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Defense Chief Urges Big Cuts In Military Spending

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the nasa-quick-get-in-there dept.

The Almighty Buck 449

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the Pentagon is wasting money it will no longer get, and focused on targets as diverse as the large number of generals and admirals, the layers of bureaucracy in the Pentagon, and the cost of military health care. 'The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, opened a gusher of defense spending that nearly doubled the base budget over the last decade,' Gates says. 'Military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny. The gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.' Gates, a Republican who was carried over as Defense Secretary from the Bush administration, has already canceled or trimmed 30 weapons programs with long-term savings predicted at $330 billion, but is now seeking to convert as much as 3% of spending from 'tail' to 'tooth' — military slang for converting spending from support services to combat forces. While this may not seem like a significant savings in the Pentagon's base budget, cuts of any size are certain to run hard against entrenched constituencies. Gates's critique of top-heavy headquarters overseas was underscored by the location of the speech — the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. President Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander in Europe during World War II, warned the nation of the menacing influence of an emerging 'military-industrial complex' in his farewell address as president in 1960. 'Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals,' said Eisenhower, 'so that security and liberty may prosper together.'"

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Interesting (0, Redundant)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155582)

It definitely goes against the grain of what we've seen before now.

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155668)

It definitely goes against the grain of what we've seen before now.

Stating the obvious usually does.

Re:Interesting (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155688)

Indeed.

If there really is going to be some "tail-to-tooth" transfer of spending, it'll be a very welcome change.

However, I am a bit peeved at the mention of "military healthcare". Given the atrocious cuts in services for veterans who've been injured in combat, I think that is the one area where the government needs to do more.

After all, if we ask people to lose limbs for us, it's only fair if we at least take care of them, when they come back from the battlefield with life-altering disabilities. It doesn't really matter what wars they were fighting. They are OUR soldiers, and it's our duty as a nation to support them, regardless of whether we support the politics that brought them to the battlefield.

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155840)

That is literally the only area of defense I support increasing funding for. I find it funny (and sad) that the people who most loudly proclaim to "support the troops" don't really give a shit about them once they're back.

I may personally want to cut defense spending and often not even respect the troops or what they're doing, but as misguided as I think they are, they sure as shit deserve support when they come home missing limbs or with PTSD. It's disgusting the way most soldiers end up due to the way we toss them aside once they've used up their usefulness.

Re:Interesting (1)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155848)

I agree, but in many situations it is possible to do MORE with less.

Military healthcare (0, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156114)

We, the US taxpayers, pay for not only the health care of soldiers, but their families, as well. There's simply no reason for us to do so, when so many other people in the US don't have healthcare. The soldiers are great, and all that rah-rah-rah stuff, but come on. The military is the largest entitlement program in the country. We can't continue to pay for entire military families, especially when the vast majority of our military isn't even productive. It's unsutainable and a complete waste of money.

Re:Military healthcare (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156338)

Soildiers, sailors and marines, as well as their families, earn everything they get. I would hardly call it an 'entitlement' program to give benefits to people that we ask to give up their youngest, healthiest years and spend them slogging through mud, risking their lives; or for their families to have to sit back and wait, wondering if their spouse/parent will come home in one piece, if not alive. I'm not saying this because of the "rah-rah-rah" stuff, I'm saying it because there is a world of difference between soldiers earning keep for themselves and their families and, say, welfare. "Back in the day" there might have been something to be said for perhaps a tiered system where those "in the rear with the gear", who were at less risk, didn't get as sweet a deal. But, as we're now in wars where there really aren't front lines and safe zones, where anyone is a potential enemy and you're just one grenade away from death, even at the supply depot, there really isn't a whole lot of difference now.

Re:Military healthcare (3, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156700)

"I would hardly call it an 'entitlement' program to give benefits to people that we ask to give up their youngest, healthiest years and spend them slogging through mud, risking their lives; or for their families to have to sit back and wait, wondering if their spouse/parent will come home in one piece, if not alive"

It's voluntary. Nobody is asking anybody to do anything. If they don't want to do it, then they shouldn't sign up. Why people sign up with families, I'll never understand. None of the "wars" that we are involved in are defensive, or even necessary. If enlistment drops by 90%, we'll still be able to DEFEND the country just fine.

Re:Military healthcare (2, Interesting)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156476)

The alternative is that the soldier's enroll their family into a healthcare program and pay for it then? Ok, cool. So they will remove the benefit from the soldier and pay him the value of the lost benefit so he can then pay for healthcare. It's not like it's the whole family, only spouse and children under 18. No parents or other family, just dependants.

