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An Epic Rant About Wasteful Defense Spending

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Jeff is a computer professional who takes a great interest in politics and tries to always distinguish fact from opinion.


It's so Bad, Even the Pentagon is Complaining

Defense spending has gotten so astoundingly out of hand in recent years that we have had generals and admirals in our military actually complain about the fact that Congress insists on appropriating billions of dollars for weapons systems that the Pentagon doesn’t even want!


Endless Money for the Military, Nothing for us at Home

Yet when it comes to other critical budget issues, we’re told we don’t have money for healthcare. We don’t have money to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. We don’t have money to subsidize college education. We don’t have money to pay teachers, police officers or other public workers a decent salary but we literally have unlimited amounts of money to line the pockets of defense contractors who rake in billions of dollars a year.


Do We Really Need 800 Military Bases on Foreign Soil?

We have 800 military bases in 70 different countries throughout the world, many of which are in places you’ve never heard of and ceased to serve any useful purpose decades ago. Some of these bases are kept open, not because they are necessary for our defense, but because some powerful corporations are making a fortune by supplying them.

Follow the Money - Into the Pockets of Defense Contractors and Members of Congress

We’re supposed to believe that Congress appropriates this money to make the country safer but in reality, key members of Congress get huge campaign contributions both directly and indirectly from powerful defense contractors.

According to Open, in 2017 defense contractors spent over $16 million in campaign contributions, and another $13 million in indirect contributions via political action committees.

There are More Defense Industry Lobbyists than Members of Congress

In addition to all the millions given to members of Congress, there are 647 lobbyists for the defense industry who collectively spent $34 million lobbying the 535 members of Congress each year. That’s right, there are more defense industry lobbyists working full time to influence Congress than there are members of Congress.

No wonder there are many members of Congress who retire to become lobbyists.

The Best Congress Money Can Buy

After all this money is spent by the defense industry to wine and dine Congress - and to help them get reelected - members of Congress dutifully appropriate billions of dollars for weapons systems built by these same companies regardless of whether the Pentagon wants them or not.

What does it say about our political process when the highest ranking Generals in the military are criticizing Congress for constantly buying weapons systems that the Pentagon doesn’t want simply because the manufacturers of those weapons give huge campaign contributions to members of Congress?


We Have More Aircraft Carriers Than the Rest of the World Combined.

The United States has 19 active aircraft carriers. The rest of the world combined has only 17.

Eleven of those US carriers are Supercarriers and each can launch at least 64 military aircraft. That’s more military firepower from a single US Supercarrier than many medium sized countries.

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Russia has one aircraft carrier. It travels with a tow boat for when it breaks down.

There's Military Dominance and Then There's Overkill

This begs the question, why do we continue to design and build ever bigger aircraft carriers costing $13 billion a piece when we don’t even have a specific purpose for these new carriers?

Whenever anyone dares to suggest that we should cut wasteful defense spending, the argument is always made that “you’re trying to weaken us and leave us defenseless against our enemies”. But the truth is, most people don't realize the overwhelming extent of US military dominance in the world.

Revised from a chart by

Revised from a chart by

No Eight Countries Combined can Equal U.S. Military Spending

There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in our armed forces and we certainly need a strong military to defend the nation, but the fact is, the US does not just outspend every other country in the world, we outspend the next 8 biggest spending countries combined. I think that deserves repeating. There are no eight countries anywhere in the world whose combined military spending equals that of the United States.

Now that Donald Trump has increased our annual military budget by another $70 billion - bringing our 2018 military budget to $700 billion and the 2019 budget to $716 billion - we're on track to outspend the next 13 countries combined.

That increase is equal to the entire military budget for our chief military rival in the world, Russia. We now outspend Russia by a margin of 10 to 1


If we cut out tens of billions in fraud and wasteful spending from our defense budget each year, we would still outspend every other country by far and be the strongest military in the world – without weakening our military in the least.

Here are Some Simple Truths We Need to Admit to Ourselves.

