Letters to the Editor

Military spending is the big problem

When I stand for peace on Saturdays at the corner of Highway 20 and Main Street in Coupeville, one the signs I hold up is, “War Makes Us Poor.” From the number of honks and waves and ‘V’ signs we get, a lot of people agree with this statement.

The size of the military budget is about half of the total income tax for the 2011 fiscal year; a conservative figure is 48 percent. This number is made up of 18 percent (or $522 billion, for veterans benefits and interest on the national debt, 80 percent of which is being created by military spending) and 30 percent for current military spending, including $159 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By contrast, 38 percent is human resources: $1.134 billion, 8 percent general government; and 6 percent physical resources.

During this election season, I heard much talk about smaller government, cutting spending and eliminating social programs. No one has talked about the need to rein in military spending. Why is that?

In the Wednesday, Sept. 22 edition of the Whidbey News-Times, your front page had two articles juxtaposed: “Navy plans complete, foes fear for whales,” and “25 more county jobs on the block.” I read that the Navy plans to increase its operations in the Northwest Training Range and is testing new aircraft and guided missile submarines and developing an underwater minefield. Apart from the impact on the mammals in the ocean (there is no way to monitor the environmental damage that will be caused) my next thought was: How is it that the military has unlimited funds to conduct all these operations when every state in the union is unable to balance its budget and is reducing staff and slashing programs. Why is it that the military/industrial complex wields such power?

I hope some of the outspoken critics of Island County government and our present commissioners will speak up and tell me how they really plan to have smaller government without addressing the chief cause: i.e. runaway military spending.

Peggy Burton


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