Democracies Like Military Cuts

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


cutsPresident Obama has been rightly chastised for his proposed cuts to our military budget. Critics have gone after his Quadrennial Defense Review and its plan to shrink the armed forces, not to mention the clumsy optics of issuing pink slips to thousands of officers still serving in Afghanistan. More troublesome is the reduction of the military’s global mission from its traditional purpose of being able to fight and defeat two enemies at once, to only defeating one while keeping a second from “achieving its objectives,” a conveniently fuzzy criterion.

Worse yet, these cuts are coming just as China and Russia are flexing their geopolitical muscles, the Middle East is exploding in sectarian violence, and Iran is creeping ever closer to nuclear weaponry. As a bipartisan panel created by the Pentagon and Congress concludes of these latest reductions, “Not only have they caused significant investment shortfalls in U.S. military readiness and both present and future capabilities, they have prompted our current and potential allies and adversaries to question our commitment and resolve. Unless reversed, these shortfalls will lead to a high-risk force in the near future. That in turn will lead to an America that is not only less secure but also far less prosperous. In this sense, these cuts are ultimately self-defeating.”

As the national leader and Commander in Chief, Obama deserves much of the blame for this strategic blunder. But let’s not forget the role of us voters in these decisions. Historically democracies have had a bad habit of preferring butter to guns, privileging shortsighted interests over long-term security.

Consider ancient Athens, the first democracy. In the 4th century BC, the Athenians created a public fund to pay poorer citizens to attend the theater and religious festivals, which were celebrated on over 130 days a year. Soon a law was passed to divert surplus money into that fund instead of the military fund, and a bit later another law made transference of surpluses to the military fund a capital crime. Unfortunately, during this same period Philip II of Macedon embarked upon a program of aggression against the southern Greek city-states. With his defeat of Athens and Thebes at Chaeronea in 338 BC, Philip achieved his aim, and the Athenians lost their political freedom. Ancient critics linked Athens’ defeat to the decision to starve the military in order to finance “entitlement spending.” Three centuries after Chaeronea, the historian Pompeius Trogus wrote of the Athenians, “The state revenues they had once spent on the army and the fleet were devoted instead to holidays and festivals,” and public money “began to be divided among the people in the city. In this way it happened that in a Greece preoccupied with entertainment the previously lowly and obscure name of Macedon was able to emerge.”

We see a similar dynamic at work in England after the Great War. Just between 1919 and 1921 the defense budget was cut by four-fifths, and continued to decline until 1933. By 1934 the shortfall in funding was such that the whole defense budget for a year would have been needed just to make up for the deficiencies in spending on the army. By 1938, when Hitler began his rampage of aggression, Germany was spending 5 times more on its military than England was. These decades of cuts, moreover, were justified after the Great War by a defense policy, renewed in 1928, based on the “Ten Year Rule,” which assumed that the British Empire would not have to fight a major war during that period, and so did not need an expeditionary force. Germany had other plans, and the folly of scanting the army became obvious in June 1940 with the collapse of the British army in France, and its hairsbreadth escape from annihilation at Dunkirk.

During this period, of course, money was tight in England. The war-debt, much of it owed to the U.S., had to be serviced. At the same time, voters were demanding increased spending on social-welfare programs. From 1.38% of GDP at the beginning of the Great War, welfare spending reached 3.36% in 1933, while spending on health services went from 1.14% of GDP in 1921, to 1.91% of GDP at the outbreak of World War II, despite occasional cutbacks. During this period, despite the growing evidence of German rearmament, disarmament was an explicit Labor Party policy, partly as a way to acquire revenues for increased social welfare spending. In 1934, Labor leader George Lansbury said he would “close every recruiting station, disband the Army and disarm the Air Force. I would abolish the whole dreadful equipment of war and say to the world ‘do your worst.’” That year and the next saw a string of Labor electoral victories, suggesting that the English people were sympathetic to a program of more butter, less guns.

Our current reductions in military spending also have support from the electorate. The cuts today are a consequence of the 2011 Budget Control Act, which called for $1 trillion in reduced spending over the following decade. Half of this amount is to come from defense, while the primary drivers of debt and deficits, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, have been left untouched. At the time, no great mass of voters protested this unbalanced and shortsighted ratio, reserving their displeasure for the Republicans and their demands for serious deficit reductions during the debt-ceiling crisis, and suggestions that entitlements needed to be reformed. So too today, when the military cuts have not generated any widespread voter interest, let alone protests. Indeed, 37% of Americans say the government spends too much on defense, and 32% say it spend about the right amount­­––­­the latter despite the 31% decline since 2010.

We can fault our leaders for not better explaining that America’s role as the keeper of global order requires it to maintain a military force big enough and lethal enough to deter would-be aggressors. We can see right now the wages of American retreat from that global role, with our rivals and enemies emboldened, and our allies disgusted. And we have our own history to caution us against such shortsighted thinking. Who thought after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when during the 90’s defense spending was reduced 36%, that a new enemy holed up in the badlands of Afghanistan would strike the homeland with such devastation, and trigger two wars? No one knows what new dangers will arise from the current disorder, but we need to be prepared for them. But it’s hard to believe our president agrees with this obvious common sense when he dismisses the metastasizing jihad statelet ISIS by saying, “the rockets aren’t being fired into the United States.” Not yet they aren’t.

