Saturday, November 20, 2010

Is the military making us less free?

Seems odd at first doesn’t it? I’d venture to say most folks attribute freedom with our military, not the opposite. After all, America is the lone superpower in the world, able to project military might around the globe at the president’s command. Our navy is larger than the next twelve navies combined, eleven of which are our allies. We have thousands of fighter jets, tanks, and my favorite – Bradleys and other weapons of war. No doubt, when any rogue dictator contemplates war with the USA or its allies, the size and lethality of our military must give him pause. But is all this military might actually eroding our freedoms?

Economic freedom stems from individuals retaining the fruits of their labor. Government extracts this freedom from individuals in the form of taxes to pay for things like, well, military operations. According the Congressional Research Service (CRS RL33110), as of July 2010, Congress has appropriated $1.12 trillion for the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. Nearly all of this has been supplemental funding, meaning it wasn’t subject to the regular budget or appropriation process. It is all deficit spending. Deficit spending, as well know, is simply deferred taxes.

$1.12 trillion is a lot of money. And this is on top of the regular annual Department of Defense appropriations, which have swelled from $294 billion in FY2000 to nearly $550 billion for FY2011. In all fairness, the FY2011 request does include the supplemental for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, I’m not advocating we abolish the defense department or the military. I like living under the umbrella of protection our military affords us. What I am questioning is – can we afford it, and is it making us less free?


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