Point/counterpoint: Military Spending

In our efforts to raise the quality of discourse in American politics, let us try something different. We will take two arguments on opposing sides of an issue. We will then discuss which makes the best case.

Kirk Anderson alerted me to two columns on military spending. One argues that in our zeal to cut government expenditures, we had better not touch the defense budget. The other argues that any attempt to cut government spending must cut the military.

Which view do you think is right? Can you deal with the opposing arguments, showing why they are wrong?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://bethanylc.org Rev. C. D. Trouten

    Pax per potens.

    A strong military, strong enough to deter any enemy from attacking, is the only way to preserve the peace & foster prosperity for all a country’s citizens. A nation in which all citizens are content and given every opportunity to reach the pinnacle of human development (serving one’s neighbors—thanks, Maslow), but which does not protect its citizens from foreign invasion, has failed.

  • http://bethanylc.org Rev. C. D. Trouten

    Pax per potens.

    A strong military, strong enough to deter any enemy from attacking, is the only way to preserve the peace & foster prosperity for all a country’s citizens. A nation in which all citizens are content and given every opportunity to reach the pinnacle of human development (serving one’s neighbors—thanks, Maslow), but which does not protect its citizens from foreign invasion, has failed.

  • Tom Hering

    What foreign army threatens us with invasion? Yes, a serious threat from terrorist groups is out there, but even if they used WMDs against us, the damage would be limited and temporary.

    Most of our spending is about maintaining the forces necessary to project our will around the world. Not defense.

  • Tom Hering

    What foreign army threatens us with invasion? Yes, a serious threat from terrorist groups is out there, but even if they used WMDs against us, the damage would be limited and temporary.

    Most of our spending is about maintaining the forces necessary to project our will around the world. Not defense.

  • Joe

    I think it is a false choice. I am fairly certain that we can maintain a very large and strong military and cut spending. My belief that the gov’t is inefficient does not end at the doors of the pentagon. One of the first things that I would look at is why we still maintain separate service branches when they overlap in many areas. There is a lot of duplication at the bureaucracy level. Couldn’t the coast guard be rolled into the Navy – this would reduce much of the overhead. Likewise, given today’s battlefield reality Marines are no longer used primarily to secure beachheads via their unique brand of amphibious warfare. Nowadays they go deep into the interior and fight traditional land battles. I wonder if we really need a separate Marine Corps. and Army. Can’t they be combined into a single force, so as to reduce overhead?

    There is money to be saved here to be sure, efficiency is not the same as surrender.

  • Joe

    I think it is a false choice. I am fairly certain that we can maintain a very large and strong military and cut spending. My belief that the gov’t is inefficient does not end at the doors of the pentagon. One of the first things that I would look at is why we still maintain separate service branches when they overlap in many areas. There is a lot of duplication at the bureaucracy level. Couldn’t the coast guard be rolled into the Navy – this would reduce much of the overhead. Likewise, given today’s battlefield reality Marines are no longer used primarily to secure beachheads via their unique brand of amphibious warfare. Nowadays they go deep into the interior and fight traditional land battles. I wonder if we really need a separate Marine Corps. and Army. Can’t they be combined into a single force, so as to reduce overhead?

    There is money to be saved here to be sure, efficiency is not the same as surrender.

  • Bdozer

    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of his country,” when the guns begins to shoot;
    Yes, it’s Tommy this an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    But Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

    I’m so very thankful that I’m not writing this in German or Japanese!

  • Bdozer

    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of his country,” when the guns begins to shoot;
    Yes, it’s Tommy this an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    But Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

    I’m so very thankful that I’m not writing this in German or Japanese!

  • Kirk

    @3

    I think I’m with you, Joe. On the one hand, I recognize the government’s responsibility to protect us and the need for a strong military. On the other, I don’t get why we’re spending as much on our forces is as the rest of the world combined does, or why we need a standing army of 1.5 million.

    I think that we can maintain a force adequate for protecting America while significantly reducing our military infrastructure. I’m not suggesting we eliminate it, just that we reduce the budget from half a trillion to something more reasonable (putting a dollar sign on defense is difficult, I understand that.)

    As for the Kristol argument, the holes in the logic are gaping. His defense budget increase numbers willfully ignore the operational costs of fighting the wars in Afghanistan. Like the Economist points out, he makes a vast assertion that “furthermore, military spending is not a net drain on our economy,” without offering any concrete evidence, and then stating that “global prosperity… requires peace” while simultaneously lauding conflict. Then there are his comparisons between our current spending and Cold War spending (great red menace, anyone? Besides, while huge military expenditures at that time were understandable, hasn’t an analysis of Russian capabilities shown them to be completely unnecessary?) and his suggestion that we conflict with China is likely (absurd! It’d be disastrous for the both of us). I think my biggest gripe about the whole article is his assertion that global leadership necessitates maintaining and using a huge, expensive military. True enough, we can exert global influence this way, but do we really want to when we can do a pretty good job of exporting our culture, products and ideas around the world without it? The whole article, I think, is pretty shoddy. It makes vast assertions and backs them up with generally unproven principles and appeals to emotion.

    To be fair, the Economist article isn’t a whole lot better. While I agree with the principle of what the author is getting at, it’s far too flippant and dismissive. The author had a good opportunity make some decent points, but pretty much blew it by dissing Tea Party-ers.

  • Kirk

    @3

    I think I’m with you, Joe. On the one hand, I recognize the government’s responsibility to protect us and the need for a strong military. On the other, I don’t get why we’re spending as much on our forces is as the rest of the world combined does, or why we need a standing army of 1.5 million.

    I think that we can maintain a force adequate for protecting America while significantly reducing our military infrastructure. I’m not suggesting we eliminate it, just that we reduce the budget from half a trillion to something more reasonable (putting a dollar sign on defense is difficult, I understand that.)

    As for the Kristol argument, the holes in the logic are gaping. His defense budget increase numbers willfully ignore the operational costs of fighting the wars in Afghanistan. Like the Economist points out, he makes a vast assertion that “furthermore, military spending is not a net drain on our economy,” without offering any concrete evidence, and then stating that “global prosperity… requires peace” while simultaneously lauding conflict. Then there are his comparisons between our current spending and Cold War spending (great red menace, anyone? Besides, while huge military expenditures at that time were understandable, hasn’t an analysis of Russian capabilities shown them to be completely unnecessary?) and his suggestion that we conflict with China is likely (absurd! It’d be disastrous for the both of us). I think my biggest gripe about the whole article is his assertion that global leadership necessitates maintaining and using a huge, expensive military. True enough, we can exert global influence this way, but do we really want to when we can do a pretty good job of exporting our culture, products and ideas around the world without it? The whole article, I think, is pretty shoddy. It makes vast assertions and backs them up with generally unproven principles and appeals to emotion.

    To be fair, the Economist article isn’t a whole lot better. While I agree with the principle of what the author is getting at, it’s far too flippant and dismissive. The author had a good opportunity make some decent points, but pretty much blew it by dissing Tea Party-ers.

  • Tom Hering

    “… we can exert global influence this way, but do we really want to when we can do a pretty good job of exporting our culture, products and ideas around the world without it?” – Kirk @ 5.

