"Just the hint of any cuts to – or anything but continued growth of, for that matter – the Pentagon budget tells you everything you need to know about who runs that town. Think the NRA is a powerful lobby? There are dozens members of Congress who will tell Wayne LaPierre to his face to go fuck himself. None but a handful will even mention reduced defense spending…despite the fact that polling shows many Americans believing that we spend too much."The post is a polemic, so he doesn't mention the handful of genuine Defense cutbacks under the first Bush and Clinton (I'm not counting the post-Vietnam RIF drawdown - that was inevitable after the end of that misadventure).
But the ironclad fact of the last half of my adult life is that in a world dominated by the United States' military power, dominated in a way not seen since the heyday of the British Empire and perhaps not even then in which the closest thing to a "peer foe" are a pack of raggedy-assed martyr-wannabes sitting in the dusty villages of the FATA, my country spends an unencompassable quantity of public monies on its weapons.
The fiscal reality is that as of 2012 the United States is an insurance company with a military.
Outside the Defense budget, Social Security and the medical insurance programs there is fuck-all left for anything else.
And while there is a completely rabid, drooling, tinfoil-hat-grade coterie of raving bugnuts loonies (you'd probably know them if I used their public name, the "Republican Party") that would kill those insurance programs deader than the passenger pigeon in a heartbeat, there is no such commitment from anyone anywhere to question the depth of the vast bucket of cash we throw at our military.
And there ARE questions that should be asked. Whenever tax money is spent on weapons and soldiers we as citizens are fools if we don't question how that's spent, for the simple reasons that there is no measure there.
You can see a road, a bridge, a dam built with public monies. You can see the children fed, and the sick people cared for by tax-funded programs.
Weapons? Soldiers? What you pay for there is a LOT harder to assess.
And the notion that "More $$$ = more safer" is, simply and plainly, bullshit.
You don't even have to look at the clearly ridiculous and excessive amount of lolly we've tossed at the so-called "War on Terror".
For example, when I was in the RA every September we used to send a detail to the ranges to shoot up ammunition. Not use it for marksmanship training. Not for tactical purposes. Just to fire it up. Because every round we turned in meant one less round we got the next fiscal year. So we camped out and did goofy shit like try and cut down pine trees with 7.62mm rounds.
Or during my time in the Army Guard, every one of our units had anywhere between a handful and several dozen "ghost troopers"; people who were officially on the manning roster but were actually in jail, or working in another unit, or simply missing from drill every month. We had people who were unfit for duty, people on profiles for everything but breathing, people whose restraining orders prevented them from going within sight of the arms room, people who had been unable to pass the PT test for years.
But they were still Guardsmen, by God, because every one of them represented a delicious chunk of Federal cash paid to the State of Oregon in one of the fed's least publicized jobs programs. Fewer Guardsmen meant less money, and nobody wanted less money.
That has changed now, I understand, with the repeated and brutal deployment schedules. Instead of trying to fill already-understrength units the ORARNG has simple disbanded units. My old battery, C/2/218FA no longer exists, even as cadre. My old brigade, 41SIB, is now reduced to two maneuver battalions from the three it had in my time.But, for all the reasons Ed details, nobody in Congress, not even my usually-reliably-sensible Senator Merkely, wants to derail the Defense gravy train.
Because more gravy means more safer.
And anyone who questions that isn't a Republican or a Democrat but a Monster Raving Loony.