Friday, April 4, 2008

Pentagon Pissing Away Money: Business as Usual

The British web site Ekklesia, self-described as "a think-tank that promotes transformative theological ideas in public life" ran a piece a couple of days ago about gross waste in the Pentagon. This is a phenomenon that never stops . . . like a clock ticking or waves hitting the beach. In fact, wasting huge amounts of money, gargantuan amounts, is the only mission that place can be counted on to perform to perfection every time.

Here's the depressing gist of it:
The Bush administration is writing blank checks for weapons systems that are hundreds of billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule while cutting funds that help real people at home and abroad, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) said yesterday.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released this week found that the US has spent $295 billion more than budgeted on 95 weapons systems, bringing the total price of the systems to $1.6 trillion.

I have to confess that these numbers are so huge that it's impossible to form any coherent notion of what exactly we're talking about here. The only way to deal with such monumental sums is to show pictures. That's what our friends, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)--the guys who brought this to our attention--try to do. By telling us what $295 billion would buy. Suffice it to say, this wastage in the Pentagon would buy one hell of a lot of good things for poor people: child health care for years, food stamps and housing vouchers for years, home heating for years. With billions left over to fund other parts of the government that get stiffed so the upper brass in the Pentagon can dole out billions to their buddies, the defense contractors, for instruments of death and destruction. Would somebody tell me what's wrong with this picture?

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