Sunday, November 29, 2009

Give us this day our daily death debt

Our US military spending is being widely misreported and misunderstood, even by excellent reporters who seem to believe their figures are convincing. In fact, by the time you add military expenses that are not counted as such--the military portion of NASA, the Veterans Administration, the entire nuclear arsenal (under NASA, the VA and DOE respectively, thus not counted in DOD budgets)--the current spending is close to $1 trillion annually.

So, let's say it's $2 billion daily, quite a conservative estimate, I think we can agree.

The Center for Defense Information says that if we actually wanted to militarily defend the US, that would take about one-third of the current military budget. These high-ranking retired military officers are not pacifists, and indeed their entire careers were spent destroying or preparing to destroy lives. They are sincere men and women who have devoted their lives to the concept of defending the US with a military. As a pacifist, I cannot support their methods, but as an analyst, I appreciate that they offer such a conservative spending estimate for actual military defense of the US, something that most Americans desire.

Imagine the economy if, say, $1 billion could be saved and $300 million could go into job creation each day. We would have full employment. Employers would be competing for employees, not laying off thousands. Workers would have strong collective bargaining power. Everyone would have health care or the means with which to purchase health insurance.

Transiting from a war system and its war economy to a peace system and a peace economy is a big challenge and a long journey, so we had better start today.