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"The GOP must consider military spending cuts"

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Says Tea Party whack job Rand Paul:

 

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/11/rand-paul-gop-military-spending-cuts/

 

Wow, imagine that. Sensible things can come out of his mouth! The DoD remains the only federal department which is exempt from auditing. There's endless waste that can't be accounted for, massive overlap, and that's not to mention that our military budget is larger than that of every other country on earth combined.

 

Will the GOP do it and actually cut spending in the single most obvious place we could massively do it? Judging from past history, probably not, even while whining that spending is too high. For whatever reason incomprehensibly massive military spending is exempt in the minds of Republicans.

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I'd rather have seen someone else bring this up Nationally, since his Dad has been behind such moves for many years and Libertarian is sort of a bad word for Conservatives and downright treasonous to the Republican Establishment. However he "the whack job" did place it in the context of "across the board".

 

"Bottom line is, you have to look at everything across the board," he added.[/Quote]

 

He is correct however and IMO it could be achieved with out decreasing National Security or giving any potential adversary from taking advantage.

 

This is a list of links for U.S. Army forts and installations, organized by U.S. state or territory within the U.S. and by country if overseas. For consistency, major Army National Guard training facilities are included but armory locations are not. [/Quote]

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Army_installations

 

For instance we have 20 Installation in NY, NJ, California/Texas with over 50 and could easily accomplish the same things probable with a third of these, training to maintenance of equipment. I'm not up to date on how the National Guard works today, but in the mid-nineties every little town with 5 or 6,000 people had their own, though consolidation was starting. I'd bet there is still plenty of room for further consolidation. The problem is each unit, in each State is near a town/city that in some manner thinks their city depends on these bases and regardless the party of representation will fight to maintain there's. Disregarding the economical impact your talking hundreds of billions in savings, IMO.

 

On overseas operations, it's hard to deny there purpose in most cases, being in hot spots or certainly near hot spots, if and when needed. We also apparently have an abundance of Generals/Admirals and high ranking officers, not needed, waiting for retirement. It would seem to me an early out program could be arranged and maybe just cutting across the board 10% of military personnel from every Installation, not currently involved in some conflict, could easily be accomplished.

 

Yes, by GDP we spend around 4.3% of GDP on the Military, Compared to China's 2% or Russia's 3.5%, but then Saudi Arabia and Israel spend over 7% of their GDP on Defense. Then we do have a very high comparable cost in personnel (including benefits), equipment and R&D programs, which justifies some of it.

 

This morning Eric Cantor said cutting Discretionary Spending by 100B$, would do the trick and very disappointing in my mind. They best start thinking in "across the board" and quit the politics.

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Military spending is discretionary. Several social programs are also a part of the discretionary budget: HHS, HUD, Education, Food Stamps.

 

The tiny amount spent on the non-defense, non-security, non-social discretionary spending is what generates our future spending through R&D (maybe), maintains our infrastructure (hah), keeps us sane and literate through spending on arts, culture, and parks (hah, hah). Oh yes, those $200 million/day foreign extravaganzas are also discretionary (hah, hah, hah).

 

And that is what they'll cut and say Mission Accomplished.

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Wow, imagine that. Sensible things can come out of his mouth! The DoD remains the only federal department which is exempt from auditing. There's endless waste that can't be accounted for, massive overlap, and that's not to mention that our military budget is larger than that of every other country on earth combined.

 

Yes, by GDP we spend around 4.3% of GDP on the Military, Compared to China's 2% or Russia's 3.5%, but then Saudi Arabia and Israel spend over 7% of their GDP on Defense. Then we do have a very high comparable cost in personnel (including benefits), equipment and R&D programs, which justifies some of it.

 

This morning Eric Cantor said cutting Discretionary Spending by 100B$, would do the trick and very disappointing in my mind. They best start thinking in "across the board" and quit the politics.

 

First of all, if I have to discard my meme about the US having more immigration than all the rest of the countries combined because we're supposed to look at immigration in terms of percentage of the population, then I think it's only fair to discard this one regarding defense spending as well. I won't bring back that meme because it was also of dubious accuracy, but I'll happily trot one out saying that we allow more immigrants than X countries combined. So if Jackson's point above is accurate it should be acknowledged. If not you know what my next immigration argument will be. :)

 

Second, I think bascule makes a valid point (and one we haven't discussed before, I don't believe) regarding accountability in defense spending. I'd like to see more done in this area, and I think it's a significant point.

 

Third, addressing defense spending cannot resolve the budget deficit. It can help a little bit, but not as much as people will want to see. Not enough to matter. Even the newly "reduced" deficit is twice the budget of the defense department, including spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Fourth, we probably cannot significantly reduce defense spending without causing potentially millions of layoffs, either directly or indirectly. There are something like 2 million people employed directly by the military (source). I don't know how many are employed by the military-industrial complex but it is surely much larger. The number of people currently unemployed in the US right now is something like 15 million. So we're obviously talking about a very large potential effect on unemployment.

