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Government spends too much on military

BY KATIE KUNTZ | JUNE 27, 2012 6:30 AM

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On June 20, the greatest nation in the world successfully launched an Atlas 5 rocket to shuttle a spy satellite into space — which is totally awesome. More awesome yet was that the launch marked the 50th successful "Evolved Expandable Launch Vehicle" mission.

Admit it, the fantastically awesome military is eclipsed only by its immensity, which is astounding.

In fact, 4.8 percent of U.S. GDP was spent on the military. That is $700,163,343,040.27 annually, according to World Bank 2010 reports. We spend more than the next 15 top spending countries combined. The United States accounts for 41 percent of all military spending in the world, and that is over the top.

It's a lot of money — and when we compare those amounts with the current budget deficit, the numbers become down right alarming. So every day, we hear politicians proclaiming their want to lessen the deficit, while our military is insurmountable.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, noted that there is no armed forced in the world "that is remotely capable of overcoming our overwhelming force."

"To put it bluntly, the United States can still maintain its security, defend our vital interests, and field the finest military in the world while spending a lot less money," said Harkin, a Vietman War veteran.

Americans want to cut the deficit, but the methodology tends to incite debate. In the end, public education often sees cuts.

In Iowa, the average teacher salary ranks 38th, and starting salary ranks 42nd among the states.

Students all know about tuition increases, loan-rate increases, and they understand budget cuts. We bear the brunt of education cuts, and the military grows ever larger.

The rationale for our outrageous spending is that immense military prowess puts us in a place where we are able to keep the peace. When the United States gets involved, conflicts are resolved and missions accomplished.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, " is concerned America would pay an even heavier price and put future generations at even greater risk if the United States would surrender to freedom-hating terrorists, insurgents, and Islamic extremists who want to wipe America and Western civilization off the face of the Earth," according to his website. When asked, Grassley declined to explain further.

Unfortunately, the arguments lack merit when evaluated based on current facts. Take for example, the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the immense might of our military, it is unclear that any of the countries involved are better off today than they were 10 years ago. We have lost the lives of good people, and sure, Iraq doesn't have any weapons of mass destruction, but then again, it never did.

Pouring government dollars down the military drain has done very little to boost our struggling economy, in part because we have even been purchasing weaponry from China — and China's been sending us counterfeits.

No joke. The Senate Armed Services Committee last year launched an investigation into counterfeit parts. Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., released a statement in May announcing that "counterfeit electronic parts from China … intended for Special Operations helicopters (include) 1,800 cases of bogus parts."

The yearlong investigation "found a total number of suspect counterfeit parts involved in those 1,800 cases exceeding 1 million."

It is decidedly not awesome that the largest military force doesn't build its own weapons or Special Operations helicopters.

Imagine our nation's potential if instead of purchasing counterfeit parts from China, or launching 31 Atlas 5 spy rockets, we put that money back into our schools — even if only so that we train our own engineers to manufacture weaponry rather than counterfeiters in China.

Education yields peace, weapons mean war. Right now, the military is taking too much of our resources from other important priorities.


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