I suppose it’s not surprising.  I came across this little fun fact-filled piece on the World Socialist Web Site. It seems that Thursday night, Congress passed the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, giving $633 BILLION to the Pentagon to spend on all sorts of goodies. Just for grins, I glanced at CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS, and, on this subject (drum roll, please)…(crickets), at least up front. What little there was amounted to, “oh yeah, the NDAA passed. Now back to the Duck Dynasty controversy …”

M1A2 Abrams Tank

The USA spends billions on killing machines while slashing social services.

I have no reason to doubt the Trotskyites’ numbers; these guys are meticulously accurate when it comes to hard, cold facts. I thought about doing a rendition of a Partridge in a Pear Tree, but I just couldn’t come up with the right rhymes. Anyway, here are the highlights, with my own observations:

1. A whopping across-the-board ONE PERCENT pay raise for our boys and girls in uniform! That’s right, folks. Our Congresscritters love our troops so much that they aren’t even willing to give them a pay raise that keeps pace with actual inflation. How patriotic of them!

2. Military commanders are stripped of the authority to overturn military jury convictions in sexual assault cases, though victims are still required to pursue justice through their chain of command, even if the chain of command includes the perpetrators. Well, I suppose the D-bots will hail this as an “incremental” positive step.

3. $81 BILLION for the continued, and failing, occupation of Afghanistan. Let it never be said that America got out of an imperial war without dropping more money than the ungrateful natives ever could have imagined on them in everything from bombs to indoor plumbing to advertising to education on American values.

4. 29 Lightning II stealth fighter-bombers. Currently projected cost of entire program: $391 BILLION before the singing stops and the cost overruns begin. But just think of how great they’ll be for the video game industry!

5. $91 BILLION for General Dynamics and the Abrams M1A2 really cool new tank.

6. Almost $13 BILLION for the USS Gerald R. Ford, the most expensive American warship EV-AH! Be proud, Americans.

7. $284 million in new aid for Israel, that bastion of freedom and democracy in the benighted Middle East.

To put these numbers in perspective, the entire Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP), fka Food Stamps, budget was $76.4 billion last year, and will be cut this year. Another extension of unemployment benefits would have cost less than $26 billion, but that’s not gonna happen. Obama and the Democrats took that off the table in order to cut a temporary deal. Really shows where the Empire’s priorities are, doesn’t it?

So the next time some friend or relative says we just can’t afford these social programs, throw the defense budget back into their faces. Do we really need to spend this much? HELL NO we don’t. We could easily cut it in HALF, save all of those social programs and then some, and maybe actually get to work putting people to work rebuilding our infrastructure or doing other practical things like burying every power line we possibly can so that thousands or millions of Americans won’t have to go for days without electricity every time the wind blows a little hard.

Or REAL, FREE, universal health care for everybody.

Certainly $300 billion would do just fine for defending our borders, thank you very much, though I realize that’s not the purpose of the NDAA.  But it’s high time Americans start to demand that defense against some imminent and realistic threat of attack on our homeland SHOULD damned well be the purpose of the Defense Department, instead of the projection of imperial power and the protection of a few corporate profits. And we should also stop fearing being called unpatriotic for saying so. Hell, we should get pissed off when people do call us that, and let them have it for a change.

Public domain photo by 316th ESC.