Monday, April 19, 2010

Distrust, Discontent and Anger Toward Government But War and 'Defense' Get a Pass

A new Pew poll finds historic levels of unhappiness about the federal government and its role in the lives of average Americans, unrest that is at the foundation of what is shaping up to be a strongly anti-incumbent political year.

Nearly one out of three Americans view the US government as a "major threat" to their freedoms, and four out of five say they don't trust Washington to solve their problems.

Just 19 percent say they are "basically content" with the federal government, against 56 percent who say they are "frustrated" and 21 percent who describe themselves as "angry," the Pew Research Center survey found.

The Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of the globalist Pew Charitable Trust, number 22 of the 26 wealthiest charitable foundations in the world, so keep that in mind as you read the details of the 142 page The People and Their Government survey report.

The Tea Party movement, health care reform, Wall Street and a variety of other issues are covered but there was not a question that addressed the costs of war, the military and related 'security' agendas. If indeed one can give any credence to the survey, despite mistrust and anger toward government, the lies and propaganda of war, national defense and empire seem to be working.
Opinions of the Defense Department also are somewhat less positive than in October 1997, although they remain highly favorable (76% then, 67% today).

Views of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI (currently 67% favorable), Veterans Administration, the VA (57%), the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA (52%), and the Justice Department (51%) are little changed from 1997/1998.

Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) is viewed slightly more favorably than it was 13 years ago. Currently, 47% say they have a favorable impression of the IRS, up from 38% in 1997. {page 55 & 56}
Almost 80% of Americans don't trust the government but a majority look favorably at the DOD, FBI and CIA with the IRS not too far behind? There's a disconnect if I've ever seen one. Just who exactly were the people surveyed?

It's typical that a great many people will accuse the government of lying, cheating and stealing for special interests but when it comes to war they remain silent. They trust the government to kill millions of brown skinned people for lies, waste our soldier youth, spend over a trillion dollars a year lining the pockets of war profiteers and pay billions in interest to the bankers for the 'privilege' of their printing money from nothing and loaning it to us. If no enemy exists, create one through deception. It's not only immoral .... it's insane.

So the distrustful, discontented and angry public will take to the streets waving their health care reform scam signs, bitch about taxes and government repression and take to the polls to vote for one criminal over another while thinking they are doing something worthwhile.

But they won't address the biggest destructive force we face that is taking us to ruin .... our war machine.

Defense Spending Is Much Greater than You Think

When President Obama presented his budget recently for fiscal year 2011, he proposed that the Pentagon’s outlays be increased by about 4.5 percent beyond its estimated outlays in fiscal 2010, to a total of almost $719 billion. Although many Americans regard this enormous sum as excessive, few appreciate that the total amount of all defense-related spending greatly exceeds the amount budgeted for the Department of Defense.

In fiscal year 2009, which ended last September, the Pentagon spent $636.5 billion. Lodged elsewhere in the budget, however, other lines identify funding that serves defense purposes just as surely as—sometimes even more surely than—the money allocated to the Department of Defense. On occasion, commentators take note of some of these additional defense-related budget items, such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear-weapons program, but many such items, including some extremely large ones, remain generally unrecognized.
Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, many observers probably would agree that its budget ought to be included in any complete accounting of defense costs. After all, the homeland is what most of us want the government to defend in the first place.

Other agencies also spend money in pursuit of homeland security. The Justice Department, for example, includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which devotes substantial resources to an anti-terrorist program. The Department of the Treasury claims to have “worked closely with the Departments of State and Justice and the intelligence community to disrupt targets related to al Qaeda, Hizballah, Jemaah Islamiyah, as well as to disrupt state sponsorship of terror.”

Much, if not all, of the budget for the Department of State and for international assistance programs ought to be classified as defense-related, too. In this case, the money serves to buy off potential enemies and to reward friendly governments who assist U.S. efforts to abate perceived threats. About $5 billion of annual U.S. foreign aid currently takes the form of “foreign military financing,” and even funds placed under the rubric of economic development may serve defense-related purposes indirectly. Money is fungible, and the receipt of foreign assistance for economic-development projects allows allied governments to divert other funds to police, intelligence, and military purposes.

