Nobody can give a precise dollar-number to U.S. ‘Defense’ spending because the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department has never been able to pass an audit, and is by far the most corrupt of all federal Departments (and is the ONLY Department that has never passed an audit), and also because much of America’s military spending is being paid out from otherfederal Departments in order to keep down the published annual U.S. Government ‘Defense’ expenditure numbers (which come from ONLY the “U.S. ‘Defense’ Department).
Those are expenditures for America’s privatized and overwhelmingly profit-driven Military-Industrial Complex. (By contrast: Russia and China require, by law, that their armaments-firms be majority-owned by the Government itself.)
According to the best available estimates, the U.S. Government has been spending, in total, for over a decade now, around $1.3T to $1.5T annually on ‘defense’, and this is around half of all military spending worldwide by all 200-or-so nations, and is more than half (around 53%) of all of the U.S. federal Government’s ‘discretionary’ (or congressionally voted for) annual expenditures.
Unlike regular manufacturers, which sell entirely or mainly to consumers and to businesses, not to their Government, armament-firms need to control their Government in order to control their markets (which are their Government and its ‘allied’ Governments — including NATO), and so they (in purely capitalist countries such as the U.S.) do control their Government.
This is why the armaments-business (except in countries whose armaments-sector is socialized) is infamously corrupt. In order to hide the extent of that corruption (and to promote ever-higher military spending), the ‘news’-media need — in those countries — to be likewise effectively controlled by the investors in those firms.
Consequently, America, which has no national-security threat from any country (so, these astronomical ‘defense’-expenditures are blatantly inappropriate), spends annually around half of all of the money that the entire world spends on the military. And most of that money gets paid to its armaments-firms.
Or, as Stephen Semler, an expert on these matters, put it regarding last year’s numbers, “How much of the $858 billion authorized by the FY2023 NDAA will be transferred to military contractors? I estimate $452 billion.”
That is 52% of the 53% of the federal Government’s discretionary spending that is being allocated to ‘Defense’. Thus, 26% of the money that Congress authorizes the U.S. federal Government to pay each year, goes to military contractors.
Thus: if $452B is going to armaments-firms, and if $1.356T is going to ‘defense’ (both of which are reasonable estimates), then one-third of ‘defense’ spending goes to armaments-firms, and that is around 17% of the money that the U.S. Government pays each year for everything (including non-discretionary).
If this had not been happening each year after the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, then the current U.S. federal debt would be far less, if any at all — but, in any case, that expense (which went, and is going, to exceptionally rich individuals) will be paid by future generations of Americans, by means of both increased taxes and reduced services from the U.S. Government.
What pays for bombs (and funds the purchase of yachts) today will be taken from everyone’s infants tomorrow. And it is taking millions of lives in the targeted lands, and has been doing so for decades now. A psychopathic U.S. Government is producing these results.
America’s ‘Defense’ Department is so corrupt that when I happened recently to be re-reading my 14 January 2020 article about its corruptness, “US Military Spending: TRILLIONS of Dollars Unaccounted For”, yet a new detail of this corruptness, which I had not previously noticed, struck me. It happened in this passage:
Mick West, who blogs as metabunk, is a propagandist for the “Establishment” or the billionaires’ preferences of what the public should believe; and, on 16 May 2018, he headlined “Debunked: Missing $21 Trillion / $6.5 Trillion / $2.3 Trillion – Journal Vouchers”.
He presented a representative of America’s Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) asserting, to US House members, that “this is not a new story, it dates back to 2001 and before,”.
And, West noted:
“All these things are accounting things that, as Norquist says ‘occur after the money is spent’. They are things that you want to get right in your accounting, but if you get the values wrong then it does not mean you’ve lost the money. It means you’ve got some estimate wrong, and you’ll put to little or to much [West meant “too much or too little”] in one fund or another.”
Referring, then, to the $21 trillion, he wrote:
“This is just more of the same though, still not missing money, still just unsupported accounting information transfers.”
However, only a sucker would take that casual attitude to the enormous amount of money in the ‘defense’ budget that is “unsupported” as to who received it, and whether or not those payments were in accord with what Congress had actually authorized.