But the fault does not lie just with our leaders. Unfortunately, democracies have a hard time seeing past the next election cycle and today’s interests and passions. As usual, Tocqueville said it best:

“A clear perception of the future, founded upon judgment and experience . . . is frequently wanting in democracies. The people are more apt to feel than to reason; and if their present sufferings are great, it is to be feared that the still greater sufferings attendant upon defeat will be forgotten.”

The “present sufferings” that are driving military reductions come from the mere thought of trimming social welfare spending and reforming entitlements to keep them from devouring the whole budget. One can only imagine what the “greater sufferings” will be like if we continue to reduce our military and turn our backs on our global responsibilities just to protect our government dole.

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  • Viet Vet

    The United States is not a democracy, it’s a Republic!

    • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

      It was only a Republic when the government was limited. The moment it seized the power to redistribute incomes, the country was a Republic no longer.

      • Americana

        There has NEVER BEEN a large social conglomeration of humans where taxes have not been levied. All the ancient civilizations levied taxes including the greatest of them all structurally and demographically — Rome.

        The moment the government and the country began to become a complex enough organism to begin to erect works for the public good such as bridges and later on to have interstates and all sorts of other infrastructure, it required money from its citizens to build and maintain such infrastructure.

        • Pete

          What is your point?

          That taxes is necessary? Most people do not dispute it.

          What most people dispute is the level of taxation. In that regards, you post did argue for more or less taxes. Your post really had no point.

          But you are on the scoreboard so to speak, so that must have been the purpose.

          • Americana

            Look at the above link and read the full context of what Thomas Jefferson thought on the subject of progressive taxation. He was all for it, within reason, of course. So if you’re suggesting that Thomas Jefferson was against progressive taxation, then you’re wrong.

          • Viet Vet

            Look at the above comment.

          • Pete

            “So if you’re suggesting that Thomas Jefferson was against progressive taxation”

            I did not say that. If I had you might have quoted me.You can’t.

            Having actually had calculus and economics unlike (probably ) some hobby farmer, I can actually prove the utility of or non-utility of certain tax rates. I understand the Laffer curve.

            i also understand the dismal science is applied psychology. The ideal you can continually whip someone and get the desired results is ludicrous.

            Progressives manage to not only f_ck over the top 10 percent, but they also manage to f_ck over union members with their tax rates.

          • Viet Vet

            Actually Jefferson was no different than other Americans of the revolutionary era, in that they would not countenance an tax on income.

        • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

          I did not say our society could endure without taxes – perhaps it could, perhaps it couldn’t. What is deadly is not the Interstate Highways, it’s the ability of a group of citizens to abuse their privilege of voting to secure an unearned income from their fellow citizens at gunpoint. This is deadly because it corrupts not only the politicians, but far worse, the citizens themselves. When people are fighting over how much money to steal from each other using the power of government, legitimate government functions, such as national defense, inevitably become shortchanged.

          Yes, there are some people on welfare with so much integrity they’re political Conservatives, but there are a lot more who vote Democratic to keep the flow of benefits coming. As it happens, I recently wrote an article on that subject, The Reality of the Tipping Point, and Its Consequences if you’re interested.

          • Americana

            Will read it now. Thanks for the link to your article.

        • Viet Vet

          A non sequitur. The comment wasn’t about taxes, but rather ‘redistribution of income’.
          Jefferson said…to paraphrase: to take from one man the fruits of his labor and give to another man is an abomination.
          There is basically no difference between stealing another man’s money or having a proxy do it for you.

          • Pete

            What did you expect from Americana. She is either not very bright or a troll.

          • Viet Vet

            She’s a marxist is what she is.

          • Americana

            I believe Thomas Jefferson was thinking of a scenario where if there was a poor man who was just barely making it, that to take/STEAL from that man to give to a wealthy man is an abomination. This is the taxation Jefferson saw in Great Britain and in European nations of his time. “Redistribution of income” extends far beyond the individual and also concerns how our various states depend on one another by drawing on national funding pools so we’ve got similar infrastructure throughout the nation.

            I would never suggest our taxation system hasn’t got flaws, but I would suggest that understanding the interrelationships of taxation makes one recognize a fair tax system will force the U.S. to reevaluate all our international commitments and our national interdependencies.

          • Viet Vet

            That is exactly NOT what Jefferson was thinking. Hisory is not about what YOU believe, it’s about what is. Besides that, your assertion is extremely childish and inane. Jefferson’s comment would apply to both men. IT IS WRONG TO TAKE THE FRUITS OF A MAN’S LABOR AND GIVE TO ANOTHER MAN. The Founders, and indeed the colonists did not believe in government sponsored charity. Charity was to come from the goodness of people’s hearts (spurred by religious teaching) or not at all. Up until FDR made accepting welfare fashionable, people were loath to take it. That that American feeling still exists today is illustrated by the disgust many people hold for government welfare, but not for philanthropy, public telethons or private donations.

            “Redistribution of income” extends far beyond the individual and also concerns how our various states depend on one another by drawing on national funding pools so we’ve got similar infrastructure throughout the nation.”

            That is pure gobblygook! Taxation is what you meant to be talking about here. Your point in this sentence has nothing at all to do with redistribution of income or wealth, or at least it shouldn’t. Our government has a constitutional right to tax, but it doesn’t have a right to tax citizens at different rates, notwithstanding that is what we presently have. Our present progressive tax system is wholly unconstitutional. To tax some people at a higher rate than other people, treats them as less of a citizen. People who make more money will necessarily be paying a higher tax at the same rate. To the extent you swerved into it, our present tax system is itself a wealth redistribution scheme. Jefferson and the boys wouldn’t have allowed it.

