Militarism is the Problem
Michael Wilson
mwils249@uwsp.edu
Global military spending makes the international system and its economy go around. By far, the largest spender is the United States, which according to the War Resisters League will spend $1.355 trillion on "defense" in 2013.
 
Even if media covered this gigantic expense, their efforts only ever scratch the surface. For instance, MSNBC, the "liberal media" in the U.S., is owned by G.E., one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the world.
 
That is because without the war economy, oil prices would be higher, there would be less military contracts, industrial production would drop, etc. Interestingly, these subsidies are extremely anti-capitalistic. A study showed the U.S. has subsidized 30 percent of price of oil: by spending money on invasions and occupations since the first oil shock in 1973, we keep prices down. Of Fortune Magazine’s top four corporations in 2012, three are oil companies. The other is Wal-Mart.
 
And that’s just a part of it. Our entire economic and political structures are dictated by these "national security" doctrines.
Meanwhile, we are not getting any safer. Access to weapons is widespread, and Raytheon, Boeing and G.E. are loving it. Without the war economy, the corporations that own our media and their associates would lose profits, big time.
 
It’s too bad they determine policy. I think if we lived in a democracy, people would not be afraid to challenge these numbers more often.
 
Last year, U.S. Department of Defense funding reached its highest point since 1965. Let’s look at the consequences. K-12 schools are told "there is no money" for the programs they need. Nurses are told that our states are "broke" and we can’t cure our sick. Student loan debt surpassed $1 trillion. Global income inequality has grown immensely over the last three decades. The minimum wage of the middle class in the U.S. has stagnated or declined in the same period.
 
Are you feeling the "national security" yet?
 
At the beginning of the academic year, the U.S. was involved in seven conflicts, including the longest war and military occupation in our history. Today, we pretend we’re getting out of Afghanistan, but we’ll leave "advisers" there to carry out our bidding. We have a military presence in over 100 countries. In Germany, there are still 60,000 U.S. military troops stationed. Didn’t that war end in 1945? Didn’t the Berlin Wall collapse by 1993?
 
The income ratio of the one-fifth of the world’s population in the wealthiest countries to the one-fifth in the poorest went from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1995. In the United States the National Taxpayer’s Union estimated that 10% of the population controls 71% of the wealth. A United Nations University study reported that in 2000, 10% of adults in the world accounted for 85% of total wealth.
 
The combined wealth of the world’s 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined income of 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion. The GDP of the poorest 48 nations is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined.
 
Each day, more than 34,000 children under the age of five die from malnutrition. Almost one billion of the world’s people is facing food insecurity. Half of the people in the world subsist on less than $2 per day, and one-sixth of the world’s population lives on less than $1 per day.
 
Are you safe yet?
 
The answer is hidden in plain sight. We spend almost unlimited TAXPAYER money on the military-industrial complex. However, the UN estimated that for $10 billion annually, we could reach global sanitation; for $10 billion more, we could provide universal primary education; $30 billion would provide clean water to everyone on earth; for $30 billion annually, we could feed the entire world; for $80 billion, we could stop the spread of AIDS. For $180 billion annually, we could have global environmental sustainability.
 
All of these numbers sum up to less than $350 billion. That is $1 trillion less than the U.S. will spend on "security" next year.
God Bless America!