    The Sheikh’s Batmobile. Listen here.

  • Tom Hering

    “… we can exert global influence this way, but do we really want to when we can do a pretty good job of exporting our culture, products and ideas around the world without it?” – Kirk @ 5.

    The Sheikh’s Batmobile. Listen here.

  • kerner

    I think I agree with Joe in general, while disagreeing with some of his specific ideas. There are advantages to having specialized separate branches of service with different philosophies of training and practice. They tend to be competitive and we often find that one branch is more appropriate for a new, unexpected purpose than the others. And I believe that the spirit of competition between them helps keep them strong. Esprit de Corps, now called unit identification, is an important factor in motivating young military people. And I am not convinced that combining these branches into one huge bureaucracy would really increase efficiency. Sometimes it is easier to “cut the fat” from multiple smaller budgets than it is from one big one.

  • kerner

    I think I agree with Joe in general, while disagreeing with some of his specific ideas. There are advantages to having specialized separate branches of service with different philosophies of training and practice. They tend to be competitive and we often find that one branch is more appropriate for a new, unexpected purpose than the others. And I believe that the spirit of competition between them helps keep them strong. Esprit de Corps, now called unit identification, is an important factor in motivating young military people. And I am not convinced that combining these branches into one huge bureaucracy would really increase efficiency. Sometimes it is easier to “cut the fat” from multiple smaller budgets than it is from one big one.

  • Kirk

    After more carefully reading Joe’s post, maybe I’m not as entirely with you as I thought. But still: hooray for spending cuts!

  • Kirk

    After more carefully reading Joe’s post, maybe I’m not as entirely with you as I thought. But still: hooray for spending cuts!

  • Cincinnatus

    Please cut defense spending. End a few wars, stop subsidizing the defense of Western Europe, far East Asia, Canada, and much of the rest of the world. While I find the idea of a standing army itself to be normatively and constitutionally problematic, any sensible person should be able to acknowledge that we could still have a gargantuan military even after trimming the budget.

    It’s helpful to note that much of our defense spending is, in fact, purely wasteful: a glance at the government’s contract budgets (which would include evidence that the government is routinely price-gouged by sole suppliers) should be enough to infuriate any taxpayer.

  • Cincinnatus

    Please cut defense spending. End a few wars, stop subsidizing the defense of Western Europe, far East Asia, Canada, and much of the rest of the world. While I find the idea of a standing army itself to be normatively and constitutionally problematic, any sensible person should be able to acknowledge that we could still have a gargantuan military even after trimming the budget.

    It’s helpful to note that much of our defense spending is, in fact, purely wasteful: a glance at the government’s contract budgets (which would include evidence that the government is routinely price-gouged by sole suppliers) should be enough to infuriate any taxpayer.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    This is silly. Spending is entirely relative. I’ll bet if China nuked us today, this conversation would be different tomorrow! The issue is financial responsibility, which we just don’t have in Washington, period. Consider the gov demanding a second engine for the JSF. The only reason for this was to keep an independent contractor afloat. And why even talk about the defense budget when we have a congress that will take money from its constituents and give it to very large banking firms? Sorry, folks, but this whole conversation presumes something false – that Washington has shown any responsibility with handling money.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    This is silly. Spending is entirely relative. I’ll bet if China nuked us today, this conversation would be different tomorrow! The issue is financial responsibility, which we just don’t have in Washington, period. Consider the gov demanding a second engine for the JSF. The only reason for this was to keep an independent contractor afloat. And why even talk about the defense budget when we have a congress that will take money from its constituents and give it to very large banking firms? Sorry, folks, but this whole conversation presumes something false – that Washington has shown any responsibility with handling money.

  • Cincinnatus

    John: Who is presuming anything? The precise impetus for this discussion is that “Washington has[n't] shown any responsibility with handing money”–not with respect to corporate welfare, not with respect to entitlement spending, not with respect to our national defense (amongst other things). Thus, we are asking that they do try to show some responsibility, in this case in relation to the defense budget. If they were responsible, this discussion would be irrelevant.

    Kind of like your comment?

  • Cincinnatus

    John: Who is presuming anything? The precise impetus for this discussion is that “Washington has[n't] shown any responsibility with handing money”–not with respect to corporate welfare, not with respect to entitlement spending, not with respect to our national defense (amongst other things). Thus, we are asking that they do try to show some responsibility, in this case in relation to the defense budget. If they were responsible, this discussion would be irrelevant.

    Kind of like your comment?

  • Tressa

    I read both articles with the early morning eyes of very little coffee, but the second one hit a nerve with me. I will disclose that I am married to an active duty service member.

    The second article starts off by saying that with a quick glance to the budget you can see that military spending is far out of control. It always irks me when reporters do this. How about numbers? Ok. So, I went and took a quick glance at the budget. No, a quick glance is not going to show me this. So, the author is suggesting that I am an idiot if I disagree with him already. Next, he compares military spending to a porcelain egret collection. Medicaid gets the rent comparison. So, now we now the author’s feelings on military spending. Hardly objective. I will agree with him that the much of the free world is riding on the backs of our military. I disagree with him when he gets to the part that the rest of the world would step up if we backed off. The rest of the world spends too much on social programs. They do not have the money to beef up their military spending if we were to cut back. Europeans really like their programs. They aren’t real big on military spending.

    Now, the military is already rather small. Ask the service members that are doing the job of what used to be 2 or 3 service members. Ask the service member who can not re-enlist because they have been hit with “perform to serve”. The military does not just take anyone anymore. This has made a smarter military, but it isn’t the guaranteed job that it used to be. Think of all the jobs that we could “create” if we opened up the military.

    Kirk @ 5. To answer your question as to why the military needs 1.5 million service members, I will point your attention to deployments. Deployments are long. Then, service members come home and train for less than a year and leave again for another year. This creates burn out. The cover of the Navy Times recently said “Shorter deployments coming”. My husband and I laughed out loud. There is no way with the current staffing that shorter deployments are on the horizon. So, you need numbers to rotate troops.

    To Joe @3. You are not the only one to think that combining services would save money. It has already been talked about. It wouldn’t surprise me if at some point in time we have one united military. My husband and I go round and round wondering how they will pull it off, but little things are combined all the time. Baby steps, I suppose.

    Truthfully, I think that it is easy for people to cry out for decreased spending when the wars that we are currently fighting are fought by people you don’t know. It is easy to point the finger at the spending when you are not sending your spouse, son or daughter off to war. I don’t believe that there should be a no holds barred style of military spending. I believe that it can be done responsibly. What is responsible is debatable. Buy my husband a drink, and he will give you an earful on what can be cut in his program. Again, it is his opinion and his idea of what can be cut may not be an option for someone else.

    If there is a major crisis in the world theater, it will be us that steps up to the platform. I would rather we be ready.

  • Tressa

    I read both articles with the early morning eyes of very little coffee, but the second one hit a nerve with me. I will disclose that I am married to an active duty service member.

