Every gun that is made

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

-President Dwight Eisenhower

The public assumes that the US withdrawal from Iraq would reduce defense spending. The New York Times reported that the proposed US Defense Department 2009 budget “when adjusted for inflation, will have reached its highest level since World War II.” Although the Federal Government committed over $700 billion  to stabilize the financial markets, it will also spend $711 billion  on defense. Is it likely that we’ll see significant reductions in military spending? Probably not. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has taken its toll on military equipment and it needs to be replaced. Those who serve in the military need better pay and health care. The development of new and advanced weapons systems will require significant investments. We will need to develop a full spectrum military. We will also see military spending continue to rapidly increase in most countries. The world is still too dangerous.

The next President of the United States will have to make either unpopular reductions in defense department spending or continue the explosive growth of the federal deficit. How will he fund Medicare which is expected to go broke in 2018? How will the federal government, which owes foreign investors over ten trillion dollars, reduce our indebtedness?

The President must also meet the demands of reducing poverty, disease, and hunger. He must recommit to making substantial investments to address our domestic needs. He must also maintain sustainable funding for our military needs. Will the next administration want the US to continue to be a military, financial, and cultural superpower? Do we want to? Can we afford it?

As a superpower nation, we are clearly being reminded of the moral requirement to look beyond our military needs.

  • Each year, more than 8 million people around the world die because they are too poor to stay alive.
  • Over 1 billion people—1 in 6 people around the world—live in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1 a day.
  • More than 800 million go hungry each day.
  • Over 100 million primary school-age children cannot go to school.

Based on definitions established by the World Bank, nearly 3 billion people-half of the world’s population-are considered poor. In his recent address at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Pope Benedict XVI blamed food shortages on “feverish speculation” that drives up prices, along with “corruption in public life or growing investments in weapons and sophisticated military technologies to the detriment of people’s primary needs.”

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

-James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

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One response to “Every gun that is made

  1. Maybe the title of this article should have come from the Pope’s quote — “corruption in public life.”

    I think one of the main points you are making is that the money we are spending to pursue a policy of undeclared preemptive war is literally sending our national treasure up in smoke. Until we address corruption in public life, I am afraid that Congress will allow that to continue.

    However, corruption in public life can also extend to welfare programs. We can tank the economy with poorly thought out redistribution of wealth schemes too. A nanny state government that must take care of people from cradle to grave will have the long term effect effect of destroying our freedom and enslaving our posterity.

    I am particularly leery of welfare programs introduced by politicians who have gained their power by promising government handouts to special interest groups in exchange for their vote.

    When expenses far surpass what we we pay in taxes, as they currently do with our out of control war spending, we end up paying for it with deficit spending, and the most shameful form of taxation … the “inflation tax.” This is the worst of all taxes because it takes from those who are unemployed and on fixed incomes by depleting the purchasing power of their savings.

    Debase the currency with this type of spending, regardless of what you’re spending it on, and we’ll arrive at equality, but it will be an equality of suffering.

    When a voting majority ends up siding with politicians who have succumbed to “corruption in public life” they are betraying the trust that has been placed in them to preserve the American experiment. Freedom requires a voting majority who are willing to preserve it by electing representatives who are willing to preserve it. Otherwise, we reach a tipping point where there are more people taking from the system than contributing to it. Surely nothing good can come from that.

    You mention hunger. I want to end world hunger too. However one thing that keeps me up at night is that some politicians have indicated a willingness and desire to use hunger itself as a political tool. As you know, there is a trend towards government control over agriculture and food production. Farmers are paid to grow or not to grow certain crops. If there is any “corruption in public life” as the Pope suggests, we certainly don’t want it to be in the ranks of those who control our food supply. This results in efforts to intimidate political opposition by controlling their food supply until they agree to a certain agenda. In my opinion, so called “food programs” can turn into a form of violence when innocent women and children are dying of hunger because politicians in high places disagree with each other. So it’s really hard for me to believe that we can trust politically motivated central planners to end hunger by letting let them tax us more.

    What would it be like if we were allowed to keep our money and help other people with it? I would be able to to provide for members of my own family, a neighbor of mine down the street who is going through hard times, donate to the local food bank, and to private international humanitarian organizations with a proven track record. America is known for our generosity in giving, the American experiment works if we believe in it! But instead we dig tax pits for each other, and end up with a society that is segregated by government programs into different “classes.” Let’s desegregate by reducing taxation schemes and just help each other directly and save the overhead. I can’t remember ever getting a thank you from anyone on government welfare, unless you count the video clip I recently saw of a woman at a political rally who was convinced that she would not have to pay for her gas or her mortgage anymore if her candidate was elected.

    We can have peace and prosperity in this country if we take action to restore the principles that brought us peace and prosperity the first time around. This is our day, the American experiment can still be saved.

    “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.” – Samuel Adams

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