Besides, have you been to the military hospital? Trust me, it's cheaper to leave the military healthcare as it is.

Re:Military healthcare (4, Insightful)

k8to (9046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156558)

Because it really makes sense to have a parallel health care system only for soldiers?

VA hospitals are a pretty good system, but they should really be for everyone, not just ex soldiers. Public health care is good for everyone, not just people who were in wars.

Re:Military healthcare (5, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156504)

No. Healthcare is considered a right in most of Europe. One of the big pushes has been to provide healthcare for everyone.

The military healthcare system for veterans and their families is an absolute necessity. Soldiers get payed crap, they deal with a job that curtails their constitutional freedoms, a job where they have to deal with the trauma of violence, death, killing and risk being killed/maimed themselves.

You want to cut the military pay roll? Fine. Reduce recruiting, let old soldiers retire. But each and every one of them needs what little help and compensation they do get and deserves more.

Re:Military healthcare (2, Interesting)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156572)

Your comment makes me rage. If you were close enough I kick you in the junk so hard your grandchildren would still be feeling it...if you were still capable of having them.

The military is NOT the "largest entitlement program in the country." It's not even fucking CLOSE.

Maybe you should take your ignorant self over to http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258 [cbpp.org] and read the very simple article that breaks out the spending. The U.S. Military budget is about 20%, Social Spending is about 55%!

So no, I'm not kicking you in the junk for slagging the military although that irritates me as well. I'm kicking you in the junk for being ignorant of the real budget numbers.

Re:Military healthcare (1, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156878)

Ah, the old military is only xx% of the budget, argument. Right. Most of the money that we waste on military isn't even IN the budget. It's "discretionary" spending.

Any way you slice it, it's a massive, massive waste of money. We need about 1/10 of our current military to defend the country. All of the wars/invasions that the US has started since WWII have benefited military contractors, and military families. None of them have been of any benefit to the citizens of the US.

Re:Military healthcare (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157188)

And *you're* qualified to determine what's a massive waste of money? *I* think Social Security and other entitlements are a waste of money, but that's because I'm 27 and not going to see a penny of it. So, frankly, leave it up to experts to decide if it's a waste. Mr. Gates seems to have a fine handle on the situation.

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156204)

Indeed.

If there really is going to be some "tail-to-tooth" transfer of spending, it'll be a very welcome change.

However, I am a bit peeved at the mention of "military healthcare". Given the atrocious cuts in services for veterans who've been injured in combat, I think that is the one area where the government needs to do more.

After all, if we ask people to lose limbs for us, it's only fair if we at least take care of them, when they come back from the battlefield with life-altering disabilities. It doesn't really matter what wars they were fighting. They are OUR soldiers, and it's our duty as a nation to support them, regardless of whether we support the politics that brought them to the battlefield.

I firmly agree. One important point that Gates misses is that military personnel and civilian employees of the military often have much lower salaries than the equivalent private sector positions. One of the main reasons that many people make the choice to serve directly rather than as, say, a contractor is that the government promises job security and health benefits. In other words, many people are choosing stability over paycheck. If Gates is going to reduce the "stability" portion of that equation, then he will need to either increase the pay for those remaining or be prepared to hire more contractors to get the job done.

Re:Interesting (-1, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156444)

"One important point that Gates misses is that military personnel and civilian employees of the military often have much lower salaries than the equivalent private sector positions."

Let's not forget that military people don't have to pay for food, clothing, or shelter. That makes the vast majority of their salaries disposable income.

Re:Interesting (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32156656)

The support given to veterans is not "military healthcare." That bill is footed by the VA which is not part of the military. Gates, to his credit, took strong action when the problems at Walter Reid were first exposed, and top brass lost their jobs. This is one of the few people from the previous administration that has earned my respect.

Sad but true (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155658)

This will be spun as a Democratic administration not "supporting the troops", despite it being proposed by Gates, a holdover from a Republican administration. Much like how only Nixon could go to China, only a Republican can advocate cutting the defense budget (even if only a mere 2-3%) without being pilloried as near-treason.

Re:Sad but true (5, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156376)

I am pretty sure Gates is just the mouthpiece for the administration on this. His job is to say and do what the Commander In Chief (aka President) says. Either way, considering roughly 1/6th of the federal budget is millitary spending, we ought to be seeing some better results for that than failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
For 665 billion dollars a year, we ought to have hover cars, laser rifles, robot/android soldiers, forcefields and fusion power by now.
 