 

Fifth, we're spent most of the last 10-15 years reducing and eliminating expensive weapons programs. Many of the more advanced platforms were "pushed" in the Clinton administration, then scaled back during the Bush years. To fly the F-15 Eagle for the last 34 years has required almost 1200 aircraft. The number of F-22s we've purchased is -- get this -- 183. Understand, that's not the initial startup number -- that's the entire production run. To restart the line later would increase unit cost by a whopping 50%. Instead they plan to make up the coverage difference by producing more F-35s, which are currently in flight testing. That might work, but there's a reason we have had both F-16s and F-15s. Different roles require different engineering goals. We've been down this road before, and it didn't work out so well. But no matter, that ship has sailed and there's little we can do about it now.

 

Both airplanes represent the very best technology... of the 1990s. Meanwhile China, Russia, and Europe have begun to produce superior technology. And it doesn't stop with airplanes. We've cut back on aircraft carriers, submarines, and other technologies, and replaced high-tech planned replacement models with much lower-cost, older-technology upgrades.

 

Cutting defense just isn't going to... cut it. Opponents just aren't going to get the cuts they want, and even if they do it's not going to make enough of a difference.

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addressing defense spending cannot resolve the budget deficit. It can help a little bit, but not as much as people will want to see. Not enough to matter.

 

[...]

 

Cutting defense just isn't going to... cut it. Opponents just aren't going to get the cuts they want, and even if they do it's not going to make enough of a difference.

 

To quote Depeche Mode, everything counts in large amounts, and that's what we're talking about with defense spending, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. Cutting defense spending, consolidating overlap between branches, and requiring the DoD account for its spending are all positive steps we can take to reduce overall government spending. Spending on defense is practically neck-and-neck with Social Security for the most expensive item in the federal budget.

 

The DoD is perhaps the quintessential example of excessive, inefficient government bureaucracy which wastes money and should be more streamlined. As a systems architect I look at the DoD as suffering from unnecessary program overlaps to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

 

we probably cannot significantly reduce defense spending without causing potentially millions of layoffs, either directly or indirectly. There are something like 2 million people employed directly by the military

 

So here you're admitting that government-created jobs such as the ones made by Obama's Stimulus do have an effect on the economy as a whole, right?

Edited by bascule

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So here you're admitting that government-created jobs such as the ones made by Obama's Stimulus do have an effect on the economy as a whole, right?

 

There's more than one way to create a job, bascule. Are you saying that the ones created by defense spending and the military-industry complex are more efficient than private-sector jobs?

 

I'm glad you agree, though, that major defense cuts will have an adverse effect on the economy and jobs.

 

 

To quote Depeche Mode, everything counts in large amounts, and that's what we're talking about with defense spending, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. Cutting defense spending, consolidating overlap between branches, and requiring the DoD account for its spending are all positive steps we can take to reduce overall government spending.

 

I agree. And I'll see your rationale and raise you an additional one: Compromise on this issue helps to pave the way for agreement in other areas.

 

 

As a systems architect I look at the DoD as suffering from unnecessary program overlaps to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

 

If you know about unnecessary program overlaps worth tens of billions of dollars I'd love to hear what they are.

 

But it does bring us to a great question for discussion: What should we cut?

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But it does bring us to a great question for discussion: What should we cut?

 

Defense is the low hanging fruit in my mind. I don't have any other answers but defense. Defense spending is an accounting black hole. We don't know where the money is going. True, there are human consequences to cutting defense spending, but there are human consequences to cutting any spending. Until you can tell me exactly what my defense dollars are being spent on, even if one of the line items is "SECRET PROJECT X", defense spending is an unaccountable black hole and for that I feel it does not deserve my money.

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We've cut back on aircraft carriers,

You have? How many were you planning on having?

 

From Global Security the Carrier numbers are;

USA : 22

Brazil : 1

France : 1 1/2

India : 1

Italy : 1

South Korea : 1

Russia : 1

Spain : 1

Thailand : 1

UK : 4

 

Looking at deckspace as a measure, the US has 70 acres of deckspace compared to the ROWs combined total of 15 acres.

 

TBH, I think you're caught in the result of the Cold War. The military industrial complex had to be big and spend a lot to keep ahead of the arms race with the Soviets, but that pressure no longer exists. Put it another way, how many of those F-111s, F-16s, F-14s,and F-15s that are sitting in the desert waiting to be scrapped ever saw combat? It's the ultimate consumer society, you have to have the very latest high tech aircraft (that you won't use) to replace the last generation of high tech aircraft (that you didn't use). It reminds me of Jon Stewart on SUVs "Ooooh, that will really pull the boat I don't own up the mountain I don't live near."

 

In other areas, the technology can't be improved all that much. Missile targetting in the 70s was accurate to about a mile for an ICBM, what is it now? 10 feet? Past a certain point more R & D simply isn't worth it.

 

But at some point you're going to have to face the new reality and bite the bullet. Nobody is going to invade you and it's highly unlikely that a major conflict will erupt suddenly.

