I leave early Monday morning for St. Mary's, Georgia where I will join the annual King's Bay nuclear submarine base protest vigil on New Year's Eve. This alternative New Year event has been going on for something like 35 years. While I lived in Florida I must have attended more than 20 of these. Folks hold a retreat, share food, and review their activism at the Crooked River State Park which is located next door to the nuclear sub base. I've missed these events since we moved to Maine in 2003 and was excited to be invited to come and speak during the retreat this year.
(President Jimmy Carter built the nuclear submarine base in his home state of Georgia. During his campaign for the presidency he often declared, "The arms race is a disgrace to the human race.")
Once I get home on January 3 I will just have a chance to catch my breath before repacking and heading to Seattle for the Nipponzan Myohoji annual peace walk to the nuclear submarine base at Bangor in Washington state. So I will go from the east coast nuke sub base - back home in Maine to Bath where the Navy builds destroyers - then to the west coast nuke sub base. So my ears are tuned these days to Navy shipbuilding issues.
The story begins with:
Recently, the Project On Government Oversight reported on the unaffordability of the Navy's long-term shipbuilding budget and on the fact that its acquisition plans will actually cost much more than the service expects. According to the Congressional Budget Office, which uses a more realistic way of evaluating long-term acquisition plans, the Navy will need $76 billion more than it has budgeted for over the next three decades. This is on top of a preexisting $60 billion budget shortfall resulting from the forthcoming Ohio-class replacement submarine program.
The cost overruns in Navy shipbuilding are massive. The profits for the weapons corporations are huge. But even with the Pentagon's damn near total control of the federal budget there is still even more $$$ needed for the expensive Navy warships, new fighter jets, satellites, and launch vehicles the military industrial complex wants to build. Bottom line is that there is not enough $$$ to go around. They are cutting troop levels and benefits for military personnel. But that is chump change compared to the cost of these big-ticket items.
Construction of a dozen Ohio-class submarines -- a major component of the Navy's nuclear strategy -- is projected to cost between $79 billion and $92 billion alone. One new aircraft carrier will cost $13 billion. The standard destroyers built here in Bath were costing $1.5 billion per copy but the new Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyers are going to cost more than $4 billion each.
How will Congress pay for all these high-tech weapons programs? One solution is to cut food stamps. I read the other day that all incoming Republican senators have pledged to eliminate the food stamp program. One out of every six Americans now receive food stamps. The average monthly food stamp benefit is $135.
What else will the 'warriors' try to cut so they can keep building the empire's war machines? It's no wonder that the country is falling apart as so much money is wasted on these very expensive weapons systems that do nothing to preserve life nor help us prepare for climate change or growing global poverty.
The freight train called 'endless war' is heading for a collision with the train called 'social progress'.