The Pentagon’s Reckless Spending Has Weakened America

Uncle Sam has come to call
To take a bit from Peter to give to Paul
Drop by drop he’ll bleed you dry
It’s not cash, it’s stimuli

—Don Harper, film composer

Bring out the confetti. Hang the red, white, and blue crepe. Strike up the band. Our Great Military has won another shazam victory!

A parade is in order. Perhaps we should run it down the Dulles Corridor, where so many of our warriors are garrisoned. Their buddies could look out of the gleaming towers and salute them as they rode by.

By all accounts, our boys fought like cornered lions…from sunup to sundown…until late in the night on Tuesday…when they finally annihilated the two or three lame killjoys who stood in their way.

Battle to remember

Yes, it was a battle to remember. Thousands of lobbyists, cronies, and ‘retired’ military officers now on the payroll of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing swarmed over the meagre forces of fiscal prudence and common sense — and routed them completely.

The Hill reports the spoils of victory:

When Trump was voted into office, military spending stood at roughly $611 billion a year. In 2020, it will be $738 billion.

All that is left to do is a little ‘mopping up’ of a few diehards on Capitol Hill, wearing MAGA hats and dreaming of balanced budgets. This morning, we found only one of them still holding out. The Arizona Republic:

Sen. Michael Braun, R-Ind., said the [debt deal] legislation was an “embarrassment” that would burden future generations with debt.

Braun said he wanted to see Republicans “go back to our conservative roots of paying for things as we spend.”

“It’s our kids and our grandkids that are going to be sorting this all out and paying for it,” he added.

Yes, of course he is right. But who cares about kids and grandkids? In the here and now, we want mo..o..ney.

That’s right, that’s what we want. And we get it by conniving with the feds. They print the stuff. And the best connivers in the world are those working for what Dwight Eisenhower warned about — the military-industrial complex…aka, the armed wing of the Deep State.

Tour of duty

Eisenhower was one of America’s most celebrated generals. He had faced a real enemy…with real weapons and a trained and determined modern army…He led the US invasion of North Africa, and then Italy.

Then, he supervised the D-Day landings and the defeat of Nazi Germany. After the war, he became president of Columbia University and commander of NATO.

Finally, he entered the White House in 1953, wrapped up the Korean War, cut military spending, and presided over a country at peace, with growing prosperity for rich and poor, balanced budgets, real gold-backed money, and interest rates set by market forces, not by a committee of hacks.

And then, when his tour of duty was complete, he and Mamie retired to the family farm in Pennsylvania. Not once did he pick up the phone to pressure a member of Congress or try to shift a contract to a crony military supplier. In short, he retired honestly and got nothing more than what he was entitled to — his pension.

How quaint.

$640 toilet

Today, the top generals rarely see real combat. No worthy adversary has challenged the US since 1952. Instead, the key battles have been fought in the corridors and back offices of Washington.

A group called POGO — the ‘Project On Government Oversight’ — tells us that 645 top government officials — mostly from the Pentagon — joined forces with the 20 leading defence contractors last year.

Defence expert William Hartung elaborates; the revolving door spins so fast he can barely keep up with it. In The Nation, he reports:

Just as Boeing benefited from its former Senior Vice President Patrick Shanahan’s stint as acting secretary of defence, so Raytheon is likely to cash in on the nomination of its former top lobbyist, Mike Esper, as his successor. Esper’s elevation comes shortly after another former Raytheon lobbyist, Charles Faulkner, left the State Department amid charges that he had improperly influenced decisions to sell Raytheon-produced guided bombs to Saudi Arabia for its brutal air war in Yemen. John Rood, third-in-charge at the Pentagon, has worked for both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, while Ryan McCarthy, Mike Esper’s replacement as secretary of the Army, worked for Lockheed on the F-35, which the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has determined may never be ready for combat.

Today, old soldiers no longer fade away, they keep fighting — for more money.

And we’re not talking about the penny-ante scams — such as the Pentagon’s $435 hammer or the Navy’s $640 toilet seat. (These were first revealed by our old friend Ernie Fitzgerald, then working as a systems analyst at the Pentagon. Nixon fired him.) We’re talking grand larceny…hundreds of billions…or even trillions in boondoggles.

Everybody knows that 90% of ‘defence’ spending has nothing to do with defence. Experts estimate, for example, that it would take only 300 nuclear weapons to provide an effective deterrent. We have more than 4,000 of them.

And it wouldn’t take much to stop a conventional attack, either. Imagine ships making the long crossing of the North Atlantic…or the Pacific…They would be sitting ducks for even a rudimentary missile defence system.

That’s why most of the military budget is pork…and it’s why its heroes — the lobbyists and two-timers that help make it possible — deserve medals.

It can’t be easy to squeeze more money out of the federal government. Deficits are already projected to go over $1 trillion…and we have no plausible real attackers to justify the spending. Yet, the brave men and women of the military lobbying corps argue for more funding…and they get it.

Yes, Dear Reader, all those trillions of ‘stimulus’ inflation must go somewhere. These are the guys who make sure it goes their way.

Medal ceremony

Our first medal — a simple, dignified gold-plated dollar sign — goes to the chiefs of the five leading contractors — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Grumman, and General Dynamics.

They take home an average of more than $20 million each per year; since nearly every penny comes from the public, this makes them the highest-paid hogs in the feds’ mud wallow.

Our second medal — a cluster of gold-plated toilet seats — goes to Lockheed Martin lobbyists. This single company gets more in US military contracts than Britain’s entire military budget. Or Germany’s. Or Japan’s.

Finally, our last medal is a gold-plated turkey. It goes to the lobbyists who pulled off what must be the single biggest Deep State heist in history.

We’re talking about the aforementioned F-35 fighter. The whole programme is expected to cost more than $1.5 trillion — that’s for a plane that may never be useful in any plausible defence capacity.

It is an empire plane…designed to show off and project power, not defend the homeland.

Experts call it the ‘biggest single failure of weapons procurement in US history.’ They may be right. We don’t know. But it hardly matters. If it weren’t the F-35, it would be something else. Because the real battle is for money…not defence.

And it’s the only war the military-industrial-Deep State complex still wins.

But wait…There’s a very serious side to this.

Reckless spending by the Pentagon weakens America’s real defence capability. That was Ernie Fitzgerald’s point. It’s not just a matter of money. The real fighters are now burdened with expensive gadgets that don’t work, a cumbersome, lard-loaded internal bureaucracy, and top brass who only know how to get more and more money.

And the Pentagon’s procurement system has now infected a large part of America’s industrial base, too.

Why worry about overruns and efficiency when you can go to work for Boeing…where the sky’s the limit? Why fuss about accuracy or reliability when your biggest customer hardly cares? Why concern yourself with product quality…when your real business is cadging billion-dollar contracts from a careless customer?

More to come…

Regards,

Bill Bonner


Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance.


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