 

You have to ask the question "How much is enough?". Like in the Cold War, the US had enough nukes to destroy the planet 300 times over or something like that. The rest of us thought that enough to destroy the planet once would have been sufficient. Anything more was rather pointless we thought. :P

 

Or the "Doomsday" Cobalt bomb. "We've built a bomb that when detonated will kill all animal life on the planet in 6 months"

"Just 1 bomb?"

"It only takes one to destroy the world, but we've built 20."

Edited by JohnB

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Defense is the low hanging fruit in my mind. I don't have any other answers but defense. Defense spending is an accounting black hole. We don't know where the money is going.

 

No it's not, actually. You may indeed have a valid criticism regarding transparency, but this broad generalization is incorrect. The big picture is pretty well known, and the cost of most weapons systems is pretty well documented, right down to the unit level and beyond -- all the way down to the expensive toilets and hammers so frequently cited in Proxmirian news stories.

 

What would you cut?

 

You have? How many were you planning on having?

 

From Global Security the Carrier numbers are;

USA : 22

Brazil : 1

France : 1 1/2

India : 1

Italy : 1

South Korea : 1

Russia : 1

Spain : 1

Thailand : 1

UK : 4

 

Looking at deckspace as a measure, the US has 70 acres of deckspace compared to the ROWs combined total of 15 acres.

 

TBH, I think you're caught in the result of the Cold War. The military industrial complex had to be big and spend a lot to keep ahead of the arms race with the Soviets, but that pressure no longer exists. Put it another way, how many of those F-111s, F-16s, F-14s,and F-15s that are sitting in the desert waiting to be scrapped ever saw combat? It's the ultimate consumer society, you have to have the very latest high tech aircraft (that you won't use) to replace the last generation of high tech aircraft (that you didn't use). It reminds me of Jon Stewart on SUVs "Ooooh, that will really pull the boat I don't own up the mountain I don't live near."

 

In other areas, the technology can't be improved all that much. Missile targetting in the 70s was accurate to about a mile for an ICBM, what is it now? 10 feet? Past a certain point more R & D simply isn't worth it.

 

But at some point you're going to have to face the new reality and bite the bullet. Nobody is going to invade you and it's highly unlikely that a major conflict will erupt suddenly.

 

You have to ask the question "How much is enough?". Like in the Cold War, the US had enough nukes to destroy the planet 300 times over or something like that. The rest of us thought that enough to destroy the planet once would have been sufficient. Anything more was rather pointless we thought. :P

 

Or the "Doomsday" Cobalt bomb. "We've built a bomb that when detonated will kill all animal life on the planet in 6 months"

"Just 1 bomb?"

"It only takes one to destroy the world, but we've built 20."

 

Cool, John, thanks for taking a shot at it. So... what do you feel would be the correct number of aircraft carriers for us to have?

 

22 sounds like a lot, but half of those are really troop ships with a few helicopters (and a couple with Harriers) on the roof. There are precisely 10 true aircraft carriers. That number is being reduced to 8 over the next couple of years, with a new class ship (Gerald Ford) coming on line to replacing the aging Enterprise and Nimitz-class ships. That new class represents a major step down in cost from the original plan, by the way.

 

10 ships sounds like a lot too, but they move at ship speeds, not airplane speeds, and can't be relocated quickly. The idea of 10 is to have two per ocean, with one out and the other in dock (a rotation). So when "something happens", as President of the United States you don't really have 22 carriers at your disposal.

 

You have one.

 

Now, you can still call that a Cold War era plan if you like, but it's hardly overkill -- in most of the world, most of the time, there's no coverage at all. I wonder what you'd think of that if you lived in Taiwan, or even Japan, which has had a number of diplomatic incidents with China recently.

 

An American president can put troops on the ground, bombs on targets, or deliver massive amounts of aid and support following a disaster anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. No other country in the world can make that claim. A few countries have submarines that approach the same coverage and can fire cruise missiles; that's about it. It's not hard to see the appeal here.

 

So I ask, how many would you scrap? I can tell you right now that economically it's not going to matter much unless you scrap most or all of them. Anything less means that the infrastructure and support network, as well as the need for replacement parts and future development, remains more or less the same, which is most of the operating and all of the future development cost.

 

And of course, as you point out, nobody else really has any. Well that's not entirely fair -- Great Britain is building two brand new carriers, so that helps a bit. More than a bit, really. But let's face it, if you cut American carrier power you're going to affect everyone's security. We're the ones you scream at when Sydney gets bombed by state-sponsored terrorists. Why do you think Australia doesn't feel that it needs any aircraft carriers? (You're welcome.)

 

So... how many would you scrap?

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We're the ones you scream at when Sydney gets bombed by state-sponsored terrorists. Why do you think Australia doesn't feel that it needs any aircraft carriers? (You're welcome.)

 

So... how many would you scrap?

Aircraft carriers are useless against terrorism...

 

Anyway, on topic again: I think that the fundamental underlying question that Americans have to anwser is: how much control do you think that you need to have in the world?

With some upcoming powers in Asia (China), with terrorism spreading, and the American economy in ruins, you are facing a world that is becoming more powerful from a country that is losing power. North Korea probably shows that America certainly hasn't reached the limits yet (you can allocate an even larger portion of your economy to the military), but it also shows that you probably do not want to reach the limits.

