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Cut Defense 40%, Raise Education

January 23, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 4

I was reading an article recently in the Christian Science Monitor about one of the many F-18 Hornet fighter plane versions/models. The article featured a beautiful, full-color, 5- x 9-inch picture of four of the planes flying 400-plus mph in perfect formation. Fabulous! Total cost? Perhaps $5 billion to $10 billion or more. Ouch!

Unfortunately, these planes have nothing to do with the defense of the U.S. today—they’re pure entertainment. Even if they had guns they would be useless because what hurts us most now is cyber-terrorism, which involves complicated computerized network grids that regulate the U.S.’s major energy sources such as electric power. Serious damage to one of these grids could put large sections of the U.S. in the dark for a week or more each time.

We have no real enemies. Russia is broke and very drunk (cheap, abundant booze), Iran has no aircraft carriers, and China has lent us trillions of dollars it doesn’t want to lose. President Eisenhower warned us to “beware of the military-industrial complex.” We spend more on defense—aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, bombers, and other major weapons. The Pentagon has become a financial black hole!

The Department of Defense should be renamed the Diplomacy/Defense Department: When diplomacy fails, then we should change to defense. The previous Administration at times didn’t believe in this: “Poke ’em in the eye, let ’em know who’s boss.” Our diplomacy is working well now.

So, cut defense down from $900 billion (guesstimate) to $500 billion to $600 billion and use the savings for education and health care.

By Fred Matthews
Beloit, Wis



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