Defense spending is the only aspect of federal spending that seems to get no opposition, despite the growing need to spend the money in other places. ‘Democrats’ expanding our involvement in foreign conflict while they were in executive power, and the perpetual war on terror was initiated under Republican control. With adjustments for inflation, we are spending more on defense than any era since World War II.
Now, our proposed budget asks for even more military spending. Even though the US accounts for over 35% of the total military spending in the WORLD (we only have 4.4% of the population). Even though the average American probably couldn’t name all of the countries in which we are currently at war. Even though every other part of the government has been shrinking since we dove into the war.
These are personnel numbers, so I guess this is why the defense department is so popular when it comes to funding; it creates more jobs! But why would we rather spend money to create jobs for war, when we could instead use that money for infrastructure? Because defense corporations are making a killing (no pun intended).
When I visit military-based forums, I am saddened to see how many of the members support increases in defense spending, without any understanding of where the money is going. They think, since the military was their way to escape poverty or discover beloved comradery, that the impact of the war isn’t bad enough to stop, despite the horrors they may have experienced from being a member. It’s the same thing as coal miners who sacrifice everything to work in the mines for brotherhood and substantial pay, even though they see the consequences and some even don’t like fossil fuels.
I would be lying if I said this rationale wasn’t a part of my decision. I saw a way to be completely independent and make my own way. But now, I wish that high school graduates could focus on other interests, and I don’t believe that people come out of high school wanting to go to war. Attending a top-10 college and working for a bank shouldn’t have to be the only other option. And besides that, people mistakenly believe that all this defense money goes into solid, well-paying, secure jobs. However, the full-time government jobs aren’t even increasing, relative to the number of contract jobs.
Yes, it is true that these jobs can pay well. But a lot of these jobs are temporary and depend heavily on the continuing of war! This isn’t a sustainable model for a country of our size. We have the 3rd biggest population, but maintain a budget that is roughly larger than the next 10 countries’ military budgets combined. But soldiers and veterans support this, thinking that it means more military jobs. It just means more profits for corporations. Sometimes, the troops are hurt as well.
It also means more waste. We keep pouring money into the DOD with populist support, and the military has squandered trillions of dollars in taxpayer money. Meanwhile, we have started spending less on infrastructure, which is something that could benefit us all back home.
If the US wants to spend all its money in corporate contracts, why can’t those jobs be construction jobs, instead of destruction jobs? I could also ask why it’s estimated to cost $2+ million dollars a year to deploy a troop, but they don’t make $200K while being deployed for a year? Where is all this money being spent? I’d rather spend it on bridges and water pipes and renewable energy, which are things the veterans need too. They are the things our children need. Jobs that don’t involve shooting people would be very helpful to Americans, who don’t want to join the military.
But if corporatism insists that generating the economy through war is the answer, we need to stop being half-assed about it. Bring back the draft. And then, let’s start compulsory military service for every high school graduate, for at least 1-2 years. I’m dead serious; it would have great benefits:
- Jobs for everyone right out of high school
- Job training in a huge variety of skills, right out of high school
- Stability for young people, with a predictable timeline, and the opportunity to either go to college or into the workforce, with working experience
- A general increase in caring for troop and veteran affairs
- Better transparency and organization in military spending
- Wider exposure of physical fitness, teamwork, and patriotism across the country.
If you want to be a warrior nation, be a warrior nation. The truth is, though, the establishment and corporations don’t want Americans deeply involved in these wars. They want you to consume products and forget that people are still dying, needlessly. They want the Department of Defense to be a half-jobs program, where some people have to pay with their lives, some with their minds, and some with their souls. If we brought the draft back, the public wouldn’t see us as the ‘Gulf War Good Guys’ anymore; we’d be the ‘Vietnam Bad Guys.’ Bad for business, I’m sure. It’s become far too common, that business is diametrically opposed to the well-being of jobs, or the actual citizen.