 

America has enjoyed 2 decares of nearly 100% control. But that is not going to last forever. America will have to find a new role to play in the world. And World Police it is not.

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I see. Well I've said before that that's perfectly fine with me. IMO you'll be screaming for that support to be returned and cursing us for hoarding our money when you need something done. But by all means, that's absolutely fine with me. I'm sick and tired of being damned-if-we-do-and-damned-if-we-don't. Most of our critics are two-faced liars just looking for local political advantage, and I can't WAIT to see what happens when they lose their favorite bogeyman. At least if we dismantle the military we can't solve your problems even when you do come crying for help.

 

 

This is irrelevant, btw:

Aircraft carriers are useless against terrorism...

 

They play many useful roles, as I've indicated above. You can ignore the substance of my post if you wish, but it hasn't gone anywhere.

 

And so is this:

the American economy in ruins

 

It's actually growing at a rate of a bit under 2%, with over 90% of the work force gainfully employed. Hardly "ruins".

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I see. Well I've said before that that's perfectly fine with me. IMO you'll be screaming for that support to be returned and cursing us for hoarding our money when you need something done. But by all means, that's absolutely fine with me. I'm sick and tired of being damned-if-we-do-and-damned-if-we-don't. Most of our critics are two-faced liars just looking for local political advantage, and I can't WAIT to see what happens when they lose their favorite bogeyman. At least if we dismantle the military we can't solve your problems even when you do come crying for help.

Huh?

 

An American - republican - suggests military spending cuts. To which I reply that the world is changing, that the economic crisis in America is a relevant aspect to the discussion, and I attempt to find the underlying question regarding influence in the world.

 

I have no idea where your reply came from. I reply to an internal American discussion.

 

The currrent reality however is that the US are asking us for help. We (NATO allies) were bullied into the Afghanistan war with statements from the previous president such as "if you're not with us, you're against us". And ever since, we've been pressurized to fight a war we never asked for. We've been there for over 6 years, losing soldiers and spending money. I am not sure whose problems you think we're solving, but they're certainly not our problems. It's a funny point of view to actually suggest that you fight the Afghan war to help everyone else who is involved.

This is irrelevant, btw:
Aircraft carriers are useless against terrorism...

 

They play many useful roles, as I've indicated above. You can ignore the substance of my post if you wish, but it hasn't gone anywhere.

Irrelevant?

I am not sure if you are aware of the effect that aerial bombardments had in Afghanistan? I may have chosen a strong word saying it's "useless". I should have said "aircraft carriers are of limited use".

 

But I think that "irrelevant" is also missing the point here.

 

And so is this:
the American economy in ruins

 

It's actually growing at a rate of a bit under 2%, with over 90% of the work force gainfully employed. Hardly "ruins".

It's not irrelevant at all! The economy is the single reason why Rand Paul started this discussion! How can you say it's irrelevant?

 

Ok, I apologize for using words which are received stronger than intended. Your economy is not "in ruins", it is in a "crisis". Fine. America is hit by the economic crisis, and more so than a lot of countries. And saying that 90% is employed is a nice euphemism for saying that unemployment is nearly 10%. I think that's actually quite high, but I admit that I give an opinion. There is no way to be completely objective about the economy.

America spends a lot of money on the wars and its military... and that is a problem to the economy. If I am wrong, then please explain me why this thread was created and why we are discussing it.

Edited by CaptainPanic

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Defense is the low hanging fruit in my mind. I don't have any other answers but defense.

Not one?

 

Military spending is part of the discretionary budget. The total discretionary budget is 38.5% or 385‰ of the federal budget. Until our politicians go after the 615‰ mandatory spending gorilla they are fooling themselves and fooling us with regard to being serious about attacking the deficit problem.

 

Only a small part of the mandatory side of the budget is truly mandatory. The government must, per the Constitution, make good on its debts. The rest of the mandatory side of the budget is only mandatory because Congress has previously passed laws that require those spendings to occur. Laws can be changed. All it takes is an act of Congress and a Presidential signature (or a Congressional override).

 

Are you telling us that you can't see even the smallest part of that 615‰ mandatory spending gorilla as being subject to review?

 

 

 

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America has enjoyed 2 decares of nearly 100% control. But that is not going to last forever. America will have to find a new role to play in the world. And World Police it is not.

 

 

I think this is key to cutting the military. The military is used more for providing American influence in the world, which I think does more good than harm, but just as the Soviets spent themselves into ruin, America is doing it as well. Much better to have a controlled removal than just implode and leave a big void. The ROW will also need to adjust and not just allow the bullies to take over.

 

In regards to the economy and budget cuts:

 

Don't cut taxes

 

US Budget Deficit reduction

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What would you cut?

Cut the scope of the mission to merely defensive and UN ordered. Cut the recruiting quotas and attrition will cut the people for you.

