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« "Might we wake again" | Main | "I have failed in following Christ’s lead" »

Thursday, April 21, 2011

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Tom Flake

Locutisprime,

I have been writing loudly about the need to cut. As a former naval service member under Reagan, Bush and Clinton who served in submarines during desert storm and desert shield I have to admit that my feelings on this matter are not mixed, ambivalent or equivocal. Cuts need to be made across the board and that includes the Department of Defense. That said, it isn't clear that there is a plan behind Obama's words or if these are simply more words. (He votes "present" a lot, you may have heard).

Here's the thing, the Federal government takes in $2.2 Trillion in taxes each year. At current interest rates we have to pay about $500 BB in interest each year. That leaves about $1.7 TT for the rest of the budget. The budget is currently divided about 10% discretionary, 30% Medicare, 30% Social Security, and 30% Defense. These are round numbers but I want to illustrate an approach not a solution. This would mean we would spend $170 BB in discretionary, and $510 BB each on Defense, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

I start from the premise that we must balance the budget and we must pay our debts. Starting from these first principles, the rest flows. We can debate whether defense can or should be more or less than 30% . We should let the war fighters tells us what they think the most effective use of those funds should be. (That may include pay freezes or it may include not procuring weapon systems that they don't need but which Congress foists on them, I say give them an allowance and let them decide how best to employ it.) But we should recognize that we cannot continue to spend more on defense that the rest of the world COMBINED and we should go from there. As a former member of the Navy I can tell you that my opinion is that we need 8 aircraft carriers, not 11, 10, or 9. I arrive at that number based upon OPTEMPO and carrier maintenance cycles. Typically the President needs two deployable carriers, one in workups and one in overhaul on each coast. If the need arose the available carriers from both coasts could be combined into a task force of four aircraft carriers. That would give the task force commander about 350 planes which would be the second largest air force in the world...We really are that much bigger than anyone else.

The Army in particular has continuously under manned and if their OPTEMPO is going to continue as much as it pains me to agree with President Obama, money may need to move from Navy and Air Force to Army and Marines. One quick example. The military has for at least the last five years been "augmenting" Army forces with Navy personnel. A friend and classmate of mine who is a Nuclear trained Trident Submarine officer was sent to Afghanistan to work with the Army. Do you have any idea how much training someone to run Trident submarines costs? THAT is a stupid waste of taxpayer money. Yet the Army has been chronically shorthanded because of the mismatch in funds. So there he was in the desert teaching Army personnel to use the IFF/UFF gear on their humvees.

As of 2011 the DoD budget stood at $708 BB, my suggestion would cut that to $510 BB, all other allocations staying constant. In the future we are not going to be able to be the world's police force, we won't be able to conduct three discretionary wars concurrently and we may not be able to be perfectly secure. Its either that or continue to buy our security on our kids credit card.

tim aka The Godless Heathen

So when the GOP wanted to cut 40 billion in the last budget, that was going lead to poor kids starving and old folks dying in the streets. But cutting 400 billion in the DOD will have no effect on our ability to defend ourselves.

Liberalism, it truly is a mental disorder.

Locutisprime

Tom, thank you for a well formulated and concise rebuttal. And thank you for your service to this country.

With that said, I can honestly say that I see your side of it, but I don't completely agree.

The problem with the budget and the debt have less to do with our three largest big ticket items, than they do with how we go about funding them. Specifically, the bean counters and ear marks and everything that goes with it top to bottom.

I have absolutely no background in accounting or anything remotely approaching the national budgetary process of congress. But I would bet you that I could find tens of billions in medicare, medicaid, the pentagon and social security, that are nothing short of insane waste and feather bedding by our elected representatives.

I am reminded of the presidential satire movie "Dave" that came out a few years ago.

We as Americans are told that these things are not simple and cannot be done arbitrarily.

I would counter that is is not a simple thing to get a 2000 pound bull to jump a four strand barbed wire fence either. But once the proper incentives have been applied? You will swear that bulls can fly. And so too can pigs when we are willing to get serious about our future and cut through the BS and do what should have been being done all along.

The bottom line is this, we simply cannot continue to sustain our level of unfunded debt and spending. And when the music stops and there are millions left with no place to land in this country? That is when Anarchy and chaos will arrive in earnest.

Americans as a rule are arrogant and in denial to the belief that this nation could ever be reduced to a hovel of Darwinian animalistic survival of the fittest, but that is precisely what is looming in our future. And it will be brought forth by the utter collapse of the US and global economy.

Whether we need eight carrier battle groups or eleven isn't really at issue IMO, the fact that we have provided the Chinese with the technology and the capability to literally negate carrier battle groups as a viable weapons system period is what is to worry. And once they have accomplished that, they have more than enough men and material to literally consolidate all of Asia and ultimately the rest of the world.