Two big budget items represent the current cost of defense goods and services obtained in the past. The Department of Veterans Affairs, which is authorized to spend about $124 billion in the current fiscal year, falls in this category. Likewise, a great deal of the government’s interest expense on publicly held debt represents the current cost of defense outlays financed in the past by borrowing from the public.

To estimate the size of the entire de facto defense budget, I gathered data for fiscal 2009, the most recently completed fiscal year, for which data on actual outlays are now available. In that year, the Department of Defense itself spent $636.5 billion. Defense-related parts of the Department of Energy budget added $16.7 billion. The Department of Homeland Security spent $51.7 billion. The Department of State and international assistance programs laid out $36.3 billion for activities arguably related to defense purposes either directly or indirectly. The Department of Veterans Affairs had outlays of $95.5 billion. The Department of the Treasury, which funds the lion’s share of military retirement costs through its support of the little-known Military Retirement Fund, added $54.9 billion. A large part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s outlays ought to be regarded as defense-related, if only indirectly so. When all of these other parts of the budget are added to the budget for the Pentagon itself, they increase the fiscal 2009 total by nearly half again, to $901.5 billion.

Finding out how much of the government’s net interest payments on the publicly held national debt ought to be attributed to past debt-funded defense spending requires a considerable amount of calculation. I added up all past deficits (minus surpluses) since 1916 (when the debt was nearly zero), prorated according to each year’s ratio of narrowly defined national security spending—military, veterans, and international affairs—to total federal spending, expressing everything in dollars of constant purchasing power. This sum is equal to 67.6 percent of the value of the national debt held by the public at the end of 2009. Therefore, I attribute that same percentage of the government’s net interest outlays in that year to past debt-financed defense spending. The total amount so attributed comes to $126.3 billion.

Adding this interest component to the previous all-agency total, the grand total comes to $1,027.8 billion, which is 61.5 percent greater than the Pentagon’s outlays alone.

In similar analyses I conducted previously for fiscal 2002 and for fiscal 2006, total defense-related spending was even greater relative to Pentagon spending alone – it was 73 percent greater in fiscal 2002 and 87 percent greater in fiscal 2006. In fiscal 2009, the ratio was held down in large part by the reduced cost of servicing the government’s debt, owing to the extremely low interest rates that prevailed on government securities. This situation cannot last much longer. As interest rates on the Treasury’s securities rise, so will the government’s cost of servicing the debt attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays.

For fiscal 2010, which is still in progress, the president’s budget estimates that the Pentagon’s spending will run more than $50 billion above the previous year’s total. Any supplemental appropriations made before September 30 will push the total for fiscal 2010 even farther above the trillion-dollar mark.

Although I have arrived at my conclusions honestly and carefully, I may have left out items that should have been included—the federal budget is a gargantuan, complex, and confusing collection of documents. If I have done so, however, the left-out items are not likely to be relatively large ones. (I have deliberately ignored some minor items, such as outlays for the Selective Service System, the National Defense Stockpile, and the anti-terrorist activities conducted by the FBI and the Treasury.

For now, however, the conclusion seems inescapable: the government is currently spending at a rate well in excess of $1 trillion per year for all defense-related purposes. Owing to the financial debacle and the ongoing recession, millions are out of work, millions are losing their homes, and private earnings remain well below their previous peak, but in the military-industrial complex, the gravy train speeds along the track faster and faster.

National Security Outlays in Fiscal Year 2009
(billions of dollars)
Department of Defense 636.5
Department of Energy (nuclear weapons & environ. cleanup) 16.7
Department of State (plus intern. assistance) 36.3
Department of Veterans Affairs 95.5
Department of Homeland Security 51.7
Department of the Treasury (for Military Retirement Fund) 54.9
National Aeronautics & Space Administration (1/2 of total) 9.6
Net interest attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays 126.3
Total 1,027.5
Source: Author’s classifications and calculations; basic data from U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2011 and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970.

source - Robert Higgs

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