To the Editor: I would like to thank Dean Burgess (Letters, the Times, Tuesday, Aug. 21) for his reasoned though flawed response to my recent letter suggesting revenue increases and spending cuts as ways to cut our deficit and revive economic activity.
Due to constraints on the length of letters in the GDT, I would like to address cuts in defense spending.
To see the opportunity we have, it’s important to understand the enormity of our nation’s defense spending and its repercussions. Defense’s nominal annual budget is around $739 billion. However, this figure doesn’t include other costs such as military pensions, military aid to other countries, VA benefits, homeland security, interest on the debt incurred, etc. This would bring total spending conservatively to 1.1 trillion dollars annually.
The U.S. accounts for almost 50 percent of the world’s spending on defense, about twice our share of world GDP. This would hardly seem to be sustainable. Defense spending also has a far less salutary effect on job creation than other more productive spending.
According to the National Priorities Project, each $1 billion spent on defense creates about 12,000 jobs. Each $1 billion spent on education, mass transit, and home weatherization / infrastructure creates about 24,700, 27,700, and 17,900 jobs respectively.
Each $1 billion dollars spent on tax cuts for personal consumption creates about 15,000 jobs. I think the beneficial end product of these pursuits as compared to the end product of military spending (death and destruction) is apparent.
Dean mentioned waste and fraud in entitlement spending. On Sept. 10, 2001, our then-secretary of defense admitted that DOD couldn’t account for $2.3 trillion in defense department transactions. In 2010, the Pentagon awarded $140 billion in no-bid contracts, up from $50 billion in 2000.
One can only imagine the waste and fraud this generates (think Blackwater). If we, as a country would like to cut government spending, let us start with defense.
I’d like to close this letter with a few excerpts from President Eisenhower’s famous “Cross of Iron” speech, to wit: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible and every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.