I believe in a strong national defense. But I don't think
buying jets, ships, and anti-missile systems is necessarily the best way to
improve the nation's security right now. In the long term, one of the best ways
to make the country strong is to spend more on national infrastructure and
especially education. Without the GI Bill, my father probably wouldn't have
gotten to college. As it happened, he wound up going from growing up poor in
rural Wyoming to teaching at Harvard.
I also understand that military operations are expensive.
Got it. I want to support soldiers, give them what they need. I am all for
building day care centers on military bases and buying good body armor. I can
even live with $1.2 billion being given to combat commanders for CERP money
(i.e., "walking around money").
But there is a whole lot of defense spending that simply
stuns me. Here are a few examples from the current FY 2010 defense appropriations
- $4.4 billion for two Navy destroyers and one littoral
combat ship. Yow. Maybe it is time to start buying warships from
South Korea, or at least invite competitive bids? Folks, this is billions,
not millions. Imagine what $4.4 billion could do to rebuild our highways, or
send deserving kids to college, or rebuild New Orleans.
- $2.6 billion for V-22 aircraft for the Marines and Air
Force. I wish the Marines had just gone with the UH-60 Black Hawk two
decades ago. Now the Marines have dug a hole that is killing the rest of their
aviation. It makes me wonder whether the Marines, the smallest of the armed
forces, should be in the business of technology innovation.
- $1 billion for Navy F-18s. Lots of money for an
airplane that is, well, yeeehh. Better spent on unmanned combat
This list makes me wonder just how out of touch with the
country's economy our military leaders are. This makes it more understandable
how they could think that that the
scandal over triple-dipping generals being paid millions of dollars to
"mentor" is no biggie.
(HT to National
Priorities Project for the spending summary)
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