    The second article starts off by saying that with a quick glance to the budget you can see that military spending is far out of control. It always irks me when reporters do this. How about numbers? Ok. So, I went and took a quick glance at the budget. No, a quick glance is not going to show me this. So, the author is suggesting that I am an idiot if I disagree with him already. Next, he compares military spending to a porcelain egret collection. Medicaid gets the rent comparison. So, now we now the author’s feelings on military spending. Hardly objective. I will agree with him that the much of the free world is riding on the backs of our military. I disagree with him when he gets to the part that the rest of the world would step up if we backed off. The rest of the world spends too much on social programs. They do not have the money to beef up their military spending if we were to cut back. Europeans really like their programs. They aren’t real big on military spending.

    Now, the military is already rather small. Ask the service members that are doing the job of what used to be 2 or 3 service members. Ask the service member who can not re-enlist because they have been hit with “perform to serve”. The military does not just take anyone anymore. This has made a smarter military, but it isn’t the guaranteed job that it used to be. Think of all the jobs that we could “create” if we opened up the military.

    Kirk @ 5. To answer your question as to why the military needs 1.5 million service members, I will point your attention to deployments. Deployments are long. Then, service members come home and train for less than a year and leave again for another year. This creates burn out. The cover of the Navy Times recently said “Shorter deployments coming”. My husband and I laughed out loud. There is no way with the current staffing that shorter deployments are on the horizon. So, you need numbers to rotate troops.

    To Joe @3. You are not the only one to think that combining services would save money. It has already been talked about. It wouldn’t surprise me if at some point in time we have one united military. My husband and I go round and round wondering how they will pull it off, but little things are combined all the time. Baby steps, I suppose.

    Truthfully, I think that it is easy for people to cry out for decreased spending when the wars that we are currently fighting are fought by people you don’t know. It is easy to point the finger at the spending when you are not sending your spouse, son or daughter off to war. I don’t believe that there should be a no holds barred style of military spending. I believe that it can be done responsibly. What is responsible is debatable. Buy my husband a drink, and he will give you an earful on what can be cut in his program. Again, it is his opinion and his idea of what can be cut may not be an option for someone else.

    If there is a major crisis in the world theater, it will be us that steps up to the platform. I would rather we be ready.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    It doesn’t matter how big or expensive the military is if the gov’t is not willing to use it. Given way it has been used, the military budget should be cut 90%. So should the rest of the budget. It isn’t doing what it is supposed to be doing. Most of the expensive stuff is things people can and should do themselves and always have before.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    It doesn’t matter how big or expensive the military is if the gov’t is not willing to use it. Given way it has been used, the military budget should be cut 90%. So should the rest of the budget. It isn’t doing what it is supposed to be doing. Most of the expensive stuff is things people can and should do themselves and always have before.

  • Kirk

    @12

    I understand, I was a military brat for my entire childhood. The question we need to be asking is “should we be deploying troops” not “how many troops to be need for our deployments.” My personal opinion is that the US military is far too engaged. Waging two wars at once is, in my opinion, foolishness. Waging a war in a country that was, by all evidence, no immediate threat to us is, in my opinion, foolishness. I think that we need to scale back the use of our military, which will mean that we’ll need a smaller infrastructure and, consequently, less money. I’m not suggesting this because I think the military is bad, I just think it’s misused.

  • Kirk

    @12

    I understand, I was a military brat for my entire childhood. The question we need to be asking is “should we be deploying troops” not “how many troops to be need for our deployments.” My personal opinion is that the US military is far too engaged. Waging two wars at once is, in my opinion, foolishness. Waging a war in a country that was, by all evidence, no immediate threat to us is, in my opinion, foolishness. I think that we need to scale back the use of our military, which will mean that we’ll need a smaller infrastructure and, consequently, less money. I’m not suggesting this because I think the military is bad, I just think it’s misused.

  • –helen

    Starting with letting Wall Street stand or fall on its own business acumen, sg.

  • –helen

    Starting with letting Wall Street stand or fall on its own business acumen, sg.

  • Cincinnatus

    Hey, –helen, for once an uber-partisan cheap shot with which we can all agree!

  • Cincinnatus

    Hey, –helen, for once an uber-partisan cheap shot with which we can all agree!

  • –helen

    Kirk,
    A career serviceman told me we did not have the personnel to fight in two areas at the same time. That was before we invaded Iraq, while being already involved in Afghanistan. He was right. So we call up the “National Guard”. Repeatedly.
    We will have a generation of men (and women) burned out by deployments which have not got a recognizable goal or ending.

    Men went to WW II “for the duration plus six months” but there was a goal and an end to that war. And all were subject to the draft.
    We might have different decisions about when sending our troops was justified, if everyone in power could expect to have relatives in the front lines.

  • –helen

    Kirk,
    A career serviceman told me we did not have the personnel to fight in two areas at the same time. That was before we invaded Iraq, while being already involved in Afghanistan. He was right. So we call up the “National Guard”. Repeatedly.
    We will have a generation of men (and women) burned out by deployments which have not got a recognizable goal or ending.

    Men went to WW II “for the duration plus six months” but there was a goal and an end to that war. And all were subject to the draft.
    We might have different decisions about when sending our troops was justified, if everyone in power could expect to have relatives in the front lines.

  • SKPeterson

    @15 I heard the comment the other day that the problem with capitalism is that all the bankers are socialists.

  • SKPeterson

    @15 I heard the comment the other day that the problem with capitalism is that all the bankers are socialists.

  • Cincinnatus

    –helen: Are you actually arguing for the draft? I can hardly think of an exercise of government authority with more potential for abuse, and that is a more intrinsic abrogation of “rights” broadly construed.

    In other words, your statement confuses me. Is it not more fair that we only require those who have volunteered to do so (i.e., signed binding contracts to do so) to fight in wars, wherever they might be? While I see your point–that congressmen might (might be less likely to vote for war if their own children might be drafted–but the argument quickly devolves into absurdity. The problems and justness of our current wars, in my opinion, have nothing to do with the absence of conscription. How would conscription reduce the government’s fiscal irresponsibility and the increasingly overwhelming power it wields over its citizens?

  • Cincinnatus

    –helen: Are you actually arguing for the draft? I can hardly think of an exercise of government authority with more potential for abuse, and that is a more intrinsic abrogation of “rights” broadly construed.

    In other words, your statement confuses me. Is it not more fair that we only require those who have volunteered to do so (i.e., signed binding contracts to do so) to fight in wars, wherever they might be? While I see your point–that congressmen might (might be less likely to vote for war if their own children might be drafted–but the argument quickly devolves into absurdity. The problems and justness of our current wars, in my opinion, have nothing to do with the absence of conscription. How would conscription reduce the government’s fiscal irresponsibility and the increasingly overwhelming power it wields over its citizens?

  • DonS

    Our federal budget problems are sufficiently serious that NO portion of our budget can be off limits to spending cuts. The problem is immense, and because we have had our heads in the sand for so long, the remedy will be extremely painful for everyone.

