Military spending for the sake of spending

Drew Sheets, Opinion Editor

Attention all Americans who give a damn about their paychecks. Can anybody tell me why in the world we just built an $11.5 billion aircraft carrier?

If you have answered my question with, “To fly airplanes around on Dumbass,” then I would want you to know that the old one was doing that just fine. Spending at current levels is nothing less than completely unsustainable. This military spending spree is seriously pissing me off and I’m beyond fed up with it.
The number one reason current military spending is unsustainable is due to the Military Industrial Complex. The MIC acts as a means to justify the price tag, ‘cause let’s get real, everything costs money. Yeah it sucks, but the reality is that money begets more money and so on. The more people who become employed-thus economically incentivized to support militarism policies because of job security-the more willing the society comes to accept the price of militarism regardless of implication to international law, destruction of resources, human rights, morality or (God forbid) constitutionality.

The process of industrial complexes is simple. The larger the industry grows, the more influence it has on the economy and political actors. It’s a beautiful thing if you’re into burning money and resources. In 2000, the US spent just under $300 billion in defense. That number shot to more than $700 billion in 2011. That’s an increase of more than 130 percent. Not to mention the fact that we are now spending 36 cents on every dollar borrowed for defense while China spends only 19.
The second reason is that our federal Armed Forces are federal which of course means they are wasteful. This argument could’ve made a strong case for number one if we were still dealing with the spending figures of 2000.
To add a personal anecdote, I was in the Navy and one year my command ended up with a fiscal surplus. Instead of returning the money to the government, the command was forced to spend the allotted money to ensure that funding for the command did not decrease for the following fiscal year. This logic incentivizes wasteful investment and expenditures. That’s the opposite of what the government should be doing. Our government should be rewarding agencies and departments that save, not punishing them.
The brains of my command decided all the operators needed these flashy new digital watches that had a barometer, an altimeter and other options. The thing was the size of a small cell phone and just didn’t compare to my trusty old G-Shock watch, plus it cost four times as much. I went on leave a couple weeks after my fancy new watch was issued to me and two days later the thing quit working. Turns out I got some crud in the sensor and shutdown the computer, $400 taxpayer down the drain.

The government should incentivize the military somehow to get the same thing done for less. The more you save the more praise, incentives and acknowledgment you should receive. True leadership and a basic business understanding would insist that only the most effective systems should prevail, not the wasteful expensive ones.
Homeland Security entails 187 federal agencies and departments, including the Transportation Security Administration (which has admittedly captured a whopping zero terrorists), the FBI and the CIA. Just think if those 187 groups were designed to save money? Who knows how much money would be saved? But they’re not which means these groups will continue to ask for more and more money. The price tag for militarism is as never-ending as the war on terror.
My third reason is transparency. The Department of Defense is not audited. Because we have no transparency within the department we don’t rightly know what costs what. Shouldn’t auditing the DOD be a no-brainer at this point? It is 2012 right? Debt is crushing our country, spending has to be contained and cut, but if we don’t even know how much we are spending on what, then we can’t know what spending needs to be contained or cut now do we?

Barack Obama ran for president on a promise of transparency, yet now he has authorized the CIA to take over the drone program in Pakistan, further lessening the transparency of everything from price tags to civilian deaths. Audit these tyrants. They audit you when your business has a good year, yet the DOD has a good decade and we the people, with all of our unanswered questions take a backseat to the imperial ambitions and goals.
On Sept. 10, 2001 Donald Rumsfeld gave a testimony to Congress that DOD’s own auditors misplaced $2.3 trillion. You did not read that wrong. The next day the only evidence of that heist would vanish in the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings one, two and seven. Huh, ya don’t say. Coincidence? To this day there has been no explanation from our government about that missing money. Trillions! Did you know there’s 12 zeros in a trillion? That’s a pile of zeros, kids.
Back to the most expensive war toy in military history, the USS Gerald R. Ford, an aircraft carrier worth more than the annual gross domestic products of Nicauragua and Haiti combined. When retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor was asked what the new capabilities of the carrier will add to the Navy he said, “Not much.” He then pointed out that the Nimitz carrier group operates just fine as is and is already in the super-carrier category.

Four-Star Admiral Hyman Rickover, known as Father of the Nuclear Navy, was asked when he testified in the 1970s how long our Naval vessels would stay at sea against a soviet Navy. His response was that all of our surface ships would be sunk within a few days, maybe a week if they stayed in port. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t we spend less on our new vessels as opposed to going bigger and more expensive? What good is that vessel going to do us if it’s sitting on the ocean floor? Don’t kill the messenger, but that’s where the $11.5 billion spent on building that carrier will be if we ever do fight a real foe.
I understand that over the next 30 plus projected working years of my life, I will see interest on our debt kick in and if inflation can be managed, our dollars purchasing power will be crushed. On average, my generation’s children will leave their children worse off than they were and noticeably worse off than the generation of my parents. Folks, I hate to tell ya, but the party is over.