President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (1961). A man who knew war all too well and desired to limit it as much as possible, as can be powerfully heard below in full version of his Farewell Address to the nation respecting the dangers of the “Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex.”
It is my hope that President-Elect Romney and his second, young Ryan, who seem fine gentlemen fully capable to lead us out of the disaster of the past 4 years, will bravely address not simply government spending in general in all departments and ministries of government but more specifically the ever-escalating costs of the American war machine–a rapacious animal whose hunger for new killing fields is never satisfied and rarely tempered by the Party President Romney, young Ryan and I all share as our political home.
I am much taken with the compilation sent today to me that follows on, in which Craig J. Walenta makes direct and compelling reference to federal spending run wild in the generic and to the costs of the war machine in the particular. I am thankful to young Walenta for his fine work as I am sure all readers will be as well.
In his farewell address to the nation in 1961, President Eisenhower gave a speech, a speech simply remembered as the “Military-Industrial Complex-Congressional Speech,” it’s a famous speech and it’s often cited by liberals who will typically be opposed to hawkish Republican defense budgets. The pertinent portion of the speech states:
“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist”
Eisenhower’s speech is very prescient of course and while its focused on the private armaments industry getting Federal contracts, the military itself, which at the time had millions of service members on the payroll; in a broader sense it gives credence to economist Warren Nutter’s famous observation: “Government, it seems safe to say, is the one thing that has been growing rapidly in the West,. Wherever governments were once small they have become big, and wherever they were big they have become bigger. Nothing is so rare as a shrinking government.” – Economist Warren Nutter.
Indeed, government spending at all levels reached $6.05 trillion dollars in 2011 with a nominal GDP in 2011 of $15.09 trillion. This is slightly better than 40%. Trillions are ultimately meaningless numbers to most people, but what this means is that 40% of all the goods and services that are being produced in the United States move from the private sector to the public sector and then get spent by our public decision makers at the local, state and Federal levels. This is the effective aggregate tax rate faced by our society – 40%. It’s an obscene amount and frankly the only thing that makes it even more appalling is the fact that it’s not completely funded by honest to goodness taxation, its funded, in large part, by the sale of bonds, and massive amounts of them ($16 trillion and counting), government bonds of course being merely the promise of future taxation.
The Democrats will do everything in their power to convince you of the ‘fairness’ of their tax proposals, which require you to believe that the rich really don’t pay as much as you do. They do. In 2009, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 36.7 percent of all federal individual income taxes and the top 5 percent paid approximately 58.7 percent of federal individual income taxes. http://taxfoundation.org:81/article/summary-latest-federal-individual-income-tax-data-0 Which begs the question, just how much more progressive do they want to make the tax code? Ultimately when you convince the population that Mitt Romney’s personal rate of taxation is actually less than average by myopically focusing on his personal return and failing to note his share of the corporate tax return, after all corporate taxation is a ‘double taxation’ regime for a reason, I have to think that the government is making the case that its entitled to an even greater share of our national income.
One truism that needs to be taken from this article is that when the government decides to spend $6.05 trillion dollars, the government is spending these sums and we, the taxpayers, do not. Ultimately who do you think is better at spending these sums, the government, or yourself? The answer should be obvious, because if you truly believe the government is better at spending than your own personal decisions, then why not let the government allocate all of it? Well, we all know how that worked out in the former Communist nations of the Eastern bloc. This is the problem that Romney alludes to in his statement because at the end of the day, when the elephantine Federal government is making spending decisions that contribute to the majority of the 40% of GDP spent on government, employing millions of people – whether its welfare, defense, Medicaid or Medicare, sure enough there’s going to be substantial portions of the electorate with an interest in those expenditures.
This is how ‘creeping socialism’ creeps, this is why nothing is so rare as a shrinking government and no matter how you slice it, it just doesn’t work. Our society will not prosper with government spending at 40% of GDP.
I am very thankful to young Walenta for his compilation of data in this article. I would be far more thankful to President-Elect Romney and his second, young Ryan, if they were to bravely tackle the excess of federal spending and the massive special interests that spending serves, most particularly with respect to reining in the war machine–a rapacious and meddlesome juggernaut that is ever hungry for new opportunities.
Let us all pray now that it be God’s Will to grant that these new leaders have the wisdom to carefully listen to the words of President Eisenhower in his Farewell Address to the nation in 1961 and, to take after doing so, a cold, hard, dispassionate look at the Leviathan of the American war machine.