    That being said, Kristol is absolutely right that our focus needs to be on entitlements. Those are the real problem, and they are scheduled to grow and grow and grow, in a way that is unmanageable. Trimming $100 or 200 billion from defense or other discretionary accounts will help, but barely puts a dent in the problem. We have to wean our population from the idea that anybody is ENTITLED to other people’s money. Social services spending needs to be budgeted on a year by year basis, based on eligibility criteria that change from year to year, depending upon available resources. Long term social insurance programs, such as FICA and Medicare, need to be dramatically changed by lowering benefits increases and raising the retirement age. For younger workers, promised benefits should be dramatically reduced in exchange for lower tax rates, and we need to more toward the same requirements which private industry faces — future benefits must be pre-funded.

    As for defense, the “peace dividend” is what brought us temporarily balanced budgets in the 1990′s. We have reduced that budget from 6.2% of GDP in the 1980′s to 3.6% of GDP today. In other words, Defense has already contributed to deficit reduction, unlike other branches of the government. We can probably do more, by re-evaluating our force requirements and mission and reducing duplicative administration. But, we cannot reduce our support of the troops or their numbers until we reduce their mission. We have to well support the troops that we have chosen to put in harm’s way.

  • DonS

    Our federal budget problems are sufficiently serious that NO portion of our budget can be off limits to spending cuts. The problem is immense, and because we have had our heads in the sand for so long, the remedy will be extremely painful for everyone.

    That being said, Kristol is absolutely right that our focus needs to be on entitlements. Those are the real problem, and they are scheduled to grow and grow and grow, in a way that is unmanageable. Trimming $100 or 200 billion from defense or other discretionary accounts will help, but barely puts a dent in the problem. We have to wean our population from the idea that anybody is ENTITLED to other people’s money. Social services spending needs to be budgeted on a year by year basis, based on eligibility criteria that change from year to year, depending upon available resources. Long term social insurance programs, such as FICA and Medicare, need to be dramatically changed by lowering benefits increases and raising the retirement age. For younger workers, promised benefits should be dramatically reduced in exchange for lower tax rates, and we need to more toward the same requirements which private industry faces — future benefits must be pre-funded.

    As for defense, the “peace dividend” is what brought us temporarily balanced budgets in the 1990′s. We have reduced that budget from 6.2% of GDP in the 1980′s to 3.6% of GDP today. In other words, Defense has already contributed to deficit reduction, unlike other branches of the government. We can probably do more, by re-evaluating our force requirements and mission and reducing duplicative administration. But, we cannot reduce our support of the troops or their numbers until we reduce their mission. We have to well support the troops that we have chosen to put in harm’s way.

  • –helen

    Sorry to be dense, Cincinnatus, but how is it a
    “cheap shot” to expect corporate big wigs (who think they are entitled to hundreds of millions in compensation) to run their businesses, in the black or fail, on their own dime?

    If they are worth half the profit of their companies in salaries & bonuses, surely they should be taking the risks they create, instead of ripping off the taxpayers! [Not to mention the shareholders?]

  • –helen

    Sorry to be dense, Cincinnatus, but how is it a
    “cheap shot” to expect corporate big wigs (who think they are entitled to hundreds of millions in compensation) to run their businesses, in the black or fail, on their own dime?

    If they are worth half the profit of their companies in salaries & bonuses, surely they should be taking the risks they create, instead of ripping off the taxpayers! [Not to mention the shareholders?]

  • Cincinnatus

    @20: My point, helen, was that essentially everything you say on this blog is a rather thoughtless hyper-partisan talking point. Your quip about corporations is no different, but it is one with which, I think, everyone on this blog will agree. No one commenting thus far would be inclined to support the “bailout” of megacorporations, methinks. In fact, the only people I know who support that action are Keynesian progressives. How about that!

    But back to our original point. Shall we cut defense spending? And if so, how? (apologies to DonS: while entitlement spending is in desperate need of a chainsaw, that’s not our point here). I contend that instituting the draft is not the most responsible method of controlling the budget of the DoD.

  • Cincinnatus

    @20: My point, helen, was that essentially everything you say on this blog is a rather thoughtless hyper-partisan talking point. Your quip about corporations is no different, but it is one with which, I think, everyone on this blog will agree. No one commenting thus far would be inclined to support the “bailout” of megacorporations, methinks. In fact, the only people I know who support that action are Keynesian progressives. How about that!

    But back to our original point. Shall we cut defense spending? And if so, how? (apologies to DonS: while entitlement spending is in desperate need of a chainsaw, that’s not our point here). I contend that instituting the draft is not the most responsible method of controlling the budget of the DoD.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 21: “apologies to DonS: while entitlement spending is in desperate need of a chainsaw, that’s not our point here”

    ????? What do you mean by that? The very point Kristol (one of the two columns posted by our esteemed host) made was that our focus should be on entitlements, not defense. So, I’m exactly on point. The old saw of the left, whenever government spending cuts are discussed, is to start with defense (and end there as well). Kristol is saying no. The focus needs to be on entitlements. I am saying I agree with Kristol on the focus, and explaining why, while acknowledging that defense cannot be immune from consideration.

    However, since both parties seem enamored with fighting active wars overseas, I am opposed to cuts in troop numbers and support until we have disengaged.

    So, again, how am I off point?

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 21: “apologies to DonS: while entitlement spending is in desperate need of a chainsaw, that’s not our point here”

    ????? What do you mean by that? The very point Kristol (one of the two columns posted by our esteemed host) made was that our focus should be on entitlements, not defense. So, I’m exactly on point. The old saw of the left, whenever government spending cuts are discussed, is to start with defense (and end there as well). Kristol is saying no. The focus needs to be on entitlements. I am saying I agree with Kristol on the focus, and explaining why, while acknowledging that defense cannot be immune from consideration.

    However, since both parties seem enamored with fighting active wars overseas, I am opposed to cuts in troop numbers and support until we have disengaged.

    So, again, how am I off point?

  • –helen

    Cincinnatus @ 18
    “–helen: Are you actually arguing for the draft? I can hardly think of an exercise of government authority with more potential for abuse, and that is a more intrinsic abrogation of “rights” broadly construed.”

    Not really. I am arguing for a little serious thought as to where our “vital interests” are, and how to protect them. Without “having some skin in the game”, Congress and the Executive seem to think they are just moving chess pieces on a board.

    I know the draft can be abused. My aunt sent two sons to Viet Nam; they had both been responsible and gotten jobs out of high school.
    They got drafted while some of their classmates were still hanging out on the street corners. (My son joined the Navy; he wanted to fly and the first Gulf war was the price of it.) But we have been fortunate; all our three generations of servicemen have come home again.
    I suppose it would be “abusive” if the “upper classes” had to be privates and consort with those who “aren’t competent to live in this society”… especially if the “incompetent” turned out to be much better riflemen! 8-^|
    Why should peace and security for you depend on bribing kids who can’t afford to go to college with the promise of expenses paid when they get back…. if they get back in physical and mental condition to benefit from those promises! ? The last part is never mentioned in the recruiting office, of course.

  • –helen

    Cincinnatus @ 18
    “–helen: Are you actually arguing for the draft? I can hardly think of an exercise of government authority with more potential for abuse, and that is a more intrinsic abrogation of “rights” broadly construed.”

    Not really. I am arguing for a little serious thought as to where our “vital interests” are, and how to protect them. Without “having some skin in the game”, Congress and the Executive seem to think they are just moving chess pieces on a board.

