LC’s Commentary

Listen To The Voice of Reason

They forgot the defense budget

There were shouts of joy when the New Republicans were ushered into office in the 2010 elections. Those of the conservative persuasion felt their day had finally come and they were going to address the U.S. budget deficit problem. Sure enough, Republicans, marching to the beat of the Tea Party, came to the House with ax hand. They have been about the business with the skills of a surgeon, methodically carving up the Current year’s budget and next year’s budget as well. Of course, there are those cheering Republicans on and feel their efforts will fix what President Obama and his administration have torn up. They are very careful to make it an Obama problem-as if he has sole power over what gets in the budget.
I wonder why there is little conversation about carving up the defense budget. Why is almost every cost in the budget scrutinized, except the defense budget? What is so special, holy and untouchable about the defense budget? I guess it is because the Defense Department spends it money wisely, can account for how each dollar is spent and is not loaded down with special interest dollars-in other words, no pork at all.
People of all persuasions have questioned why the Defense Department gets a free pass during budget hearings. J. William Fulbright, Senator from Arkansas, President of the University of Arkansas, and Chairman of the powerful Senate foreign Relations Committee, and namesake of the Fulbright Educational Program made a speech titled the Myths of Foreign Policy. This speech is a must read for all who are genuinely concerned about why the US continue to pour so much money into the defense budget. Although Fulbright made the speech on April 5, 1964, his message is probably more applicable today.
J. William Fulbright hit the nail on the head when he made the following observation.
During the past 20 years, the emphasis of our public policy has been heavily weighted on the measures of common defense to the considerable neglect of the program to promote the liberty and welfare of our people. The reason for this is, of course, has been the exacting demands of two wars and an intractable cold war, which have wrought changes in the character of American life.
Of all the changes in American life brought by the cold war, the most important by far, in my opinion, has been the vast diversion of energy and resources from the creative pursuits of a civilized society to the conduct of a costly and intermediate struggle for world power.
Or to put it more precisely in our case, to negate the efforts to acquire world dominion. We have been compelled, or at least we have felt ourselves compelled, to reverse the traditional order of our national priority, relegating individual and community life to places on the scale below the expensive military and state activities that constitute our program on national security.
Senator Fulbright could very well be making the speech today. Very little has changed budget wise except the budget becomes larger almost every budget cycle. Think about the budget cuts proposed by Republicans. They are willing to sacrifice our schools, hospitals, homes, parks, and other public infrastructures vital to the happiness and welfare of US citizens, so the defense budget remains virtually unscathed.
Fulbright talked about the readiness of Americans to defer programs for their welfare and happiness in favor of costly military and extravagant space programs. He wondered what is it about the American physic that makes it so ready to sacrifice health programs, educational, programs and urban renewal programs all in the name of fully funding every need the defense department asks for.
President Eisenhower warned Americans about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex. Fulbright had the same concerns when he made the following observation: To the extent that the American people and the Congress shrink from questioning the size and cost of our defense establishment, they are permitting military men, with their specialized viewpoint, to make political judgments of the greatest importance regarding the priorities of public policy and the allocation of public funds. The abnegation of responsibilities by the congress in this field is strikingly illustrated by debate or more actually by its non-debate on the defense budget.
In closing, Fulbright said” the first thing we must do towards raising the quality of American life is to turn some part of our thought and our creative energy away from the cold war which has engaged them for so long, back in on America itself. If we do this we may find that the most vital resources of our nation for its public happiness and security remains locked within our own frontiers, in our cities, in our countryside, in our work and in our leisure, in the hearts and minds of our people.“
What is happening today parallel what was happening when Fulbright made his speech. We are currently fighting two wars, and a cold war of a sorts-the war on terror. They are all costly endeavors and divert resources from this nation badly needed at home. It is time Americans stop letting Conservative Talk Radio, Fox News Network, slick politicians of all persuasions, defense contractors and warmongers to constantly prey on their fears. Any right-thinking people know in their hearts that there is absolutely no reason for the US to spend so much money on defense. Because of our actions toward some nations, they feel threatened; they build up their defense, which gives us excuses to spend more money for defensive purposes. It is a never-ending cycle.

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March 2, 2011 - Posted by | borrowing money, Economic Empowerment, Failed economic poicy, Results of war, Taxpayer bailouts, Uncategorized, World Affairs |

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