The Big (Military) Taboo: How Much The U.S. Spends

Military SpendingNicholas D. Kristof | NY Times:

We face wrenching budget cutting in the years ahead, but there’s one huge area of government spending that Democrats and Republicans alike have so far treated as sacrosanct. It’s the military/security world, and it’s time to bust that taboo. A few facts:

• The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says that we spend more than six times as much as the country with the next highest budget, China.

• The United States maintains troops at more than 560 bases and other sites abroad, many of them a legacy of a world war that ended 65 years ago. Do we fear that if we pull our bases from Germany, Russia might invade?

• The intelligence community is so vast that more people have “top secret” clearance than live in Washington, D.C.

• The U.S. will spend more on the war in Afghanistan this year, adjusting for inflation, than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War combined.

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    Ah HA! That explains all those off-duty Marines I saw walking down the street wearing fur coats and sportin’ diamond-headed walking sticks!

    Just kidding. Off course we know it all goes to the profits and CEO for the contractors, arms producers and supply corporations. Sure as fuck isn’t going to repleat health care packages.

    See that there is whatchya m’call “Market Efficiencies”.

    Y’know, in September the chief economist at Moody’s testified before the Senate about the high fiscal multiplier effects of programs like unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. I’d really love to see an analysis of the fiscal mutliplier effect of warfare.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Ah HA! That explains all those off-duty Marines I saw walking down the street wearing fur coats and sportin’ diamond-headed walking sticks!

    Just kidding. Off course we know it all goes to the profits and CEO for the contractors, arms producers and supply corporations. Sure as fuck isn’t going to repleat health care packages.

    See that there is whatchya m’call “Market Efficiencies”.

    Y’know, in September the chief economist at Moody’s testified before the Senate about the high fiscal multiplier effects of programs like unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. I’d really love to see an analysis of the fiscal mutliplier effect of warfare.

    • emperorreagan

      Personal opinion – it’s probably not very good. The problem with war spending is that it has historically led to significant profiteering and the modern US beast has really perfected the art. There is a significant amount of that cash that’s just accumulated by the rich – probably a multiplier on par with giving the super-wealthy a tax cut.

      On the plus side, pay to soldiers probably has a pretty good multiplier!

      • Liam_McGonagle

        True.

        I toyed with the idea of trying some type of 10,000-foot level analytic to get an idea of the multiplier, at least to compare magnitude or direction w/ some popular social programs. But I kinda got discouraged when I ran into this brick wall–the military’s accounting is for shite.

        When Stiglitz and Bilmes wrote their book “The Three TRILLION Dollar War” about Iraq, they had to satistfy themselves with a very low estimate of the minimum cost–the laxity of accounting practice being so bad at DOD that they admitted they had no confidence in it whatsoever.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2008/02/the_three_trillion_dollar_war_by_stiglitz_and_bilm_1.html

        Awesome the way the Right just keeps shoving cash into the least accountable sectors.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7IQWEDG6PFI5Y64PGEBKYDSIDY Mark

          “This is the one area where elections scarcely matter. President Obama, a Democrat who symbolized new directions, requested about 6 percent more for the military this year than at the peak of the Bush administration.”

        • jf

          so something you might find interesting for these purposes would be the budget addendum’s for the years in question; mostly because they list the amounts as offsets from their original budget estimate, which gives more specific numbers that are somewhat easier to track down to correlate, or so i think anyways.
          For instance sourced from the ‘President’s Budget Request for Budget Amendment to the FY 2010 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)’ ,, in which they requested 15,000 additional combat troops and enumerate the associated costs with increasingly the size of the US Army by 15000 soldiers; therefore I believe I can probably make then following statements as true at least in terms of Aug-2010:.

          0. The average income for a US Army recruit last year was about $37,333.33/annually,
          1. The average cost per new recruit for housing / etc was an additional $16,793.33
          2. The appalling cost per-recruit training: $4653.33
          3. The average cost per active duty soldier, dependents included: came out to ~$9586.00

      • Ironaddict06

        With all the money that the military gets, I’d like to see more of that money go to the soldiers and their families.

        • Alex

          State money going to poor people? What are you? Some kind on commie?

  • grooveboss

    War is the Ultimate sport. Soon to be in a TV near you!!!!! PPV of course.

  • grooveboss

    War is the Ultimate sport. Soon to be in a TV near you!!!!! PPV of course.

  • emperorreagan

    Personal opinion – it’s probably not very good. The problem with war spending is that it has historically led to significant profiteering and the modern US beast has really perfected the art. There is a significant amount of that cash that’s just accumulated by the rich – probably a multiplier on par with giving the super-wealthy a tax cut.

