Apparently, there are Americans who hate the idea of contributing to the general welfare of the United States, what George Washington called “the people,” by paying taxes. It is likely that nearly all Americans hate the idea of their tax dollars being spent to enrich corporations; especially when those very same corporations control where Americans’ tax dollars are spent. As one might expect, with Republicans in charge of the nation’s purse strings, “those corporations” direct their GOP lackeys’ attention to spending as much, if not all, of the nation’s funds on their interests; not the people.
It is not enough that the 2015-16 budget allotted well over 60 percent of all “on the book” government spending to the military; if a bevy of defense contractor lobbies have their way Americans will likely see the lion’s share of their tax dollars going directly to the military industrial complex. Now, defense spending is crucial to America’s security, but so is infrastructure like power grids, hospitals and the nation’s decrepit roads and bridges as well as social programs that are crucial to the “general welfare of the people.” Still, Republicans have never seen a bloated defense budget they, or their defense contractor lobbies, believe is too small and their corporate defense donors have a plan to blow through trillions of taxpayers’ dollars in the next decade because building war machines is a very profitable affair.
It was barely three weeks ago that the U.S. Air Force announced it had chosen Northrop Grumman as the defense contractor to build 100 new bombers; allegedly to replace the B-2 long range bomber. However, an affiliate of a defense lobby decided that when the Air Force requested 100 aircraft, they really meant 200. The recommendation to double the Air Force’s request, albeit without the Air Force or Pentagon’s input, came from a “study” by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. The Mitchell Institute is very closely tied to the Air Force Association (AFA) that is staffed by retired Air Force personnel and depends on very hefty and overly generous contributions from over 600 defense contractors including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing: the three defense contractors that competed for the bomber contract.
AFA boasts on its website that one of its greatest assets is having a “crack government relations staff” whose current crusade is “recapitalizing the entire Air Force” and “strengthening America’s nuclear mission.” What AFA never mentions is where the government will get the trillions to pad their “corporate” friends’ bottom line or how much of the government will be eliminated to increase defense contractors’ profits and build weapons of war the Pentagon does not need.
One of the things the Mitchell Institute propaganda piece failed to note is that the new bomber is both unnecessary and unaffordable according experts with the Ploughshares Fund who assessed the proposals in Aviation Week and Space Technology. Tom Collina and Will Saetren point out that the 100 bombers currently proposed will cost at least $1 billion each “that doesn’t even count classified funding in the Pentagon’s so-called ‘black budget’ or reflect the cost overruns that are “a chronic feature of every Pentagon aircraft procurement program.” Still, the defense industry is putting no small amount of money into helping Republicans increase defense spending on unwanted and unnecessary military hardware while America rots from the inside.
Pushing to double the number of bombers is just a taste of the military industrial complex’s intent to devote all government spending to their very substantial bottom lines. Besides 200, instead of 100, bombers, there is a monumental push to build over 2,400 F-35 combat aircraft; not only the most expensive weapons program in the history of Pentagon procurement, but also a very dangerous and ineffective one according to the Air Force and pilots tasked to fly them.
Still not enough taxpayer money flowing directly to the defense industry, the AFA is also pushing very hard for the Air Force to “recapitalize” (replace) its entire “tanker, trainer, combat search and rescue, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.” According to experts, “there is no conceivable set of circumstances under which the Air Force can afford to purchase all of these aircraft; something will have to give.” Republicans have already touted plans to slash all domestic spending while increase money for defense, but when combined with their planned revenue drop due to tax cuts for the rich, the majority of the government will have to go. Remember, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “prosperity budget,” within ten years the only government left in existence will be the military.
Just to make sure that the American people will live and work to fund war, another plan modernizes the nation’s “entire nuclear triad” at a cost of well over $1 trillion. The nuclear triad includes bombers, ballistic missile submarines, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and a redundant nuclear-armed Air-Launched Cruise Missile at over $25 billion.
America already has the most powerful military on the planet, and with thousands of nuclear warheads, there is no need for a “trillion-dollar triad” recapitalization, or new bombers and combat aircraft for that matter. Military experts claim the “current bomber and fighter force can operate safely and effectively for decades,” so the current rush to spend a couple of trillion dollars is purely to profit the military industrial complex; something Republicans have proven is why Americans pay taxes.
It is safe to say that the majority of Americans do not oppose a portion of their tax dollars going to defense; the county’s security is the one expense that few Americans oppose. However, the nation should not exist to profit the military industrial complex and yet that is, next to privatizing government, the one policy Republicans hew to with religious passion. It is noteworthy that directly after warmonger Senator Tom Cotton initiated an open letter to Iran’s hardliners pledging that Republicans would derail the P5+1 nuclear deal so Israel could start a war America would finish, he immediately addressed a defense industry group; likely to promise they were going to profit from another Middle East war.
The citizens of this country deserve more than to work just to support the defense industry. They deserve decent schools, hospitals, highways, bridges, and domestic programs that any sane human being would regard as necessary for “the general welfare of the people.” But this is America and with a robust propaganda campaign to keep Americans terrified, it is likely that Republicans will do their defense contributors proud and use every last penny of taxpayer money to build unnecessary weapons of war while the nation falls apart. That kind of agenda is what led to the demise of the once-powerful Soviet Union and is on pace to bring America, massive military and all, crumbling down.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.