It might be time to start saving grocery coupons and recycling those old clothes, again. Largely a result of stamping out deficit spending in the 1990‘s, the United States has recently celebrated low unemployment, low interest rates, and stock markets skyrocketing at dizzying new heights. During that period our booming economy was unprecedented in growth and duration.
When President Bush proposed an increase in defense spending of $48 billion for next year and billions in more tax cuts, he may have ended runaway prosperity for decades to come. In addition to the tax cuts passed last year and a stumbling economy that has produced less revenue than originally projected, new military spending, if enacted, will leave a budgeted deficit for next year of $106 billion. The actual shortfall of revenue compared to expenditures could be far worst when the dust settles at year-end.
Yeah, but we are at war, you say? According to Ivan Eland, director of defense policy studies at the conservative Cato Institute, “The current $350 billion total is already more than enough to fight the small-to medium-scale conflicts overseas - such as the war in Afghanistan or even a larger campaign against Iraq - needed to fight terrorism.“
If we need more military spending to combat terrorism, where is it in the proposed budget? The administration wants to use the $48 billion increase in taxes for building missile systems and pay increases for personnel. Do you really think Osama bin Laden and other terror operatives will lay down their arms when they find out we have a defense shield in place that launches nuclear missiles thousands of miles in space? That won‘t do much good against terrorists who sneak into our country through Canada and certainly wouldn‘t have prevented the September 11th disaster. Maybe someone in our defense department needs to be informed that the old Soviet Union disappeared over a decade ago.
The administration has been accused of trying to deliver each of the military services everything they wanted in the new budget. A blank check obviously is not the wisest way to promote efficiency in government. On the other hand, as reported by Michael Moran of MSNBC, one of the best kept secrets of the debate is that a large portion of American military officers (one third to half) feel the huge expenditures for a missile defense system would serve our country‘s defense better elsewhere. Maybe such a protective shield in space has potential but it sure doesn‘t seem to be the answer for our fight against terrorism.
Of course we need to root out the murderers and bring them to justice but maybe the question needs to be asked, “Is bombing the Middle-East into submission the long-term solution to ending terrorism?“ Good news for fiscal conservatives: the most cost-efficient option to combat terrorism might also be the best way. Ending our dependency on foreign oil could change the dynamics of the Middle East and end terrorism.
Just think - no more billions spent each day by our military while toppling Middle East and Asian governments that support terrorists. No more filling the pockets of the Islamic dictatorships that are hated by their own countrymen. No more supplying military armaments and propping up royal families who ensure the wells pumping Arab crude remain open. Our interests in this region would greatly reduced, mostly focused on promoting peace, not oil importation.
Of course, an actual war on foreign oil dependency would need to be waged that attacked the problem on all fronts other than the military. Renewal sources of energy such as solar, fusion, and wind would need to be developed. Conservation of resources would become in vogue once more. Drilling more oil in some environmental sensitive areas might also be required.
Whatever steps a war against U.S. oil dependency took, no matter how painful, it would be well worth the effort to end terrorism once and for all.