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Old 09-07-2018, 07:59 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Manor Farm
Posts: 18,898
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
Other first-world countries can afford generous safety nets because they don't have to spend much money on defense. Why? Because the U.S. subsidizes their military; we promise to come to the defense of our allies. As a result, our allies can get away with spending a relatively small percentage of their GDP on defense, while we (in the U.S.) need a strong defense to protect us and them.
Even if we accept that premise—which I think is overstating the US contribution to the post-Cold War security of Europe and understating how much having a massive standing military encourages the US to engage in fruitless and expensive military adventurism abroad—the reality is that the Department of Defense is actually the nation’s largest entitlement program, and even modest cuts to it could fund vast social welfare programs.

We’ve been adverse to welfare programs in general because of the failure of Johnson’s “Great Society” programs, and perhaps rightfully so in that they effectively did little to elevate people into a sustainable middle class, but that doesn’t mean that providing health care, educational assistance, and an economic ‘safety net’ are goals that we should not aspire to. I realize that for the very wealthy, maintaining a large underclass of people who can be easily exploited because of their lack of economic and political power is desireable, but it is an overall terrible thing for the future of the country, unless your ideal of a future is to look like India with its institutional social stratification. A prosperous middle class and reduction in socioeconomic divisions is a sine qua non for overall prosperity and viability...unless, of course, you want an economy based on factory workers and coal miners instead of intellectual workers and skilled craftspeople.

Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Partly that is true but it's also true that the US wastes a great deal of money on ridiculously expensive aircraft, ships and other hardware. Do we really need as many aircraft carriers as we have?
More to the point, we waste enormous sums of money on programs and technologies that are designed to fight the last war instead of preparing for future conflict. The F-35 and the Long Range Strike Bomber are but two of many development efforts that are essentially pointless but extravagant wastes of money to fight a type of war nobody is going to fight in the future.