MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD: While the Trump administration has been unique in many ways, it has greatly increased the prominence of one particular sector of the US economy. The armaments industry that President Eisenhower warned us about continues to benefit from our taxes to a great degree.
One of the first things President Trump and the Republican Congress did when he began his term was to increase the defense budget. If you look closely, the increase tends to favor the purchase of defense systems by a wide margin. Our soldiers while benefiting, are not the big winners.
Trump made a big deal about the new F35 system’s exorbitant budget, but in the long run, it is still funded to its maximum.
As an example, one of the money set-asides that Trump is contemplating raiding for his wall, was approved by Congress to improve housing for active service troops.
Failing Privatized Military Housing
Efforts to privatize military housing has been in the books since 1996. In the last several years there have been reports of mold, vermin and other poor living conditions that have been blamed on poor oversight of the privatized sector by the military.
A new investigation by Reuters published Friday centers mostly on some families at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, but builds on the news organization’s previous investigations into Army and Marine Corps privatized family housing.
“What the Pentagon touts as privatization’s signature achievement — the building of new housing for military families — is marred by faulty construction and poor upkeep,” the report found.
There has been “limited federal oversight and little accountability” for the companies that have taken over the responsibility of operating the housing.
The report cited “shoddy workmanship, raw sewage, rotten wood and chronic leaks” leading to mold infestation and other issues “putting residents’ health at risk.”
It is important to ask, is a fully funded military living in squalor the best idea?
Impact of Saudi Arabia and Russia
The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a reporter for the Washington Post at the hands of Saudi operatives in Turkey further brought home the influence of the armaments industry. The brazen act, that has been condemned by both parties, was met by a less than harsh White House response.
The message is that whether the assassination was, in fact, a Saudi operation, the sale of high technology equipment and materials should not be jeopardized.
Another event is the recent decision by President Trump to get out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. The President explains it as a response to Russia violating the treaty. If put in effect, this action will start a new arms race between the two countries.
This will benefit the armaments industry greatly.
While it is likely that this sector has and will continue to get a big piece of the fiscal pie indefinitely, it may grow faster with the current administration policies. Supporters will say that this economic sector is key to our economy. Working internationally, the armaments and agriculturally related chemical industry are holy cows, immune from criticism.
These are two areas in which the US holds supremacy in international markets.
Domestic Armaments Industry
We look at the armaments industry as the provider of sophisticated, state-of-the-art defense systems only. However, another part of this sector is the arming of the public in the US.
Every time there is a mass shooting, the sale of personal weapons increases. The same happens when Democrats win elections. The armaments lobby, in its traditional arms form (the NRA), benefits from every negative report related to firearms. The fear that democratic politicians will restrict usage of firearms increase gun sales.
There are 120 guns in the US for every 100 citizens; however, only 1/3 of Americans own guns. That 1/3 buy 14 million guns each year.
While the money involved in fire arms in civilian hands is small compared with that of sophisticated weapons systems, it is still significant.
So, what is the reason for this exorbitant expenditure, especially in the high technology sector?
It is all fueled by the fear that we may seems weaker either internationally or in our homes and become vulnerable. Or at least this is what supporters claim.
The fact that we are the most armed civilian population and that our military budget, even during Democratic administrations, is 45% of the world’s total, notwithstanding.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, was fascinated with fire arms until he had to serve in combat. He is now a pacifist and does not own a gun. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).