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Pentagon Spending For War Exceeds That Of All State Governments Combined

By Sherwood Ross | Black Listed News | December 23, 2009

The U.S. spends more for war annually than all state governments combined spend for the health, education, welfare, and safety of 308 million Americans.

Joseph Henchman, director of state projects for the Tax Foundation of Washington, D.C., says the states collected a total of $781 billion in taxes in 2008.

For a rough comparison, according to Wikipedia data, the total budget for what the Pentagon calls “defense” in fiscal year 2010 will be at least $880 billion and could possibly top $1 trillion. That’s more than all the state governments collect.

Henchman says all American local governments combined (cities, counties, etc.) collect about $500 billion in taxes. Add that to total state tax take and you get over $1.3 trillion. This means Uncle Sam’s Pentagon is sopping up nearly as much money as all state, county, city, and other governmental units spend to run the country.

If the Pentagon figure of $1 trillion is somewhat less than all other taxing authorities, keep in mind the FBI, the various intelligence agencies, the VA, the National Institutes of Health (biological warfare) are also spending on war-related activities.

A question that describes the above and answers itself is: In what area can the Federal government operate where states and cities cannot tread? The answer is: foreign affairs—raising armies, fighting wars, conducting diplomacy, etc. And so Uncle Sam keeps enlarging this area. His emphasis is not on diplomacy, either.

For every buck spent by the State Department, which gets some $50 billion a year, the Pentagon spends $20. As for the Peace Corps, its budget is a paltry $375 million—hardly enough to keep the Pentagon elephant in peanuts.

Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz and finance authority Linda Bilmes write in their “The Three Trillion Dollar War”(W.W. Norton), “defense spending has been growing as a percentage of discretionary funding (money that is not required to be spent on entitlements like Social Security), from 48 percent in 2000 to 51 percent today. That means that our defense needs are gobbling up a larger share of taxpayers’ money than ever before.”

And they add, “The Pentagon’s budget has increased by more than $600 billion, cumulatively, since we invaded Iraq.” With its 1,000 bases in the U.S. and another 800 bases globally, the U.S. truly has become a “Warfare State.” Today, military-related products account for about one-fourth of total U.S. GDP. This includes 10,000 nuclear weapons. Indeed, the U.S. has lavished $5.5 trillion just on nukes over the past 70 years.

No other nation has anything remotely like this menacing global presence. The Pentagon strengthens its grip by running joint “training” exercises with the military of 110 other nations, including outright dictatorships that suppress internal unrest.

The U.S. spends more on weaponry than the next dozen nations combined and is by far the No. 1 world arms peddler. “The government employs some 6,500 people just to coordinate and administer its arms sales program in conjunction with senior officials at American embassies around the world, who spend most of their ‘diplomatic’ careers working as arms salesmen,” writes Chalmers Johnson in “Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire(Henry Holt).”

Chalmers goes on to say the U.S. military establishment today is “close to being beyond civilian control” and that despite its ability to “deliver death and destruction to any target on earth and expect little in the way of retaliation” it demands more and newer equipment “while the Pentagon now more or less sets its own agenda” and “monopolizes the formulation and conduct of American foreign policy.”

How long will it be before this tyrannical, anti-democratic, colossus that is sucking up as much money for war as all states, counties and cities spend on peace—and which straddles the globe, boosts dictators, and beats the war drums—turns on its own people?

Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations executive who formerly worked for major dailies and wire services. Contact him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com

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December 24, 2009 - Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism

2 Comments »

  1. Whether or not the average US Citizen knows it, the United States is creating the second-largest government/industrial complex in our nation’s history. It is envisioned as a tail of bailouts to the financial industry, the automotive industry and others who show up with their hands out and their lobbyists in tow. It is also comprised of state governors who are poised to invent yet another form of pork with federal representatives and senators at their sides while raising local taxes for the citizen back home. This speculative panacea cannot survive.

    HISTORY

    The longest running and largest consortium of this type is the US Military Industrial Complex (MIC), funded historically at an amount many times the Wall Street and automotive bailouts combined. It is the elephant in the room in the burgeoning financial crisis, carrying the weight of wars, weapons systems and a pentagon/corporate financial relationship based on cost plus and time and material contracts since World War II.

    IMPORTS AND EXPORTS

    We are importing goods and services and borrowing money from the Chinese, the European Union, Japan, Korea, India and other developing countries at a rate unmatched in our history. Loan proceeds are being used to fight wars and bail out our bankers, carmakers and state governors.

    Our largest export today is our public debt and our credit rating is slipping.

    FACTS

    The MIC will be scaled down by collapse. The Russian MIC led to that country’s financial demise. It is now apparent that we did not outspend the Russians at weaponry and interventions. We simply had a better credit rating that is now maxed out

    The other government agencies will be re-scaled and downsized as well but not by any specific action taken by the pending or future federal establishment. The over 50 entities that make up the federal government, together with their corporate outsource services, will be shrunk dramatically because the US is broke. The feds will fight to preserve the artificial reality, but US financing and credibility on the world stage are drying up and the creditors are suffering.

    No new administration can change the above facts by riding on the taxpayer’s back with “Social Improvement”, ” Public Works” and “Creating Democracies in Other Countries” mantras. Such policies in the past have led to foreign interventions, thousands of young soldier’s s, bureaucratic growth in Washington and bloated corporations performing low quality service contacts.

    Annual budget deficits and the national debt are at intolerable levels.

    ECONOMIC REALITIES

    The US will come home from military adventures abroad because it will no longer have the money to run them and it will cease bailing out failing commercial establishments because there will be no funding for that.

    The US will re-align priorities at the state and the national level much like all the little “Joe the Plumbers” throughout the country, who are toting skinny 401K’s without jobs. They represent the present and future tax base upon which this country will run. America will not spend its way out of this dilemma because there will be no cash or credit left to spend.

    The US will demonstrate financial prudence out of necessity, align spending with available revenue, downsize the
    federal government and its corporate cadre, cultivate technology and the small business base and take care of its most important constituent here at home – the average tax payer.

    The US will understand the above are not political objectives but economic realities that are here and now. World economics will not allow a new, financial, government/industrial complex to emulate or replace the MIC.

    Links:

    http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2008/09/two-collapsing-towers-wall-street-ahtmlnd.

    Comment by Ken Larson | December 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. Very nice write-up! I also love the looks of your blog, it says professional to me.

    Comment by Flash | December 26, 2009 | Reply


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