When is too Much Enough?

The American Family Gazette

Vol III, 0011

 

Few  issues are national issues that aren’t first of broad local concern. Here’s one that certainly fits that description; one that affects each and every one of us: how our taxes dollars are spent.

An apologetic for military might, “Peace Doesn’t Keep Itself,” appearing in Monday’s WSJ advocates continued high—even increased—US military and defense spending. This it recommends over “throwing our money down the well of entitlement expansion.” It was critical of the President’s recent argument that the military efforts the nation has made since 9/11 had “short-changed investments in our own people.” It claims a similar mentality pervaded the president’s Afghanistan strategy:  His response to the need for a long-term American military presence was, “I am not spending a trillion dollars!” To the signatories of this opinion piece—the presidents of the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and a director of the Foreign Policy Initiative— such a questionable attitude toward our military establishment was obviously inappropriate, perhaps even threatening.  I question their conclusion would apply to the American public’s view overall.  In fact, I would challenge that assumption.

These talking-heads represent ideologues of a struggling status quo that is collapsing under the weight of changing times; further eroding under an American electorate that has become increasingly skeptical of “the sky is falling” argument it has been fed for decades championing ever-increasing support of a traditional military-industrial complex, to quote the perceptive President Eisenhower. Their sincerity is not in question, only their mind-set, establishment ties and an apparent conviction concerning American Exceptionalism and hegemonic destiny.  From my reading of Scripture, it is not self-evident that God takes sides.

They would have us believe military spending is not a net drain on our economy. Others disagree.  I concede, it does provide jobs, but that is hardly the argument for it (except possibly right now in Virginia where that seems to be exactly the issue!).  They claim it unrealistic to imagine a return to long-term prosperity if we face instability around the globe because of a hollowed-out U.S. military lacking size and strength to defend American interests around the world. Hubris!

Firstly, US military might in and of itself cannot prevent “instability” around the world.  All we can do militarily is to react to it, invited or otherwise. Tellingly in this connection, the pressing issue of terrorism (and the US military) is conspicuously under-stated; almost an after-thought in their defense of military spending.

Secondly, even considering our current economic malaise, who among us would not consider America prosperous?  The issue there is purely a domestic one of just how that prosperity is being shared.  It’s absurd to see a strong US military presence abroad addressing that question. And how much US military presence do you observe today in Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Japan, China and elsewhere where America has legitimate interests? Most places today where we’re militarily active to “defend ourselves,” or “isolate an enemy”, real or potential, US interests are nil. How much of a visible military presence do you suppose most US interests would appreciate stationed alongside their international facilities?  No, the over-all argument of these Defense-related special-interests is spurious, but well supported by a few.

Unquestionably, all Americans favor prudent and necessary government spending in support of an effective defense requirement. But, is it either prudent or necessary under today’s largely benign world conditions that over half of all discretionary government spending—57% in 2009— goes for Defense? Questionably.  Is it either prudent or necessary that some 42% (2005) of all the money we pay in taxes—think well about that: 42 cents of each dollar—goes for Defense related spending?  Considering this, it’s unconvincing that we can point the finger solely at “entitlements” for our un-sustainable deficits.

When is too much enough?

 

Thomas Richard Harry
2011

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