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Defense is the low hanging fruit in my mind. I don't have any other answers but defense. Defense spending is an accounting black hole. We don't know where the money is going. True, there are human consequences to cutting defense spending, but there are human consequences to cutting any spending. Until you can tell me exactly what my defense dollars are being spent on, even if one of the line items is "SECRET PROJECT X", defense spending is an unaccountable black hole and for that I feel it does not deserve my money.

 

Defense, medicare, medicaid, and social security all must be cut if we ever want to balance the budget or not default on our international debt:

 

U.S._Federal_Spending_-_FY_2007.png

 

I don't see why republicans and democrats argue over cutting entitlements or defense. They are both bleeding us dry! I would be a little easier on defense,(not much) but thats only because it has a large positive multilplier. If I was in office my approval rating would be in the dumps because I would start making draconian cuts across the board. Someone has to be brave and make the unpopular move and start cutting like Sweeny Todd. Economic activity may take a step back, but at least twenty years from now there would be an economy to worry about. We've been off track, budget wise, for decades now. The surpluses in the Bush and Clinton years only lasted long enough to quickly be turned into deficits.

Our leaders have let us down by making promises and appeasments that are mathematically impossible to deliver on over the course of the next few decades:

 

GAO_Slide.png

 

We're looking at rampant tax hikes, draconian cuts, and/or both whether we like it or not. In my opinion, cutting is safer than taxing the middle class into oblivion.

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Cool, John, thanks for taking a shot at it. So... what do you feel would be the correct number of aircraft carriers for us to have?

 

22 sounds like a lot, but half of those are really troop ships with a few helicopters (and a couple with Harriers) on the roof. There are precisely 10 true aircraft carriers. That number is being reduced to 8 over the next couple of years, with a new class ship (Gerald Ford) coming on line to replacing the aging Enterprise and Nimitz-class ships. That new class represents a major step down in cost from the original plan, by the way.

 

10 ships sounds like a lot too, but they move at ship speeds, not airplane speeds, and can't be relocated quickly. The idea of 10 is to have two per ocean, with one out and the other in dock (a rotation). So when "something happens", as President of the United States you don't really have 22 carriers at your disposal.

 

You have one.

 

Now, you can still call that a Cold War era plan if you like, but it's hardly overkill -- in most of the world, most of the time, there's no coverage at all. I wonder what you'd think of that if you lived in Taiwan, or even Japan, which has had a number of diplomatic incidents with China recently.

 

An American president can put troops on the ground, bombs on targets, or deliver massive amounts of aid and support following a disaster anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. No other country in the world can make that claim. A few countries have submarines that approach the same coverage and can fire cruise missiles; that's about it. It's not hard to see the appeal here.

 

So I ask, how many would you scrap? I can tell you right now that economically it's not going to matter much unless you scrap most or all of them. Anything less means that the infrastructure and support network, as well as the need for replacement parts and future development, remains more or less the same, which is most of the operating and all of the future development cost.

 

And of course, as you point out, nobody else really has any. Well that's not entirely fair -- Great Britain is building two brand new carriers, so that helps a bit. More than a bit, really. But let's face it, if you cut American carrier power you're going to affect everyone's security. We're the ones you scream at when Sydney gets bombed by state-sponsored terrorists. Why do you think Australia doesn't feel that it needs any aircraft carriers? (You're welcome.)

 

So... how many would you scrap?

It's not up to me. The question is "How many do you think you need?"

 

Our Navy would love one, but politics has got in the way. Our Left don't want us to have one and have openly said that if a Right wing Federal govt tries to get one and there is an election, they will scrap the project. That's why our new class doesn't have a through flight deck or a ski jump, because then it would be a carrier. It's an "amphibious landing ship" that has helo and VTOL jet capability, but it's not a carrier. The Fleet wants and needs air cover and they have to go to strange lengths of subterfuge to get it past the politics.

 

If Sydney were attacked, I don't see how military might has anything to do with it. Counter terrorism is a civil responsibility here, the military provide intelligence, nothing more. On rare occasions the military will support the police, but terrorism is a police matter. If it were proven to be "State Sponsored" then yes, we would expect you to back our play. We would also expect our other Allies to do the same. We would be concerned at having the US involved because of your rule that US forces must have a US Commander. This would mean that the US military forces would follow the American political agenda, which may not agree with ours. For that reason alone, you may find that you're not invited to the party.

 

I wasn't really referring to carriers when I was thinking about the cold war. I was thinking about R & D. Some of the new weapons systems are designed to do great damage to masses of attacking armour, but is it likely that there will be a conflict between masses of armour any more? The types of conflict have changed, but the R & D seems to be still stuck in the old theories. Similarly for aircraft, Stealth, avionics and missile systems are important, not manouverability so much. The new Sukhois look incredible, but will the fancy flying avoid a missile? A slow, stealthy aircraft with missiles accurate at 100 miles will cream a fast, aerobatic fighter with a missile range of 40 miles. As much as I like the new Sukhois and Migs, a flock of F-117s with good missiles will turn them into scrap.