          • Americana

            If you consider what FDR did “welfare” then we’ve got nothing to discuss. What FDR did was a logical move to take given the situation and the U.S. and all the states benefited hugely from all the WPA projects that were undertaken. As for what Thomas Jefferson thought, he believed in progressive taxation although given the status of finances within the U.S. during its early years, there was no call for adopting a system of progressive taxation because our capital and financial system were still growing.

            I included a link to another law forum since there are so many opposing Jefferson’s viewpoint on that forum. The full text of the letter of Thomas Jefferson’s from which the fragment on progressive taxation was taken can be found on another link below that links to an American history site.
            ____________________________________________________

            http://www.law-forums.org/why-do-conservatives-reject-founding-father-thomas-jefferson-s-idea-of-progressive-taxation-t71911.html

            “The property of this country is absolutely concentred in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards… I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on.”

            –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, October 28,1785. ME 19:17, Papers 8:682

            Now, to put the above fragment in context, he’s speaking of France before the French Revolution. But read the full letter at the link below, because it’s quite enlightening.

            http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/jefferson-to-madison/

          • Viet Vet

            Jefferson was indeed negatively influenced somewhat while he was in europe/France. His lovelife there may have had something to do with it. However, in reading his and Madison’s correspondence, you can very much see that Madison was his own man, and wasn’t buying into it. While most of Jefferson’s ideas were sound, I have always been glad he wasn’t a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Jefferson’s jaded observations of conditions under a monarchy were poorly suited for the constitutonal republic the 55 more grounded delegates were creating. It is analogous to the gross misunderstanding Thomas Paine had of the French Revoluton. While the American Revolution was very much grounded in Christianity, the French Revolution was quite the opposite. This misreading caused Paine to pen ‘The Age of Reason’, which made him an outcast in the United States. He died a man without a country. Jefferson’s fate was considerably better. And after leaving France he seems to have become an American again. Going so far as to state that, “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of Patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” In the United States it wasn’t just the rich people who wanted nothing to do with welfare and unequal taxation, it was the whole citizenry. France and America have been more than an ocean apart since 1787. If you want to read something worthwhile, read Alexis de Tocqueville’s, ‘Democracy in America’.

          • Americana

            Ooops, that means that Thomas Jefferson really did recognize that inequities in taxation require that taxation be progressive taxation for the different economic tiers to face equitable taxation.

          • Viet Vet

            I doubt it very much. But it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things, because he didn’t draft the Constitution, and we know empirically we didn’t have a progressive tax system, or even and income tax until post communist manifesto, and leftism reared its ugly head in the 20th century.

          • Americana

            There are many reasons for the several revisions of the mechanisms of capitalism the U.S. has undergone, including a revision of our tax system to progressive tiers. NONE of the economic mechanisms that are required to hone capitalism and keep it running smoothly were fully foreseen by preceding generations of politicians and economists, that’s why we keep tinkering w/our systems of economic checks and balances. We started on one level of capitalism when we declared our independence and we subsequently broke all records for capital accrual. When there have been very onerous high-tax brackets, it’s been during war-time and those tax brackets have subsequently been dropped down again to far lesser rates. This idea that the Founding Fathers wouldn’t have seen the need for an income tax or progressive tax brackets because THEY DIDN’T NEED THEM FOR THEIR SIMPLE TIME doesn’t mean those men wouldn’t have looked at conditions today and seen the value in making that choice.

          • Viet Vet

            There had been economic depressions, referred to then as Panics, before the great depression of the 1930′s. But the U.S. weathered them without breaking the Constitution. Whether or not The WPA projects were good or not is beside the point. At least men were working for their welfare with the WPA (note that Odumbo has removed the work requirement from welfare). FDR, like Odumbo now, used the crisis to alter the American system. I don’t happen to think it was an accident that communist spies infiltrated his administration so easily. He and Eleanor referred affectionately to Stalin as Uncle Joe. The fact that the High Court was ruling his New Deal programs Unconstitutional speaks to the illegality of them. That’s what’s important. His response was to double down on unconstitutionality by trying to expand the Court to 12 or more justices, in order to get control of it. It was the first real politicizing of the justice system. A normal democrap strategy since.

          • Viet Vet

            Nor is it an accident that marxists, communists and maoists populate Odumbos administration.

        • Webb

          You mean a parasitic enough organism.

  • Alleged Comment

    This is how Demoncraps start wars. It’s an old trick of theirs. Goading it’s called.

    We need to get a law passed that prohibits liberals from running for public office. This should shut down the Demoncrap party as it is made up of liberals.

    The world and America has generally suffered under Demoncraps.

    • Viet Vet

      They are leftists. I abandoned ‘liberal’ years ago and began to call them what they really are: leftists, statists, marxists, communists, TOTALITARIANS.

  • Douglas Mayfield

    With respect, Viet Nam Vet, we were a republic when this country was founded.

    But then slowly and surely, and more recently at an ever accelerating pace, we have deteriorated into the mob rule of democracy in which freedom and individual rights are discarded in favor of the government taking care of us cradle to grave.

    This country can turn around but will only do so if Americans stop voting for politicians who, lacking the slightest integrity, run on the cheap shortsighted platform, ‘Something for Nothing’.

    And frankly the cowardly semi-socialist RINOs are just as guilty (George Bush, who started the bailouts which Obama continued, please stand up.) as the outright dealers in socialist poison, the Democrats.