    I know the draft can be abused. My aunt sent two sons to Viet Nam; they had both been responsible and gotten jobs out of high school.
    They got drafted while some of their classmates were still hanging out on the street corners. (My son joined the Navy; he wanted to fly and the first Gulf war was the price of it.) But we have been fortunate; all our three generations of servicemen have come home again.
    I suppose it would be “abusive” if the “upper classes” had to be privates and consort with those who “aren’t competent to live in this society”… especially if the “incompetent” turned out to be much better riflemen! 8-^|
    Why should peace and security for you depend on bribing kids who can’t afford to go to college with the promise of expenses paid when they get back…. if they get back in physical and mental condition to benefit from those promises! ? The last part is never mentioned in the recruiting office, of course.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Sorry to be dense, Cincinnatus, but how is it a
    “cheap shot” to expect corporate big wigs (who think they are entitled to hundreds of millions in compensation) to run their businesses, in the black or fail, on their own dime?

    “If they are worth half the profit of their companies in salaries & bonuses, surely they should be taking the risks they create, instead of ripping off the taxpayers! [Not to mention the shareholders?]”

    The taxpayers were ripped off by their duly elected representatives. Congress in the name creating homeowners wanted lenders to make loans to folks who could not pay them back. In order to make money, they securitized the loans and spread the risk. When it failed (and plenty knew it would and got rich shorting the securitized debt) Congress bailed out its best friends that were affected. Congress is at fault from beginning to end. There is an infectious mental problem in this country that makes folks think they can just re engineer society and human nature. It is very expensive and it doesn’t work.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Sorry to be dense, Cincinnatus, but how is it a
    “cheap shot” to expect corporate big wigs (who think they are entitled to hundreds of millions in compensation) to run their businesses, in the black or fail, on their own dime?

    “If they are worth half the profit of their companies in salaries & bonuses, surely they should be taking the risks they create, instead of ripping off the taxpayers! [Not to mention the shareholders?]”

    The taxpayers were ripped off by their duly elected representatives. Congress in the name creating homeowners wanted lenders to make loans to folks who could not pay them back. In order to make money, they securitized the loans and spread the risk. When it failed (and plenty knew it would and got rich shorting the securitized debt) Congress bailed out its best friends that were affected. Congress is at fault from beginning to end. There is an infectious mental problem in this country that makes folks think they can just re engineer society and human nature. It is very expensive and it doesn’t work.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Thankfully, both articles at least pay lip service to the principles of Romans 13 and Genesis 9, where government is instituted primarily to punish the wicked. That said, they both miss the mark in pretending (good Keynesians they are) that they can look at the macro without understanding a bit of the micro, as well as the interactions among government agencies.

    One big one that I see is immigration policy; if we had enforced our immigration laws, we might not be in Afghanistan at all (six of 19 9/11 hijackers were illegals, four were arrested in the months prior to the attack) and we might have far less welfare payments–with lower supply, wages for unskilled labor would likely rise, pulling people out of welfare rolls. A mere vehicle barrier on our southern border and a prohibition of sanctuary city policies could make hundreds of billions of dollars worth of difference each year.

    Kinda one of those “work smarter, not harder” kind of moments.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Thankfully, both articles at least pay lip service to the principles of Romans 13 and Genesis 9, where government is instituted primarily to punish the wicked. That said, they both miss the mark in pretending (good Keynesians they are) that they can look at the macro without understanding a bit of the micro, as well as the interactions among government agencies.

    One big one that I see is immigration policy; if we had enforced our immigration laws, we might not be in Afghanistan at all (six of 19 9/11 hijackers were illegals, four were arrested in the months prior to the attack) and we might have far less welfare payments–with lower supply, wages for unskilled labor would likely rise, pulling people out of welfare rolls. A mere vehicle barrier on our southern border and a prohibition of sanctuary city policies could make hundreds of billions of dollars worth of difference each year.

    Kinda one of those “work smarter, not harder” kind of moments.

  • kerner

    The thing about cutting defense spending is that it always seems to be done in he wrong places. We spent years sending our troops around in unarmored Humvees, and incurred numerous casualties to enemy fire and IED’s, when more expensive vehicles with armored sides and bottoms were available. Now we are building and deploying these vehicles, but how much in medical and disability benefits are we paying out to our wounded because we were too cheap to buy the right equipment in the first place?

    (I am not unmindful of the suffering and sacrifice of our military and their families when they are killed or wounded, but the subject fr now is money)

    While I agree that it is a scandal how much waste there is in the military budget, I am very concerned that attempts to eliminate it will endanger our military people and not solve anything.

    On the other hand, as much as I admire and support our military, we do have to remember that they are the government, which means that they are no better at handling money than any other part of the government.

  • kerner

    The thing about cutting defense spending is that it always seems to be done in he wrong places. We spent years sending our troops around in unarmored Humvees, and incurred numerous casualties to enemy fire and IED’s, when more expensive vehicles with armored sides and bottoms were available. Now we are building and deploying these vehicles, but how much in medical and disability benefits are we paying out to our wounded because we were too cheap to buy the right equipment in the first place?

    (I am not unmindful of the suffering and sacrifice of our military and their families when they are killed or wounded, but the subject fr now is money)

    While I agree that it is a scandal how much waste there is in the military budget, I am very concerned that attempts to eliminate it will endanger our military people and not solve anything.

    On the other hand, as much as I admire and support our military, we do have to remember that they are the government, which means that they are no better at handling money than any other part of the government.

  • kerner

    Bike:

    Don’t get us started on immigration. The fact is that immigration laws that prohibit the movement of willing workers across our borders are nothing more than socialist attempts to stifle competition that reduce poductivity, and on the whole hurt, not help, the economy. Rising wages do not help the poor if the cost of goods and services rise correspondingly.

    While some of the 9/11 terrorists had overstayed their visas, they all entered legally. A fence on the border would have done nothing to prevent 9/11.

  • kerner

    Bike:

    Don’t get us started on immigration. The fact is that immigration laws that prohibit the movement of willing workers across our borders are nothing more than socialist attempts to stifle competition that reduce poductivity, and on the whole hurt, not help, the economy. Rising wages do not help the poor if the cost of goods and services rise correspondingly.

    While some of the 9/11 terrorists had overstayed their visas, they all entered legally. A fence on the border would have done nothing to prevent 9/11.

  • kerner

    Bike:

    Don’t get us started on immigration. The fact is that immigration laws that prevent willing workers from crossing our borders are nothing more than soci@list attempts to stifle competition that reduce productivity and ultimately hurt the economy. Rising wages do nothing to help the poor if the cost of goods and services rise correspondingly.

    While some of the 9/11 terrorists had overstayed their visas, my understanding is that all of them had entered the USA legally. Building a fense on the border would have done nothing to prevent 9/11.

  • kerner

    Bike:

    Don’t get us started on immigration. The fact is that immigration laws that prevent willing workers from crossing our borders are nothing more than soci@list attempts to stifle competition that reduce productivity and ultimately hurt the economy. Rising wages do nothing to help the poor if the cost of goods and services rise correspondingly.

