Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spending our way to solvency

Republicans are using a chainsaw to trim the discretionary spending this Year of the Scared Rabbit. One of the ways in which they are saving big money is ending the threat of peace research and conflict resolution training programs for Americans. What if such spending revealed the complete idiocy and ethical bankruptcy of continued armed occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the drone warfare conducted in those nations, Pakistan, and, soon, Yemen and Somalia?

The United States Institute of Peace is not a pacifist organization, nor is it leftwing, but still, in terms of exposing the poor cost/benefit outcomes of funding the Pentagon, it is a clear and present danger, so the Republicans killed lots of fluttering birds with one budget stoning. Looking at USIP as a percentage of the Pentagon budget request (untouchable by Ruling Republicans), we find that USIP is 0.008 percent of the FY11 DoD budget. That's about 0.079 percent of the FY11 State Department budget, or less than 18 cents per American.

Each soldier in Afghanistan costs American taxpayers about $1.2 million per year. Bring 39 of them home and you have the entire budget of the USIP, the only tiny piece of the US budget devoted to seeking alternative methods of conflict management. Put another way, call a pause to the war in Afghanistan for three hours and you've just saved more than the entire USIP budget.

So, it's a very good thing the Republicans are eagle-eyed sharp on this budget, slashing the real threats to corporate profits, such as USIP. Put some of that peace research into play and we might not need about two-thirds of the highly profitable war spending that currently makes certain that the wealthy increase the gap between themselves and the sinking middle class in America. Thanks for watching out for the war profiteers and making sure we continue to fund all bloody US interventions and occupations, Republicans. Under your leadership, we can plot our bright future straight back to a new synthesis of the Great Depression and the McCarthy Era. Outstanding.

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