Thirteenth Century England’s King Henry IV is credited with saying, “I want there to be no peasant in my kingdom so poor that he is unable to have a chicken in his pot every Sunday. Sadly, Henry was unable to “overcome the fiscal and administrative weaknesses that contributed to the eventual downfall” of his 14-year reign, reports The Encyclopædia Britannica.
Years later and across the pond, President Herbert Hoover, father of the 1929 Great Depression, campaigned on a 1928 promise that Americans would have “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” By 1930, 11 million unemployed adult Americans — a quarter of the population — not only didn’t have the chicken, but were often sleeping in abandoned garages to escape the weather. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century.
This year, King Nincompoop the First and his cabal of stooges in Congress have raised those promises to a new height. They are going to borrow their way out of overwhelming debt so the United States can remain the “most powerful nation in the world.”
The self-ordained fiscal conservative in the White House is promising “jobs, jobs, jobs” and a tank in every parade, a plane in every hanger, and plenty of American soldiers in every shithole. His junta of former warriors and chicken hawks must be hunting more than poultry.
Unfortunately for American taxpayers, chasing chimerical boogeymen is getting expensive. The U.S. doesn’t have the money to pay for more war without purloining our children’s futures. The White House says the Democrats’ anemic social programs are at risk. House Speaker Paul Ryan:
“The military is not the massive fiscal culprit around here that’s the driver of our debt. It is the fact that baby boomers are retiring, we’re not prepared for the retirement and these 20th-century programs like Medicare need to be modernized so they can fulfill their mission without breaking the bank. And that’s what we’ve got to work on.”
Does the Pentagon really need almost a trillion dollars to rearm America? The Defense Department says American armed forces are over a million strong, superbly equipped, and well trained.
At Camp Shelby outside Hattiesburg, Miss., are mile after mile of mothballed M1 tanks, personal carriers, and artillery of every description. Even more stupefying is the Sierra Army Depot (SIAD) near Herlong, Calif., where 20,000 similar weapons await refurbishing.
None of it is enough, according to Generalissimo Trump’s generals. To pay for our suddenly feeble armed forces, Congress appropriated a $193 billion more to the proposed $716 billion, 10-year defense spending bill already being bandied about.
The money will be applied to recruitment, training, new weapons and infrastructure, according to the Pentagon. However, the Defense Logistics Agency, the agency that supplies the Pentagon with everything from fruits to nuts and is charged with making sure the nation’s treasure is wisely spent, admitted on Feb. 5 that it has lost track of roughly $800 million in construction spending.
Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis was stumping the defense budget proposal last week, explaining how derelict the American armed forces have become. Speaker Ryan agreed:
“The winners today are the men and women who serve in our armed forces. Secretary Mattis will finally have the resources to rebuild a badly depleted military.”
Last year, the Pentagon received $37 billion more dollars than Generalissimo Trump requested.
The U.S. military already maintains the biggest Navy in the world, with 430 ships in active service or reserve. Every time one of America’s 10 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers goes to sea, the world’s seventh biggest air force goes with it.
Mattis says we need more soldiers, airmen, and sailors than the 1.4 million active frontline personnel serving around the globe. Add to that figure 880,000 reservists and National Guard members and we are second only to China in manpower, and biggest in every other respect with the exception of aging Russian tanks.
“America can afford survival,” Secretary Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, added Wednesday at the White House.
Left out of Mattis’ clever explanation for staggering defense spending is how the United States can be the most powerful country on Earth and simultaneously be the wounded duck the defense establishment portrays it to be. In fact, the Pentagon says it has 8,848 tanks and 13,892 airplanes.
Less than four years ago, on April 4, 2013, the Army declared its 69-year history of basing main battle tanks on German soil had ended when the last 22 Abrams tanks embarked for a return to the United States. Most of them were mothballed on tank farms like the huge one at Camp Shelby. Since then, Trump has dispatched 65,000 soldiers and three armored brigades to Europe. The force is more powerful then all the western European armies combined.
Meanwhile, critics say, American children suffer without adequate health care or food, and the elderly die of neglect.
The good news in Ryan’s orbit is that once all the pesky baby boomers bite the dust, the cost for elderly medical care will sharply decline. Then there will be even more money to spend on weapons.