    While some of the 9/11 terrorists had overstayed their visas, my understanding is that all of them had entered the USA legally. Building a fense on the border would have done nothing to prevent 9/11.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What is the point of defending ourselves from foreigners in far away places when we allow them to come directly here to attack us and usurp us?

    The point isn’t whether to allow foreigners to come but whom we should accept and whether the electorate are sovereign and have the right to restrict immigration even totally.

    Who is in charge?

    Are we, the people, in charge or not?

    Many wish to tell us what we should want, and when we decline, they force it upon us via non enforcement of immigration laws passed by the people’s representatives.

    Mercifully the Obama administration does seem to be deporting illegals at a pretty fair rate. So, thanks to all of you who have been praying for the president.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What is the point of defending ourselves from foreigners in far away places when we allow them to come directly here to attack us and usurp us?

    The point isn’t whether to allow foreigners to come but whom we should accept and whether the electorate are sovereign and have the right to restrict immigration even totally.

    Who is in charge?

    Are we, the people, in charge or not?

    Many wish to tell us what we should want, and when we decline, they force it upon us via non enforcement of immigration laws passed by the people’s representatives.

    Mercifully the Obama administration does seem to be deporting illegals at a pretty fair rate. So, thanks to all of you who have been praying for the president.

  • –helen

    sg @ 24
    “The taxpayers were ripped off by their duly elected representatives. Congress in the name creating homeowners wanted lenders to make loans to folks who could not pay them back.”

    This was/is a stupid idea (which is still going on). No equity, no incentive to keep up the property, no incentive not to walk …

    I suppose it would be too much to expect bankers to behave responsibly when there are absolutely no pressures to do so, and a lot of money to be made by irresponsibility (and betting against the very deals they have sold as sound investments!)

    Strange, but the NYT has an opinion column in just now which has the same idea I have. “Put the bankers’ assets back in the game and let them play with their own money as well as other peoples.”
    [See William Cohan]

  • –helen

    sg @ 24
    “The taxpayers were ripped off by their duly elected representatives. Congress in the name creating homeowners wanted lenders to make loans to folks who could not pay them back.”

    This was/is a stupid idea (which is still going on). No equity, no incentive to keep up the property, no incentive not to walk …

    I suppose it would be too much to expect bankers to behave responsibly when there are absolutely no pressures to do so, and a lot of money to be made by irresponsibility (and betting against the very deals they have sold as sound investments!)

    Strange, but the NYT has an opinion column in just now which has the same idea I have. “Put the bankers’ assets back in the game and let them play with their own money as well as other peoples.”
    [See William Cohan]

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Helen, same with Guaranteed Student Loans. The guarantee wasn’t to the student, it was to the bank. The gov’t guaranteed that it would pay the bank all the principle and interest per the terms of the loan if the student defaulted. Obviously, banks with their own money would only finance able students. However, the gov’t figured it could make students able by guaranteeing loans. So, more students went to college. However, there has been no commensurate rise in achievement only a rise in number of credentialed folks. No surprise, you can’t make people competent by credentialing them. You can burden them with debt and lure them to incur the opportunity cost of four years out of the work force, which for most students, who could not qualify for a student loan without the gov’t backing it, is really a big burden because they don’t earn degrees that lead to high paying jobs.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Helen, same with Guaranteed Student Loans. The guarantee wasn’t to the student, it was to the bank. The gov’t guaranteed that it would pay the bank all the principle and interest per the terms of the loan if the student defaulted. Obviously, banks with their own money would only finance able students. However, the gov’t figured it could make students able by guaranteeing loans. So, more students went to college. However, there has been no commensurate rise in achievement only a rise in number of credentialed folks. No surprise, you can’t make people competent by credentialing them. You can burden them with debt and lure them to incur the opportunity cost of four years out of the work force, which for most students, who could not qualify for a student loan without the gov’t backing it, is really a big burden because they don’t earn degrees that lead to high paying jobs.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    If I may summarize the more recent arguments, the main issue with military spending is Wall Street. And entitlements. And social services. And corporate bailouts. And immigration. And border security. And student loans.

    Maybe Dr. Veith could just retitle this blog post “Point/counterpoint: What I am Thinking About Right Now That Has Me Upset”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    If I may summarize the more recent arguments, the main issue with military spending is Wall Street. And entitlements. And social services. And corporate bailouts. And immigration. And border security. And student loans.

    Maybe Dr. Veith could just retitle this blog post “Point/counterpoint: What I am Thinking About Right Now That Has Me Upset”

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD: reality is that when things that are not public goods (welfare, entitlements, corporate bailouts) are brought under public/government control, they inevitably become linked with national security. As Milton Friedman noted, you can’t have a welfare state and uncontrolled immigration, especially when you don’t know what kind of person is walking or driving across the border. So it’s not as bizaare as one would think.

    Kerner; good points. My counterpoint would be that if we had immigration under control on the border, INS agents could have spent more time tracking down those who had overstayed their visas.

    Regarding control of labor, absolutely; I favor a high fence with wide gates because we (again) want to know who we’re letting in, and quite frankly I also don’t want employers to have the “do this or I call ICE to get you” way of abusing illegal immigrants.

    All in all, my contention is that we need to work smarter, not harder, on national security. That would include more scrutiny of Ahmed and less of Grandma at airport security lines, and vastly increased support for arming pilots.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD: reality is that when things that are not public goods (welfare, entitlements, corporate bailouts) are brought under public/government control, they inevitably become linked with national security. As Milton Friedman noted, you can’t have a welfare state and uncontrolled immigration, especially when you don’t know what kind of person is walking or driving across the border. So it’s not as bizaare as one would think.

    Kerner; good points. My counterpoint would be that if we had immigration under control on the border, INS agents could have spent more time tracking down those who had overstayed their visas.

    Regarding control of labor, absolutely; I favor a high fence with wide gates because we (again) want to know who we’re letting in, and quite frankly I also don’t want employers to have the “do this or I call ICE to get you” way of abusing illegal immigrants.

    All in all, my contention is that we need to work smarter, not harder, on national security. That would include more scrutiny of Ahmed and less of Grandma at airport security lines, and vastly increased support for arming pilots.

  • kerner

    Bike:
    Friedman is right, but it’s the welfare state that needs to go

  • kerner

    Bike:
    Friedman is right, but it’s the welfare state that needs to go

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @tODD, he, he, Thanks for getting the class back on track!

    Is the military for national security? Because if it is, using it to secure the border would be appropriate. It is hard for me to accept the low-benefit/high-cost wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All that death and destruction and for what exactly? Our national security? I just don’t see it. I am not a military analyst, and I could be wrong, but as a citizen, it looks like an expensive boondoggle that cost the lives of our soldiers.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @tODD, he, he, Thanks for getting the class back on track!

    Is the military for national security? Because if it is, using it to secure the border would be appropriate. It is hard for me to accept the low-benefit/high-cost wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All that death and destruction and for what exactly? Our national security? I just don’t see it. I am not a military analyst, and I could be wrong, but as a citizen, it looks like an expensive boondoggle that cost the lives of our soldiers.