 

On the whole "World Police" thing. Americans are kind to a fault. If there is a natural disaster anywhere, you are amoung the first there and if you're not the first, it's only because someone else was closer. Your ships and helicopters bring water, food and medical aid as fast as they can be loaded and flown. If there is a shortfall somewhere, you take the attitude of "Well hell, somebodys got to do it" and step up to the line. In many ways the ROW plays on this. While you maintain fleets of heavy lift aircraft the other nations don't need to, because they can always rely on American kindness. For all the bitching about America "assuming" the role of world police, the simple fact is that the other nations are quite happy for you to do it because it means that they don't have to carry the load or pull their weight.

 

Other nations play on this in a number of ways. I mentioned politics as the reason we don't have a carrier. If the US were to tell the Australian govt that you were reducing your carrier fleet and so we couldn't count on a Super Carrier getting here in two days if needed and that it might be a good idea to have one of our own "just in case", then after the screaming the political will would change and we would buy one. Similarly we keep enough munitions on hand for about 3 days all out combat. Why? Because that's how long it will take the Americans to deliver more munitions. Why should we stockpile when we can use yours? And you carry the cost. The flip side of the coin is that you can count on us to back your plays. We'd probably agree anyway 90% of the time, but the dependance on your forces adds the extra 10%.

 

The thing is that nations act in their own best interests. It's in Australias best interests to keep in Americas "good books" because we have a large and not particularly stable nation just to the North of us whos military outnumbers ours by 10 : 1. If push came to shove, we would need some help and our European Allies are too far away. Besides, if things got that hot down here then I suspect that Europe would be having troubles of its own to contend with.

 

I believe we should be much more independent than we are, especially in regard to munitions. I do like americans and I don't like the way we are playing you for suckers. Especially since we are close Allies and should remain so. Call it any way you want, but the US and Australia are the only "Western" nations with any sort of military presence in the entire Pacific region. (Canada seems more geared towards its East Coast and New Zealands rowing boat sank.) On that basis, Australia should shoulder more of the regional load. And the other developed nations should remove some of the load from the Americans shoulders. The yanks have pretty broad shoulders, but it's unreasonable to expect them to continue doing everything.

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Defense, medicare, medicaid, and social security all must be cut if we ever want to balance the budget or not default on our international debt:

I agree with that basic sentiment. What's left is only 12% of the budget. Let's take that to an extreme: Let's completely eliminate all discretionary spending that is not related to social welfare, military or homeland security (significantly less than 12% of the budget). No FBI, no Department of Justice for that matter. Department of Education: Partly gone (we'll leave the social welfare intact, but all children will be left behind). NASA, national parks, NSF: Gone. Department of Transportation: Almost gone (a tiny amount of its budget is mandatory). Commerce: Gone. No weather service, no hurricane warnings, no new patents, no new standards (NIST).

 

I would be a little easier on defense,(not much) but thats only because it has a large positive multilplier.

The multiplier has to be larger than one to be useful. It apparently is not: http://mercatus.org/publication/does-government-spending-stimulate-economies-0.

 

I suspect that the only parts of the government that might have a multiplier greater than one are the very areas most likely to be cut: Infrastructure spending and unclassified R&D spending.

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I agree with that basic sentiment. What's left is only 12% of the budget. Let's take that to an extreme: Let's completely eliminate all discretionary spending that is not related to social welfare, military or homeland security (significantly less than 12% of the budget). No FBI, no Department of Justice for that matter. Department of Education: Partly gone (we'll leave the social welfare intact, but all children will be left behind). NASA, national parks, NSF: Gone. Department of Transportation: Almost gone (a tiny amount of its budget is mandatory). Commerce: Gone. No weather service, no hurricane warnings, no new patents, no new standards (NIST).

 

It's all about efficiency. A lot of the departments you mention have been allowed to run inefficiently because they see their funding as secure. Hard times seem to force efficiency. If we could cut these departemnts down a size and force them to streamline their operations and make dollars go further, then we could get a good picture of the effectiveness and real baseline financial requirements of these agencies. Then, if we can get our accounting back in the black, we can "re-fund" these agencies slowly, cautiously, and skeptically.

 

-Well deptartment of homeland security, show us how your requested funding increases will quantitatively make our airports more secure..

 

-Department of education, you request additional funding every year. Show us how your last funding increase boosted college enrollment...

 

American politicians, for some reason, legislate under the assumption that throwing money at departments fosters greater productivity. Efficiency is rarely disgusted. Here in Mississippi there is a somewhat underground movement toward school district consolidation. Some of our counties have over five school districts with county populations under a couple thousand (not even 10,000). Five school districts with five superintendants all drawing six figure salaries. I find this ridiculous. It pretty much ensures that government employee salaries will be abundant, while making sure that none of the children attend a well funded and effectivley run institution. This is what happens when legislators continually throw money at pet programs; a program with a lot of money that performs way sub-par with respect to productivity and efficiency.

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CP; One reason, I participate, probably read more, in these political forums is to get the viewpoint of people not from the US. It's vital, yet neither the EU or the North American media IMO give an accurate viewpoint of the political differences, I suggest maybe excluding Fox/Sky News, but this is not the place to suggest that...

