Monday, November 20, 2017
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And the winner is…

Did Donald get handed the wrong envelope? It sure seems at the first glance of his budget that he announced the wrong winner.

Did someone slip him the wrong name? Why else would he turn the United States budget upside down (stripping away miniscule art funding and taking a sickle to environmental protections for more guns) and add $54 billion more to the war machine that already leads the world by a lot more than a lot. The U.S. military budget is already more expensive than the next seven countries’ military budgets combined.

In 2014 we spent $610 billion. China came in second at $216 billion and Russia third at $84.5 billion. Those nations are followed by Saudi Arabia, France, the United Kingdom, India and Germany.

I understand that during the campaign Donald said America was getting its butt kicked in the military realm. But that simply isn’t true. It is sort of like believing him when he said he was going to make his income taxes public, when he said he was going to divest himself from his businesses because of potential conflicts of interest, or when he said Obama was playing too much golf and he would not take vacations on the public dime and play golf when there was work to be done… but I digress.

What actually could be true in this budget situation is that the American military complex is so bloated and fat and happy and entitled that there is no need to be careful with the gusher of money that comes its way.

In fact, a recent story in the Washington Post stated, “The Pentagon has buried a study that exposes $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget….” According to the story, the report identified a “clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. Once the report was compiled, Pentagon officials moved quickly to discredit and suppress the results.

I thought Trump bragged that he was going to bring a business acumen to the office that we’ve never seen before. Throwing more money at something that appears bloated already is not exactly what most would characterize as great business.

Perhaps digging in to trim the fat from the meat like a smart, productive business would be a better tactic. Especially since in order to pay for more ships, warplanes, missiles, guns and bullets—that some will always want to use—Donald is cutting way back in other areas such as the State Department. It is the State Department whose job in part is to defuse military tensions through diplomacy before we use the warplanes, the guns and the missiles. How is that budget equation starting to look now? To me it is starting to look dumb and dangerous.

Look, you can never buy your way to perfect 100 percent security. A couple of bad hombres with box cutters figured that out on 9/11. Adding billions more to the world’s biggest military while cutting billions of dollars from what was once the world’s premier diplomatic corps is a recipe for disaster—unless you like war.

It is a self-fulfilling budget move based in fear that will perpetuate more fear as diplomacy is cut and war made more possible. That impacts everyone in this nation, including all of us in our mountain bubble.

Is Donald really in La La Land or is he just gas-lighting us all?

And the real winner is: Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin—and those wealthy enough to own stock in those companies.

—Mark Reaman

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