Slashing social safety nets, cutting people’s programs, shrinking life chances and everyone’s chance of enjoying clean water… My incoming emails have begun to read like a horror movie script, with non stop terror and round the clock slashing.
The reason: Democrats and their pals are up alarmed about the administration’s budget. Sure enough it’s scary. The GOP White House wants to strip $54 billion from spending on all things human and ecological while they increase already massive military spending.
The president’s plan would boost spending on so-called defense to well over 60 cents of every discretionary dollar. It’s largest budget share in decades. That’s even as Donald Trump himself admits that years of multi trillion dollar spending have left the Middle East "far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago” and none of us any safer.
Let’s not forget, that when it comes right down to it, the US already spends more than the next eight countries combined. That’s China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, India, Germany and Japan - combined. The US military is in 150 countries. Just how many countries are there?
Sounding one hell of an alarm is right, but let’s get one thing clear for all those small government advocates out there, especially the ones that might have voted for Trump/Pence and might be about to lose their drinking water. The administration isn’t, actually, proposing to cut. It’s proposing to convert; to convert public dollars to private ones by way of shifting them to private corporations with military related contracts.
As economist Michael Hudson explains in his glossary, “J is for Junk Economics”, governments use so-called national security to subsidize private manufacturing and research. That is to say, it’s a way to put public money into private hands.
Don’t like socialism for poor people, you certainly shouldn’t like socialism for rich private corporations.
The companies in question have no motivation to do anything well. The more they charge, the more they profit, and that profit doesn’t come back to those of us who shelled out our tax dollars. It goes to private shareholders. (We’ll never know exactly how each Defense dollar is spent because while it’s the government’s biggest spender, it’s the one department that’s never subject to an audit. And why exactly is that? )
The cities of Charlottesville, Va. and New Haven, CT, as well as Montgomery Church, MD, a county of over a million, have passed resolutions opposing the President’s proposal to shift $54 billion from humans and the environment to the military industrial complex. They’re calling on Congress to shift funds in the opposite direction. Your town, city or county could do the same. (World Beyond War.org has the more information.)
In the meantime, don’t let the Trump terror turn your head. It’s not about cuts, it’s about converting public dollars to private, concentrating power and wealth, and building up stockpiles of deadly force that will be felt in our streets and also in our politics.
Which takes me back to where I began: it’s a horror show.