Sunday, March 1, 2009

How Friendly is America?

In October, the Congressional Research Service estimated that in 2006 (the latest available figures), it cost $390,000 a year to sustain each American trooper overseas. The New York Times, March 1, 2009

A-hah! Finally, we have the average current cost of maintaining a single trooper. Reminds me of the high cost of paying an existing employee in a large company with healthcare, retirement matching and taxes.

Rationality should prevail. If the ultimate goal is to keep America's stature as the world's greatest military superpower, where is that ultimately going? Does America want to continue to give an image as a war-obsessed nation? Does it realize it's becoming fixated on war as a great national employer at the same time as it's becoming a bailout nation? Both are drains on individual national taxpayers. Can America keep on bailing out businesses and banks that are "too big to fail" forever? At a time of record national deficit, there is perceived to be excess cash in the government. It is alarming to me that America is losing the democracy it worked so hard to achieve.

There are fears. Whatever will returning troopers do when they come home? But paying the government for a huge military presence in Asia doesn't make sense if it comes at the price of unwanted national debt and social services we all need and want. There's a lot of work for returning troopers to do right here in America, life affirming work. What I think should be encouraged by the new Administration are programs to make American cities and education safer, and healthcare and old age affordable for all.Wouldn't America prefer to make a great national effort to promote and try to return to its former image as a desirable residential and corporate paradise with a high standard of living?

As far as taxes are concerned, there are varying priorities. Businesses need lower taxes. Everyone wants to pay less tax and be able to understand tax obligations and where they're heading. It's bad enough having to pay them at all. We need our basic security, justice and fire services, social services of healthcare and education, Social Security, and efficient border control. That's where my taxes (millions) should be going, not a foreign war (or an inefficient prison system).

Priorities must be made and that's exactly what's expected of the new Administration. All countries make priorities, whether they encourage popular, desirable, virtuous ones or not. Abroad generally, the American military is the bull in the china shop wherever it goes. A great deal of goodwill abroad towards America has been lost in recent years.

How is being a military presence going to make friends in the world? What do you think?

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