    • Americana

      If there are a significant number of economic sectors in the U.S. that want health care costs to spiral and everyone is aware of those sectors but they allow the health care costs to spiral anyway, then why not recognize we can’t play the game w/knowing that’s a factor we’re permitting? We do get something when we have nationalized health care. We ensure that those workers who aren’t at the top of the economic tier will have access to reasonable health care. After all, we do need sanitation workers and bus drivers and sundry other categories of workers who don’t earn a wage that would cover health care.

      As for reducing our military, **IF** our military was maintained at the financial expense of all the other countries that benefit from its presence, FINE, continue to maintain it at a worldwide level. But, if its maintenance costs only redound to the U.S., then we cannot afford to maintain such worldwide forces. If you’re concerned about keeping costs within reason then there simply is no way to maintain this scale of international deployment. That’s something that was recognized decades ago and only changed when Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said we had to alter our defense footing to one of Rapid-Deployment Forces from a limited number of bases.

      • Pete

        Part of health care expense is from health care cost shifting. health care cost shifting cause donut holes and cost spirals that collapse the system. Big government proponents created the donut hole. Now they are here to rescue us. Riiiiiigggghhht!

        Another part of health care costs is all the illegal immigration. you cannot have a welfare state with substantial illegal immigration.

        Patents for drugs expire. They get made by other manufacturers In short they get cheaper.

        • Americana

          Sorry, our doughnut holes are self-made and it’s got very little to do w/the actual quality of the medical care received and much to do w/the sectors of the medical service pipeline which are receiving a percentage of each dollar spent on medical care. Some sectors are receiving an inordinately large percentage of each health care dollar while not actually serving to provide health care. Either you know enough about the subject to recognize where the BLACK HOLES are or you don’t. But the doughnut holes that exist now have been brought into existence because of our insurance system.

          I believe we can begin a program to charge the countries of illegal immigrants for whatever medical and social costs (education, welfare, etc.) they incur for medical care in the U.S. And, if the countries refuse to pay those charges then we reduce whatever U.S. aid we may be providing them until they do so or the American aid remains at a reduced level.
          _____________________________________________________

          http://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=7476

          It’s no wonder America’s health care system is in big trouble when what most people consider actual medical care is counted as a “loss” on the health insurance companies’ balance sheets.

          The publicly held health insurance companies control much of the health care dollar. They run on one premise: to protect the interests of their shareholders. Patients and employers, on the other hand, believe health insurance is to help pay for their health care when necessary. The patients pay ever-increasing premiums so they can see a doctor and receive health care. Unfortunately, health insurers can pad their profits by spending less of the premium dollar on health care.

          “While health plan profits soar, premiums keep increasing and patients continue to pay more out of pocket for their care,” declared Josie R. Williams, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association (TMA). “Health plans don’t tell us how they’re spending your premiums.

          “It’s disconcerting that insurance companies call the money they spend on our patients’ care the ‘medical loss ratio;’ isn’t that what the premium dollars are supposed to be for?” asked Dr. Williams. “Insurers call it that because they suffer a financial loss when they pay for a patient’s medical care.”

          Employers and employees are spending more money on health insurance each year but have no idea exactly where their health insurance premium dollars are going. Physicians believe health insurers must be more accountable and more transparent about how they spend patients’ premium dollars. Doctors believe health plans should clearly disclose how much of each premium dollar goes toward direct patient care.

          TMA is calling for a consistent reporting formula for the medical loss ratio. That way, employers and patients shopping for health insurance could easily compare the performance of their health plan with other plans. The formula would specify exactly what insurers could include as a medical cost, as opposed to profit or expenses for items such as marketing, administration, and recruitment. The easier it is for employers to shop for economical insurance, the more likely they are to offer it to their employees.

          Doctors believe this is more important than ever since health insurers have doubled the cost of premiums for employer-based insurance since 2000. The average cost for family health insurance coverage in America is now more than $12,600 annually. In addition to disclosing how premium dollars are spent, employers deserve to know how the premium was calculated to begin with.

          “Unless people ask, they’re not going to get the information,” said Austin obstetrician-gynecologist Albert T. Gros, MD, chair of TMA’s Council on Legislation. “And for those who do ask, it’s really an eye opener if you can get the information.”

          - See more at: http://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=7476#sthash.T1u3rVHv.dpuf

          • Pete

            Sorry when you do a web search AARP and other talking about the Medicare Part D donut hole.There is also the health care donut who in general by people using emergency rooms or Medicaid and the hospital pass the cost onto actual,working people.

            There is also a donut hole in education where the poor get assistance but the middle class get priced out

        • Americana

          What exactly does this post indicate about health care? A patient doesn’t know drugs and drug regimes as they relate to his/her illness without a doctor’s advice. A patient first needs to see a doctor to have drugs prescribed and, often then, has to have his drug use overseen by a doctor because of side effects. The drug’s side effects may require tests be done on a patient periodically to check for liver function and other such effects. The sheer cost of drugs is not the only factor in health care costs though the cost of drugs is most certainly an issue.

          • Pete

            “The sheer cost of drugs is not the only factor in health care costs”

            I never said it was.

            What i said was that when patents ran out, drug costs would come down and I thus implied that health care inflation would not be driven by drug costs.

            So since health care costs are driven by health care inflations which is drive by among other things expensive patented drugs, then drugs coming off patent en masse is germane.

            Go ahead argue otherwise.

            We all know you want to. You argue just to be arguing,.

