Sunday, April 25, 2010

Addressing U. S. Military Spending

Considering 21st century economic challenges and changing strategic military needs and objectives of America, I suspect that in the near future, the United States will have to look seriously at the Pentagon for significant budget cuts. Meaningful reduction in national defense expenditures will be one of those areas, like entitlements, which will take a great deal of political courage and leadership to achieve. There are huge numbers of special interests groups, as well as political and military zealots, who will refuse to be objective and supportive of, at the very least, serious study of the issue.

I believe the chart above is indicative of a national defense policy which, considering the current economic and strategic military environment, needs drastic rethinking. I would hope that at some point soon, a high-level Presidential Commission, similar to the economic deficit commission which is currently being headed up by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, would be convened in order to address reduction in Pentagon expenditures.

As of 2008, and I have no reason to think it has changed since, United States military spending was nearly as much as the rest of the world combined. Quite frankly, in my view, this chart indicates an absurd approach to the allocation of America's economic resources as they relate to national defense in the 21st century.

1 comment:

  1. With all due respect, Bob, it is misleading at best to suggest that significant cuts in defense spending will require as much political courage as significant cuts in entitlements.

    Significant cuts in defense spending will require FAR MORE political courage.

    Our politicians cut money for the very young, the very old, the sick, the poor and the helpless all the time. There's no political courage involved; if there were, they wouldn't do it. The only reason the effort to privatize (i.e., pillage) Social Security failed in 2005 was that it was embarked upon as a lark, rather than with any kind of forethought and planning.

    If we're going to get deficits down from 10% of GDP to 3%, we're going to have to do three things that right now aren't even on the table and, I predict, never will be during the upcoming deficit-commission discussions: 1) put way more people back to work via direct government spending, thus creating the kind of consumer demand and infrastructure investment that may lay the foundation for long-term recovery and growth at the temporary expense of EVEN HIGHER short-term deficits; 2) increase taxes not only on income but also on wealth; and 3) cut defense spending significantly, which I define as > 30%.

    None of these things will come close to happening. Instead, more wealth will be hoovered out of the middle and working classes.


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