Which leaves us our ballistic nuclear submarine fleet as all that is left in a last strike capability scenario against a Chinese initiated Armageddon against the west.

So after all the cows are gone and the barn doors are ablaze? (literally) We might have enough capability left to do the same to the other guy, but that's about it isn't it.

If the plan is to retire four carrier battle groups and kill the YF 22 and the F35? As long as we make commensurate savings reductions in SSI, medicare and medicaid? I will go along with that. But we should never put the pay and benefits of our soldiers, sailors and marines on the chopping block of partisan politics. What about the Air Force you say? I didn't forget them, I just chose to stick with those who do the heavy lifting in our military as the best example.

Tom Flake

Locutis,

It doesn't sound (to me) like you don't agree with my approach, rather as I read your response, I hear you saying that you want the necessary cuts to be across the board and with an intention to get to a balanced budget WHILE no one in particular furthers thier political agenda or feathers their nest in the process.

If I've read that right, we are in complete agreement.

With regard to the last strike scenario you paint, we could have a long discussion on why China isn't currently the threat you fear. But MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) worked as a deternet with the Soviets for 50 years. I've no reason to believe that the Chinese are less rational than their Societ counterparts. In fact, I'm of the opinion that the Chinese are for the first time in generations enjoying some degree of physical compfort and I strongly suspect they aren't willing to give that up. Islamists I'm not so sure about, but those are discussions for a different post.

Frankly, I fear the affect of continued $1.6 TT deficits NOW far more than a potential shooting war with China twenty years in the future. AND if we get the debt and deficit under control now, we will have more resources to fight the shooting war later if it comes. As it is, we are losing the economic war now.

In order to do that we need to do the following:
1) Educate our children to compete in a world economy
2) Have the Feds Invest only in areas which are strategically important to the U.S. but for which returns are so unlikely or uncertain that private enterprise investment is difficult. (Developing the oil shale of the Wiliston deposit for example, which coincidentally would create jobs, balance the trade imbalance and allow us to pay down the national debt)
3) Ensure that our taxe code doesn't put us at a strategic disadvantage and revise as necessary.
4) Minimize unnecessary regulation to encourage risk taking.

When you say,"We as Americans are told that these things are not simple and cannot be done arbitrarily....And so too can pigs when we are willing to get serious about our future and cut through the BS and do what should have been being done all along."

I agree with you. I would go further and say, "it really is just that simple".

Locutisprime

Thank you Tom. I think you and I are in the same neighborhood of thought on the matter, but I retain a differing of opinions on several key issues.

The Chinese are every bit as much of a threat and more than the Russians ever were IMO. They have been steadily building their military capabilities in both naval and air assets for the past twenty years. Have a look at the new amphibious attack ships that now stand along their S.E. coast and the missile batteries that have been installed there in the last four years. Then ask yourself why. Then have a look at their anti satellite technology that they have been more than happy to demonstrate for us in the past two years. And now the word on the street is that they have an ICBM anti Carrier missile, capable of destroying our carriers via an orbital trajectory and ballistic re-entry path. Something that to say the least is worrisome from a defense standpoint. Aegis guns and surface to air systems can't deal with something like that.

We gave them the technology when Clinton was in office. His parting shot was to give them the telemetry software for their guided missiles. Another example of the liberal mind that says "it's not fair for us to have something that our enemy doesn't have."

The difference is they will use it. I spent 15 months in Asia and I came to understand the Asian mindset over forty years ago. They don't look at things (life) the same way we do. They won't concern themselves with the millions of casualties or with half lives. The minute they believe that they can go toe to toe with us? MAD goes right out the window of their thinking. They don't care about MAD, because they know that there will be enough of them who survive it to carry on.

As for your recipe for righting the ship of state and steering us clear of the rocks of economic disaster, I couldn't agree more. However, the reality remains that those in Washington are presently doing everything possible in the opposite direction from that or common sense on the issue. (Both parties). So, I don't see reason entering into the equation at all, not at least until all the wheels are off the wagon and the entire nation is upside down and in the ditch.

The democrats have enacted bass-akwards every one of your four points over the past forty years and I sincerely don't see them changing course now, or the republicans being able to change it either.

Yes, I would like to see unilateral paring of the federal budget and the deficit, but I know it's not going to happen. We could and should close the majority of our over seas bases and bring those personnel home. That in and of itself would save a few hundred billion immediately and a few trillion in the long run.

So as I said, you and I see similar visions, but through different angles in the glass my friend. Either way, I appreciate your sentiments and sincerely hope that much of what you have envisioned will one day come to pass.

Rick

Thought of the exchange going on here when I found this piece today.

Locutisprime

Them Jehovah's Witnesses do get around.....

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