          • Americana

            People w/potentially lethal diseases can’t wait until drug costs come down. Besides, drug costs are merely one aspect of the health care crisis. The most important cost is that the largest percentage of our medical dollars go toward insurance people in the insurance pipeline. The money we spend on health insurance doesn’t go toward our actual health care. It goes toward PREVENTIVE health care — the PREVENTION OF ALLOWING CARE PLANS to be approved and implemented.

            The concept behind our health care is based on a financial ploy that makes absolutely NO SENSE — paying a middle man (the insurance company) to oversee and interact w/your actual medical providers. Well, of course the insurance company has to be paid by someone and it’s paid by the person whom they insure. It’s an incredibly bassackward system and the fact it’s an anachronism is recognized by all.

          • Pete

            I can think of people with lethal disease who give themselves the disease. they can create need and want faster than I can provide for my family.

            A lot of diseases are self-inflicted from diabetes to HIV.

            “Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project recognizes running club for health related goals”

            “http://navajohopiobserver.com/main.asp?SectionID=74&SubSectionID=114&ArticleID=15298

            The Navajo Indians started cutting their diabetes rate when they started running clubs. They hold long distance races for their youth. They can tie it back to culture, so it has an added benefit. Now the ratio of people paying to those who need is more of a workable ration ( at least among the Navajo).

            Actually I have a lot of needs. I need one of those stand up desk with a tread mill. So you had better get out there and double the size of your hobby farm so you can pay taxes so I can have my need ( new fangled desk) met.

            Don’t argue. You paying for my new desk is cheaper than you paying for diabetes drugs for me. Those are expensive. it will be a 7 to 1 cost savings or better. I can get a masters or doctorate in public administration showing that there is a cost saving for you to get me (& others) a desk instead of all of us paying more for diabetes drugs through Obamacare.

          • Americana

            I didn’t say anything AT ALL about raising taxes. In fact, I believe you might even have agreed w/me about a couple of things I suggested about health care in an earlier post. I certainly wouldn’t disagree w/you that the most BASIC and most PRACTICAL forms of treatment like starting walking and running clubs shouldn’t be overlooked in diabetes treatment. Those activities can sometimes entirely reverse diabetes if there is still sufficient hormonal function. Those are decisions that are so straightforward and so sensible, there should be no doubt that’s the starting point for diabetes treatment. Shall we go on in this vein? (Excuse the punny funny.)

          • Pete

            “We do get something when we have nationalized health care” – Americana

            1. When you have nationalized health care you have to raise taxes.

            2. People, who get a subsidy, are getting money from other people. You can call it a tax, a transfer, wealth distribution, a premium increase on those more able, whatever … it is a tax.

            It is no different than underinsured or uninsured motorist part of a auto premium is a tax imposed on us by the irresponsible.

          • Pete

            I was shocked when my ancient aunt related a wealth of information about a particular disease. She had been trained as a seamstress.

            Point is people without medical backgrounds learn a lot about diseases that concern them and do know quite a bit about drugs and their effectiveness.

            We should not dress doctors up in vestments.

      • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

        Ah, the socialist reveals himself! Of course we can afford the military we had during the 1990′s – we could afford the military of the 1960′s, if we wanted. Defense is now down to about 20% of the federal budget – and it’s the primary reason for having a federal government in the first place!

        What we cannot afford is endless welfare spending – it is the reason for continued deficits. Democratic politicians borrow money to buy votes for themselves, using the money of productive citizens such as myself. Nationalized health care is a monstrous evil – it’s a disaster everywhere, as it should be. We don’t need it here, or the levels of spending that go with it. It’s not the proper function of the government to steal money from me at gunpoint and use it to buy health care for someone else; in short, it’s not my responsibility to pay for your health care. In a free market, every productive person will be able to afford health care (it’s government that has been driving up the costs) and everyone else will have to rely on private charity, such as Catholic hospitals – if your side hasn’t forced them out of business yet because they refuse to provide abortions.

        • Americana

          “Endless welfare spending” is what we had when we had a bloated military. “Endless welfare spending” is what we have when we have a military where people only have to put in 20-30 years and then they’re set for life. There’s a reason why everyone is now increasing the age at which someone can retire at full benefits and this should be true for the military as well. Even if we don’t want to have older service men and women in combat roles, we could have them reassigned to other services within the services.

          As for evaluating those drivers of health care costs, you must not know very many insurance folks? We’ve got BILLIONAIRE former CEOs of insurance companies living nearby. They’re not billionaires because they didn’t figure out ways to increase the profit margin for their health insurance sector. There are many things we could do to make a health insurance more rational and affordable than it is at present, but because it’s a big business sector for our economy, that’s unlikely to happen. in the meantime, keep on thinking that your health care insurance is designed to keep you in the peak of health at the lowest possible cost.

          • Pete

            “”Endless welfare spending” is what we have when we have a military where people only have to put in 20-30 years and then they’re set for life.”

            You retire at age 38 after 20 years as an enlisted service member, you are not set. You are going to have to go back to work.

            Funny how you take service members to task first and foremost before people on welfare. Telling really.

          • Viet Vet

            “Telling really.”
            Exactly. In her world (the world of leftism), welfare queens are numero uno, and military folk are scum. Welfare and Taxes is where leftism lives.

          • Americana

            Nope. I take for granted that people on welfare are failing to be productive. But the subject of this op-ed is that the military is shrinking and I’m suggesting there are multiple reasons why shrinkage is a good idea. If you’re going to take a stab at guessing what my thinking is, it’s best to hit on the correct reasoning behind my mention of servicemen having limited careers and long retirements.

