On March 1, 2011 (TomDispatch.com) Chris Hellman wrote The Real U.S. National Security Budget -- The Figure No One Wants to See. In it he identifies $543.2 billion in National Defense spending beyond the 2012 budget proposal of the Pentagon's $558 and the $118 proposed for the Military in Iraq and Afghanistan bringing the total to more than $1.2 trillion. That's a big pot of money to look into for significant savings.
Willie Sutton was smart enough "to go to where the money is". It is unreasonable to believe that those in Congress are dumber than was Willie. The only logical reason we do not see massive cuts in National Security spending is that Congress protects too many congressional campaign contributors that profit from the continued massive National Security spending.
There are two other wars deserving comment.
The War on Poverty: Lost long ago and current Government policies and practices are at increasing odds of ever winning. The Washington Post reported "zero net job growth in the first decade of the new millennium" vs. a 20 percent job growth achieved in both the 1980's and "90's. Given that, the 13.2 percent poverty rate (2008 Census data) is surprisingly low.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. In 2010 dollars, it peaked in 1968 at $10.04 per hour. About 30 million jobs, about one-quarter of all jobs, pay $9.00 per hour or less. These employees mostly continue in actual poverty despite official guidelines.
Poverty exists well above the official government cutoffs and U.S. minimum wage per hour is lower than, for example, the minimum wage of Australia, Canada or France where they are, in U.S. dollars, $16.08, $8.38 to $11.52 by Province and $13.13 per hour respectively. Moreover, both Australia and France have shorter work weeks plus Europeans in general have longer paid vacations, free health insurance, better child care support and subsidized if not free college availability.
Comparatively, we treat our poor poorly despite, as UC-Davis' Dr. Peter Lindert has shown, " a bigger tax bite to finance social spending does not correlate negatively with either the level or the growth of GDP per capita." We should provide much more social protection to citizens in need than we do. By this I mean social investments that foster an acceptable living standard while assisting more people, otherwise marginalized, back to the economic mainstream.
To be continued.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).