Furthermore, such a casual attitude toward US ‘defense’-expenditures — the expenditures which constitute actually over half of the US federal Government’s discretionary expenditures, and even around half of the total world’s military expenditures — is an invitation to corruption in over half of this Government’s annually authorized spending; and any intelligent person would expect that such an invitation would be taken advantage of by insiders who are in a position to benefit from it.
West quotes from only one alleged authority, the “Defense Department Comptroller, David L. Norquist,” a person who is largely responsible for the problem, who said “it’s an accounting problem that does need to be solved because it can help hide other underlying issues,” but (at 1:43 in the accompanying video) “it’s not the same thing as not being able to account for money that Congress has given you to spend, but it’s still a problem that needs to be fixed.”
Mick West simply trusted this statement, by Norquist — though Norquist is one of the officials responsible for the problem — but Norquist failed to prove (and wasn’t even asked to prove) it, by the Representatives whom he was there addressing, who didn’t seem to be alarmed about where that $21T actually went) his key assertion, that “it’s not the same thing as not being able to account for money that Congress has given you to spend.”
Even if that assertion is true (which should not be assumed, and which even seems ludicrous on its very face), the problem is unquestionably an invitation to corruption in ‘defense’-expenditures, and those are precisely the type of federal expenditures that overwhelmingly dominate the income to the federal Government’s contractors, the corporations that make all or most of their profits from sales to the federal Government and to its allied governments (such as to the Saud family).
Therefore, casually allowing — and not even investigating as being possibly treasonous — these expenditures, is, itself, enormously scandalous, but the Representatives there were treating it so casually.
In fact, at the very opening of the hearing, which was held on 10 January 2018 (at 02:12 in the video of the 1:41:33-long hearing, above) the Chairman of the Committee emphasized the “We must spend more” on the military, even though we already spend around half of the entire world’s military expenditures. Manifestly, this hearing was a charade.
In the full video, the passage that Mick West quoted from is at 18:00-22:00, and the Representatives were clearly on the side of the charade, not on the side of the American people. Clearly, all members of that Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, behave as if they are in the pockets of firms such as Lockheed Martin.
On 15 November 2018, Reuters headlined “Pentagon fails its first-ever audit, official says”, and reported that: “‘We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it,’ Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters.”
On 27 November 2018, The Nation headlined “Exclusive: The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed” and David Lindorff opened:
“On November 15, Ernst & Young and other private firms that were hired to audit the Pentagon announced that they could not complete the job. Congress had ordered an independent audit of the Department of Defense, the government’s largest discretionary cost center — the Pentagon receives 54 cents out of every dollar in federal appropriations — after the Pentagon failed for decades to audit itself. The firms concluded, however, that the DoD’s financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible.”
So, that was the result of the latest version of this charade, which is virtual treason by the Federal Government.
In short: Congress is satisfied for this situation to continue, and the members of Congress evidently have no fear that the voters back home will vote against them if a challenger makes this issue a major issue in that Senator’s or Representative’s next Party primary.
The presumption is that the voters don’t care, and that the ‘news’-media won’t enlighten the voters about this matter, and about how it impacts, for example, which nations the US will categorize as being an “ally,” to sell weapons to, and which nations it will categorize as being an “enemy,” to target for conquest.
So, what now struck me now was the name there, “David Norquist.” Maybe you remember the famous libertarian phrase about spending by the U.S. federal Government, that the libertarian goal is to “shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Here is one of the many articles that were published about that:
10 December 2012
GROVER NORQUIST’S NO-TAX CALL A WEDGE FOR REPUBLICANS
By Dr Nicole Hemmer, Honorary Associate, United States Studies Centre
“Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?”
The question came from former US president George HW Bush this northern summer, but in the past few weeks many Americans have been asking the same thing.
Norquist, an anti-tax activist, now dominates discussion of the fiscal cliff. His “no-new-taxes” pledge has been signed by nearly every Republican in congress. The problem? To avoid going off that fiscal cliff, congress must make a “grand bargain” by January 1. If it doesn’t include tax rate increases, President Barack Obama won’t sign it into law.