2010 Federal budget: 3.552 Trillion Dollars
 
Total Federal revenue to pay for budget: 2.381 Trillion Dollars
 
Amount we put on the "Federal Credit Card" (a.k.a. our Children's Grandchildren), just for 2010: 1.717 Trillion Dollars
 
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_federal_budget [wikipedia.org]
  http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/pdf/fy10-newera.pdf [gpoaccess.gov]

Re:Sad but true (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157128)

Just a nitpick, but wouldnt laser rifles be really awful at anti-infantry? No stopping power, high power usage, and what kind of battery do they need to carry to power one? Last time I checked explosives carry far more energy per Kg than batteries do.

In the same speech (4, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155666)

Eisenhower said:

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

http://www.h-net.org/~hst306/documents/indust.html [h-net.org]

I wonder why people always ignore that part.

Re:In the same speech (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155720)

Because it didn't turn out to be relevant?

Re:In the same speech (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155798)

public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

Because it didn't turn out to be relevant?

That you know of. Maybe a sufficiently advanced scientific-technological elite's control of public policy is indistinguishable from no control at all.

Re:In the same speech (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156120)

If the two effects are the same, why is the cause important?

Re:In the same speech (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156242)

If the two effects are the same, why is the cause important?

As always, because different causes may mean different futures.

i.e.: The two effects are currently the same.

Re:In the same speech (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156514)

Don't worry your poor little selves. SkyNet will take good care of you.

That's why we got Cap and Trade... (-1, Troll)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156082)

Despite the fact that the science has not been proved in favor of anthropogenic global warming, that hasn't stopped many scientists from (successfully) getting Congress to act.

Re:In the same speech (0, Troll)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156526)

It most certainly is... It is there we find most of the micromanagement we are suffering under... even when bicycling, you have to wear 50 pounds of "safety" equipment. The insurance and legal industries flourish under it. Scientific data is being used to confuse people, not enlighten them.

Re:In the same speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155738)

Maybe because we have so many anti-science people, that would never happen in our lifetimes?

Re:In the same speech (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155886)

What part of scientific-technological elite do you not get?

Re:In the same speech (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156174)

Yeah, I'm fairly certain public policy is the captive directly of a cabal of ex-lawyers and indirectly of delegated/representative mob-rule through opinion polls. As an alternative a "scientific-technological elite" sounds like a goddamn utopia.

Re:In the same speech (2, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155746)

Goes against the teachings of Athena.

Re:In the same speech (5, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155814)

Because it has never come close to happening?

Or are you making the case that any of the previous administrations *cough*George W Bush*cough* could be considered a scientific-technological elite? Hell, President Obama just admitted to not knowing how to use an iPod or iPad. Yes, he has his Crackberry, but still...

Scientists routinely have to beg for funding, and NASA always seems to be on death's door for lack of funding.

Wake me when it is the other way around, and the military budget is round-off error for the scientific research one.

Re:In the same speech (4, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156156)

Sure, anybody who doesn't know how to use an iPod or an iPad can't possibly make a significant contribution to science or technology.

Re:In the same speech (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157022)

If you cannot pick up an iPod and figure out how to use it, I do not want you to be my president.

Re:In the same speech (2, Interesting)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157086)

I'm sure Obama could figure out how to use an iPod. I'm also sure he's far more intelligent than the majority of Americans -- and judging from the knee-jerk right-wing stupidity of the comments regarding Obama, I think he's probably more intelligent than most of the readers of /. After all, he's the President, and you're goofing off on company time.

But unlike his predecessor, he doesn't seem to be spending most of his time goofing off such that he would HAVE time to learn how to use a trivial device that plays music. Instead, he's got his hands full with, you know, running the country.

Re:In the same speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32157136)

Sure, anybody who doesn't know how to use an iPod or an iPad can't possibly make a significant contribution to science or technology.

I'd say not knowing is a requirement. /ducks

Re:In the same speech (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155838)

I don't think anybody ever accused Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Reagan of being a "scientific or technical elite." Obama, at least, seems scientifically/technically literate, but that's a far cry from being elite. So the Eisenhwoer quote probably gets ignored because it's entire irrelavant to modern political discourse.

Re:In the same speech (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155882)

Sounds like global warming and "Green everything" in a nutshell.