    On the plus side, pay to soldiers probably has a pretty good multiplier!

  • Liam_McGonagle

    True.

    I toyed with the idea of trying some type of 10,000-foot level analytic to get an idea of the multiplier, at least to compare magnitude or direction w/ some popular social programs. But I kinda got discouraged when I ran into this brick wall–the military’s accounting is for shite.

    When Stiglitz and Bilmes wrote their book “The Three TRILLION Dollar War” about Iraq, they had to satistfy themselves with a very low estimate of the minimum cost–the laxity of accounting practice being so bad at DOD that they admitted they had no confidence in it whatsoever.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2008/02/the_three_trillion_dollar_war_by_stiglitz_and_bilm_1.html

    Awesome the way the Right just keeps shoving cash into the least accountable sectors.

  • GoodDoktorBad

    ….and we’ll shoot anyone who doesn’t like it.

  • Anonymous

    ….and we’ll shoot anyone who doesn’t like it.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Ever give a blank check to a crack junkie? Obviously most of us wouldn’t do anything so blatantly foolish…

    …but its pretty much just like that.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Ever give a blank check to a crack junkie? Obviously most of us wouldn’t do anything so blatantly foolish…

    …but its pretty much just like that.

  • 5by5

    And this says nothing of the intelligence budget, about which we know NOTHING on what they spend it all on. Or the useless bureacracy of the Homeland Insecurity Dept.

    I’m betting they’re spending it on jacuzzis for the TSA to relax in after a busy day of grabbing people’s junk.

  • 5by5

    And this says nothing of the intelligence budget, about which we know NOTHING on what they spend it all on. Or the useless bureacracy of the Homeland Insecurity Dept.

    I’m betting they’re spending it on jacuzzis for the TSA to relax in after a busy day of grabbing people’s junk.

  • Ironaddict06

    I agree. It seems the TSA is a joke, but is our(Americans) SS. Good ole big sister Janet, is so well deserved to be head of a Intelligence agency.

  • Ironaddict06

    I agree. It seems the TSA is a joke, but is our(Americans) SS. Good ole big sister Janet, is so well deserved to be head of a Intelligence agency.

  • Ironaddict06

    With all the money that the military gets, I’d like to see more of that money go to the soldiers and their families.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7IQWEDG6PFI5Y64PGEBKYDSIDY Mark

    “This is the one area where elections scarcely matter. President Obama, a Democrat who symbolized new directions, requested about 6 percent more for the military this year than at the peak of the Bush administration.”

  • Alex

    State money going to poor people? What are you? Some kind on commie?

  • jf

    so something you might find interesting for these purposes would be the budget addendum’s for the years in question; mostly because they list the amounts as offsets from their original budget estimate, which gives more specific numbers that are somewhat easier to track down to correlate, or so i think anyways.
    For instance sourced from the ‘President’s Budget Request for Budget Amendment to the FY 2010 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)’ ,, in which they requested 15,000 additional combat troops and enumerate the associated costs with increasingly the size of the US Army by 15000 soldiers; therefore I believe I can probably make then following statements as true at least in terms of Aug-2010:.

    0. The average income for a US Army recruit last year was about $37,333.33/annually,
    1. The average cost per new recruit for housing / etc was an additional $16,793.33
    2. The appalling cost per-recruit training: $4653.33
    3. The average cost per active duty soldier, dependents included: came out to ~$9586.00

  • jf

    Not that I disagree that we should not be in the wars, nor in an endless arms race mostly with ourselves at this point; but you all realize that the defense budget only took a total of something like 18.74% of the entire annual budget coming in just behind social security @ 19.63%, or slightly more than the 16.13% spent on unemployment; medicare in at 12.79%, and medicaid at 8.19%, et cetera.

    My only real point here being that this are all issues that we as Americans citizens, well we really need to get addressed; however sadly I’m pretty sure any real change in our culture died with the 60s. On the plus side, gold is practically the best investment you can make for the foreeseeable future with the price per oz up over 200% in the last 12-15 years or so and 400% in the last ten.

  • jf

    Not that I disagree that we should not be in the wars, nor in an endless arms race mostly with ourselves at this point; but you all realize that the defense budget only took a total of something like 18.74% of the entire annual budget coming in just behind social security @ 19.63%, or slightly more than the 16.13% spent on unemployment; medicare in at 12.79%, and medicaid at 8.19%, et cetera.

    My only real point here being that this are all issues that we as Americans citizens, well we really need to get addressed; however sadly I’m pretty sure any real change in our culture died with the 60s. On the plus side, gold is practically the best investment you can make for the foreeseeable future with the price per oz up over 200% in the last 12-15 years or so and 400% in the last ten.

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