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David Swanson

David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'

July 27th, 2012 4:17 PM

Guess What % of Americans Know Military Spending Is Increasing

And keep guessing some more, because pollsters are unlikely to ask that question.

A year and a half ago, a poll found that Americans drastically underestimate how high U.S. military spending is.

This fits with consistent polling showing slim majority support for cutting military spending, but strong support for major military cuts when the people polled are told what the current budget it.

Setting aside, however, the absolute size of the U.S. military budget, its size in comparison to the rest of the world's militaries, or its size in comparison to the rest of the federal budget, are people able to process the fact that it's been growing every year for the past 15 years -- in the face of the steady news reports that it's shrinking?

I doubt it.

(The Office of Management and Budget can be expected again this week to claim that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP. But the idea that we should spend more on war because we can is probably best left to psychiatrists to handle.)

Meanwhile, three GOP senators are touring the country warning that mythical military cuts will endanger us and hurt our socialistic jobs program.

Here are some basic facts missing from the discussion:

Money invested in non-military programs or even in tax cuts for non-billionaires creates more jobs than does military spending, enough to justify the expense of a conversion program to retrain and retool.

In much of the world, spending money on killing people in order to produce jobs is viewed as sociopathic.

Candidate Obama promised to increase military spending and size and President Obama has done so.

Military spending has increased dramatically in the past decade, in the Department of so-called "Defense" and in other departments, including "Homeland Security," Energy, State, etc., plus increased secret budgets and the militarization of the CIA, totaling well over a trillion dollars a year now.

The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted to limit next year's DOD spending to last year's level, with some loopholes.  Making use of the loopholes, the House increased spending by over $1 billion.

Last year's Budget Control Act, and the failure of the Super Congress, requires minimal cuts to military spending, but Congress is proceeding in violation of its own law.

When we're told that cuts have already happened, usually what has been cut is future dream budgets.  But cutting the Pentagon's wish list can still leave it with more than it had before.

When we're told that big numbers will be cut, such as $500 billion "over 10 years," this means that cutting $50 billion out of the budget sounds bigger if you multiply it by 10.  That's all it means.

The U.S. military costs roughly what all other nations spend on their militaries combined, and more than the rest of U.S. discretionary spending combined.  This, combined with tax cuts for billionaires and corporations, or either factor alone, explains why many poorer nations have better schools, parks, energy systems, and infrastructure.

The U.S. military has troops in more nations each year, and bases in more nations each year.  It continues to be more privatized and more profitable each year.  It has not been and refuses to be audited.

Drone strikes in nations where no other type of war was underway or contemplated are an escalation of violence, not a reduction.

For less than 10 percent of U.S. military spending, we could make state college tuition free.

Americans with college educations are more likely to . . .

1) have job options other than the military, and
2) oppose obscene levels of military spending, and
3) be able to grasp that often the truth is the opposite of what the television keeps saying.

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