 

The current reality however is that the US are asking us for help. We (NATO allies) were bullied into the Afghanistan war with statements from the previous president such as "if you're not with us, you're against us". [/Quote]

 

The US as a member of NATO invoked the charter, basically saying that exact same principle, that any attack on one Nation will be as one on all member States. Afghanistan, in refusing to apprehend and turn over certain members of the Taliban, then became an enemy of all NATO members. Frankly, I think most European Nations have been much safer by these actions and certainly have developed a better security system to prevent terrorist acts, than say the US/Canada.

 

So if Jackson's point above is accurate it should be acknowledged. If not you know what my next immigration argument will be. [/Quote]

 

Spending by GDP per Country;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

 

Pangloss; Many figures I use for discussion come from this National Clock and I have no idea of it's accuracy, but then I am always dubious of any figures coming from Government itself...

 

Official Unemployment, just short of 15M, Actual unemployment over 26M and the figures I've tried to impress on people total national assets about 70T$ and total national unfunded liabilities 111T$, which I've seen elsewhere much higher.

 

http://www.usdebtclock.org/index.html

 

Thread; One thing I don't think many of you are considering is future debt obligations. If projected debt do increase as suggested and inflation an obvious result, your talking massive increases from the 187B$ current and mandatory expense. You WILL see this in the 2010 final expense report and the 2011 budget, when released. Said another way it alone will surpass Military cost with in a few years.

 

I know how this will be accepted here, but a good many projects can be truly privatized, in the same manner as what created Fanny/Freddy, to get debt off the books. I'm talking total, not portions and taken over by the private resources. Federal resources are dwarfed by the private sector and must be taken from them to do anything, at a cost.

 

I agree with that basic sentiment. What's left is only 12% of the budget. Let's take that to an extreme: Let's completely eliminate all discretionary spending that is not related to social welfare, military or homeland security (significantly less than 12% of the budget). No FBI, no Department of Justice for that matter. Department of Education: Partly gone (we'll leave the social welfare intact, but all children will be left behind). NASA, national parks, NSF: Gone. Department of Transportation: Almost gone (a tiny amount of its budget is mandatory). Commerce: Gone. No weather service, no hurricane warnings, no new patents, no new standards (NIST).[/Quote]

 

D H; The problem is everything you mention has unnecessarily increased in cost over the years and there is "waste and fraud" involved. There is no reason most those services couldn't be passed to the States in some way, noting that in many cases are now paying some very high percentages of the cost. In education, which is none of the Federal's business (my opinion) the States or their people already pay 98% of the cost of education. Many National Parks have been privatized, even paying the Federal for the privilege. Why does the US need to own a third of land, in the first place, are States not capable?

 

http://www.nationalatlas.gov/mld/fedlanp.html

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It's all about efficiency. A lot of the departments you mention have been allowed to run inefficiently because they see their funding as secure.

You can streamline those agencies all you want and you will not make a dent in the deficit problem. Look at your own charts, mississippichem. The part of the discretionary budget that is not related to social programs, homeland security, or defense is a rather tiny part of the overall budget. Maybe 10%. Maybe less.

 

 

Here in Mississippi there is a somewhat underground movement toward school district consolidation.

To be blunt, what y'all in Mississippi need to do with regard to public school expenditures is to ramp those spending numbers up, big time. TO be very blunt, your state is pathetic when it comes to K-12 public education.

 

 

 

 

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Defense, medicare, medicaid, and social security all must be cut if we ever want to balance the budget or not default on our international debt:

 

I agree, and nice posts.

 

 

Cut the scope of the mission to merely defensive and UN ordered. Cut the recruiting quotas and attrition will cut the people for you.

 

"UN ordered"? Interesting choice of words. ;-)

 

But yes, I think this is the best process, because it represents a gradual build-down and hopefully minimizes the impact on jobs and the economy.

 

 

It's not up to me. The question is "How many do you think you need?"

 

While I like the idea of a carrier in every region, ready to respond to emergencies and help people out even if they're not Americans, I don't think we can afford that capability anymore, and I'm sick and tired of being accused of colonial behavior by people around the world who should know better. I'd go with two carrier battle groups in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific, both operating out of domestic ports.

 

I don't think that's going to happen, though. If President Obama can't cut defense spending (in fact increasing it), it's a foregone conclusion that neither House Republicans nor any Senator are going to agree to cut it during the next two years. It's an interesting discussion, but of course in the end we're all tilting at the same windmill here.

 

 

On the whole "World Police" thing. Americans are kind to a fault. If there is a natural disaster anywhere, you are amoung the first there and if you're not the first, it's only because someone else was closer. Your ships and helicopters bring water, food and medical aid as fast as they can be loaded and flown. If there is a shortfall somewhere, you take the attitude of "Well hell, somebodys got to do it" and step up to the line. In many ways the ROW plays on this. While you maintain fleets of heavy lift aircraft the other nations don't need to, because they can always rely on American kindness. For all the bitching about America "assuming" the role of world police, the simple fact is that the other nations are quite happy for you to do it because it means that they don't have to carry the load or pull their weight.

