Re-educating the Welfare Queens of the Warfare State

Ironically, our country's massive military budget, which bankrolls the welfare queens of the warfare state, must  be ranked among the greatest threats to our national security.  The budgetary black hole that is the Pentagon absorbs nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars every year.  To his credit, at least one newly-elected Tea Party backed Republican lawmaker has come out in support of cuts to the warfare state.  From the New York Times:
Representative Chris Gibson, a Tea Party-endorsed freshman Republican and a retired Army colonel from New York’s Hudson River Valley, made it clear that no part of the Pentagon’s $550 billion budget — some $700 billion including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — was immune. “This deficit that we have threatens our very way of life, and everything needs to be on the table,” Mr. Gibson told William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary, who testified at the hearing along with Gen. Peter J. Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army, and other service vice chiefs. 
The response of those who advocate for the welfare queens of the warfare state reveals their patronizing and condescending attitude toward anyone who openly advocates removing their snouts from the public trough.  It sounds like they may even sponsor a number of re-education camps.  The article continues:
[Republican head of the House Armed Services Committee] Mr. McKeon, for one, is concerned, and has quietly been meeting with the new members — a number have no experience in government — to educate them on national security. One Congressional staff member who closely monitors the military said, “While McKeon would say that all members are entitled to advocate for positions they want to advocate, what he has been doing is working to educate new members on what the threats are, and why we need the defense budget close to where it is.” [Emphasis added] . . .

Mr. McKeon, who represents a California district that is home to major defense contractors, was the single biggest recipient in the House of campaign contributions from military aerospace companies and their employees.
Clearly, it is militarists such as McKeon who need to be taught a lesson.  A recent New York Times poll found that 55% of Americans support cuts to military spending.  Given a choice between cutting military spending, Social Security or Medicare, 55% of respondents favored cutting military spending, compared with only 21% who named Medicare and 13% who named Social Security.  In fact, support for cutting military spending led the way across partisan lines, including 66% of Democrats, 55% of Independents and 42% of Republicans.  Of course, it is highly unusual to find leadership on this issue from the representatives of the global warfare and corporate welfare state in the Democratic and Republican parties.  Fortunately, for that we need only look to the Libertarians and the Greens.  From the Libertarian Party's response to the State of the Union address:
Tonight we heard from President Barack Obama and a response from Republican Congressman Paul Ryan. President Obama says he wants a freeze in non-security, discretionary spending. In the unlikely event that happens, it won't really matter, because to make a real dent in the deficit, it's necessary to cut spending on the military and entitlements. The president promised big government in the past, and he delivered. I expect more of the same.

However, Obama has truly been a hypocrite on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a candidate, he promised to end them. Tonight we heard more hollow promises. The fact is, as president, he has kept those wars going, and has greatly escalated the war in Afghanistan. As a percentage of GDP, military spending is higher now than it was during any year of the George W. Bush administration.
Unlike President Obama, Libertarians would bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and reduce the military budget. On the Republican side, I found Congressman Paul Ryan's hypocrisy appalling . . . 
From the Green Party's response to the State of the Union address:
The White House and Congress can reduce the deficit drastically by ending the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, cutting military spending and the number of US bases on foreign soil, and taxing the wealthy so that they pay their fair share. Future meltdowns can be averted by breaking up the "too big to fail" financial firms into smaller locally-based companies. The Green Party's goal of a decentralized economy, based on Main Street rather the Wall Street, will restore economic stability and security to the US.


paulie said...

Of the quoted section of the Green response, I agree with most of it, except the “taxing the wealthy.” However, in a sense, I could even agree that they should “pay their fair share” – of zero coercive taxation on anyone. Jesus used that same ironic sense when He said “render unto Cesar what is Cesar’s,” begging the question, what is rightfully Cesar’s? Answer: Nothing.

And, of course, I would prefer that the “too big to fail” companies be broken up by market forces, not by the “even bigger” monopoly government. Luckily, I think that is exactly what market forces would do if given a true free rein.

The choice presented in the NY Times poll is not a good one. It makes it sound like a case of lifeboat ethics. In truth, just as the cause of national security is served best by cutting the military, the causes that social spending is supposedly designed to address are best served by cutting social spending as much as possible as well. Completing the third leg of the tripod, the cause of a more moral society is best served by keeping the inherently immoral violence-based monopoly of government out of it.

In short, we would be a safer, more equitable and more ethical society if the bumbling monopolists stopped trying to make us all those things with such rigor.

Samuel Wilson said...

d., it doesn't surprise me to see Republicans trailing the rest on the desirability of military cuts. One Republican in my own office remains convinced that every U.S. base abroad is justified by a threat or a genuine national-security interest. My suspicion long has been that their sense of being threatened at all sides is a side-effect of their egoism. Isn't it flattering, after all, to think that everyone else envies you and is after your stuff?

Paulie, I've seen that reading of the gospel story before, but my own admittedly atheistic understanding of it is that Jesus did mean for them to give up their money to the man whose face was on the coins while fulfilling their presumably higher obligations to God.

paulie said...


Annotated PDF of same at

d.eris said...

Sam, yeah, it doesn't surprise me either, but it is highly ironic that though Republicans in general are the most against military cuts, it is a Republican or two who seem to be making the most noise in favor of such cuts. Meanwhile, Democrats are most in favor of such cuts, but seem to be least likely to call for them.

Paulie, yeah the choice offered in the NYT poll was a weird one, but basically it asked what would you prefer to cut from those things that no one ever really talks about cutting but which account for the largest portion of the budget.

Samuel Wilson said...

It may be necessary historically for Republicans to take the initative for cutting defense spending on the "Only Nixon can go to China" principle,but I'm not sure how long that window will stay open given the hostility shown by most Republicans to those Republicans already advocating cuts. In 21st century terms, it may require an undoubted islamophobic neocon to make retrenchment a reality, but how does that happen?

paulie said...

"Paulie, yeah the choice offered in the NYT poll was a weird one, but basically it asked what would you prefer to cut from those things that no one ever really talks about cutting but which account for the largest portion of the budget."

I know. I guess I was trying to say my answer would be all the above, which was not an option on the quiz.

I guess I would say yeah, cut military spending first, or cut all spending across the board. Don't make it a case of trading off one good thing or another, because all that spending - social as well as military - does the opposite of what it is supposed to accomplish.

d.eris said...

I would prioritize cutting military spending on the grounds that doing so would also cut back the corporate welfare state. It's a two-fer. Beyond that, the effects of excess military spending, and the necessity of putting it to some use, whether warranted or not, are literally destructive of human life.

Programs like Social Security and Medicare would probably not be next on my personal list for the chopping block though. That would be what we might call domestic military spending: abolishing the national security police and surveillance state, i.e. the Department of Homeland Security, the DEA and such, the prison industrial complex, basically the entire apparatus with which the war on drugs is prosecuted and promulgated, etc. I would probably also prioritize ending corporate welfare subsidies before cutting social welfare programs too. But I don't think any thing or any possibility should be off the table.