Military Funding in the United States

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mutestorm
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Military Funding in the United States

Postby mutestorm » Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:25 am UTC

I was reading a wikipedia article on military budget and spending after talking with my brother, who stated that the entire budget of the U.S. was not only under no control of anyone except Generals, but also that it is funded entirely by private investors. Knowing this to be ridiculous, I thought to give him proof, something he thinks little of. However, in the article I noticed a statement regarding contributions and investments by contractors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_b ... ontractors

It doesn't go into much detail, but how much of a contribution is it, and what is it, in regards to the overall budget of the U.S. military (which is immense), and how much is my tax dollar?

drunken wrote:Well as the original question seems to be resolved, I will suggest a new one that also fits the topic title:

Is the massive budget of the US military justified given the other uses and needs for public money at this time?

Specific examples include the national deficit, health, education and welfare systems, people that are starving or homeless or simply live below the poverty line. Even if all the basic rights and needs of citizens were perfectly well catered for I still would rather see the money spent on the space program, civilian technology research, or even a huge humanitarian infrastructure program. These are just a few examples, anyone can sit down and think of ways of spending trillions of dollars, people do it just for fun at parties.

I don't live in the US so my perspective may be skewed by the fact that the weapons this money is being spent on are as likely to be used against me as defending me. Nevertheless, I think large social improvement programs have a defence value as well because they reduce ill will towards your country and therefore reduce the danger of conflict, and increase the international support that comes when a conflict does arise.

Moderators: I perfectly understand if my thread hijacking is unnacceptable and apologise for burdening you with the extra work of deleting my post. The thread seemed to have petered out and I think that a discussion of military funding in the US is well warranted.


I have no problem with this, if my opinion matters.
Last edited by mutestorm on Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:15 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Kizyr » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:32 pm UTC

I'm not sure I understand what your brother is trying to say... That private investors are actually funding much of the US military, or that private contractors have control over most military operations?

Neither one is correct, but the first one is a purely unsubstantiated claim, while the latter is just a grossly exaggerated claim.

I didn't see anything in the Wikipedia article you linked regarding contributions or investments by private contractors. There was some about investment in equipment compared to payments for contractor services, but that's the exact opposite of one of the two claims your brother may have been making. KF
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby mutestorm » Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:29 pm UTC

Ah, I misread the article. Sorry. I wonder where his claim came from? the former?

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby drunken » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:45 pm UTC

Well as the original question seems to be resolved, I will suggest a new one that also fits the topic title:

Is the massive budget of the US military justified given the other uses and needs for public money at this time?

Specific examples include the national deficit, health, education and welfare systems, people that are starving or homeless or simply live below the poverty line. Even if all the basic rights and needs of citizens were perfectly well catered for I still would rather see the money spent on the space program, civilian technology research, or even a huge humanitarian infrastructure program. These are just a few examples, anyone can sit down and think of ways of spending trillions of dollars, people do it just for fun at parties.

I don't live in the US so my perspective may be skewed by the fact that the weapons this money is being spent on are as likely to be used against me as defending me. Nevertheless, I think large social improvement programs have a defence value as well because they reduce ill will towards your country and therefore reduce the danger of conflict, and increase the international support that comes when a conflict does arise.

Moderators: I perfectly understand if my thread hijacking is unnacceptable and apologise for burdening you with the extra work of deleting my post. The thread seemed to have petered out and I think that a discussion of military funding in the US is well warranted.
***This post is my own opinion and no claim is being made that it is in any way scientific nor intended to be construed as such by any reader***

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby mutestorm » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:18 pm UTC

He also is very authoritarian, and believes the government is exempt from the thirteenth amendment. He's very skewed.

He basically allows the government to decide what is best for it, and that it's our fault for electing it. So under his indivdual philosophy, military spending is perfectly sound as it does more to keep the U.S. from potential harm than other programs.

/notmyopinion

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby SummerGlauFan » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:31 pm UTC

While I am by no means an expert on US policy or funding, I know at least some of the reasons why the US military budget seems to be so large, that are justifiable to me.

1. The US military maintains large forces and sizable permanent bases inside of many ally nations to aid in their defense, and help stabilize the regions. Examples include South Korea (North Korea kinda doesn't like them very much), Germany (There's a base there that coordinates a lot of activity in the Mediterranean), and bases that were in the Middle East even before Sept. 11. There's a lot more, but you get the picture. These bases need to be supplied, maintained, and manned, with enough extra personnel to be deployed and still maintain enough levels in the bases to run them. I would guess that this is the largest reason for the spending.

2. The military has quite a few contracts going at any given time with companies that manufacture hardware. While they don't go with the highest bidder, quality is still important when lives could depend on what is being made.