Republicans are in a bind. They could agree to tax-rate increases on Americans making more than $US250,000 a year in return for cuts to programs such as Medicare. That, however, would mean breaking Norquist’s pledge. And Norquist has made it clear that any Republican who does so will face a primary challenge in the next election.
So, to echo Bush: “Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?”
Norquist runs Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-tax organisation he founded in 1986.
His opposition to taxation is an expression of his deep disdain for government. “I don’t want to abolish government,” he famously quipped. “I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
This “starve the beast” mentality has long been a conservative strategy for reducing the size of government. A strict diet of diminishing revenues, anti-tax advocates argue, will naturally lead to a smaller federal state.
As it turns out, David Norquist and Grover Norquist are brothers. So: while David Norquist makes money by fronting for the billionaires who control firms such as Lockheed Martin Corporation, Grover Norquist makes money by fronting for the billionaires who control firms such as Lockheed Martin Corporation.
David does it by rationalizing away those peoples’ corruptness as being a concern for U.S. taxpayers; and Grover does it by leading the Republican argument against the Government’s non-‘defense’ spending. (While Republicans want to reduce non-‘defense’-spending, they want to increase ‘defense’-spending. Democrats want to increase all federal spending, but ESPECIALLY for ‘defense’.)
The standard libertarian claim that “shrinking the government” is at all an issue or what motivates their wealthiest donors whom they are actually fronting for, is a lie. The only real issue that is involved here is: Who is, and who isn’t, getting the Government’s money.
All of federal politicians’ talk about the need to eliminate “waste, fraud and abuse” is also lies, because they themselves — those federal office-holders — got there and stay there by participating in it. If they’re not corrupt, they’re not in office, because this system is built upon corruption.
Whereas Republican billionaires demand that all federal expenditures except for ‘defense’ get slashed, Democratic billionaires demand that all federal expenditures get slashed but that ‘defense’ spending must never be reduced.
So: what’s the real difference (except for the hypocritical rhetoric on the Democratic or “liberal” side)? The billionaires who control those arms-contracting companies control also which contenders for federal offices will become elected.
And here is how one of the billionaires’ ‘news’-media (in this case, the “Fact Check” columnist at the New York Times), on 3 December 2018, cited uncritically David Norquist’s fraudulent argument that nothing more was involved here than an accounting-problem — as-if those congressional and ‘Defense’ Department officials were upholding their obligations to THEIR “stockholders,” who are all U.S. citizens — by continuing to tolerate unauditable financial books at the largest federal Department:
“The Misleading Claim That $21 Trillion in Misspent Pentagon Funds Could Pay for ‘Medicare for All’: Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the rising liberal star, cited a figure that refers to nearly two decades of internal financial adjustments, not actual spending.”
And even the grandstanding ‘progressives’ in Congress did not take to task that lying ‘news’-medium for attacking them on a mere sub-allegation to the real issue here, which was the enormous corruptness that inevitably stands behind all of this.
The only way for an authentic progressive political candidate to deal with this is to declare publicly (and to document it by means of linked-to-evidence news-reports online, like the present one) that ‘our’ Government and media are controlled by the organized mega-crooks, who are this nation’s wealthiest individuals — the only group of individuals who benefit from it — who are this nation’s actual enemies: its corrupters.
But, of course, no billionaire will fund such a campaign, and any news-medium that reports on it (except by lying against it) will likewise get no investors.
That is how bad that the situation really is. People need to be discussing this, in public, here and elsewhere. Because that is the problem. It is the problem that needs to be fixed. But how can it be done? And THAT is the question.
PS: Preliminary reports suggest that on account of this Government’s dual World War III against both Russia and China, the ‘Defense’ budget for next year will probably soar perhaps more than by 10%. The Congress now is well over 95% neoconservatives, in both houses. They’ve virtually all been bought.
By Eric Zuesse
Published by Oriental Review
Republished by The 21st Century
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 21cir.com.