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The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

It is time to put an end to America’s military-industrial complex

Photo+courtesy+of+Filip+Andrejevic+on+Unsplash
Photo courtesy of Filip Andrejevic on Unsplash

Military funding has hit an all-time high and the defense industry continues to expand, causing the U.S. public’s growing political awareness to be drawn toward the federal government’s financial favoritism of our Department of Defense. The growing prominence of the military-industrial complex aggravates many as the U.S. government prioritizes the development of its armament industry over the livelihood of its citizens. Defunding the defense industry is vital for balancing the inequitable federal budget, and it is crucial that lawmakers begin to reroute funds toward our country’s citizens. 

This sentiment has existed since before the armaments industry’s prominence in the Cold War. On Jan. 17, 1961, former president Dwight Eisenhower delivered his presidential farewell address — one that shocked the American people. Eisenhower sent a message of warning, claiming that the rise of the U.S. military was a fiscal overindulgence in national defense. He believed our government must “maintain balance in and among national programs” and “balance between our essential requirements as a nation.” However, Eisenhower’s warning went unheeded, and the equitable federal budget he pleaded for was not honored in the early ‘60s and hasn’t been to this day.

For many years, the U.S. government has sunk an incomprehensible amount of federal dollars into the defense industry. Data released from online government sources state that, currently, 13.9% of federal tax dollars is spent on our armed forces. Though the Defense industry may not be the top recipient of institutional funding, a bloated budget to this degree is still unnecessary and makes the U.S. the top militaristic contributor in the world, funding “national security” more than the nine next countries combined. Meanwhile, education, training, employment, and social services are combined into one category and allotted a mere 3.2%. A further breakdown notes that only 16.8% of the 3.2% is given to elementary, secondary, and public education, translating to a low $49.9 billion in contrast to the $1.3 trillion spent on military forces. 

War-machine construction corporations, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman, are now showered in profits from these favorable budgetary projections. Lockheed Martin’s development of the F-35 Lightning II Fighter Jet is $183 billion over its original budget and 10 years behind schedule, making it one of the most major wastes of U.S. federal dollars. Similar instances of overinvestment in development phases have occurred countless times. Another example is the testing of hypersonic weapons in March 2023, which, according to the U.S. Air Force, was “not a success.” There have also been issues with “lost” expensive militaristic weaponry. The DoD reported that $1 billion of individual firearms have been misplaced by the Iraq Train and Equip Fund during their transportation. The DoD has failed to responsibly keep “up-to-date” whereabouts of the weaponry despite the common political plea regarding the need for a domineering military. 

Despite all of this, an $842 billion 2024 DoD budget was proposed by the Biden-Harris administration in March of this year. The proposal creates a $26 billion increase from the previous year’s budget and was carried out despite the American people’s renouncement of furthering such militaristic development. During the financially unstable time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Data for Progress conducted a poll regarding whether or not government funds should be reallocated from the Pentagon to industries working for fundamental human needs. “Voters Support Decreasing Defense Spending To Pay For Domestic Priorities” had 56 out of 82 respondents voicing their approval. In accordance with the people’s wishes, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), proposed that the government instead make a 10% cut on military spending and perform a redistribution of current funds. Sanders argued that our current military spending is “unnecessary” — a valid opinion considering that nearly half of the Pentagon’s funding goes solely toward corporate defense contractors and not the military crew. Of the DoD’s available funds, only 24% is spent on military personnel, while 38% is spent on operations and maintenance “to operate, sustain, and maintain aircraft [and] weapon systems.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. has the greatest poverty rate of any “developed” nation, leaving lower-class citizens in turmoil. Independent socioeconomic organizations such as the Poor People’s Campaign advocate for a significant slash in the Pentagon’s budget to alleviate the burden on lower-class Americans. They claim that “$350 billion in annual military spending cuts would make the nation and the world more secure.” In 2013 an American Prospect article found data supporting these claims: it would have taken only a quarter of what we spend on defense each year to “raise every American above the poverty line.” Despite the statistics and citizen dissatisfaction, the federal government still takes no action in carrying out the will of the people.

Regardless of your political affiliation, the waste of federal funds is a harsh reality requiring public action. The U.S. government has more than enough military strength to ensure the security of its national domesticity and that of allied nations, leaving absolutely no impact on the security of global democracy. The American people have expressed their disapproval of this over-investment, claiming that it stifles societal progress and prevents the eradication of national crises such as poverty. It is vitally important we, the UC San Diego student body, are knowledgeable of the current state of the military-industrial complex. We must make informed votes, advocate, and call forth our voices to normalize a humane federal budget.

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Jordan Nakagawa, Staff Writer
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  • H

    HSDec 4, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    The great irony to all this is that we use China (today, before it was Middle East “terrorists” and the Soviet Union before that) to justify our military spending.
    Why is it ironic? China’s defense budget is around 25%-30% of ours. Meanwhile, China outspends us by about 10 to 1 in infrastructure spending.
    Does this sound like a country that is trying to use their military to destroy us?
    Eisenhower’s fears are now a reality.

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