  • SKPeterson

    Part of the problem is that we have a military that is in service to poorly constructed foreign policy. They are ostensibly fighting for our national interests, but these interests are rarely, if ever, articulated; we simply have them. Vague notions of democracy, or human rights, or WMD are oft-cited as policy goals but not much debated or defined – after all, how can anyone be against democracy?

  • SKPeterson

    Part of the problem is that we have a military that is in service to poorly constructed foreign policy. They are ostensibly fighting for our national interests, but these interests are rarely, if ever, articulated; we simply have them. Vague notions of democracy, or human rights, or WMD are oft-cited as policy goals but not much debated or defined – after all, how can anyone be against democracy?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Kerner; sometimes to get at #1 on the Pareto, you’ve got to solve #2, too.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Kerner; sometimes to get at #1 on the Pareto, you’ve got to solve #2, too.

  • kerner

    Bike:

    You could be right. I guess if there were some sort of willingness on the part of my fellow conservatives to make the gates in he fence appropriately wide, I’d be more enthusiastic about having one.

    I do agree that we should have a better grasp of who is in the country. But right now my choices are 1) enforce the soci@list status quo, and 2) ignore the law. I don’t much like either one.

    SK:

    You have a really good point. Back in 1945 we decided that the Japanese were too dangerous to allow them to have military forces of their own, and that we needed bases in Germany to deter the Soviets. Both those ideas are obsolete. We could easily close down a lot of our bases in Germany and let the Japanese foot the bill for their own defense. This would save us a bundle that could be used elsewhere, or just used to reduce the defense budget.

    Another thing we COULD do (I’m not recommending this mind you, I’m just taking sg’s example and stating a fact) is revise our foreign policy such that we were no longer protecting the state of Israel, nor trying to promote stable friendly governments in Muslim Asia. If we made it clear that mid-eastern countries could fight it out among themselves as long as they stayed out of the Western hemisphere, we would save a bundle in the short run. Of course, in the long run we might have to spend a lot of defense money to fend off the victors after the ensuing carnage, and God only knows what oil would cost after that. But should we be thinking that far ahead?

  • kerner

    Bike:

    You could be right. I guess if there were some sort of willingness on the part of my fellow conservatives to make the gates in he fence appropriately wide, I’d be more enthusiastic about having one.

    I do agree that we should have a better grasp of who is in the country. But right now my choices are 1) enforce the soci@list status quo, and 2) ignore the law. I don’t much like either one.

    SK:

    You have a really good point. Back in 1945 we decided that the Japanese were too dangerous to allow them to have military forces of their own, and that we needed bases in Germany to deter the Soviets. Both those ideas are obsolete. We could easily close down a lot of our bases in Germany and let the Japanese foot the bill for their own defense. This would save us a bundle that could be used elsewhere, or just used to reduce the defense budget.

    Another thing we COULD do (I’m not recommending this mind you, I’m just taking sg’s example and stating a fact) is revise our foreign policy such that we were no longer protecting the state of Israel, nor trying to promote stable friendly governments in Muslim Asia. If we made it clear that mid-eastern countries could fight it out among themselves as long as they stayed out of the Western hemisphere, we would save a bundle in the short run. Of course, in the long run we might have to spend a lot of defense money to fend off the victors after the ensuing carnage, and God only knows what oil would cost after that. But should we be thinking that far ahead?

  • Louis

    It strikes me that those that are laissez faire at home, want to control the rest of the planet, and those are laissez faire abroad, want to contol everything at home… :)

    As a foreigner though, I think SK notes a key problem. Also, one needs to ask if the last half-century or so has proved Eisenhower’s words about a military-industrial complex right. I mean, can every single war be objectively justified? Was exhaustive diplomacy tried? How many of the perceived threats are merely perceived? And how many problems were caused by wrong-headed foreign policy and unnecessary interventions in the first place? (Mossadegh, anybody?) It strikes me that the options above are superficial answers (even quick fixes) to deep-rooted, complex problems and issues. Maybe it is time to start asking the hard questions (how the devil did we all end up here), instead of offering pre-packaged solutions…

  • Louis

    It strikes me that those that are laissez faire at home, want to control the rest of the planet, and those are laissez faire abroad, want to contol everything at home… :)

    As a foreigner though, I think SK notes a key problem. Also, one needs to ask if the last half-century or so has proved Eisenhower’s words about a military-industrial complex right. I mean, can every single war be objectively justified? Was exhaustive diplomacy tried? How many of the perceived threats are merely perceived? And how many problems were caused by wrong-headed foreign policy and unnecessary interventions in the first place? (Mossadegh, anybody?) It strikes me that the options above are superficial answers (even quick fixes) to deep-rooted, complex problems and issues. Maybe it is time to start asking the hard questions (how the devil did we all end up here), instead of offering pre-packaged solutions…

  • SAL

    I work in the defense industry and I certainly think there’s a great deal of waste. There’s also a great deal of underfunded programs, and under-compensated warfighters.

    I’m not certain it’s realistic to reduce the military budget but I do think we need to have a serious review of what we spend and why we spend it.

    I have a strong conviction that much of the spending in the defense industry is related to politics (key projects in powerful Congressmen’s districts) and not to need (given the poor state of compensation and equipment for many of our most vital defenses).

    At a minimum we ought to reform the military appropriations process and streamline the acquisition process before we cut the defense budget. We may find that with some simple reforms (likely to be opposed by Congressmen and Unions) we can have a stronger defense for less money.

  • SAL

    I work in the defense industry and I certainly think there’s a great deal of waste. There’s also a great deal of underfunded programs, and under-compensated warfighters.

    I’m not certain it’s realistic to reduce the military budget but I do think we need to have a serious review of what we spend and why we spend it.

    I have a strong conviction that much of the spending in the defense industry is related to politics (key projects in powerful Congressmen’s districts) and not to need (given the poor state of compensation and equipment for many of our most vital defenses).

    At a minimum we ought to reform the military appropriations process and streamline the acquisition process before we cut the defense budget. We may find that with some simple reforms (likely to be opposed by Congressmen and Unions) we can have a stronger defense for less money.

  • helen

    All in all, my contention is that we need to work smarter, not harder, on national security. That would include more scrutiny of Ahmed and less of Grandma at airport security lines, and vastly increased support for arming pilots. –Bike Bubba

    “Grandma” enthusiastically concurs about the security lines.
    (She’ll ask her pilot whether he wants to carry a gun in his cockpit.)

    Perhaps I’m naive on this one but: Identification has to be provided to get a driver’s license. How would “rights” be negatively affected if the license were stamped “Citizen USA” or alternatively for non citizens, their appropriate category? Other countries are quite particular about knowing who they let in; what is the virtue of not knowing?
    [Perhaps I am biased. My father and his family came through Ellis Island (June 1, 1910) and I have this quaint notion that "legally" is the way things should be done.]

  • helen

    All in all, my contention is that we need to work smarter, not harder, on national security. That would include more scrutiny of Ahmed and less of Grandma at airport security lines, and vastly increased support for arming pilots. –Bike Bubba

    “Grandma” enthusiastically concurs about the security lines.
    (She’ll ask her pilot whether he wants to carry a gun in his cockpit.)

