David Swanson / World Without War – 2016-03-27 21:59:09
World without War proposes major changes to the US budget
A Proposal from David Swanson / World Beyond War
WASHINGTON (February 7, 2016) — The Congressional Progressive Caucus has requested budget proposals from organizations and members of the public. Here is a friendly suggestion from World Beyond War.
Last year’s Congressional Progressive Caucus budget proposed to cut military spending by, in my calculation, 1%. In fact, no statement from the Progressive Caucus even mentioned the existence of military spending; you had to hunt through the numbers to find the 1% cut.
This was not the case in other recent years, when the CPC prominently proposed to end wars and cut particular weapons. With all due respect, how is this censoring of any mention of the military evidence of progressing, rather than regressing?
Military spending is 53.71% of discretionary spending, according to the National Priorities Project. No other item adds up to even 7%. Whether a budget proposal is progressive, communist, fascist, conservative, or libertarian, how can it avoid mentioning this elephant in the room?
Military spending, of course, produces the need for ongoing additional spending on debt, care for veterans, etc., so that total US military spending is somewhere over twice the figure used by NPP.
Using the numbers of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which leaves out huge US military expenses (which are of course in several departments of the government), US military spending is as much as the next several nations’ combined — and most of those nations are close US allies and major US weapons industry customers.
Because SIPRI almost certainly leaves out more US spending than spending by other nations, in reality US spending on militarism is probably the equivalent of a great many, if not all other, foreign nations combined.
In addition, US military spending is extremely high by historical standards. Looking at the biggest piece of military spending, which is the budget of the Department of so-called Defense, that department’s annual “Green Book” makes clear that it has seen higher spending under President Barack Obama than ever before in history. Here are the numbers in constant 2016 dollars, thanks to Nicolas Davies:
Obama FY2010-15 $663.4 billion per year
Bush Jr FY2002-09* $634.9 ” ” ”
Clinton FY1994-2001 $418.0 ” ” ”
Bush Sr FY1990-93 $513.4 ” ” ”
Reagan FY1982-89 $565.0 ” ” ”
Carter FY1978-81 $428.1 ” ” ”
Ford FY1976-77 $406.7 ” ” ”
Nixon FY1970-75 $441.7 ” ” ”
Johnson FY1965-69 $527.3 ” ” ”
Kennedy FY1962-64 $457.2 ” ” ”
Eisenhower FY1954-61 $416.3 ” ” ”
Truman FY1948-53 $375.7 ” ” ”
*Excludes $80 billion supplemental added to FY2009 under Obama.
War Spending Drains an Economy:
It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs — with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.
War Spending Increases Inequality:
Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved.
War Spending Is Unsustainable, As Is Exploitation it Facilitates:
While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? This is far from clear, and if it were, it would not be sustainable in light of the dangers created by war, the environmental destruction of war, and the economic drain of militarism.
The Money Is Needed Elsewhere:
Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates’ wildest fantasies if some of the funds now invested in war were transferred there. Morally, they must be. As a matter of simple continued human existence, they must be, as they must be transferred to housing, education, infrastructure, and healthcare — at home and abroad.
It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.
US foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year. Increasing it would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth.
A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, but only if one other factor were added — only if the funding came from where it really ought to come from — reductions in militarism.
Some US states are setting up commissions to work on the transition from war to peace industries.
Popular opinion polls show huge support for cutting militarism and increasing spending in useful areas. In 2011 numerous polls found the top public solution to a budget “crisis” was to tax the super-rich, and the second most popular solution was to cut the military.
This support increases dramatically when people find out how high military spending now is. Polls show that people have no idea. The Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland showed people the budget and then asked them about it. The results were very encouraging.
If a supposedly “progressive” caucus will not so much as tell people what the basic outlines of the budget look like, why produce a progressive budget? If you will tell people what the budget looks like, you really ought to follow through by proposing to change it.
* We recommend eliminating nuclear weapons and working with the rest of the world to do the same globally.
* We recommend closing foreign bases, removing foreign and ocean-based weapons, and keeping US troops within 200 miles of the United States.
* We recommend eliminating aircraft carriers, long-range missiles and other weapons that serve an offensive rather than a defensive purpose.
* We recommend eliminating secret “special” forces and weaponized drones that allow presidential killing sprees without Congressional oversight. This should, of course, be done through a program of conversion or transition that strategically retools and retrains to benefit US and world workers, infrastructure, energy systems, the natural environment, and international relations.
We thank you for your consideration and encourage you to contact us for additional information.
If US Military Spending Returned to 2001 Level
David Swanson / World Without War
The House of Representatives has headed out of town to memorialize wars without managing to achieve agreement with the Senate on reauthorizing some of the most abusive “temporary” measures of the PATRIOT Act. Three cheers for Congressional vacations!
What if not just our civil liberties but our budget got a little bit of 2001 back?
In 2001, US military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015. These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now, not counting state and local spending on the military.
Military spending is now 54% of US federal discretionary spending according to the National Priorities Project. Everything else — and the entire debate in which liberals want more spending and conservatives want less! — is contained within the other 46% of the budget.
US military spending, according to SIPRI, is 35% of the world total. US and Europe make 56% of the world. The US and its allies around the globe (it has troops in 175 countries, and most countries are armed in great part by US companies) make up the bulk of world spending.
Iran spends 0.65% of world military spending (as of 2012, the last year available). China’s military spending has been rising for years and has soared since 2008 and the US pivot to Asia, from $107 billion in 2008 to now $216 billion. But that’s still just 12% of world spending.
Per capita the US now spends $1,891 current US dollars for each person in the United States, as compared with $242 per capita worldwide, or $165 per capita in the world outside the US, or $155 per capita in China.
The dramatically increased US military spending has not made the US or the world safer. Early on in the “war on terror” the US government ceased reporting on terrorism, as it increased. The Global Terrorism Index records a steady increase in terrorist attacks from 2001 to the present.
A Gallup poll in 65 nations at the end of 2013 found the United States overwhelmingly viewed as the greatest threat to peace in the world. Iraq has been turned into hell, with Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia close behind. Newly embittered terrorist groups have arisen in direct response to US terrorism and the devastation it’s left behind. And arms races have been sparked that benefit only the arms dealers.
But the spending has had other consequences. The US has risen into the top five nations in the world for disparity of wealth. The 10th wealthiest country on earth per capita doesn’t look wealthy when you drive through it. And you do have to drive, with 0 miles of high-speed rail built; but local US police have weapons of war now. And you have to be careful when you drive.
The American Society of Civil Engineers gives US infrastructure a D+. Areas of cities like Detroit have become wasteland. Residential areas lack water or are poisoned by environmental pollution — most often from military operations. The US now ranks 35th in freedom to choose what to do with your life, 36th in life expectancy, 47th in preventing infant mortality, 57th in employment, and trails in education by various measures.
If US military spending were merely returned to 2001 levels, the savings of $213 billion per year could meet the following needs:
End hunger and starvation worldwide — $30 billion per year.
Provide clean drinking water worldwide — $11 billion per year.
Provide free college in the United States — $70 billion per year (according to Senate legislation).
Double US foreign aid — $23 billion per year.
Build and maintain a high-speed rail system in the US — $30 billion per year.
Invest in solar and renewable energy as never before — $20 billion per year.
Fund peace initiatives as never before — $10 billion per year.
That would leave $19 billion left over per year with which to pay down debt.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but this is life and death. War kills more by how the money isn’t spent than by how it is spent.
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