So Much Pork in the Pentagon Budget There’s Nothing Left to Fight With

A Vast Arms Buildup, Yet Not Enough for Wars, in ’s New York Times shows how the $500 billion Arms Manufacturer Enrichment Fund is allocated. Would it surprise you to find out that funds to supply the troops currently at war are hard to find, while the money tap for the next futuristic superweapon (manufactured in many important Congressional districts) never runs dry?

Amid one of the greatest military spending increases in history, the Pentagon is starved for cash.

The United States will spend more than $500 billion on national security in . That represents a high-water mark, and it is creating boom times in the armaments industry.

Yet the military says it has run $1 billion a month short over paying for the basics of war fighting in Iraq: troops, equipment, spare parts and training.

The disparity between spending on the arsenals of the future and the armies of today is great, and growing.

The Pentagon will spend $144 billion in researching and building weapons for future wars, another record and twice the annual costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by most independent estimates.

The Pentagon says it has 77 major weapons programs under development. They include the $200 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, a fleet of next-generation aircraft; a $112 billion Army program to create networks of weapons and communications systems; and an experimental Navy destroyer, the world’s first $10 billion warship.

Those 77 arms systems have a collective price tag of $1.3 trillion. That is nearly twice what they were supposed to cost, and 11 times the yearly bill for operating and maintaining the American military.

The spike in weapons spending is a bonanza for the nation’s armaments contractors, almost all of which report surging profits and soaring stock prices.…

, prime Pentagon contracts awarded to the top 10 arms makers have nearly doubled, to $82.3 billion in . Lockheed’s sales have risen over that period to $31.8 billion from $24 billion; Northrop’s are up to $26.2 billion from $13 billion.…

The accelerating pace of arms spending is unlikely to slow noticeably no matter who wins the election on President Bush supports all 77 major weapons systems now under development; Senator John Kerry has said he would cut back on one, missile defense, which costs $10 billion a year, and use the money for more troops.…

The Pentagon’s budget, in actual outlays, is now nearly 10 times as great as any other nation’s.

Another intriguing article from Claire Wolfe: How to Avoid Work. By “work” she doesn’t mean effort, or labor, but “Jobs” of the on-the-clock, working for the corporation variety. Wolfe speaks from an individualist libertarian space, which is an unusual place to find an argument that contains echoes of anarchist Bob Black and the neo-luddites and of the various pinings for pre-industrial cottage industry and tight-knit family that are more often found in certain conservative and leftist strains of thought:

[H]ow do we call a screeching halt to this crazy, abnormal culture of mad rushes, gridlock, headaches, clock-watching, repetitive-motion injuries, and Prozac-and-Ritalin gobbling?

And if we do climb out of the job mess, do we have to go back to some sort of primitive living?

Does health, happiness, and prosperity, as we’ve been told all our lives, really rely on big (but efficient!) corporations, inexpensive mass-produced goods, production lines, high-tech medicine, and things made out of plastic?

You can almost hear Ayn Rand’s ghost screaming in anguish from beyond the grave: “Whooo is denigrating corporations and plastic?”

Wolfe promises some practical steps for climbing out of the job mess in future installments:

In the next column or two, let’s go out there and look at individual non-traditional options for surviving the 21st Century — without jobs, but without privation, either. And then let’s go even further out on that limb and start considering ways that whole societies full of individuals might — if the people in them really wanted to — reclaim their time, their lives, their children, their communities, and their work from this too-weird, frantic-manic, stomach-churning, post-industrial grind.