    Perhaps I’m naive on this one but: Identification has to be provided to get a driver’s license. How would “rights” be negatively affected if the license were stamped “Citizen USA” or alternatively for non citizens, their appropriate category? Other countries are quite particular about knowing who they let in; what is the virtue of not knowing?
    [Perhaps I am biased. My father and his family came through Ellis Island (June 1, 1910) and I have this quaint notion that "legally" is the way things should be done.]

  • SKPeterson

    Helen,

    I think part of the answer to your question is that there is an underlying tension between national security and the government minding its own business.

    Legal immigration policies have been quite fluid over the past 200 years. Most of the early immigration laws were explicitly racist or anti-ethnic: we didn’t want Chinese, Irish, Italians, Southeastern Europeans, maybe a few Eastern Europeans, and certainly none from Africa (at least after the cessation of the middle passage).

    Immigration also gets tied up in divulging information to the government that people might not like to have known by prying and intrusive eyes – governments right or left always seem to find some way to abuse the information they have collected about people.

    These impulses toward privacy though have some spillover into allowing potential threats through. The issue then becomes the proper trade off between security and liberty. Unfortunately, politicians prefer posturing and pandering rather than addressing the trade offs.

  • SKPeterson

    Helen,

    I think part of the answer to your question is that there is an underlying tension between national security and the government minding its own business.

    Legal immigration policies have been quite fluid over the past 200 years. Most of the early immigration laws were explicitly racist or anti-ethnic: we didn’t want Chinese, Irish, Italians, Southeastern Europeans, maybe a few Eastern Europeans, and certainly none from Africa (at least after the cessation of the middle passage).

    Immigration also gets tied up in divulging information to the government that people might not like to have known by prying and intrusive eyes – governments right or left always seem to find some way to abuse the information they have collected about people.

    These impulses toward privacy though have some spillover into allowing potential threats through. The issue then becomes the proper trade off between security and liberty. Unfortunately, politicians prefer posturing and pandering rather than addressing the trade offs.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    SK, it still comes back to sovereignty. The citizens have the right to restrict immigration in any way they see fit. No foreigner has the right to come here ever. If citizens wish to invite immigration, then they can elect representatives who will enact such policies. No citizenry in any country should ever be compelled by its government to accept foreigners that the citizens do not want. That is not democratic self determination. Rather it is big companies and their government friends vs. the people.

    Same with the wars. They are sold to us by folks who make money from them. The objectives are dubious. They are ill defined. They are protracted. They are horribly expensive. And anyone who demands accountability is accused of “not supporting the troops”.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    SK, it still comes back to sovereignty. The citizens have the right to restrict immigration in any way they see fit. No foreigner has the right to come here ever. If citizens wish to invite immigration, then they can elect representatives who will enact such policies. No citizenry in any country should ever be compelled by its government to accept foreigners that the citizens do not want. That is not democratic self determination. Rather it is big companies and their government friends vs. the people.

    Same with the wars. They are sold to us by folks who make money from them. The objectives are dubious. They are ill defined. They are protracted. They are horribly expensive. And anyone who demands accountability is accused of “not supporting the troops”.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    The military is one of the FEW avenues that the Federal government is supposed to finance according to the original intent of the Constitution…
    NOT welfare-bailouts-excessive pay checks to those govt officials who believe they are ‘royal’ -not the NEAs (either of them)-or any other bureaucracy!!—
    So- let’s get back to the original intent-and get rid of this BIG government-
    Then we can afford to support the military!!!
    and our BOARDERS-
    Geeez- what a thought!!!!
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    The military is one of the FEW avenues that the Federal government is supposed to finance according to the original intent of the Constitution…
    NOT welfare-bailouts-excessive pay checks to those govt officials who believe they are ‘royal’ -not the NEAs (either of them)-or any other bureaucracy!!—
    So- let’s get back to the original intent-and get rid of this BIG government-
    Then we can afford to support the military!!!
    and our BOARDERS-
    Geeez- what a thought!!!!
    C-CS

  • Cincinnatus

    Carol, inasmuch as our “boarders” need support, I’m sure you’re correct. But I don’t think anyone ought to be concerned about our giving the military the short end of the stick. We spend more on defense than most of the rest of the world combined, and we’ve plunged our armed services into several costly and wasteful adventures. Moreover, the sheer waste that litters the defense budget is appalling, even if you approve of our current wars and the general size of the military (check out how much the DoD pays for new toilets in the Pentagon sometime due to price-gouging by contractors and imprudent negotiation regulations).

    Also, a big military is as much evidence of a “BIG” (and therefore dangerous) government as any entitlement apparatus. While I fully condone the dismantling of our welfare state (and the various powers of regulation, surveillance, and general statism that go with it), I fear more a militarized government equipped with outrageous weapons that could destroy my city than a government that gives food stamps to the poor (even though they shouldn’t, probably).

  • Cincinnatus

    Carol, inasmuch as our “boarders” need support, I’m sure you’re correct. But I don’t think anyone ought to be concerned about our giving the military the short end of the stick. We spend more on defense than most of the rest of the world combined, and we’ve plunged our armed services into several costly and wasteful adventures. Moreover, the sheer waste that litters the defense budget is appalling, even if you approve of our current wars and the general size of the military (check out how much the DoD pays for new toilets in the Pentagon sometime due to price-gouging by contractors and imprudent negotiation regulations).

    Also, a big military is as much evidence of a “BIG” (and therefore dangerous) government as any entitlement apparatus. While I fully condone the dismantling of our welfare state (and the various powers of regulation, surveillance, and general statism that go with it), I fear more a militarized government equipped with outrageous weapons that could destroy my city than a government that gives food stamps to the poor (even though they shouldn’t, probably).

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    C # 46-looks like you and I rather agree–we would not need a large military expense if our policy was what G. Washington stated-stay out of the affairs of other countries unless our citizens are threatened ( I paraphrase) —
    as to the DoD-that group has become so PCd that it worries more about CYA than our BEST—ex: the new RoEs..
    and while I am at it-It is time we fight to WIN or let’s get our BEST OUT-if we are not fighting to WIN–
    and let the “wold” defend itself—instead of us in the US using our $$$$ to defend it!!!
    As to the govt giving “WELFARE” — that job was for the churches—and families –
    by us in the US not realizing the percepts of tyranny -tyrants—we are now in a great ‘mess’ ‘ and had better WAKE UP!!!
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    C # 46-looks like you and I rather agree–we would not need a large military expense if our policy was what G. Washington stated-stay out of the affairs of other countries unless our citizens are threatened ( I paraphrase) —
    as to the DoD-that group has become so PCd that it worries more about CYA than our BEST—ex: the new RoEs..
    and while I am at it-It is time we fight to WIN or let’s get our BEST OUT-if we are not fighting to WIN–
    and let the “wold” defend itself—instead of us in the US using our $$$$ to defend it!!!
    As to the govt giving “WELFARE” — that job was for the churches—and families –
    by us in the US not realizing the percepts of tyranny -tyrants—we are now in a great ‘mess’ ‘ and had better WAKE UP!!!
    C-CS


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