Re:In the same speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155988)

Anti-intellectualism rolled around. Policy positions are subcontracted via think tanks and policy institutes, which are thin on research and heavy on rationalization. I doubt drug policy is reliant on the opinion of the scientific-technological elites. Do you see any politicians consulting with academics on solutions to social problems?

Re:In the same speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32156106)

I wonder why people always ignore that part.

Because that would make it inconvenient to seize control of the economy in the name of fighting global warming.

Re:In the same speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32156186)

Because, judged by spending, the influence of the "scientific-technological elite" is so small [phdcomics.com] by comparison to the total amount of defense spending. While the potential for a similar sort of feedback certainly does exist and the warning therefore should be taken seriously, things haven't headed in that direction.

Now, if he warned about an entertainment/media elite too, he might have been onto something.

Re:In the same speech (4, Informative)

dnwq (910646) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156328)

1946:
Arthur Roberts

[Written while the Brookhaven National Laboratory was being planned]

Upon the lawns of Washington the physicists assemble,
From all the land are men at hand, their wisdom to exchange.
A great man stands to speak, and with applause the rafters tremble.
"My friends," says he, "you all can see that physics now must change.
Now in my lab we had our plans, but these we'll now expand,
Research right now is useless, we have come to understand.
We now propose constructing at an ancient Army base,
The best electronuclear machine in any place, -- Oh

It will cost a billion dollars, ten billion volts 'twill give,
It will take five thousand scholars seven years to make it live.
All the generals approve it, all the money's now in hand,
And to help advance our program, teaching students now we've banned.
We have chartered transportation, we'll provide a weekly dance,
Our motto's integration, there is nothing left to chance.
This machine is just a model for a bigger one, of course,
That's the future road for physics, as I hope you'll all endorse."

And as the halls with cheers resound and praises fill the air,
One single man remains aloof and silent in his chair.
And when the room is quiet and the crowd has ceased to cheer,
He rises up and thunders forth an answer loud and clear.
"It seems that I'm a failure, just a piddling dilettante,
Within six months a mere ten thousand bucks is all I've spent.
With love and string and sealing wax was physics kept alive,
Let not the wealth of Midas hide the goal for which we strive. --Oh

"Take away your billion dollars, take away your tainted gold,
You can keep your damn ten billion volts, my soul will not be sold.
Take away your army generals; their kiss is death, I'm sure.
Everything I build is mine, and every volt I make is pure.
Take away your integration; let us learn and let us teach,
Oh, beware this epidemic Berkelitis, I beseech.
Oh, dammit! Engineering isn't physics, is that plain?
Take, oh take, your billion dollars, let's be physicists again."

1956:

Within the halls of NSF the panelists assemble.
From all the land the experts band their wisdom to exchange.
A great man stands to speak and with applause the rafters tremble,
‘My friends, ’says he, b e all can see that budgets now must change.
By toil and sweat the Soviet have reached ten billion volts.
Shall we downtrodden physicists submit ? No, no,-revolt!
It never shall be said that we let others lead the way.
We'll band together all finest brains and save the day.

Give us back our billion dollars, better add ten billion more.
If your budget looks unbalanced, just remember this is war.
Never mind the Army’s shrieking, never mind the Navy’s pain.
Never mind the Air Force projects disappearing down the drain.
In coordinates barycentric, every BeV means lots of cash,
There will be no cheap solutions,-neither straight nor synchroclash.
If we outbuild the Russians, it will be because we spend.
Give, oh give those billion dollars, let them flow without an end.

[Folklore records that the brave and solitary scientist who so vigorously
defended the purity of science at the original meeting was killed by
a beam of hyperons when the Berkeley Bevatron was first switched on.]

In this light the context of Eisenhower may be clearer. Here is a larger quote:

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Obviously, the idea of the scientific establishment telling the DoD how to spend its money is laughable today (just compare the relative sizes of their budgets). But once upon a time it seemed plausible, and that era was when Eisenhower made his warning.

I for one welcome... (1)

TheStatsMan (1763322) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155678)

our thrifty defense overlords. I really do.

Woo, maybe I could get a real job (5, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155690)

Does this mean major cutbacks on corporate welfare and job security clearances for US Persons?

I'd love to get an engineering job outside of the defense/military industrial complex, maybe this will finally make the other jobs on the market relatively more competitive! And maybe I could get to apply some of the mechanical/aerospace skills I learned in college finally?

