Taxpayers, many in Congress, and all three presidential hopefuls are all ranting against the stupidity of earmarking in congress – the process AKA porkbarrelling where congress people insert unnecessary projects into spending bills and/or other legislation such that we taxpayers pay for projects that are usually wasteful and sometimes scandalous. Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” is the current poster child, which was allocating tens of millions to build a bridge that would service a tiny Alaska village of something like a few dozen people.
Yes, of course these projects are stupid, but to focus on them to the exclusion of the _real_ waste in Government spending is nonsense. It’s like complaining that the president makes $400,000 a year when he would work for less. This earmark money is *chump change* in a federal budget of trillions, where the things we should focus on are how to reduce the insanity of spending too much on wasteful social services projects (insert pretty much any one here) and most importantly our military budget, which is incomprehensibly large and incomprehensibly foolhardy:
Military $550,000,000,000. Over half the world’s military spending is ours, and much of it is unnecessary. Note the current Air Force tanker fleet fiasco where on the one hand Democrats argue this staggering contract should go to more expensive Boeing which as a US company would preserve more jobs, while Republicans argue who knows what about this. The right answer is scale this back – significantly – because US security no longer depends on massive capitalized military juggernaut. If there is a *single* lesson we should learn from Iraq it is that the USA cannot use massive military superiority to keep the peace. In fact Iraq may demonstrate the opposite – our massive superiority is one of the factors that insurgents use against us, and is a major reason that the Iraq government has little incentive to get their own military providing better security for the people of Iraq.
But even if our trillions bring security to Iraq it has been a fools bargain. The same spending for infrastructure improvements in USA and around the world would have changed the global landscape in a significant way – certainly more than even the most optimistic scenario for Iraq independence.
Contrary to some of the nonsense spouted by modern “conservatives” and many hawkish Democrats as well, the founders of the USA believed in low military spending, very weak federal control, and in very cautious global dealings. Until we return to those sensibilities we risk everything with the continued reckless military (and social service) spending spree.