3. The US military is all-volunteer, meaning that everyone who is in it is there by choice. In order to attract new recruits, bonuses and benefits tend to be higher than they have been in the past.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:35 pm UTC

He also is very authoritarian, and believes the government is exempt from the thirteenth amendment. He's very skewed


admittadely off topic, but your friend is an idiot if he doesn't think the federal constitution applies to the federal government; without bothering to read the 14th to check he might be able to disagree with states being bound by the 13th(which would also make him nuts). However, there is no way the 13th wouldn't apply to the federal government.*

*unless you meant to say military instead of government in which case he is still wrong but not quite as obscenely.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:54 am UTC

Well, I assume his friend is saying that the government can have a military draft in spite of the Thirteenth Amendment. That is what the legal precedent states, although I would agree with anyone who says that it is a silly ruling.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:35 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Well, I assume his friend is saying that the government can have a military draft in spite of the Thirteenth Amendment. That is what the legal precedent states, although I would agree with anyone who says that it is a silly ruling.


What do you object to? The outcome or the reasoning?

drunken wrote:Is the massive budget of the US military justified given the other uses and needs for public money at this time?


Well we are a representative democracy, and the citizens of our nation (a majority of them) want to have a strong national defense.

So personal preferences aside, a majority of Americans support our defense spending.

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:53 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:What do you object to? The outcome or the reasoning?

With regards to the paragraph on the Thirteenth Amendment, I object to the reasoning, or rather the obstinate lack thereof. It would have been simple for the Court to say that the Thirteenth Amendment was clearly directed at chattel slavery; instead, it opted to wave around a great big red-white-and-blue Dulce et Decorum Est banner. Justice White might as well have led the Court in sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling "nah nah nah boo boo, you can't make me!"

I have no opinion on the decision as a whole, as I only bothered reading / was interested in the small passage on the Thirteenth Amendment. However, I suspect that discussion of the Selective Draft Law Cases and the Thirteenth Amendment has little relation to the rest of this discussion.

Ixtellor wrote:Well we are a representative democracy, and the citizens of our nation (a majority of them) want to have a strong national defense.

So personal preferences aside, a majority of Americans support our defense spending.

Democracy in Action

Well, no shit. Another hallmark of democracy is the freedom of citizens to speak against public policies in hopes of changing them. The exercise of this right does not imply a challenge to majority rule, but rather merely a challenge to the majority opinion.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:05 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Well, no shit. Another hallmark of democracy is the freedom of citizens to speak against public policies in hopes of changing them. The exercise of this right does not imply a challenge to majority rule, but rather merely a challenge to the majority opinion.


I have no idea why you went off like that. At no point did I question speech or the ability to question how our gov spends money.

The OP asked why we spend so much on defense when he feels it could be better spent, I simply answered his question. We spend money on defense because it is insanely popular and because we are in a democracy....

I in fact think we spend way to much on defense. I would start by demilitarizing Europe (of American forces) and let them pay for their defense themselves.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:13 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:The OP asked why we spend so much on defense when he feels it could be better spent, I simply answered his question. We spend money on defense because it is insanely popular and because we are in a democracy....

drunken, as you quoted immediately before your comment, wrote:Is the massive budget of the US military justified given the other uses and needs for public money at this time?
He didn't ask why so much money is spent on defense. Conversely, the part of the bolded summary that you present as a statement was his actual question: could the money be better-spent? Answering this question by pointing to democracy looks like majoritarianism, so, even if that isn't what you meant, I don't think that the mistake is mine.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:24 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Conversely, the part of the bolded summary that you present as a statement was his actual question: could the money be better-spent?


Then he went on to explain what he felt where the money should be spent.

drunken wrote:Even if all the basic rights and needs of citizens were perfectly well catered for I still would rather see the money spent on the space program, civilian technology research, or even a huge humanitarian infrastructure program.


So while he did state one portion as a question, its evident he feels the money should be spent on other things. Again, I was simply stating why we spend it on defense as opposed to his or my priorites.

You also failed to point out where I was attacking free speech.

Also, Grammer dude, people have the right to practice any religion they want so just because the majority of Americans are not agnostic doesn't mean you get to attack that belief.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:30 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Again, I was simply stating why we spend it on defense as opposed to his or my priorites.

And, again, this is an answer to a question that was never asked. Sticking immediately after the quotation of a different question implies things that you apparently didn't want it to.

