Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Many Americans complain that money is being wasted by the government. However, few people ever mention the trillions of dollars wasted on the military. In 2001, Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, admitted that the Pentagon cannot account for $2.3 trillion. Since 2001, the U.S. has spent over $6 trillion on war and preparations for war. That is about $20,000 for every woman, man and child in the U.S.

The 2010 military budget is close to a trillion dollars, and over a trillion dollars was already spent on the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Billions of dollars are given by U.S. taxpayers to bribe the Taliban not to kill the drivers of the caravans bringing supplies to the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. U.S. taxpayers are paying many billions of dollars to private mercenary groups to do the laundry, fix meals, etc. for the U.S. soldiers and even guard U.S. military bases and embassies in other countries.

The Congressional Research Service reported that there are at least 55,000 private armed security contractors in Iraq and 70,000 in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is the biggest employer of Americans and non-Americans as well.

Over 1,400,000 Americans are now on active duty, and another 833,000 are in the reserves, many full time. Another 1,600,000 Americans work in companies that supply the military with weapons to utensils. This is all paid with U.S. tax dollars. One of the main problems with this is that these people depend on wars for their continued employment.

It is known that fewer jobs are created through military spending than through civilian spending because military spending is capital intensive. For example, for every billion dollars, either 25,000 military jobs could be created or 47,000 health care jobs. Tax money spent to create military jobs means more unemployment.

The U.S. built an embassy in Iraq the size of 70 football fields with 1,000 staff people that requires up to 2,000 guards around the clock to protect it. The bill for this is well over a billion dollars, and the operating expenses will be a billion dollars a year ad infinitum. There are also 14 U.S. permanent, not temporary, military bases in Iraq. The idea that U.S. troops will be leaving Iraq is a dream, not a reality. The taxpayers will permanently pay for the upkeep and operating expenses of these bases, as well as for the 700 other U.S. bases in 150 other countries.

The U.S. is doing the same in Afghanistan. The U.S. military will never totally leave Afghanistan, just as it has never left countries that it has invaded in the past. The resources in Iraq and Afghanistan are too valuable to the U.S. corporations who make huge profits from these - at the expense of U.S., Iraqi and Afghan lives.

The U.S. military corporations that make weapons of war also make huge profits off of the U.S. taxpayer. Their survivability depends on perpetual wars. Without wars they cease to exist. This is why each year they spend several million dollars given them by taxpayers lobbying Washington for more funds. No one complains about this abuse of the taxpayer because the military has become sacrosanct. All military people are considered heroes or saints. No legislator dare criticize military spending lest he or she lose an election.

The military, which is often glorified for giving us freedom, continues to take away our freedoms. I believe that true freedom includes the ability to choose where we want to spend our money. I believe that those who choose to invade another country and occupy it should pay for such both monetarily and physically. They should have the freedom to fund such an enterprise, send their children to fight wars, build more and more weapons to use and sell to other countries.

However, those of us; who choose not to give our money to the military and would rather give our money to education, health, disaster relief, hunger relief, alternative energy and other basic needs for people in the world, should have the freedom to do that. This might lessen the complaints about how tax money is spent.

Rev. Don Timmerman

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