  • Our defense spending is based far more on maximizing profits for the defense industry than on making the American people safe.
  • While we pride ourselves on being the foremost military superpower in the world, the result is that we’ve been in an almost constant state of war for the past 75 years.
  • It does not benefit us to be the world’s policemen or to be engaged in endless war.
  • We don’t become stronger or safer by constantly sending young people off to fight wars in distant lands.
  • Every time we take out some third world dictator like Saddam Hussein, it backfires on us and creates more problems than it solves.
  • We do not become safer by occupying countries for years and years, while trying to install a government of our liking.
  • We cannot defeat terrorism when we’re constantly radicalizing more people to become terrorists.
  • Cutting domestic spending on things like education, roads, infrastructure and health care to pay for this massive military budget does not make us a stronger nation.

So What Can We Do?

It is time to make Congress accountable to the American people again instead of to big corporations. We need to change the laws back so big corporate defense contractors cannot bribe members of Congress with millions of dollars in campaign funds.

The next time a member of Congress tells you that our military is decimated and we need to increase spending, tell them they're full of shit.

This is not a liberal or conservative issue. It’s about focusing on what is in the best interest of our country instead of maximizing profits for the biggest, most powerful corporations in the defense industry.


Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on September 29, 2018:

When I was still in the US, I saw homeless vets almost everywhere. I think of them and I am grateful for everything I have. I could have been any one of those guys after my discharge. I know one thing's for sure: there aren't a lot of homeless defense contractors or politicians.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on June 13, 2018:

My husband (also a vet) says Obama spent all the excess money on social programs from families and such, since their spouses have been deployed every other year for 17 years now. If that is the case, well, we owe them at least that for what we've asked of this generation. But there are about 3 million serving out of 325 million. Counseling, medical care, retirement doesn't cost the budget we keep.

Brad on June 13, 2018:


"Our defense spending is based far more on maximizing profits for the defense industry than on making the American people safe.

While we pride ourselves on being the foremost military superpower in the world, the result is that we’ve been in an almost constant state of war for the past 75 years."


You are correct about the defense industry, but this has been favored by both parties. This goes back to whom the politicians use to make their decisions. The answer is the financial backers of their party and their election campaigns.

The voters are no longer relevant after they vote.

LBJ, and GW Bush were two of the most misusers of the US Military.

They both failed horribly, and it cost the lives and health of too many American military.

The sad thing about the wars, is that we haven't won any wars since 1898. Before you criticize, what is your definition of winning?

nursepamm on June 12, 2018:

I'm a veteran of the USAF, I served back in the early 1980s.

For some of that time, I was put in charge of purchasing for base maintenance projects. What I saw back then still goes on today throughout the military and NOT only for maint. projects.

Annually, our tiny AF base was given $1 million for "Base Beautification" This usually consisted of reflooring, repainting, refurnishing, etc. most of the base, and even painting rocks (I'm not kidding) to use up the money. Then a General would inspect a few bases and award select bases with plaques of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

I was to purchase the supplies for our base. About a week after I sent companies invitation for bids and bids were coming in, I showed my commander the bids and pricing. He scolded me because (unknown to me at that time) I was only to buy from a particular vendor. I politely pointed out the fact that particular vendor sent bids that were astonomically higher priced than the rest. I was sternly warned to stop arguing and follow orders.

This happened in the early 80s and I've been told it has not stopped. The military spends money like crazy, yet (for example) the Army is too broke to properly equip soldiers.

Think that's a problem? It's not a problem if you're on the receiving end. BUT... American taxpayers are forced to continue paying for this BS!

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on June 12, 2018:

What amazes me is that only 1% of our population serves and we've been rotating that 1% in and out of a war that has gone on for 17 years. Every president raises the budget for military spending, but I have a daughter who is a civilian logistician for the Army, and all she ever talks about is how broke the Army is. They can't do this. They can't do that. There is no money for training. There is no money for anything. So where is all this money going? Your article is a shopping list of where it is going and asks the important question: What do we need all this for? In 17 years most of the deaths have come from weapons very few on your list could have prevented. So what are we doing?

Christine Mulberry on June 11, 2018:

Jack Ma and other foreign magnates have mentioned how the US wastes so much money on the military, wars, and so forth. Always interesting to hear their perspective and sad to realize how, in a number of ways, this obsession may be our downfall. What amazes me is how easily the population is convinced we need this and need so many wars to be safe. Distraction? IDK. We do need to have a strong military, but...

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