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Friday, February 7, 2014

ARE WE SPENDING TOO MUCH ON WAR TODAY?

There was yet another military industrial complex inspired article in the Star-Advertiser today entitled:

China might deploy sub that could nuke the isles

Every state has at least one defense department project, so every member of Congress of course supports the defense budget.  Hawaii is particularly dependent of military expenditures, so we are more guilty than just about any other state for desiring increased funding for war.  The problem is that, after the Cold War, we now have no enemy...now and into the foreseeable future.  China is of course posturing in the Pacific, but they couldn't care less about attacking the USA.

So I thought I'd list some really expensive projects in history, and how important or not they were (the costs are roughly brought up to date):
  • The Great Pyramid  2500 BC  $5 billion:  a lot of money to bury someone, but is the biggest tourist attraction in Egypt today
  • The Manhattan Project (atomic bombs in WWII)  1940-1945  $30 billion:  absolutely necessary in case Hitler had succeeded

  • Great Wall of China  220 to 206 BC  $360 billion:  not sure about the human cost, and great tourist attraction, but this hardly seemed worthy
  • Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter  present to future  $1.45 trillion:  it's inconceivable to me that that we would spend so much for so little, but we are talking the Department of Defense
  • World War II  1941-1945  $4.1 trillion:  we just had to win this war
  • Afghanistan and Iraq Wars  2001 to present  $4 trillion to $6 trillion:  can you imagine how much better this sum could have been used for our infrastructure, education, energy, environment...?
So are spending too much for war?  Heck, yes.  However, Hawaii has a kind of Hobson's choice: we must get money or go into depression.  With all the defense funding coming to our state by then chairman of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and Defense Subcommittee, Dan Inouye, we still only ranked average in tax dollars returned/capita:


Now that Senator Inouye has passed away, we have the least seniority in Congress.  If not for the Mililtary-Industrial Complex, we would be in deep trouble.  But the reality is that there is no Inouye anymore, and, if the price of oil spikes, Hawaii will become the first state to go into an economic depression, because, in addition to defense spending, we are dominantly dependent of tourism.  High oil prices mean high jet fuel costs, and this will result in a dramatic visitor drop.

So I find myself in a difficult dilemma.  I press for peace and lower defense spending, but hope that no one listens to me.  As I have had no effect on enhancing the prospects for renewable energy, nor to control global warming, I can no doubt safely continue my crusade.

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