We use all these weapons just because our Congressmen waste so much on Defense Spending–often sending the DOD Moneys without the DOD wanting or asking for it

April 7, 2017

Of Missiles and Teachers

By Nicholas Johnson

As we launch one more escalation of our Middle East wars it may be a good time to reflect upon the opportunity cost for Americans of our “leaders” preference for perpetual war.


From commons.wikimedia.org: USSNewJerseyTomahawkCruiseMiss ile {MID-71479}
USSNewJerseyTomahawkCruiseMiss ile
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
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My father grew up on a Kansas cattle farm in the early 20th Century. Times were tough, and so were parents. He recalled sitting on the porch steps at a neighbor’s farm house when that farmer’s young, barefoot boy approached and asked for a nickel. The boy’s father answered, “What did you do with the last nickel I gave you?”

It’s much easier these days for America’s military. Often it doesn’t even need to ask. Elected officials sometimes send additional taxpayers’ money its way for the weapons systems of major campaign donors, weapons the military would really rather not have, thank you.

As for “the last nickel I gave you,” the General Accounting Office has often just thrown up its hands in frustration and announced that the military’s financial records are in a condition that simply makes audits impossible.

So estimates vary, but most agree we are spending on our military more than the next seven nations combined — much of which is used to make sure that we could win, should we ever have to fight World War II all over again. Unfortunately, there’s little that the President Gerald Ford $8-to-13 billion aircraft carrier can do to defend us from cyber attacks or terrorists’ random, homemade bombs.

Throw in the cost of caring for the wounded (Veterans Administration), and other costs throughout the federal budget, and the military’s share of federal discretionary spending is well over the 54% just going to the Pentagon. (Estimates of the costs of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq alone, among the most difficult to audit, range between one and five trillion dollars.)

It’s hard enough for most of us to deal with things measured in the millions of dollars. We can’t even imagine how we should evaluate costs in the billions and trillions of dollars.

So let’s just focus on the cost of one operation, during one day (yesterday, April 7), involving missile strikes on one Syrian Airforce base.

It required 59 Tomahawk Cruise missiles. At $1.4 million per missile that’s $82.6 million.

So how much is $82.6 million?

Think of it this way: Given the median income of Iowa’s K-12 teachers, $82.6 million would be enough to pay the salaries of over 1700 additional teachers for one year — roughly a 5% increase in the number of Iowa’s 35,000 teachers.

That’s something we can imagine.

Now multiply that by roughly 10,000 times and you’ll have some notion of how much our military expenditures are denying us in healthcare, jobs programs, education, infrastructure improvements, and other pro-people social programs.

Think about what President Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex did with the last nickel you gave it. Think about it — and act.

[Note to commenters: This article is not intended to, and does not, address whether we should be involved in Syria, or what we should be doing there, nor does it argue that we do not need a military in these times.]

Submitters Website: http://nicholasjohnson.org

Submitters Bio:

Nicholas Johnson is best known for his tumultuous seven-year term as a Federal Communications Commission commissioner (1966-1973), while publishing How to Talk Back to Your Television Set, 400 separate FCC opinions, and appearing on a Rolling Stone Cover. He’s also served as a law professor; public interest advocate; administrator, manager and corporate representative; author, columnist, public lecturer, TV and radio performer; politician; and lawyer — with experience in public health, media, computer and telecommunications policy. A native Iowan, Johnson holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, Austin. Following law school, where he was Order of the Coif and articles editor of the Texas Law Review, he clerked for both Judge John R. Brown, US Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, and Justice Hugo L. Black, United States Supreme Court. His first professorship was at the University of California Law School, Berkeley (Boalt Hall). He later was an associate at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington & Burling, from which he was appointed U.S. Maritime Administrator by President Lyndon B. Johnson (no relation). Following his FCC term, he served President Jimmy Carter as a presidential advisor for the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services. He has also been a candidate for Congress in an Iowa Democratic primary, chair of a Washington-based media reform group, host of his PBS TV program, author of a nationally syndicated column, consultant to numerous countries on media matters, and appeared at hundreds of colleges as a public lecturer. In 1981 he returned to Iowa City, served as Co-director of the University of Iowa’s Institute for Health, Behavior and Environmental Policy, a member of the school board of the Iowa City Community School District, and accepted a position at the University of Iowa College of Law where he taught media and cyberlaw from 1981 until retiring from teaching in 2015 but still retains his office. In 2009, Nicholas Johnson was selected as one of roughly 700 individuals described by Yale University Press as “leading figures in the history of American law, from the colonial era to the present day” in The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law. He is the author of 8 books, and maintains an active Web page and blog.


About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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