Thursday, December 9, 2010

Here’s an idea

Posted on Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 4:00 AM

The president’s bipartisan Deficit Commission has released some of its recommendations for cutting federal spending and, as one would expect, it is a mixed bag. Some, such as cutting Social Security benefits and increasing the qualifying age, are clearly a bad idea as the burden would fall primarily on the elderly poor and the struggling middle class. A better move would be to let lapse George W. Bush’s tax cuts for his wealthy friends and have those whose earnings top $250,000 per year (raise your hand if this is you!) go back to paying taxes more appropriate to their income.

The best idea proposed by this commission is to reduce annual military spending by $100 billion. Another way of writing that staggering sum is to call it $100 thousand million. Or picture a line of a million people (about the total population of Montana), each carrying a thousand $100 dollar bills, all marching up to a gigantic black hole and throwing their money into that national rat hole. Every year.

Anyone who has spent any time in the military service can attest to the waste and mismanagement for which the military is (in)famous. The laundry list of wasteful military spending practices include weapon systems that don’t work, aircraft that the military didn’t want but were built anyway at the insistence of members of Congress in whose states the things were built, and accounting systems that allow billions of tax dollars to disappear without a trace.

The United States presently spends more on its military establishment than do all the other industrialized nations—combined! There is no rational argument that can justify that level of spending.

Nowhere is it written that the U.S. has to be the world’s policeman. And nowhere is it written that we have to continue wasteful spending habits just because those habits have become, well, just habits.

Patrick Leonard


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