Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pentagon spending the real deficit driver

In all the debates about the deficit, the sacred cow in the budget has always been 'defense spending' by the Pentagon. This estimate puts the base budget alone for the period FY'09 through FY'13 at $2.6 trillion. That doesn't include expenses for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It doesn't include "supplemental appropriations" which are regulary requested whenever the political climate is ripe. As nearly as I can figure, that would add at least another couple of trillion onto the total.

The Pentagon's procurement and weapons development is badly broken. The GAO just released a report that shows just the cost over-runs on cost plus contracts ran $300 billion last year. The contractors have no incentive to fulfill the terms or contain costs and much of the money is spent on technology that doesn't work and programs developing weapons for wars that are unlikely to ever be fought.

The 'fiscal hawks' are always at the ready to take a scalpel to social safety net programs but will protect Pentagon payola at any cost. I undertand that some communites depend on this spending, but it needs to be redirected to more productive uses. Cutting their budget in half, and I believe it could be safely done, would pay for a lot of health care and take Social Security out of whatever danger it's supposed to be in.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

If they actually broke down the DOD budget item by item, and eliminated ALL the "waste, fraud & abuse," we could all have lifetime free hot fudge sundaes on the Gvt. every day at Baskin Robbins, plus the comprehensive health care we'd need as a result, all for freebies.

I'd love to know what the Marine Corps paid for the cheapo Korean wrenches in the motor pool, the tiny Filipino chickens we tried to subsist on, and the horse-blankets we slept under. Not to mention the crappy boots, sweaty ponchos, and useless sleeping bags. Oh, and let's not forget the M-16's that would jam if they got ANY dirt in them. And there's a lot of dirt in the desert. It's pretty much all dirt.

It was all exactly the sort of junk you'd only buy if somebody gave you a big check with no oversight, and you got to keep the change; but you had to buy some sort of crap, for people & purposes you didn't give a sh*t about. The only question is, who kept the change?

The Pentagon is nothing but a vast conspiracy to redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top of the economic ladder. Always has been. My old man worked for defense contractors all through the 1960's, so I know first-hand. It put food on the table, but so would have a nationwide mass-transit program, or health care, or more Federal support for education, etc, etc, etc.

And then there's all the money we don't have available to assure the security of our national food supply. Pistachio, anyone?

8:26:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Transitioning from Pentagon war spending into peaceful uses would be painful I'm sure, but I can't help but think we would be better off as a society in the long run.

The pistaschio thing is just awful. It's getting so I'm don't want to eat anything from a grocery store.

11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

Or a health food store. A lot of those nuts were sold in bulk, or put in granola, trail mix, energy bars, etc. There's actually pistachios in a lot of things you'd never suspect.

And of course, now, we have to suspect our own food.

Sorry, one of my pet hobby-horses. I almost died of food poisoning once. It was very, very unpleasant.

Public health officials say salmonella is responsible for hundreds of thousands of alleged flu cases, etc, and untold deaths every year.

The cons would like to blame it all on low-paid "Third-World" workers in the food industry, but more often it's management deliberately creating or tolerating unsanitary conditions: Rats, mice, lizards, etc in amongst the inventory. And if they're caught, internally, they cover it up, as Cadbury did, and continue shipping contaminated food even after upper mgt has been notified.

Even the industry itself is starting to demand more inspections. They've lost billions in the last few years. Nobody denies the need for traffic cops. (Except me.) Why do we deny the need for food cops?

I really don't care if you run a stop-sign, as long as you don't hit anybody. I do care if I can't eat without risking death or disease without warning. I don't eat tomatoes or peanuts or products containing them anymore, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. And I love tomatoes & peanuts. Or I used to.

I'm not paranoid, yet, but I HATE being sick, so, sorry Big Ag & Big Food, I take any & all warnings very seriously. Without health insurance, if you get sick and can't work, you get homeless.

What a country.

12:00:00 AM  

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