Defense spending has been somewhat of a sacred cow to many Republicans. Anyone in favor of “cutting defense” must want a weak military and a compromised national security, they might say. But what they fail to realize is that the Department of Defense is just another government bureaucracy. Sure, their stated goal is to protect us from terrorism, but that doesn’t mean they actually do that. What government agency actually successfully carries out its stated goals? The only difference between the DoD and other government agencies is that many of its employees wear military uniforms. As the recent Petraeus and Allen affairs show us, wearing a uniform doesn’t make them any less “politician-like.”
Like the rest of the government, the DoD wastes lots of taxpayer money. So when some of the more conservative Republicans call for defense spending, they’re not talking about diminishing our national security forces. They’re talking about cutting the billions of dollars of wasteful spending…so that more money can be directed at taking care of our troops.
“Waste-watcher” and Republican Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma released a report recently detailing some of the things the DoD has been spending money on. He said:
“The American people expect the Pentagon’s $600 billion annual budget to go toward our nation’s defense. That isn’t happening. Billions of defense dollars are being spent on programs and missions that have little or nothing to do with national security, or are already being performed by other government agencies.”
The Pentagon works to maintain our national security in many ways such as spending money on researching the color of the feathers on the famed “missing link” between birds and dinosaurs, the Archaeopteryx. Thanks to the funding provided by the DoD, researchers came to the conclusion that the feathers were black, and we’re all safer as a result.
Some other projects included an iPhone application called Caffeine Zone 2 that advised people on how to schedule coffee breaks, and $1.5 million was spent on developing a special, new roll-up beef jerky. Senator Coburn noted that the beef jerky project was funded by taking money out of a weapons program.
My personal favorite Pentagon project was a workshop last year on interstellar space travel that included a segment entitled, “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?” It was supposed to be about how Christian theology would be applied in the case of the discovery of aliens.
Senator Coburn, who calls the DoD the “Department of Everything” noted that the Pentagon’s budget could be slashed in total by $68 billion if it quit funding such useless projects and doing other things outside its purview such as running grocery stores and schools.
If that wasn’t bad enough, consider what else the Pentagon did recently. In an effort to “cut costs,” the DoD wanted to assess how much it cost them to issue all their required internal reports. This endeavor required that they issue a report. It gets better. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) stepped in to evaluate the DoD’s cost-estimating approach and issued their own report on the DoD’s report on estimating costs of issuing internal reports and advised that the Defense Secretary release his own report. As the editor at loweringthebar.net put it, “the GAO had thereby issued a report about reports about reports that recommended the preparation of another report.” And now, here I am “reporting” on it. Talk about the Redundant Department of Redundancy Department.
I wonder how much taxpayer money was spent in their effort to “cut costs.” And yet they openly waste money on seminars pertaining to “Klingon salvation” and research regarding the color of plumage on the “150-million-year-old” bird dinosaur. To say that we need defense cuts is an understatement.