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Trillions of Tax payer’s Money Wasted on Military

by Don Timmerman in “The Sparrow Sings” Catholic Worker Newsletter, August 2010

Many Americans complain that money is being wasted by the government. However, few people ever mention the trillions of dollars wasted on the military. In 2001, Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, admitted that the Pentagon cannot account for $2.3 trillion. Since 2001, the U.S. has spent over $6 trillion on war and preparations for war. That is about $20,000 for every woman, man and child in the U.S. The 2010 military budget is close to a trillion dollars, and over a trillion dollars was already spent on the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Billions of dollars are given by U.S. taxpayers to bribe the Taliban not to kill the drivers of the caravans bringing supplies to the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. U.S. taxpayers are paying many billions of dollars to private mercenary groups to do the laundry, fix meals, etc. for the U.S. soldiers and even guard U.S. military bases and embassies in other countries. The Congressional Research Service reported that there are at least 55,000 private armed security contractors in Iraq and 70,000 in Afghanistan. Taxpayers make the U.S. military the biggest employer in the U.S. As many as 4 million people are directly or indirectly employed by the U.S. military-related companies. Over 1,400,000 Americans are now on active duty, and another 833,000 are in the reserves, many full time. Another 1, 600,000 Americans work in companies that supply the military with weapons to utensils. In 2008 alone, the top 10 military corporations received federal contracts totaling $150 billion of tax payer money. One of the main problems with this is that the workers in these corporations depend on wars for their jobs. No wars, no jobs. However, fewer jobs are created through military spending than through civilian spending because military spending is capital intensive. For example, for every billion dollars, either 25,000 military jobs could be created or 47,000 health care jobs. Tax money spent to create military jobs means more unemployment.

The U.S. built a billion dollar embassy in Iraq the size of 70 football fields with 1,000 staff people that requires up to 2,000 guards around the clock to protect it. The operating expenses will be a billion dollars a year ad infinitum. There are also 14 U.S. permanent, not temporary, military bases in Iraq. The idea that U.S. troops will be leaving Iraq is not true. The taxpayers will permanently pay for the upkeep and operating expenses of these bases, as well as for the 700 or more other U.S. bases in 150 other countries. The U.S. is doing the same in Afghanistan. The U.S. military will never totally leave Afghanistan, just as it has never left countries that it has invaded in the past. The resources in Iraq and Afghanistan are too valuable to the U.S. corporations who make huge profits from these… the expense of U.S., Iraqi and Afghan lives.

Taxpayer funded U.S. military corporations that make weapons of war need perpetual wars in order to exist. This is why each year they spend several million dollars given them by taxpayers lobbying Washington for more funds under the guise of protecting America. No one complains about this abuse of the taxpayer because the military has become sacrosanct. All military people are considered heroes or saints. No legislator dare criticize military spending lest he or she lose an election. The military, which is often glorified for giving us freedom, actually takes away our freedoms. For example, true freedom includes the ability to choose where we want to spend our money. Let those who wish to invade another country and occupy it be free to pay for war monetarily and physically Let them pay for the weapons and other costs of war, and send their own children out to threaten and kill others. However, those of us who choose not to give our money to the military and would rather give our money instead to education, health, disaster relief, hunger relief, alternative energy and other basic needs for people in the world should have that freedom. As long as that freedom does not exist there will be wasteful military spending and continual wars and terrorism.

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