December 30, 2005


The great money-gobbling war machine
by Jim Hightower

How much is a billion dollars? Most of us would simply say, "a lot," for we're unable to comprehend such a stash.

But to get your mind around a billion, think of it like this: Suppose you had a billion dollars and you spent $3,000 of it every day. Wow, you'd be living high on the hog! So, spending at that rate, how long would it take you to go through your billion bucks? Get ready Methuselah: One thousand years!

This gives some perspective on that money-gobbling war machine we call the Pentagon, which spends more than a billion of our tax dollars every single day. And that doesn't count fighting wars! If we actually use the military, congress must shovel many more billions into the Pentagon's maw. For example, George W's war of lies in Iraq is now chewing up an extra $5.6 billion every month.

The sheer volume of our military spending is absurd. First, the Pentagon's basic annual budget of $500 billion is quadruple the military spending of all of America's potential enemies combined, from Cuba to China. Worse, the Pentagon treats money like pocket lint. You and I are paying for weapons that don't work and aren't needed, for ridiculous multibillion dollar tinker toys like Star Wars, for massive waste and gross fraud by such military contractors as Halliburton, and for a bloated military hierarchy that has 225,000 officers — one for every five soldiers.

Feeding this glutton has led to a perversion of our nation's real security needs. While throwing money at the Pentagon, our so-called leaders have ignored the upkeep on America's essential infrastructure, shortchanged education, ignored the obvious need of health care for all, and generally failed to provide for the common good.

To help fight this perversion and build a responsible pentagon budget, call Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities: 212-243-3416.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com


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