Submitted Today to Hudson’s Register Star
Letter to the Editor
May 6, 2011
As our politicians and the media continue the “debate” about our public budgets, Federal and state, we need to continue to ask that they have a debate that includes all aspects of income and expenditures.
I want to focus here on our spending in the Dept. of Defense. Let’s just focus on the more than 750 military bases outside of the US for a moment. Why do we continue to support military bases throughout Western Europe in nine countries (77,379 personnel in 14,706 buildings with 629 acres of floor space). Germany alone has 167 US military bases. Japan houses 91 US military bases (41,512 personnel in 8,703 buildings with 731 acres of floor space). The costs are a bit less clear since the Pentagon provides no reports broken down along these lines. But, we can guesstimate. DOD spending last year ( including Iraq and Afghanistan) was $696 billion and the personnel deployed in Europe and Japan are 8% of total active personnel. You can easily guess that the costs are very big particularly factoring in the support services provided from the US.
Can we say that all of this is really necessary to our security?
While we are thinking about “security”, is our security to be found overseas guarding other countries? Or, should we be thinking about our security as a nation as perhaps better identified by the health of our society. Do we have reasonable access to jobs paying living wages, housing, education, healthcare, and transportation? Are we doing a good job raising our children and insuring that they have opportunities to reach their individual potentials? Are the vast majority of the population living on the same old wages for the past thirty years while a tiny minority become richer to ever more absurd extremes?
This sense of security is obviously a subject of debate and the answers involve us as individuals, families, local government and non-profits as well as state and Federal resources in a complicated mix. But, can we afford to continue the Cold War empire of a vast military? Is our security to be found in such distant places?