Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How We Can Save Three. Hundred. Billion. Dollars.

As our current POTUS starts spooling up a semi-serious response to dealing with the issue that has been kicking around since I was a child...I find myself preparing to be unsurprised by one nearly inevitable outcome.

Cutbacks will be proposed, of course.  Some tax hits for the richest of the rich and major corporations will be pitched out there, right on cue for the 2012 election cycle.  But one particular thing is unlikely to be brought to the table.  Obama is unlikely to address our out of control military spending.

Yes, we all Support Our Troops (tm).  We all love America, and want her to be safe and secure.

But there is simply no sane argument for our current level of military spending.  None whatsoever.  Where we are, as 2009, is in a place where we spend $687 Billion dollars every year for our military.

As context, in 2009, number two in the military spending race was China.  The People's Republic of Selling Us Stuff That We Used Make Ourselves devoted $114 Billion dollars to their various military branches in Oh Nine.  Next up was France, at $61 Billion, and then Great Britain, at $57 billion and change.

Using a little second grade math, we see that...hmm...we spend...ahh...hold it!  We spend almost exactly six times as much on our military as China.   Assuming that spending equals military competence on the field of battle (dubious, I know, but let's run with it), America might be taxed in a military exchange in which we found ourselves faced by a hostile coalition comprised of China, France, the UK, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, India, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Israel, the Netherlands, Greece, Columbia, Taiwan, and Poland.   Those militaries, combined, are roughly a match for ours on a dollars-spent basis.

Is that the future for which we are preparing?

'Cause if it ain't, what in the Sam Hill do we think we're doing?

There is no reason for a Constitutional Republic to be so inordinately overarmed.  Were we an imperial power, or an expansionist fascist state, I could see the rationale.  It would be an evil rationale, but at least it would jibe with the broader story we tell ourselves about the values of our nation.  Now, though...we've got a coherence problem.

John Boehner's basement...and he's still afraid...
Yeah, yeah, we all like to feel secure and strong.  But at a certain point, feeling insecure stops being about reality, and starts indicating that there's some real mental problems going on.  We are, as a nation, just a little crazy.  Those who argue that our current level of spending is necessary for our defense are like that highly twitchy neighbor down the street who has a wall-full of AR-15s, a man-portable M-134, and 15,000 rounds of assorted ammunition in his basement because he's sure someone is out to get him.

We do not want to be that guy, no matter what John Boehner says.

What would make the most sense from a budgetary standpoint...not that it will happen, of standing down our imperial army.  But to what level?

Let's imagine, for a moment, that our warfighters aren't the best in the world.  Blasphemy, I know, but it's just a thought exercise.  We can say forty Hail Pattons when we're through to make amends.

Let's say that the Chinese...the number two world power...could defeat America if we spent the same amount on our military as they do.  Yeah, we're not at war, or even formally enemies, but no-one wants America to be defeated.

So what if we spend twice as much as the People's Republic of China?  Would we feel secure being twice as armed as they are?

No?  Really?  Their command of kung fu coupled with their ability to put on some really amazingly coordinated Olympic opening events has you a little freaked out?   Alright, you wuss.  How about we spend three times as much as China?  For every one gun they have, we have three.   For every tank, we have three...or one that is three times as good.

And remember, our soldiers are the Best In The World.  Right?  Right?  Don't tell me you don't think so!  Given three times the resources, the men and women of the United States Military couldn't prevail?  You aren't going there, are you, my friend?

I thought not.

That would mean savings, on an annual basis, of nearly $300 Billion dollars that our government currently spends...and doesn't have. 

Sigh.  I really wish America wasn't so totally insane.