Corporate welfare through defense spending has been an awfully good way of keeping the educated middle class too busy doing busywork to try to enact any kind of social change. But maybe mass entertainment has finally caught up with keeping those minds preoccupied with inane things.

Re:Woo, maybe I could get a real job (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157066)

More competitive? My Ex wife got a huge raise getting out of government contracting. Not only that she finally got the promotion she had deserved for years.

Govt contracting jobs can be pretty cushy, but the private sector does very well on the compensation side of things.

That's nice (-1, Offtopic)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155706)

It's nice to see Mr. Gates being so active in his retirement. After running Microsoft for so long, running the US Military must be a nice break for him. It looks like he's using his business acumen to streamline the military. I'm still surprised he's lasted this long, though.

Re:That's nice (2, Funny)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155782)

> It's nice to see Mr. Gates being so active in his retirement. After running Microsoft for so long, running the US Military must be a nice break for him.
> It looks like he's using his business acumen to streamline the military.

Don't worry. Military spending will come to a screeching halt when he's done with Operation Bluescreen!

It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155724)

"Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, not one, and we could explore space together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace." -Bill Hicks

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (3, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155870)

Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world

Having no military power makes about as much sense as having enough to obliterate the entire planet.

Is there still some people who believe nations live in peace because people are naturally kind and caring?

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155930)

Like I said, it's hippie bullshit...but it is true. If you look at how much money the world collectively spends on trying to kill each other, we could instead SUPPORT each other many times over.

This is one of those "I know this will never happen, but this is how it should happen" kind of thoughts.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156140)

but it is true. If you look at how much money the world collectively spends on trying to kill each other, we could instead SUPPORT each other many times over.

This is one of those "I know this will never happen, but this is how it should happen" kind of thoughts.

Ohh, that kind of thoughts... Then why stop at the military?

If we were all kind and caring, there'd be no need for money or property, people would just work because it's necessary for teh common good of the society. We'd work as much as reasonably possible, while being happy. Then, the results of all that work would be distributed among the people, in a optimal way.

And, as to feed the entire population would only need the work of a minority, the rest could center on science, to investigate how to propagate the human collective to the stars.

In flying unicorns, genetically engineered for such purpose.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156230)

Ohh, that kind of thoughts... Then why stop at the military?

If we were all kind and caring, there'd be no need for money or property, people would just work because it's necessary for teh common good of the society. We'd work as much as reasonably possible, while being happy. Then, the results of all that work would be distributed among the people, in a optimal way.

And, as to feed the entire population would only need the work of a minority, the rest could center on science, to investigate how to propagate the human collective to the stars.

There's this little-known franchise that's really popular, I'm not sure if you've heard of it. They did exactly what you described though. Here, you should check it out [wikipedia.org] .

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (2, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156408)

There's little-known home boy from back in the day that said the same things too. Here, you should check him out. [wikipedia.org]

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156990)

You have bought into their authoritarian propaganda.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156494)

Oddly enough, Star Trek just so happens to take place aboard a military vessel, and regardless of how much they attempt to be peaceful things frequently seem to come to blows at some point.

In other words, a military will always be necessary because there is always at least one crackpot who will screw things up otherwise.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156384)

Bullshit is the opposite of truth. Your last sentence alludes to the real truth, which is 'this is what I want even though it won't happen'. But merely wanting something isn't going to rewrite human nature. That's as much genetic as it is social. Even if we could eliminate the instincts that have put us at the top of the food chain I doubt that it would make us very fit to explore space. Although the reality of space exploration is almost certainly 'apes or angels [projectrho.com] ', I don't think we want to turn ourselves into a herd of ibexes before we leave the cradle on the chance that odds are we won't meet any lions. Even if that chance is astronomically (heh) high, as long as it is possible such self-neutering is irresponsible.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32156852)

The amount of GDP that's spent by the world on defense: 2%. The US spends 4%. While both are ridiculously low numbers, much of what the US spends is to provide protection for trading partners who have basically abandoned their duty protect their citizens. The US spends much more to take care of old people and so oxygen thieves can sit at home to get drunk, high, and breed.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157176)

Like I said, it's hippie bullshit...but it is true

I do not think the same concept can be both "bullshit" and true. It's a contradiction in terms.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32156124)

Is there still some people who believe nations live in peace because people are naturally kind and caring?

I think this comic sums it all up:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1852#comic

nukes (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156740)

We're very far away from all nations that pose any significant threat. And our nuclear deterrent doesn't cost all that much.