            There are several job categories that are found all around this country where people put in a 20-30 year career and then they can retire. That includes policemen, firemen, and servicemen, etc. Anyone retiring early, whatever your job, will be a drain on the financing of those services (whether a public job or a private company) over the course of their life. So, I’d rethink your whole “it’s very telling” statement since I’m following in the footsteps of the GAO and others. I find it “very telling” myself that you’d assume such a stupid rationale instead of a more sophisticated cost-benefit analysis. Your “very telling” statement says you don’t really know all that much about the subject.
            ____________________________________________________

            http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GAOREPORTS-NSIAD-97-17/html/GAOREPORTS-NSIAD-97-17.htm

            Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed selected aspects of the military retirement system, focusing on: (1) military retirement costs; (2) the role of military retirement in shaping and managing U.S. forces; and (3) proposed changes to modernize the system and contribute
            to more efficient force management.

            GAO found that: (1) payments from the miliary retirement fund to military retirees and their survivors have been rising over several decades as both the number of military retirees and the average payment to individual retirees have increased; (2) these payments are expected to peak at slightly more than $30 billion, in 2007; (3) DOD annual
            budgetary costs have declined because of lower benefits for new entrants, changes in economic and actuarial assumptions to reflect experience, and recent decreases in force size; (4) the military retirement system provides an increasing incentive for service members to stay in the military as they approach 20 years of service and
            encourages them to leave thereafter, helping DOD to retain mid career personnel and yielding a relatively young force; (5) the system can also impede effective force management because military personnel with less
            than 20 years of service are not entitled to any retirement benefits; (6) the services have been reluctant to involuntarily separate personnel with less than 20 years of service, beyond a certain point, due to financial consequences for service members and their families and the resulting impact on morale; (7) some analysts belive the military retirement system is an obstacle to achieving a force of the right size and composition because the system provides the same career length incentive for all categories of personnel; (8) proposals to change the military retirement system range from modifications of various features
            of the current system to more fundamental changes to the retirement system; and (9) earlier vesting of at least a portion of military retirement benefits is a common feature of proposed changes.

          • Pete

            I have seen generals propose changes to military retirement. They are taking the same tack as many corporations. Basically it is to make the retirement a 401K. Anybody with less than 20 who is separated hasn’t lost any retirement with such a system. The military retirement would work the same as how civilian retirement. The only exception would be service connected disabilities.

            I was right when I said an E6 or an E7 is not set for life at age 38 when they leave the military after 20. But you are not in the military.

            Shamefully some on congress tried to make trade the current military retirement for Social Security.

            BTW what was your highest level of education achievement?

          • Viet Vet

            Retirement was never meant to be a full ride. That it has become that, is the reason ages for retirement have to be increased in order to keep it viable.
            We haven’t had a bloated military since WWII. I think your mind is sectored.
            In a free country, benefits and luxuries such as healthcare, cars, boats and houses are available for those who can afford them.

          • http://twitter.com/Libertius_III Bill Ritzmann

            While retirement at full compensation is probably excessive, your basic point is not lost.

            I know a guy (may he rest in peace) who spent two tours strapping himself into an A-1 and getting shot at. After 20 years, he wasn’t really set for life but he did use the GI Bill to get a degree and spend another 20 years in a professional career. I don’t think he received much more than he gave.

            Defense is a legitimate function of the federal government. Welfare is not.

        • Viet Vet

          Defense spending is about 4.5% of GDP. I think 4% is about as low as its ever been in our history. Karter and Klinton decimated the military, and of course Odumbo wants to do and is doing the same. Meanwhile he is purging the military of officers who will not agree to fire on American citizens if ordered.

          • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

            Yes, and you raise an important point: a standing army is not dangerous to liberty if it will refuse to fire on on a large-scale revolt of American citizens. Without the army behind him, a President could be ousted if necessary by a relatively small force of armed citizens. A large force of citizens could defeat the regular U.S. Army today (at only 10 divisions), but no one could want it to come to that. I would favor secession, because I think that could be done without violence, but as a last resort, the people must have the armed might to overthrow their government.

      • Pete

        “In other words, Obama merely took to arms after the threat of another massive foreign humiliation became all too real and when the reality that the Kurdish defense was about to fall. Of course, the actual stated reason for intervention was different, a far more noble one.”

        http://www.zerohedge.com/print/492693

        • Americana

          Am I supposed to follow thie 180º change of subject? OK. Pres. Obama may well have felt compelled to defend 30,000 to 40,000 Yazidis who are on a mountain top without food and water while awaiting an ISIS onslaught. It’s hardly likely though that this action to protect the Yazidi mountain refuge was taken to salvage Pres. Obama’s reputation as a War President. American Presidents don’t decide to do these sorts of military ventures out of emotional fury. They have to sell their opinion to other members of their administration before any military action is taken.

          If you think I’m just defending Pres. Obama because he’s Pres. Obama, I don’t believe the story that was bruited about of Pres. Bush selling the Iraq War because he wanted to avenge himself against Saddam Hussein for Hussein’s attempt on his father’s life while Pres. George H.W. Bush was President.

          • Pete

            That was in reply to”

            “As for reducing our military, **IF** our military was maintained at the financial expense of all the other countries that benefit from its presence, FINE, continue to maintain it at a worldwide level. ”

            It is a quick hit. I have problems with people like Obama or Harry Truman that take tax receipts subtract for social programs and then give the crumbs to the military. This is what Truman did and this is what Obama is trying to do.

            … and Obama got bi@tch slapped by reality.

