MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD.: A July 12 segment of the NBC Today Show made some stark contrasts of defense spending clear. The segment focused on military families living in San Diego. It revealed that many enlisted men and women cannot properly feed their children. Even with military subsidies like base and post housing, post exchanges and commissaries, the salaries of enlisted personnel are not enough to pay for necessary expenses and feed their children. In some cases, adults go hungry to ensure their children are properly fed.
A school principal who was interviewed said that of every ten children receiving free lunches in her school, seven were military dependents. This is not unusual in other cities with a large military presence.
To make ends meet, private agencies – not-for-profits and NGOs – must take up the slack. Many military families depend on assistance from these organizations.
The report featured one family with four children. The father is deployed with the Navy and the mom stays home. They live on a salary of less than $35,000 per year before taxes. The mom is shown loading food into her car.
She laments that this was not a good day. In other words, she does not have enough food to feed herself and her four children.
A back of the envelope calculation
This is in stark contrast to the salaries and bonuses of the CEOs of the 10 largest military contractors. In 2016, their combined salaries were over $160 million. These salaries and other compensation have increased significantly in the last two years. A March 2018 report showed that the total compensation of five of those CEOs had reached $93 million.
This sum is revealed in the first-ever audit of Defense Contractors. The average compensation of those five CEOs is about 550 times the salary of an enlisted person.
What are we getting for those big salaries?
The compensation to these CEOs, one would expect, is for the acquisition and proper fulfillment of the contracts for armaments and services to our military. The payment is part of the roughly $700 billion dollars allocated to the military in our yearly budget.
A mid-level (E6) Non-Commissioned-Officer (NC0) in the Army receives $30,552 per year. If his benefits cost the government another $30,000, his net cost is $60,552, rounded to $60,000. The size of our military counting active duty (1.43 million) and reserves (1.1 million) is 2.53 million. Assuming an average of $60,000 per soldier we get around $151 billion, round to $150 billion.
So, the military-industrial complex gets a big bite of $5.5b of every $7b allocated to defense. Our soldiers receive only $1.5 for every $7b dollars allocated. Meaning that of the budget, $5.5b goes for contractors and other expenses. No wonder many cannot feed their children with their salaries.
Politicians good to the Military-INdustrial complex, not soldiers or their families
So, when you hear politicians clamoring how good they are to the military, remember that what they mean is the military-industrial complex, not our heroes risking their lives for us, and their families.
This situation precedes Trump and just about any president since the 1950s. It has never changed enough to be acceptable.