapons): $16.6
Department of State (foreign military aid): $25.3
Department of Veterans Affairs (treatment of wounded soldiers): $69.8
Department of Homeland Security (actual defense): $69.1
Department of Justice (1/3rd for the FBI): $1.9
Department of the Treasury (military retirements): $38.5
NASA (satellite launches): $7.6
Interest on war debts, 1916-present: $206.7
Totaled, the sum is larger than the combined sum spent by all other nations on military security.
Do you find these numbers excessive? Have they increased over the last eight years, or does this kind of thing predate the last administration's bumbling attempts at running the world?
Another way to describe the impact of this spending on the average person is this:
According to calculations by the National Priorities Project, a non-profit research organization that examines the local impact of federal spending policies, military spending today consumes 40% of every tax dollar.
Is this something we can expect the new administration to do something about? Is it something that they should do something about, in your opinion? What do you think?
I've heard lots about leaving Iraq, but at the same time they were talking about building up Afghanistan? What gives with that? It seems to me that the underlying element is that a huge chunk of everybody's money must go for military spending, once that's a given, then we can discuss what wars and what operations get funded? Does that sound too cynical?
What's your opinion?