Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bombs and Bailouts: How the US 'Pissed Away' 14 Trillion Dollars

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

After four years sifting through a morass of US government records, the Brookings Institution reports that the US government has spent $5.1 trillion on the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons, adding that if 'clean up, stockpiling and dismantlement' is included, the cost rises to $5.5 trillion.

US officials have called it: "money well-spent". Having spent trillions threatening the world, the US has recently bailed out the crooked banksters and other robber barons to the tune of $8.5 trillion for the total cost of the bailouts. See the spreadsheet graphic below. Click on it for the complete story.
Since 1945, the United States has manufactured and deployed more than 70,000 nuclear weapons to deter and if necessary fight a nuclear war. Some observers believe the absence of a third world war confirms that these weapons were a prudent and cost-effective response to the uncertainty and fear surrounding the Soviet Union's military and political ambitions during the cold war. As early as 1950, nuclear weapons were considered relatively inexpensive- providing "a bigger bang for a buck"-and were thoroughly integrated into U.S. forces on that basis. Yet this assumption was never validated. Indeed, for more than fifty years scant attention has been paid to the enormous costs of this effort-more than $5 trillion thus far-and its short and long-term consequences for the nation.

--Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940, Brookings Institution

Elsewhere, Brookings reports that even as the Cold War ended, the US continued spending some $35 billion a year [$96 million a day], 14 percent of the defense budget on nuclear weapons and maintenance. Even Brookings concedes '..with the benefit of hindsight and objectivity, the waste, the duplication and occasional foolishness.'

Much is made of an 'atmosphere of tension, ambiguity and fear'! But the fact of the matter is this: much of that 'atmosphere' is traceable directly to the presence of a US nuclear arsenal that threatens the world. Brookings concedes that the moneys were not always well spent but does not go far enough. How many of the starving millions might have been fed with just one percent of some 14 trillion squandered by the US on weaponry and bailouts? How much more goodwill might have been achieved with the investment of just half that amount in peaceful projects that would have benefited all mankind? The US may have blown a golden opportunity forever!
``Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.''

-- Robert Oppenheimer, quoting the Baghavad Gita
That might describe as well the ruinous effects of a wastral US fiscal policy, a bloated bailout for banksters, an impending implosion that will directly result from the US enrichment of just one percent of its population as some 95 percent descend into poverty, illiteracy and hopelessness and all of it a result of the right wing export of US industries, jobs, and hope!

The lead headline, in the upper right-hand corner, said: “U.S. Deficit Rises to $1.4 Trillion; Biggest Since ’45.”

The headline next to it said: “Bailout Helps Revive Banks, And Bonuses.”

We’ve spent the last few decades shoveling money at the rich like there was no tomorrow. We abandoned the poor, put an economic stranglehold on the middle class and all but bankrupted the federal government — while giving the banks and megacorporations and the rest of the swells at the top of the economic pyramid just about everything they’ve wanted.

And we still don’t seem to have learned the proper lessons. We’ve allowed so many people to fall into the terrible abyss of unemployment that no one — not the Obama administration, not the labor unions and most certainly no one in the Republican Party — has a clue about how to put them back to work.

--Bob Herbert, Safety Nets for the Rich

Also see: Published Articles on Buzzflash.net



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