I hear a lot of talk about ending “entitlement programs” in order to cut spending and balance the budget. I’m all about balancing the budget, and while I think we could do it if the wealthy nobility who loot this country on a regular basis were actually taxed, I’ll play conservative advocate and pretend we should make some cuts.
And why not? There’s plenty of things I would cut if I was in charge. I think the first welfare program I would end would be the military and its bastard kid brother, the defense industry.
I feel bad criticizing the military sometimes. Not because soldiers are out fighting for my freedom and I owe them my respect, but because most soldiers are poor kids who have no other opportunities.
We live in a culture that values self-sufficiency, and for most people who grow up in poor neighborhoods with horrible schools and no economic options, the military is one of the few possibilities for eking out a life of self-sufficiency. The military provides a high salary, preferential treatment when it comes time to be hired in the private or public sector, health benefits, retirement benefits, and funding for higher education.
Basically, poor people are lured into killing poor people in other countries with the promise of a better future… assuming this doesn’t happen to you:
While most countries dump huge quantities of their tax dollars into public works projects and financial assistance to the poor, a huge chunk of our revenue (and money we borrow) goes to paying for our wars. In the end, I don’t blame people who see a sweet deal and take advantage of it, I blame the national policy which forces this despicable choice of being impoverished or fighting the wars of the rich.
Besides the welfare queens in the military itself, there’s the private sector weapons industry that takes in billions of dollars a year to build weapons that are decades ahead of our enemies and are essentially designed to fight a nation that doesn’t exist. We buy fighter planes at over $200 million a pop to fight countries that lack an air force. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, GM, GE, Colt, Boeing, and a handful of others have their dirty mitts in the pocket of every tax payer.
Perhaps even more strange than these forms of welfare is the prison system. “Wait, what?” Yes, the prison system. Incarceration is the American welfare program for people who don’t want to go to foreign lands to commit crimes against humanity. There legitimately are people who want to be in prison. In prison, you are fed and receive medical care. We treat those behind bars better than those living in their cars.
But what do you do if you want to go to jail? Sure, you could do something rash like robbing a store, or something stupid like punching a cop, but the most popular choice has to be drug dealing. In this black market lies a win-win situation for people completely down on their luck.
If you’re lucky, you can make enough money to live pretty well as a drug dealer. If you’re caught, you’re looking at three squares a day and access to free classes and rent-free living in weather controlled conditions with access to any necessary medication. It’s like losing in Vegas: even if you go bust, the room and meals will be comped.
This is fundamentally why we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have an illicit drug industry that funnels the poor into prisons where we can’t see them. In many instances, we then exploit them through cheap labor, not to mention marring their record in the eyes of future employers… pretty much ensuring they go back to dealing when released.
In my opinion, it’s not enough to complain about something. I like to try to think of a solution. The libertarian solution is to just legalize drugs. I think that’s a good start, but we still need something to do about people who are in jail, on parole, or in forced treatment. Their release would, in my opinion, be best accompanied by the first government-run recreational drug company.
We’re broke, so why not take all that money we spend fighting drug dealers and open up businesses run by drug enforcement agents, gang members, hippies, and former prisoners? They have the necessary knowledge and skills, from production to shipping to advertising to security (since I imagine a fair amount of crime may be associated with shipping large amounts of narcotics, like the movement of any valuable).
If the Columbian drug lords can move cocaine with submarines, I think the government could add enough revenue selling drugs to make a difference. And before I get all the typical “statist” crap, realize that the government need not hold a monopoly, nor would I tax recreational drugs.
As for the military… the US Air Force is the largest in the world. Do you know what the second largest air force is? The US Navy. Instead of dropping bombs on foreign countries because their dictators are using our out-dated weapons to oppress their people, maybe we should tone down the weapons production and re-invest in our people and our country. Our roads are shit, our schools are shit, and both get reduced funding in the new budget while the military budget grew.
There’s nothing wrong with welfare, but all I ever hear from detractors is how they don’t want their money going to some drunk crack-head who drives a Mercedes and hates white people. I’m not sure such a person even exists, and yet we really are giving welfare to people whose job it is to kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims half-way around the globe.