Somebody close down the Pentagon before it flushes America into the Potomac River. We can’t afford a Green New Deal at an estimated cost of $15 trillion, Pandemic relief is somewhere around $1.5 trillion, with another three in the pipeline and on and on.
Getting America back on its feet is at risk of the swindle
According to Bloomberg’s Anthony Carpaccio, the Department of Defense made $35 trillion in “accounting adjustments” in 2019, easily surpassing the $30.7 trillion in such adjustments recorded in 2018.
Last time I looked, adjustments meant someone had their hand in the cookie-jar. But it must be a hell of a big piece of crockery.
Carpaccio notes that “the number dwarfs the $738 billion of defense-related funding in the latest U.S. budget, a spending plan that includes the most expensive weapons systems in the world including the F-35 jet as well as new aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines.” It’s also “larger than the entire U.S. economy and underscores the Defense Department’s continuing difficulty in balancing its books.”
So, the Pentagon’s ‘spending plan’ is larger than the entire U.S. economy
Does that sound a bit dangerous to you? Or am I being alarmist and Eisenhower was wrong about the dangers of the military-industrial complex?
So (Carpaccio asks) what are these accounting adjustments? Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says they represent “a lot of double, triple, and quadruple counting of the same money as it got moved between accounts” within the Pentagon. “A lot” may be an understatement: According to government data, there were 562,568 adjustments made in the Pentagon’s books in 2018.
So, along with banks too big to fail, we now have a military (and its supplier-base) too big to audit
In all fairness, if you had a crazy uncle (let’s call him Sam) who was adjusting his company books 11,000 times a week, would you want to loan him money? Would anyone? It’s likely you’d have him committed to the looney-farm, shoot him or drown him in the nearest pond.
Take the F-35 fighter program as an example
(04-27-21) “A projected cost over $1.7 trillion. A fighter jet that exhibits everything from structural cracks to cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Twenty years in development — and it still can’t shoot straight and is rarely ready to fly when it is needed.”
Plus it has the added disadvantage of costing $25,000 an hour when it does get off the ground.
“President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, which covers everything from roads and bridges to broadband internet and elder care, comes in at $2 trillion or so, again leaving many leaders gasping with sticker shock.
“Why does the same price sensitivity not apply to a single, sorely misguided defense decision made four presidential administrations ago? How can elected officials charged with protecting the U.S. taxpayer continually fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy and fail to quit this program or, at the very least, scale back the number of these questionably functional fighter jets we purchase?”
Ah, the answer is about to fall into our laps
“Unfortunately, there are predictable answers to these questions. First, crony capitalism. It’s no coincidence that 50 of 128 retired senior military leaders signing a letter supporting the F-35 program failed to disclose ties that could benefit them financially.
“Then there is the pork. A Lockheed Martin website brags that “the F-35 program teams with nearly 1,900 U.S. suppliers—including more than 1,000 small business suppliers—in 45 states and Puerto Rico to produce thousands of aircraft components.” That supply chain was strategically designed with politics in mind. Try being the Grinch up for reelection after leading the charge to end such a program.”
Banks fail and nations decline—often for the same reasons
Hubris is a factor and god knows America suffers from that. Attention directed elsewhere, such as political infighting and riots in the streets counts for something. But the common-denominator, the universal downfall is usually the cause—no one paying attention to the swindle.
Paying attention is like mowing the lawn. You can ignore it for a week. Depending upon the weather (a metaphor for the political or business climate) you might get by for a month or even six weeks. But at some point it’s as important as ignoring the swindle and you can’t recover the lush green carpet that was the envy of the neighbors.
The American national swindle against its citizenry…
…has been going on now for five decades, beggaring our families with the cost of endless wars we never win, allowing wealth to gravitate away from the middle class, destroying our industrial base, denigrating our educational system and allowing our precious infrastructure to fall into ruin. Our water, air and food are poisoned and the swindled lie homeless in the streets.
This article is too narrowly focused to take on those forces in wider detail.
But the swindle has very nearly become a replacement for American prosperity and constitutional government.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing