Though it’s unconfirmed that Congressman Everett M. Dirksen ever uttered perhaps the most famous words attributed to him: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money,” the sentiment surely needs to be updated for America’s profligate military moment. Replace “billion” with “trillion” and you have the perfect catchphrase for today’s Pentagon.
Consider the following facts:
- The F-35 jet fighter is projected to cost $1.45 trillion over the life of the program.
- Modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is projected to cost $1.2 trillion, though some estimates suggest $1.7 trillion as the more likely sum.
- America’s Afghan War has already cost $1 trillion. Add to that another $45+ billion to support war ops for this year, and perhaps the same amount of spending each year for the next decade.
- A low-ball estimate for America’s Iraq War is $1 trillion, but when one adds in veterans health care and similar long-term issues, the cost rises into the $2-3 trillion range.
- Each year, spending on the Pentagon, Homeland Security, wars, nuclear weapons, the VA, and interest on the national debt associated with previous military spending approaches $1 trillion.
We’re talking about real money, right?
Together with the Trump administration, Congress is a rubber stamp for the Pentagon. Meanwhile, Congress will fight tooth and nail over a few million dollars to support the arts, humanities, and similar “wasteful” programs.
Yet all this spending is scarcely debated within Congress. Together with the Trump administration, Congress is a rubber stamp for the Pentagon. Meanwhile, Congress will fight tooth and nail over a few million dollars to support the arts, humanities, and similar “wasteful” programs. Planned Parenthood is always under attack, despite the paltry sum they receive (roughly half a billion) to provide vital functions for women’s health. Even the $200 billion promised by Trump to support infrastructure improvements is a trickle of money compared to the gusher of funds dedicated to the Pentagon and all of its exotic WMD.
People laughed at Bernie Sanders when he proposed health care for all and free education in state colleges. That socialist fool! America can’t afford that! Indeed, much better for people to go into debt as they struggle to pay for health care or college. That’s private enterprise and “freedom” for you. Own the debt and you can own the world.
No — Bernie Sanders wasn’t crazy. America could easily afford universal health care and virtually free education at state colleges and universities. Our elites simply choose not to consider these proposals, let alone fund them. But more nukes? More wars? More jets and subs and tanks? Right this way, my boy!
All these trillions for weapons and wars — one thing is certain: “freedom,” as they say, sure isn’t free.