Paula Orloff: Is spending by the Pentagon a sacred cow? |

Paula Orloff: Is spending by the Pentagon a sacred cow?

Other Voices
Paula Orloff

Why does the military get billions of our taxes at the expense of community needs? This happens across presidents. 

It’s now over $700,000,000,000 — billions.   

Last year and this, Democrats and Republicans voted for billions in increases with barely a peep of objection. Perhaps they dare not question the Pentagon for fear of being labeled disloyal or unpatriotic. However, there is considerable evidence of heartbreaking misuse of our war dollars.

Monetary waste: There is pervasive military waste, yet the military receives over half of our discretionary dollars. The Washington Post (December 2016) reported “The Pentagon buried a study that found $125 billion in wasteful spending.” The number two story by Project Censored Top 10 Underreported Stories, (2016-2017) found that the army had over $6 trillion in unaccountable spending in the past two decades. The author, Dave Lindorff, reports, “Things aren’t any better at the Navy, Air Force and Marines.”

Some hardware boondoggles include almost two dozen new C-27J planes that were sent directly to the Arizona boneyard. That cost over a half billion, according to the Dayton Daily News, 2018. Worse, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said the Stealth F-35 Fighter plane is so complex and was put into production so prematurely that it amounted to “acquisition malpractice.” In 2012 the cost was three quarters of a trillion. In 2017 the Fiscal Times reported on the soaring price of the F-35.  

Where is accountability for our warfare billions when politicians of both parties are demanding accountability for teachers, unemployment payments, food stamps, health care, housing, and other services?   

Deceptive and failed wars: During the Vietnam War in the ’60s and ’70s, the Pentagon Papers exposed false reports of U.S. successes in the war. The government tried to jail Daniel Elsberg, the insider who published the Pentagon Papers. That war cost billions and ended with the fall of the U.S. funded South Vietnam government after laying waste the land, thousands of our soldiers and even more Vietnamese civilians.

Other costly U.S. wars based on bogus claims have created havoc. In Latin America this included U.S. military operations overthrowing governments of Nicaragua and El Salvador in the ’80s. The pretext was to fight Russia communists. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post in 1981 reported U.S. government documents lacked evidence of Russian complicity. Later, drug trafficking claims were added to the charges. Jonathan Kwitny’s Wall Street Journal article, of April 1987 and the 1988 House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime showed those reports were fabricated.

After U.S. invasion of Iraq in early 2000s, reports confirmed we were misled into the war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction. The Three Trillion Dollar War (2008) by former World Bank economist, Joseph Stiglitz breaks down the costs. We’re still involved in that devastation. Statements from U.S. politicians about Iran’s WMD violations have a familiar ring. We might consider the merits of our present wars.

Refugees/Immigrants: U.S. warfare contributes to massive displacement of people. “ … The current wave of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has its roots in six decades of US policies carried out by members of both parties.” (Huffington Post, Nov. 5, 2014). Philip Giraldi, Former CIA officer in 2015 wrote the article, “A Refugee Crisis Made in America.” He stated, “ … Washington throws billions of dollars to fight wars it doesn’t have to fight and to prop up feckless allies worldwide.”  

The U.S. is the biggest arms dealer in the world. It also spends more on weapons than the next eight countries combined and currently drops over 120 bombs daily, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Witney Webb wrote in February 2018, “Shockingly, more than 80 percent of those killed have never even been identified. No wonder recent decades have seen an unprecedented number of refugees fleeing and becoming immigrants.

Consider how our taxes could be put to better use in communities. A 2017 study by economists at Brown University found that domestic, not military spending fuels job growth. That could include housing, health care, education, renewable energy, the arts, and fire prevention. Such  jobs foster well-being and good relations.

The Local Peace Budget Resolution asks our local representatives to request Congress transfer some of the wasted military taxes to local needs.

Nevada City passed this resolution along with major cities and the Conference of Mayors (cities larger than 30,000). If the city of Grass Valley adopts the resolution, they can join the chorus calling for a kinder, more fulfilling and prosperous future.

I’m looking for candidates that question our military spending.  

Paula Orloff lives in Nevada City.

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