It was interesting to read the Opinion by Dawn Ortiz-Legg opposing military spending (“It’s time to cut military spending,” Feb. 12). The argument is old, still current, and probably will continue into the future but the writer failed to note that as a percentage of GDP, defense spending has fallen from 34 percent in WWII, to 8 percent during the Vietnam conflict, to about 4 percent today. Six hundred billion dollars is about the amount we spend on imported oil.
The USSR spent about 50 percent of its GDP on its military and ran the entire country as a DOD (without the private sector to support it). Part of that “investment” resulted in rockets that now keep the International Space Station from becoming a tomb and help Lockheed and Boeing launch commercial satellites for such customers as Google.
In contrast, U.S. entitlement spending has risen from about 1 percent in WWI to almost 10 percent today. By its nature, military spending is part of a shield that gives national security to our citizens and is not just another jobs program. However, I submit that at up to 10 percent or 15 percent of GDP, it is probably one of the best investments for job creation. Consider that the Internet was developed by DARPA (not Al Gore). And furthermore consider that most military equipment and supplies are manufactured in the U.S., creating jobs for American engineers, scientists, home builders, hospitals and schools, contractors, miners, steel mills, truckers, railroads, and shipyards. Machine tools, the GPS system, and new materials get invented to reach new goals set by the military.
The military budget trains pilots, air-traffic controllers, police, linguists, medics, surgeons, nurses, truck drivers, mechanics, electricians, divers, logisticians, teachers, surveyors, cooks, scientists, and many, many more professionals. Airlines usually prefer to hire military trained pilots. Today, greenhouse gases are detected by equipment developed under military programs.
The recent stimulus bill is more expensive than our defense budget. I hope it does as well for the country and that we keep our shield strong.