We now have over half a million military personnel serving on more than 737 military bases all over the world. These bases are on more than 130 countries. According to the late military scholar, Chalmers Johnson, these bases facilitate the “policing” of the globe and are meant to ensure that no other nation, friendly or hostile, can ever challenge us militarily. He predicts that military spending will “sooner or later…threaten our nation with bankruptcy.” Many would argue that a strong military is necessary because it is a deterrent to potential adversaries. Really? Then explain to me why our tax-payer-funded military bases include a ski center, over 200 military golf courses, dozens of luxury jets, and many luxury hotels. Conservatives like to compare government (public) workers (such as military personnel and Wisconsin teachers) with private workers, insisting, for instance, that Wisconsin teacher, police, and firefighters’ pensions and wages are too generous compared to what private workers are paid (to justify why unions should be crushed). So I am sure they will not want to make the argument that military personnel should have private golf courses and other superfluous luxuries that those in the private sector do not enjoy.
Today, the U.S. has over 725 foreign military based in thirty-eight countries. In contrast to the $1 trillion that we are spending on “defense” each year, the U.S. spends roughly $750 billion on social spending. Much of this spending significantly benefits low-income U.S. citizens. Which of these programs would we be willing to cut? Approximately 31% of the population had at least one spell of poverty lasting two or more months during 2004-2007. Most Americans—59%—will spend at least one year below the poverty line a some point between ages 25-75. So it is something that impacts most Americans either directly or indirectly. Rather than trying to fix our deficit “crisis” by cutting benefits to the needy, we should look at what is wrong with our political and economic systems that continue to increase inequality while neglecting superfluous military spending.