Black Holes of Federal Spending

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source : Possibilitator, April 20, 2016

The elephant in the room that most seem blind to is our utter acceptance of a bloated and constantly expanding and UNAUDITED military budget. Even our Nobel Peace laureate President is not beyond offering up another increase in the current budget for our supposed ”defense.”


The Project on Government Oversight called his budget a “Mardi Gras for Defense Contractors.” As President Eisenhower warned, the military-industrial complex has its tentacles wrapped tightly around the American psyche. They have managed to deploy a system where each state has some defense industry ties that every Senator feels obligated to support when threats of possible cuts are raised. Bringing home the bacon ensures a budget with plenty of fat.

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Perhaps nowhere is that needless fat more unhealthy than our nuclear weapons program. A 2011 study estimates that the nine nuclear nations–U.S., Russia, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, China, Israel, and North Korea–collectively spend more than $100 million a year on nuclear weapons, with the U.S. alone accounting for more than half of that. The President’s budget proposal anticipates $1 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years.

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That’s $1 trillion not spent on development, clean energy, health care, or education. It is hard to imagine effectively addressing other issues when such huge drains on our wealth are funneled towards such wasteful production, as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has noted. Emeritus Professor of history Dr. Lawrence Wittner recently wrote on the History News Network, “Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates?”

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Prof. of International Law Dan Joyner recently discussed on the Arms Control Wonk blog the legal gaps that some argue allow the first use of nuclear weapons; only India and China have declared no first use. The hollowness of those arguments coupled with the costs of developing and maintaining these weapons of mass destruction make even holding them challengeable. The Union of Concerned Scientists has called for a renewed stigmatization of nuclear weapons.

Greg Foster, National Defense University professor, West Point graduate and decorated veteran of the Vietnam wrote a powerful critique of not only our nuclear weapons black hole but how civilian control of the military has become a fantasy and a crisis.

“The military remains the permanent keeper and executor of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal: an estimated 4,700 nuclear warheads on some 800 delivery systems, as well as another 2,340 ’retired’ but still intact and presumably usable warheads. A three-decade, trillion-dollar upgrade of this already monstrous arsenal is now underway. The Economist has called this Washington’s ’unkicked addiction.’ It should be clear, but apparently isn’t, that these are weapons of disuse. Other than for destroying the planet if used, their only value is as a measure of muscularity against mirror-image peers. They deter nothing at other levels of muscle-flexing but do feed an insatiable thirst for emulation among jealous non-possessors of such weaponry.”

Even the pro-business Forbes highlights the ten Pentagon budget busters that could be eliminated or at least reduced. S.327 and H.R.942 the Audit the Pentagon Act would require the Pentagon to be audited like every other federal department.


William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy adds much more fule to this concern in a recent posting “How Not to Audit the Pentagon: Five Decades Later the MIlitary Waste Machine is Running Full Speed Ahead.. This is a synopsis of a recent study he did that found $33 billion in waste from just 27 examples.

This should be a non-partisan concern – conservatives and liberals both voice support for cutting waste. Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are among the cosponsors. Rep. John Conyers is the only member of the Michigan Congressional delegation to cosponsor. Let’s let Senators Stabenow and Peters and our other supposedly thrifty representatives know it’s time to audit and cut the fat题リ题リ题リ

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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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