I don't think that you were attacking free speech, but, insofar as you seemed to think that majority rule was relevant in response to his question, I figured that free speech would be relevant to what looked like a summary invalidation of minority views.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Kizyr » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:30 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:With regards to the paragraph on the Thirteenth Amendment, I object to the reasoning, or rather the obstinate lack thereof. It would have been simple for the Court to say that the Thirteenth Amendment was clearly directed at chattel slavery; instead, it opted to wave around a great big red-white-and-blue Dulce et Decorum Est banner. Justice White might as well have led the Court in sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling "nah nah nah boo boo, you can't make me!"

I originally thought you were exaggerating. Sadly....
Justice White wrote:Finally, as we are unable to conceive upon what theory the exaction by government from the citizen of the performance of his supreme and noble duty of contributing to the defense of the rights and honor of the nation, as the result of a war declared by the great representative body of the people, can be said to be the imposition of involuntary servitude in violation of the prohibitions of the Thirteenth Amendment, we are constrained to the conclusion that the contention to that effect is refuted by its mere statement.

Really? "We don't understand, therefore it's false?"
Haven't there been more recent 13th Amendment challenges to the draft, though? KF
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:32 pm UTC

That's the only one I found, although I didn't look very hard. But, seriously, draft vs. Constitution discussion is interesting enough to merit its own thread, but not so interesting as to merit hijacking another thread.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby mutestorm » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:00 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:That's the only one I found, although I didn't look very hard. But, seriously, draft vs. Constitution discussion is interesting enough to merit its own thread, but not so interesting as to merit hijacking another thread.


I would love a draft vs. constitution thread.

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Azrael » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:20 am UTC

See, I could start one, but that wouldn't teach anyone anything, would it? Plus, extricating the 13th Amendment from this thread would leave either donor or transplant with some serious holes.

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby 22/7 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:09 am UTC

To go back to the OP (the second one, that is), as someone who directly benefits from this spending, I can't say that there's a legitimate justification for it, but it's hard not to continue to increase the amount spent when any cuts (even those that are accompanied by increases that lead to a total increase in military spending) are inevitably met with criticism that the person making the cuts is "soft on terrorism" or "isn't doing enough to support our troops," etc. I'll note specifically that we're going through a recession right now and that many, many people are learning that consistently spending money you don't have (think credit cards, car/house loans, etc.) isn't a sustainable model. It's amazing to me that we think we (the US) can do this on a national scale for decades without ill effect. If I make $2105 a month and I'm spending $809 of it on guns and ammo, there's a pretty good chance that I'm going to be hurting when it comes time to pay rent or put gas in the car. If I'm running up $1413 a month in credit card bills, well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that I'm going to have creditors banging on my door before too awful long*. And by cutting that $809 down to something a little more reasonable, say $100, I can knock about half of my deficit off right there, but the ramifications of that are probably more of a "is fighting two wars while maintaining a sizable world-wide military presence sustainable" type of question and I don't think that's what this thread is wanting to get into, so I won't chase that rabbit.

Also, to put things in perspective, take all the numbers I used for monthly income, multiply them by a billion and you'll get the US's yearly numbers.

*Of course, if I've been spending $809 a month on guns and ammo, at least I'll be prepared for the creditors when they come looking for me.
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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Zamfir » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:49 am UTC

22/7 wrote:*Of course, if I've been spending $809 a month on guns and ammo, at least I'll be prepared for the creditors when they come looking for me.

I don't think this is entirely a joke in this context. People are willing to lend the US government enormous sums at nearly negligable real interest. A big factor in that is that they expect the current system of the US to last for a long time to come, especially because it doesn't have any likely foreign or internal threats in the foreseeable future.

In that sense, spending on the military does pay itself (partially) back in a way that it wouldn't for you personally.

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Fume Troll » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:06 am UTC

This also ignores the amount of money which is recirculated back in to the treasury via taxation.

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Eyat » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:08 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote: People are willing to lend the US government enormous sums at nearly negligable real interest. A big factor in that is that they expect the current system of the US to last for a long time to come, especially because it doesn't have any likely foreign or internal threats in the foreseeable future.


Also There HAS been a budget surplus in recent history, while deficit spending is still the norm (sigh) its not like it has never happened. When the economy is going good (late clinton era) we have had a budget surplus. Sure we just gave it away in tax cuts but maybe next time right?

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby 22/7 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:45 am UTC

Fume Troll wrote:This also ignores the amount of money which is recirculated back in to the treasury via taxation.
I'm not sure I follow. I think that the $2.105 trillion/yr includes tax revenues. Am I reading incorrectly?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Military Funding in the United States

Postby Gears » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:59 am UTC

The military is a very secure job in times of trouble. I see it as another job creating arm of the government. I joined the Marine Corps. With that I get paid, I probably won't lose my job for at least four years, and I get free healthcare.
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