 

Other nations play on this in a number of ways. I mentioned politics as the reason we don't have a carrier. If the US were to tell the Australian govt that you were reducing your carrier fleet and so we couldn't count on a Super Carrier getting here in two days if needed and that it might be a good idea to have one of our own "just in case", then after the screaming the political will would change and we would buy one. Similarly we keep enough munitions on hand for about 3 days all out combat. Why? Because that's how long it will take the Americans to deliver more munitions. Why should we stockpile when we can use yours? And you carry the cost. The flip side of the coin is that you can count on us to back your plays. We'd probably agree anyway 90% of the time, but the dependance on your forces adds the extra 10%.

 

Exactly.

 

I believe we should be much more independent than we are, especially in regard to munitions. I do like americans and I don't like the way we are playing you for suckers. Especially since we are close Allies and should remain so. Call it any way you want, but the US and Australia are the only "Western" nations with any sort of military presence in the entire Pacific region. (Canada seems more geared towards its East Coast and New Zealands rowing boat sank.) On that basis, Australia should shoulder more of the regional load. And the other developed nations should remove some of the load from the Americans shoulders. The yanks have pretty broad shoulders, but it's unreasonable to expect them to continue doing everything.

 

I agree.

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On that basis, Australia should shoulder more of the regional load. And the other developed nations should remove some of the load from the Americans shoulders. The yanks have pretty broad shoulders, but it's unreasonable to expect them to continue doing everything.

Great post John. I just wanted to throw in there, I think the historical position of America carrying a lot on broad shoulders goes further than an "Atlas's Burden" type scenario, but is a calculated expense worked into our foreign policy strategy that includes rapid overwhelming unilateral response to any emergent threat, without the need for allied support. We've gotten caught up by the fall of the Cold War, where "We have it, we should put it to use" turned into "We are using it, so now we can't get rid of it" and even "We are over-committed, now we need more to maintain flexible response capacity" over the years.

 

There's a sense that if anything happened, our allies would look to the US for help immediately and there is a bit of a sense of being burdened by that expectation, but the alternative is a hard sell here to this day - the alternative being we have to consider our security as interdependently linked to our allies. Any "more equal distribution of costs and responsibilities with regards to global security" across nations means less direct US control.

 

I do think we should move more towards that goal, and if we have to build up again due to changes in the future geopolitical landscape, it would probably cost us less than maintaining cutting-edge "WWIII capacity in under 3 minutes" up until that change.

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You can streamline those agencies all you want and you will not make a dent in the deficit problem. Look at your own charts, mississippichem. The part of the discretionary budget that is not related to social programs, homeland security, or defense is a rather tiny part of the overall budget. Maybe 10%. Maybe less.

 

I'm arguing the whole budget should be discretionary. No department should be immune. My first post says we need drastic cuts in social security, medicare, medicaid, and defense spending. That would make a huge dent. Then after the major problem has been rectified, I would cut almost everything to nil and slowly reallocate funds according to cost effectiveness. I think we agree on this, but there seems to be miscommunication. Hey, I love the NSF, but I could see it go until the balance sheet looks better.

 

To be blunt, what y'all in Mississippi need to do with regard to public school expenditures is to ramp those spending numbers up, big time. TO be very blunt, your state is pathetic when it comes to K-12 public education.

 

Yes, we are 49th of 50 last time I checked in K-12 education. Whatever the number is...piss poor. But would it really be wise to just through money at a failing system without first checking its efficiency and cleaning house. Throwing money at a wasteful system only ensures more waste. I'm saying the state could make money go further if they would cut down on administrative costs. How could consolidation of districts not save money? Or we could just spend ourselves into multi-year defecit and start writing IOUs to keep state employee penchants afloat like California. That's a sustainable plan.

 

what y'all in Mississippi

 

really!?

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I'm arguing the whole budget should be discretionary.

Think twice about that. More than twice.

 

The debt -- certainly not. The obligation to pay the debt is right there in the constitution. How about the rest of the mandatory spending?

 

Have you ever been to a developing or underdeveloped nation? One big difference between those countries and the developed world is a lack of stability in the developing/underdeveloped nations. We are seeing just the slightest hint of that instability in our country right now. Many companies are stockpiling money rather than building products. One problem is they haven't the foggiest idea what the future has in store for them. Magnify that by multiple orders of magnitude and voila! you have the third world. The standard solution to this instability problem in third world nations is a military coup.

 

The mandatory spending represents hard-fought efforts on the part of Congress and the people. If anything, more of our spending should be mandatory. Making multi-year R&D efforts the annual whim of the current Congress doesn't make much sense. Besides, Congress does have a simple way to address the issue of mandatory spending: Grow a pair and modify the laws that mandate that spending.

 

really!?

You're right. I should have said all y'all rather than just y'all.

 

Nothing wrong with y'all. There is a big gaping hole in the English language that y'all fills exactly. Unlike most languages, English has no widely accepted second person plural. Instead it has a boatload of regional variants. Most languages have a second person plural because, simply put, there is a need for a second person plural. English is just about the only Germanic or Latin language that does not have a second person plural.

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