Re:nukes (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157100)

I fully agree. But while "a reasonable military, much weaker and defense oriented than the current one" is reasonable, "no militar power whatsoever" isn't.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155998)

"Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, not one, and we could explore space together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace." -Bill Hicks

No, it's just plain bullshit, and it's false.

Feeding and clothing and educating (and medicating and housing and...) wouldn't do crap. We'd fight over religion or skin color or the brand of cars we drive. It's our nature to form packs around whatever common bond we can find and be suspicious of the other packs.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156050)

Already responded to something very similar [slashdot.org] . This is one of those "I know this will never happen, but this is how it should happen" kind of thoughts.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (1)

Squiggle (8721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156606)

Assuming a good education that teaches people about their nature to form packs and be suspicious and the benefits of being aware of that nature and using democracy and other positive forms of social disagreement I think you could reasonably expect large scale violence to basically disappear. I'm no expert historian but I'd wager that in every case of mass violence there were a small number of people manipulating a large number of mostly uneducated and/or ignorant people. It is easy to underestimate the level of ignorance in this world (and especially in our past) brought about by lack of access to education and the effects of malnutrition/hunger making people more aggressive and anti-social. In "developed" democratic countries it is basically impossible for a country to wage an aggressive war without many years of very expensive and pervasive propaganda designed to make people ignorant.

Re:It may be hippie bullshit, but it's TRUE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32156516)

Hunger and desperate poverty are not economic problems. They're political. The whole “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” is so cliche, but it's relevant. Giving Africa hundreds of billions of dollars in food and aid just gives the warlords in power hundreds of billions of dollars of resources to extort the inhabitants with.

I'm pretty liberal, but it's hippie bullshit that we can just take our capitalistic unclean money and fix the worlds hunger/security/education problems. It's 100% political. Political changes to the system will start an acceleration towards those things you desire. Throwing gobs of cash at them won't.

Emerging fill-in-the-blank-industrial complex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155726)

Practically everything from education to the military has become an industrial complex in this country. There is so much entrenchment and so many people and dollars protecting the status quo, it seems nothing can stop it. People vote for something different and remain selectively aggrieved depending on if their guy is in power. I think we are alert and knowledgeable, but that is not enough. And Ike's speech was nice and I agree with it, but it only came at the end of him wielding the power of that very complex he decries.

Gusher (0, Troll)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155766)

The gusher will be closed off until... Republicans get back into power.

I like Ike (5, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155774)

I remember reading somewhere that Eisenhower was the president to most significantly cut the military budget in the past 60 years.

Anyone else who tried to do it was labeled as "making America weaker" or a giant wuss. But it was much harder to call the man who lead the largest amphibious invasion in history a pussy.

Re:I like Ike (4, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156062)

it was much harder to call the man who lead the largest amphibious invasion in history a pussy.

A frog, sure, maybe even a salamander... But never a pussy.

Re:I like Ike (2, Informative)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156484)

Some jackass will always be willing to take money for such a cause.

Remember triple amputee Vietnam vet Max Cleland?

They have no shame.

Re:I like Ike (2, Informative)

TooManyMirrors (546648) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156652)

GOP called a wounded veteran a pussy (and a several things a lot worse)(1) to add to their chicken-hawk rankings (2) here in Georgia. 1)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14474-2002Jun19.html 2)http://www.villagevoice.com/2004-08-17/news/the-sunshine-patriots/

About time (5, Insightful)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155792)

Military spending has been increasing at an unsustainable rate for at least the last 30 years. If it continues to increase at this rate it will surely bankrupt us. Our heavy investment in the military (over other important things such as education) also suggests that our priorities are badly skewed and need to be realigned.

Re:About time (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155864)

> Military spending has been increasing at an unsustainable rate for at least the last 30 years. If it continues to increase at this rate it will surely bankrupt us.

Very unfortunate, that using future tense is incorrect...:-/

Re:About time (1)

Orestesx (629343) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156298)

Defense is not the top priority? Or are you implying that we are spending more than is necessary to defend ourselves?

Surely it is a matter of degree, not priority.

Re:About time (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156874)

Yeah, but that unsustainable spending is so profitable for Lockheed, Halliburton, and other major contracting companies who give such nice big campaign donations.

In other words, good ideas, but I expect somewhere around 0 chance of getting through Congress.

