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Military Industrial Complex Invokes Emotional Plea for More Tax Dollars
by Nicole Revels
A classic leftwing argument device that justifiably annoys conservatives is the blanket indictment of Republicans as being “heartless,” equating opposition to entitlement spending increases with taking perverse pleasure in the prospect of individuals freezing and starving on the streets. This tactic is meant to “guilt” the public into equating higher taxes and spending with being ‘good’, and opposition to handing over hard-earned money to big brother with being ‘bad’.
Amazingly, the military industrial complex Republicans seem to now be taking notes from the welfare state Democrats.
It appears that they have begun using the liberals’ appeal-to-emotion tactic with their latest campaign to shame Americans into calling for an expansion of military spending. Within the past 24 hours, I have received emails from Republican groups, read articles from NBC news, and even heard a personal appeal during my county Republican club meeting – all conveying a heartbreaking story of military members’ requests made to a nonprofit organization called TroopsDirect.
TroopsDirect is a civilian organization, described as “a nonprofit with one full-time employee and a small squadron of corporate backers,” which takes orders directly from military units for items that they would like to receive in order to make their service time in Afghanistan more comfortable, and the organization then works to supply the items directly to the units. In essence, a more effective means of “sending troop boxes.”
While the organization had generally been receiving requests for items such as socks, toothpaste, flea collars, etc., it was now said that TroopsDirect has been receiving requests instead for basic survival necessities – necessities that the military should have been providing to the troops already.
NBC News reports, “An Army unit slated to deploy to Afghanistan to clear roadside bombs has asked … for 30 special vests designed to carry armored plates because, according to the unit’s commanding officer, the Army will only outfit half of his 60 members with those vests.” The article goes on to maintain that cuts to the defense budget are preventing the military from supplying the troops with the protective vests.
A tear-jerking email received from the National Federation of Republican Women goes even further. It states that, “Last month, TroopsDirect heard from the commander of an Army mortar unit outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan, who had been issued such worn-out ear protection that troops were having their eardrums blown out by weapons percussions and were bleeding from their ears. … Defense Department budget constraints are the reason cited for the failure to supply all troops with necessary equipment.”
Though it is truly a sad story, these anecdotes do not move me to push for increases to the Department of Defense budget. Is it because I am a heartless human being who wants our military members to have their eardrums blown out & go into battle without basic protective gear? No. It’s because the US taxpayers cannot afford our already-overblown defense budget, and the Department of Defense has placed a higher priority on funding wasteful spending that has absolutely nothing to do with defense. After all, why cut other pet programs in order to buy equipment for troops in the field, when instead you can appeal to emotion in order to get increases in funding and not make any hard choices?
In a November 2012 report, Republican Senator Tom Coburn outlines billions of dollars being spent on wasteful or redundant projects coming out of the Department of Defense – projects which have little or nothing to do with the actual defense of the nation.
The report claims that over 67 billion dollars could be saved by the reduction recommendations outlined without cutting any Navy combat ships, Army brigade combat teams, or Air Force fighter squadrons. Here are a few examples of Department of Defense spending outlined in the report as being wasteful or redundant:
“Even though “improving global health is not one of its core objectives,” the Pentagon will spend at least $580 million this year on global health activities, more than either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health. … each year Congress redirects funding within the Pentagon budget for non-military specific research into the very same diseases already being studied by NIH.”
“the Navy recently funded research examining what the behavior of fish can teach us about democracy while also developing an app to alert iPhone users when the best time is to take a coffee break.”
“Both the Navy and the Air Force funded a study that concluded people in New York use different jargon on Twitter than those living in California.”
“The Department of Defense launched more than 100 renewable energy-related initiatives in 2010, more than any other federal agency including the Department of Energy. Many of these DOD renewable energy projects were so poorly planned, they failed to be cost effective or even produce power, wasting millions of national security dollars.”
Coburn’s report asks the question that we should all now be considering, “As we borrow trillions of dollars from potentially hostile foreign governments and our nation faces a $16 trillion debt, why are these priorities being funded and other priorities being ignored?”
Rather than allocating more tax dollars to the Department of Defense, we should direct that the DOD make cuts in other areas, in order to provide our military members with their basic survival necessities.