            You can complain all you want about allies. They do a lot wrong such as violating the NATO treaty every budget year, but I don’t see Obama on the bully pulpit about it day in and day out. The Japanese BTW fund a significant proportion of our bases in Japan. They pay the salaries the Japanese civilians that are part of the bases there. So there are very few American government civilians.

          • Pete

            Obama was embarrassed into defending the Yazidis as Mr Daniel Green showed.

            Obama’s stand on genocide is stupid and contradictory … well like Obama.

          • Americana

            Believe what you want. There’s no way an American President makes such choices on the basis of humiliation. That was a logical attack and it achieved MULTIPLE GOALS that supported the Yazidis as well as the various armies and militias facing these Islamic jihadis of ISIS.

          • Pete

            Senator John McCain is generally useless and clueless, but not completely stupid.

            He described the airstrikes as pinpricks.

            and yes Presidents can make choices based on humiliation. they are people. They do not want to see their poll numbers drop. If your poll numbers are low and stay low you lose real power.

            I think you are channeling your inner Phyllis Bennis. Separated at birth your were.

          • Americana

            No, Presidents don’t make those kinds of decisions for selfish personal reasons. They make them for STRATEGIC REASONS. So what if those airstrikes were strategic pinpricks? They served a very direct purpose and they achieved that purpose. They not only relieved some of the pressure on Kirkuk while giving some time for the French to arm the Kurds, the strikes also cleared a way to freedom for the trapped Yazidis. I’d say not too bad for “pinpricks.”

            Why on earth would Pres. Obama need to boost his poll numbers? This is the end of his second and last term in office. What happens, happens. He doesn’t need to worry any more about maintaining his political status viz his electorate. His game now must be continuing to focus on securing his aims through the U.S. Congress. If the U.S. wants to commit to a larger presence in this new phase of the continuing Middle East conflict, that will be a choice the President will have to pose to Congress.

          • Pete

            I doubt Obama could name the 3 levels of control. Obama does not have a strategic bone in his body outside of political campaigns and machine politics.

            ***

            Yup, it sure looks like France is impressed with Obama’s leadership or lack of it.

            “France, in consultation with its EU partners, is looking at supplying arms to Iraq’s Kurds to fight against Islamic State jihadists, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday.”

            https://uk.news.yahoo.com/france-looking-supplying-iraqi-kurds-arms-fm-200607589.html#dCKQ6D8

            “CENTCOM videos show airstrikes on Islamic State artillery, convoy”

            Hint to the journalist read the comments.

            http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2014/08/centcom_videos_shows_airstrike.php#comments

          • Pete

            “First Western Reporter Sees Widespread Death Among Trapped Iraqi Yazidis. Is Told That 70 Per Cent Are Dead Or Will Be Dead. U.S. Aid Has Been ‘Useless’”

            I don’t believe the bit about no parachutes. But what I see is that Obama is slowing this genocide down. It is in slo-mo, but it is still happening. He is conducting the aid drops so he does not look bad.

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11024037/Iraq-crisis-It-is-death-valley.-Up-to-70-per-cent-of-them-are-dead.html

            http://warnewsupdates.blogspot.com/2014/08/first-western-reporter-sees-widespread.html

          • Pete

            Keep on nitpicking here. Obviously, telling others that they are wrong is not the ticket. You must tell us here that we are FUBAR.

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11024037/Iraq-crisis-It-is-death-valley.-Up-to-70-per-cent-of-them-are-dead.html

            You did not get U’s on your GCSE did you?

          • Pete

            Richard Fernandez is a great pundit. You should read him.

            “Note that the U.S. airstrikes making the headlines are in almost direct defense of Kirkuk. The strikes are far too few and far too localized to affect the overall situation.”

            http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2014/08/09/minority-report/

          • Pete

            Refugees said the American air strikes on IS positions outside Erbil were too little, too late. They said they felt abandoned by everyone – the central government in Baghdad, the Americans

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11024037/Iraq-crisis-It-is-death-valley.-Up-to-70-per-cent-of-them-are-dead.html

  • Docs357

    They should practice by cutting their own throats there are in office to fill there own pockets they could care less who suffers

  • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

    Thornton is right on the money here. The conclusion is that the Welfare State sows the seeds of its own destruction, and for a Republic to survive, government must stay out of the charity business and income redistribution must be prohibited.

    • Viet Vet

      Absoutely! To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson: to take from one man the fruits of his labor and give to another man is an abomination.

      • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

        :)

      • Americana

        I think you’d best read the above post w/a link to the full text of the letter where Thomas Jefferson wrote about progressive taxation.

        • Viet Vet

          Yeah, turns out it had nothing to do with income.

          • Americana

            Might have had nothing to do w/income, but everything to do w/unjust taxation that robbed the POOREST MEN to MAINTAIN the RICHEST MEN at the highest living standard. Jefferson most certainly was saying progressive taxation was a way to prevent the poorest from having their life’s bread taken in taxes. Even someone who doesn’t believe in welfare should understand that minimum wage workers should be allowed to keep more of their earnings for the basic necessitates.

          • Viet Vet

            Again you’re talking about income tax. We’re talking about redistribution of income through confiscatory tax policy. As I said, that is unconstitutional, as it violates the equal protection clause. An income tax was created via amendment, but in order to be constitutional every citizen has to be taxed equally. Marxist theory thinks that taxing higher wage earners at a higher rate somehow helps minimum wage earners. It doesn’t, it just punishes success. And in the marxists view, that’s all it is intended to do. Even if YOU argue that taxing the H out of successful people helps fund all the (illegal) socialism, infrastructure, national defense, etc., you’re still pi**ing into the wind, because we know empirically that higher taxes inhibits economic activity. We know empirically that lower taxes stimulates economic activity. We know empirically that lower taxes increases revenues to the federal treasury. We know empirically that lower taxes keep American businesses in America. Jefferson was talking about estate tax. He was wrong, but was under the influence of wine and his loins. And Madison knew it. And you are disingenuous to say the least.