Re:About time (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32157038)

Apparently you are unaware of the drastic cuts in the military that took place during the Clinton administration. Politicians were practically wetting themselves with glee to try to figure out ways to spend the 'peace dividend' after the Soviet Union collapsed. Unfortunately, the world is a much more dangerous place than it was in 1992. What IS going to bankrupt the US Federal government is all the entitlement programs, NOT the military - one of the few constitutional items the Feds actually spend money on.

Look at the Money Trail (0, Offtopic)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155816)

My last job was at a small company (

Don't worry though... we're going to save the economy by not spending that money on useless military programs. If we have some unemployment, we'll have enough extra (saved from military spending) to fund extended unemployment and welfare.

I lost that job, but I got another one within a month... before U/I kicked in... And this one has nothing to do with the military. To bad it sometimes deals with Government.

Sounds like a decent idea (2, Insightful)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155822)

Makes sense to me. America is in a huge economic hole and desperately needs money pumped into infrastructure, health, job creation and other areas of government. America spends more on the military than other developed countries combined, so even a slight reduction in this should reap rewards in other areas. And if the US is smart about how it cuts spending, it does not even mean the military need become weaker as a result. Spend smarter, not 'harder', I guess you could say.

Re:Sounds like a decent idea (5, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156172)

"t does not even mean the military need become weaker as a result."

So what if it does? The US already has the most powerful military in the world by an order of magnitude. What do we need all of this "power" for, anyway? We haven't had a real threat to the US since WWII.

Re:Sounds like a decent idea (0, Flamebait)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156540)

America spends more on the military than other developed countries combined

This is true. They also depend on the 82nd and 101st Airborne, the United States Marines, missiles launched from a US Navy carrier battle group, or a US Air Force bombing wing to be there to kick the crap out of anyone that tries some shit, through "peacekeeping efforts" on behalf of the UN, or direct action via pre-existing treaty.

They don't have to spend all that money, specifically because the US Government does. Would be nice if they kicked a little something back though.

Budget cuts (3, Funny)

SoTerrified (660807) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155826)

When your budget is greater than your earning power, things must be cut. That's just the way it is and anyone with a brain can understand that. As such, I expect that the US Military will accept the cuts logically and maturely... Much like the Greek people.

Re:Budget cuts (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156048)

Um the military only earning power is body bags of the enemy. Gezz man The military is for protecting our country and our way of life,there not a for profit company. I want our men and women to have every tool available to them,no mater the cost too protect our country and way of life.

Re:Budget cuts (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156170)

Um the military only earning power is body bags of the enemy. Gezz man The military is for protecting our country and our way of life,there not a for profit company. I want our men and women to have every tool available to them,no mater the cost too protect our country and way of life.

The military itself may not be "for profit", but MANY of the companies that supply the military with equipment have ties to various politicians and/or political groups. Iraq/Afghanistan weren't wars for oil, they were wars for profit in general...just like every other war in history.

Much of the technology we are currently using (fighter planes, as an example) serve no purpose over in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bombers, sure...but planes designed for air-to-air combat? What, are they fighting the 47th Flying Sandies Brigade? Much of our military spending is still stuck in the Cold War. It needs to be drastically altered.

Re:Budget cuts (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157174)

Much of the technology we are currently using (fighter planes, as an example) serve no purpose over in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bombers, sure...but planes designed for air-to-air combat? What, are they fighting the 47th Flying Sandies Brigade? Much of our military spending is still stuck in the Cold War. It needs to be drastically altered.

What do you keeps other airplanes from shooting down our bombers?Not every enemy we face in the near future will be without an airforce.

This is why Obama kept Gates (5, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155846)

The man is awesome. He cares for America. Basically, another Eisenhower. Obama has a group working on figuring out how to cut the deficit and balance the budget. That group needs to have EVERY head of each dept. tell them how to cut waste for each. Finally, that group needs to push for a balanced budget amendmendment that will block the running of deficits during good times. Right now, the majority of our unneeded debt is from 1982-1990, and from 2002-2007. That accounts for about 8 trillion dollars of a time when we had a decent economy and had ZERO reason to run a deficit.

Personally, If Robert Gates was to run for president (or even replace Biden) , I would vote for him.

Military-Industrial Complex (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155922)

If you study the events leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the size and rampant spending of their military-industrial complex as it slowly bankrupted them for thirty years comes out on top. Everyone knew it existed, and everyone knew it would suck the nation dry before they could "win" the Cold War against the United States, but it was so entrenched in their economy that the means to measure and control it simply did not exist. It's interesting to see that Eisenhower noticed this disturbing trend fifty years ago. If the Soviet Union was bled dry in thirty years, how much longer can the United States survive the siphoning of hundreds of billions of dollars from their economy? Or is it already too late?
American citizens really must ask themselves what this spending has done for them. Access to foreign oil? Protection from terrorists? For a fraction of the trillions of dollars spent in the past decade on "defense", those issues could have been resolved virtually overnight. Instead, you have made a select group of people very rich and very powerful. Was it worth it?

