The Pentagon is STILL a government program

All too many supposed conservatives — including our friends at the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Wall Street Journal — seem to believe that military spending is sacrosanct and that we should be doing more of it regardless of the federal budget situation. This, despite the fact that the US and its allies Britain and France spend about as much on its military as the rest of the world combined does.

Unfortunately, these groups fail to remember that incompetence is not the sole province of welfare programs, ethanol subsidies, and Solyndra. The DoD has had some “epic fails” as well. Check out this recent article on the F-22 which cost $80 billion to develop ( price tag of $420 million per plane), but only performs “as well as” its much cheaper European rival in close “dogfight”-style combat.

If the military is indeed going to be hit by “devastating” cuts as a result of sequestration as some in both parties have claimed, it would seem that our military planners have no one to blame but themselves.

Of course, a strong defense is important, but that doesn’t mean we can afford a blank check either.

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6 Replies to “The Pentagon is STILL a government program”

  1. Getting dangerously close here to alienating a vast number of New Mexicans who have emotional and financial ties to the US Military complex.

    1. Well, Ted, I do understand that the military’s existence is Constitutional unlike so much of what the federal government does, but it is still incredibly inefficient and bureaucratic, even if you agree with every thing they do overseas. It is also factually-inaccurate to state that the sequestration process is going to “devastate” the military as it — like so much of the federal government — has grown dramatically in recent years. The issue may be that the military has not spent the money it has been given very wisely. No one should be surprised by that and I’m willing to call B.S. even if so many of our elected leaders and citizen-activists are not.

  2. Paul,
    While I agree with most of what you say, I think that you have missed the mark when you say, “the military ….has grown dramatically in recent years.” Disclaimer, I spent 21 years in the USAF, and 10 years doing the weather for the HELSTF at WSMR, and another 10 years on Weather Effects on Military Systems. However, I also spent 3 years with Jimmy Carter’s Hollow Army in Germany and watched as the Army coped with losing 6 of its 16 divisions in the Peace Dividend years, only to watch the press whine about the “over-extended Army, Reserves, and National Guard” in the George W. Bush years.

    If you look at the data in Figure 13 at, you will find several graphic time series of military vs non-military spending, which show the steep decreases in military spending. This president has gutted the military and this sequestration is another attempt to further gut it. If you believe that this nation’s military challenges are decreasing, go ahead and advocate as you have here. I for one do not believe that to be the case.
    The Preamble says, “Provide for the Common Defense, promote the general welfare.” I think that at the present time, we have the verbs reversed.

    1. Yeah. The answer is to keep spending more and more money no matter how poorly.

      Great idea. Thanks for the mature, long-range vision thing. Great stuff.

      Let’s see – the logic is I served my country THEREFORE we need to provide blank check indefinitely and not change a thing…is that your message>

    2. I don’t see a Figure 13 in the paper you reference. I just don’t see how there can be any confusion on the point that military spending has dramatically increased in the US in recent years. There will be a leveling off and slight reductions from peak levels in that spending under sequestration.

      But, regardless of this, we can’t afford to do everything in terms of the military that we may want. We NEED to get our budget under control. That obviously includes entitlement reforms, but it also can and should (and politically must) include a reduction in demands placed on the US military.

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