Thanks @mvineyard for the excellent discussion.
For the audience, this ends up as a freewheeling discussion on topics of the military, foreign policy, budgets, trade, socialism, and the constitution.
As to any conclusions.I'm going to say that I think Michael is correct in that the growth of the budget largely cannot be laid at the feet of the military. Especially today, as it is fairly low by the standards of modern history. I would like to see a day when we don't need it, but that day isn't here yet.A lot comes down to what you want to achieve and what you think works. If you see US military policy abroad as effective at ensuring our prosperity, then it makes sense to spend that money. If you don't then it may well be better spent elsewhere.I think the founders would find our military spending mind-boggling, though not as mind-boggling as our domestic spending. I think that is because the founders were not prophets, just men. Wise as they were, and they were, they could not forsee all the currents of the future of the nation.
Good discussion. Nice chatting with you.Great data can be obtained on budgetary issues by going to the government's own web site: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budgete/HistoricalsLots of different tables there. It is worth noting we are not 'expanding spending on defense....but it is a smaller piece of the pie over the years. In 1960 - about 45% of the overall Federal Budget was defense; today - it is less than 18%. China - they spend 2% of the GDP (if we can trust their numbers) - but our military is about 56% of theirs (active) and our reserves are 74% of theirs. However - we have better pay and benefits for our military compared to the Chinese.There are a few countries that do spend more as a percentage of the country's GDP (not many...but a few) - because they are probably more at risk, and they need the 'added security.'Our growing budget problems - the biggest threat to it comes from Medicare and Medicaid.....and yet - it could be the easiest to fix through free market forces (not single payer).In 1965 - Medicare was created - and the projection was that 30 years later, it would cost the government $10 Billion (up from $1 Billion in 1965). This 'growth' was about a 7% rate of growth over 30 years. UNFORTUNATELY - the CBO projections were slightly off....by a factor of about 10. The actual Medicare costs were, in 1995 - about $96 Billion. Since then, the growth has only increased at an unsustainable rate. Fixing it would be very helpful....and could bring our budget more into balance.We could cut defense - but then we would lose our ability to 'influence' the world in a positive way. More situations where a Russia could invade a neighboring state (like the Ukraine)...more aggression between nations....and the potential for trade disruptions, etc. I think we should not cut (or gut) our military.
@julian Thanks Julian. That's always good to hear. :)
One question I do have hear. I have asked people this before and not gotten a direct answer. One problem I have with reducing military spending is part of the VA is funded by the DOD. I think you would be hard pressed to see anyone claim that the VA isn't under funded. It also helps pay for the current active members benefits such as The Montgomery GI Bill extends educational benefits, health care, etc. Wouldn't it make more sense to talk about how to appropriate the funding instead of reducing it? Another one I have is when we consider maintain nuclear weapons this isn't just for the sake of having them available. We have about 1500 deployed and 6450 in total is the last number read. Which is crazy but they exist now but they are here now and they aren't going away. The problem is if you don't keep those maintain ,even if inactive they can become dangerous to the public surround those silos and the personal around them. Well I could agree we don't need to make anymore. The constant maintenance, and the payroll for employing the protection of those weapons is a heft budget in and of itself. I don't know just a thought.
Also, this was a great debate.