Re:Military-Industrial Complex (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156598)

Instead, you have made a select group of people very rich and very powerful. Was it worth it?

Well, since they also happen to be the ones in charge of almost everything, I think they'd say yes. The lower classes are too busy drugging up and watching TV, and the middle classes are kept busy with B.S. distractions like "gay marriage" and federal vs state control of abortion. When Bush/Haliburton said "mission accomplished" they meant it literally. Just not the mission the gullible thought it was.

Re:Military-Industrial Complex (3, Insightful)

gtall (79522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156978)

And you still would have a deficit of 1 trillion in the current budget even if you cut every last dollar out of defense. Get a sense of proportion. It will be the entitlement programs that bankrupt the U.S.

However, one suggestion for him (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155944)

Eisenhower and DOD created DARPA as a way to guarantee that we had fundamental RD being done. That group has been responsible for keeping American military on the cutting edge. W converted it from a mix (basically university, business, etc) to a great deal of money to just business esp. into Texas. That has come at the cost of long range basics. That needs to be changed back. We do need a better way to get our RD into the field, but not at the cost of the future. In addition, more of the RD needs to funnel back to either American business, or at least Western business, with all of the work in America/West.

Talk about looking into the abyss. . . (1)

vm146j2 (233075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155956)

The economy must really be on the verge of disintegration, if this is what they are talking about publicly. Batten down the hatches!

Re:Talk about looking into the abyss. . . (1)

d474 (695126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156028)

Hell just froze over if the Sec. of Defense is calling for spending reductions. Prepare for impact...

Military-industrial-CONGRESS complex (4, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156004)

In the councils of government [msu.edu] , we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial-congress complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

I know it's complex, but if you ignore the political implication aspect you're devaluing the entire notion.

Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry... (4, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156184)

Well, we're doomed then. For the majority of USA "citizens," if it doesn't exist on American Idol, it doesn't exist.

Re:Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry... (1)

vm146j2 (233075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156310)

Why do you suppose there is "American Idol"?

Re:Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156438)

Bread and circuses.

Should have been done long ago... (2, Interesting)

Zooperman (1182761) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156590)

I supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but I do not support the way they were handled. I do think the military-industrial complex should have been abolished long ago. Why? Because what has it done to protect us, really? Vietnam? It didn't help us win. Grenada? Yeah right. A banana republic with a few Cuban troops that our Salvation Army could have whipped. Panama? See above. Gulf War I? We didn't win that war, remember? We stopped just short of victory, a violation of one of the most fundamental principles of war that history has ever taught us: never leave an aggressor intact. We had to go back and do the job right in 2003. Somalia? We were trying to help those people, they started shooting at us, so we left. Confrontation with Saddam's forces while enforcing the no-fly zones and inspectors? Come on. We had about 20,000 troops in theater at the time. We don't need to spend $400b a year to maintain THAT, or any of our other troop commitments around the world. Iraq War and Afghan War? We took an army with a military doctrine of slowing down a Soviet tank advance across Europe just long enough for our ICBMs to reach Moscow, and tried to use it to fight two major land wars in Asia. Big mistake. We SHOULD have immediately instituted a draft after 9/11, converted factories to war production, raised a massive army (like, 5 million men), and when the time was right, rolled into Iraq with at least a million strong. The PROPER way to occupy a country you defeat is to make sure your occupying troops are in every city, town and village so they can establish ORDER. That wasn't done. You can only spread 100,000 troops so far in a country if 28 million. And we have all seen the results. They always make the same mistakes, thinking you can do war "on the cheap". You can't. But I am encouraged by Secretary Gates' plan. It may be a step in a direction we should have gone in decades ago.

you faI7 it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32156690)

about half of the AMERICA) is the t8oubles of Walnut 7ittle-known

I doubt we'll bring home troops from anywhere (2, Interesting)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156828)

I'm sure this is all political and we'll continue to police the world. They're not coming home until the dollar outright collapses, which is probably not far off. While we're at it, how about cutting a couple TRILLION off the $4 Trillion budget!?!?!?
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