Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life…Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
–Dwight Eisenhower, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 16 April 1953
President Obama called his $3.8-trillion budget a big step in restoring America’s economic health. Last year he promoted TARP, the Troubled Assets Relief Program to bail out the financial sector at a mere $700 billion. Anyone – even billionaire bankers — can make mistakes that wreak ruin on the rest of us!
Obama also declared as “untouchable” the Pentagon budget of $1.5 trillion (including hidden costs in other government branches), which dwarfs the rescue package for the financial oligarchs. Both payouts, however, used the same logic: Congress taking from the have-nots and giving it to the have-mores. Indeed, the economic, political and military potentates depend on the federal budget to transfer taxpayer resources to them.
This evolving military-industrial complex, a partnership of interlocking government and corporate networks, has used public wealth to enrich itself. The manufacturing part of this complex rarely produces anything people live in, wear, or eat. Despite National Rifle Association claims, armaments do not meet civilian needs. In fact, there exists a dramatic gulf between a healthy economy and a social order based on military spending. During the very period (1998-2008) when the US economy’s share of global output dropped from 32 to 23%, the Defense budget doubled. (Loren Thompson, “QDR Can’t Solve Three Biggest Defense Challenges, Lexington Institute, January 28, 2010)
The Defense Department’s eschewal of economic reality finds its counterpart in its disinterest in accountability. The dramatic admission of this statement of priorities came from Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who admitted publicly that that DOD could not find $2.3 trillion. The money is still missing. (“The War on Waste: Defense Department Cannot Account for 25% of Funds – $2.3 Trillion, CBS Evening News, January 29, 2002)
Future Defense chiefs won’t face such embarrassment. On May 8, 2009 the GAO informed the House Subcommittee on Government Management that six executive agencies can prohibit audits and investigations by the Inspector General — Defense, Treasury, Federal Reserve Board, Department of Justice, Homeland Security and the Postal Service and the CIA’s infamous and classified “Black budgets.” Accountability has now taken remote second place to “national security.”