  • FrankLivingston

    Our Constitution says three things about the responsibility of
    the federal government for our national defense. First, “provide for the common defense”
    is our national government’s top priority; second, our national defense is the
    only mandatory function of the national government; finally, national defense
    is exclusively the function of the national government. However, what happens
    when local, county and state politicians ignore their oath of office and the
    Constitution, especially the preamble and Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 which
    requires us to “provide for common defense” of this nation? Isn’t it our local,
    county and state politicians to remind our House, Senate and president of their
    constitutional responsibility to “provide for common defense” as
    opposed to spending on welfare, Obamaphones and other unconstitutional
    agencies, departments, programs, united nations and other foreign aid issues?

    • Viet Vet

      Appropriations for national defense is constitutional, appropriations for welfare, especially specific welfare, is wholly unconstitutional.

      • Americana

        That’s a very strange concept of what’s “constitutional” and what’s not…

        • Viet Vet

          Take it up with Madison and the boys, it is what it is.

  • johnnywood

    You just cannot fix “stupid”.

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    Go to the Root Cause…DOD refuses to maintain itself at a sustainable level in line with the constitution & the wishes of the American people. We are NOT the world’s policemen & should only have a military force big enough to respond to direct threats against our National Security. Overseas bases are draining our vital resources, with the blame going to veterans/retirees healthcare…rubbish. What we should strive for, should be to transform the National Guard into a state Militia. This move would solve a lot of society’s ills by requiring STATE militia service for everyone 16-60 & would provide a real people’s Army in the event our shores are invaded, as they are now being at the Southern border…

  • Andrew

    Well that is the question. Just how many many are to be sacrificed when the world does go boom? So the Proles can enjoy their “entitlements” right up until its too late.

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  • http://twitter.com/Libertius_III Bill Ritzmann

    Our “global responsibilities” should be limited to fair trade with our partners.

  • Viet Vet

    What a dumbass comment, a communist blew JFK’s brains all over Dallas and they’ve been running this country ever since, or at least since 1968.

  • UCSPanther

    Your attacks remind me of someone throwing feces at the wall in hope that something will stick.

  • Viet Vet

    All Islamofascist terrorists say that. Israel only wishes it could be left alone to fight its own war.

  • Alleged Comment

    Why do you think they are winning? So shut-up and mind your own business.

  • Webb

    Too bad addie, G-d is a man of war and he fights for Israel. That leaves you fukked up the bunghole.

  • UCSPanther

    Back to the gutter, maggot.

  • Americana

    Israel may not want American troops on the ground within Israel or the surrounding Palestinian areas but that’s where the desire to fight their own wars stops. Even that will very likely change if ISIS makes more significant territorial gains. We are the big ticket moneybag that helps pay for Israel’s tanks and warplanes and nuclear weapons. Why is it the U.S. Congress just appropriated another $225 MILLION of AMERICAN $$$ to pay for refurbishment of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system if Israel wants to fight all on her own? Why is it the U.S. maintains a huge ammunition depot for Israel that we provide GRATIS for Israel’s use if Israel wants to fight all on her own?

  • Pete

    We get a much better ally and deal with Israel than with Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

    “‘Since 1974, Israel has received nearly $100 billion in assistance, including three special aid packages. The first followed the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai. The redeployment of Israeli forces and rebuilding of air bases in the Negev cost $5 billion. To partially compensate for this sacrifice, Israel received $3 billion ($2.2 billion of which was in the form of high-interest loans) in U.S. aid in 1979.”

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/foreign_aid.html

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/U.S._Assistance_to_Israel1.html

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/09/us-israel-usa-defence-idUSBREA4807A20140509

  • Webb

    Because Israel is G-d’s inheritance and he will cut in pieces anyone who messes with Jerusalem, like you’re doing.

  • Bastiat

    Israel has also stolen weapons grade uranium from the U.S. to use for its nuclear weapons program.

    http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/06/27/obamas-numec-nuclear-diversion-cover-up/

  • Americana

    I don’t buy any of the hellfire and damnation stuff over Jerusalem, Webb.

  • Viet Vet

    Yeah, I don’t mind the U.S. helping to fund Israel, they are an ally and the only democracy in the Middle East, but the democraps, especially this administration, fund the terrorists at even higher levels. No high interest loans there, they just hand it over by the fist full. Armament too.

  • Viet Vet

    She’s a les.

  • Pete

    I found resources/data because Americana is hot to trot on this one.

    Some of this aid could be considered corporate welfare. It is not strictly for Israel’s benefit. There is nothing wrong with a two-fer. But I would like to point out this.

    First, if the Israelis did not have to buy American maybe they could get the same thing and it would be less expensive. So the amount of aid would go down. If it went down enough maybe the Israelis could see a path out (from aid).

    Second, the Israelis have been the recipients of boycotts trade embargoes since 1948, which have only got worse over time. Since an economic war is being waged against Israel, they might need aid. It is in our interest not see an ally go down.

  • Americana

    You might also have spies and do such if you were in Israel’s position. It’s not admirable but it’s understandable.