Pentagon Spending For War Exceeds
That Of All State Governments Combined
by Sherwood Ross
The U.S. spends more for war annually
than all state governments combined spend for the health, education,
welfare, and safety of 308 million Americans.
Joseph Henchman, director of state projects
for the Tax Foundation of Washington, D.C., says the states collected
a total of $781 billion in taxes in 2008.
For a rough comparison, according to Wikipedia
data, the total budget for what the Pentagon calls "defense"
in fiscal year 2010 will be at least $880 billion and could possibly
top $1 trillion. That's more than all the state governments collect.
Henchman says all American local governments
combined (cities, counties, etc.) collect about $500 billion in
taxes. Add that to total state tax take and you get over $1.3
trillion. This means Uncle Sam's Pentagon is sopping up nearly
as much money as all state, county, city, and other governmental
units spend to run the country.
If the Pentagon figure of $1 trillion
is somewhat less than all other taxing authorities, keep in mind
the FBI, the various intelligence agencies, the VA, the National
Institutes of Health (biological warfare) are also spending on
A question that describes the above and
answers itself is: In what area can the Federal government operate
where states and cities cannot tread? The answer is: foreign affairs-raising
armies, fighting wars, conducting diplomacy, etc. And so Uncle
Sam keeps enlarging this area. His emphasis is not on diplomacy,
For every buck spent by the State Department,
which gets some $50 billion a year, the Pentagon spends $20. As
for the Peace Corps, its budget is a paltry $375 million-hardly
enough to keep the Pentagon elephant in peanuts.
Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz
and finance authority Linda Bilmes write in their "The Three
Trillion Dollar War"(W.W. Norton), "defense spending
has been growing as a percentage of discretionary funding (money
that is not required to be spent on entitlements like Social Security),
from 48 percent in 2000 to 51 percent today. That means that our
defense needs are gobbling up a larger share of taxpayers' money
than ever before."
And they add, "The Pentagon's budget
has increased by more than $600 billion, cumulatively, since we
invaded Iraq." With its 1,000 bases in the U.S. and another
800 bases globally, the U.S. truly has become a "Warfare
State." Today, military-related products account for about
one-fourth of total U.S. GDP. This includes 10,000 nuclear weapons.
Indeed, the U.S. has lavished $5.5 trillion just on nukes over
the past 70 years.
No other nation has anything remotely
like this menacing global presence. The Pentagon strengthens its
grip by running joint "training" exercises with the
military of 110 other nations, including outright dictatorships
that suppress internal unrest.
The U.S. spends more on weaponry than
the next dozen nations combined and is by far the No. 1 world
arms peddler. "The government employs some 6,500 people just
to coordinate and administer its arms sales program in conjunction
with senior officials at American embassies around the world,
who spend most of their 'diplomatic' careers working as arms salesmen,"
writes Chalmers Johnson in "Blowback: The Costs and Consequences
of American Empire(Henry Holt)."
Chalmers goes on to say the U.S. military
establishment today is "close to being beyond civilian control"
and that despite its ability to "deliver death and destruction
to any target on earth and expect little in the way of retaliation"
it demands more and newer equipment "while the Pentagon now
more or less sets its own agenda" and "monopolizes the
formulation and conduct of American foreign policy."
How long will it be before this tyrannical,
anti-democratic, colossus that is sucking up as much money for
war as all states, counties and cities spend on peace-and which
straddles the globe, boosts dictators, and beats the war drums-turns
on its own people?
(Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public
relations executive who formerly worked for major dailies and
wire services. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)