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Old 03-09-2008, 06:04 PM   #1
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$12 Billion a month, Pocket Change

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080309/...iraq_war_costs
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Old 03-09-2008, 07:10 PM   #2
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Re: $12 Billion a month, Pocket Change

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Originally posted by Infinitum98
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080309/...iraq_war_costs
Maybe not pocket change, but as a percentage of GDP, it is relatively small compared to past US spending on defense. During the peacetime of the 1980s, the United States was spending 6% of GDP on defense. Today, with wars in both Afganistan and Iraq, the United States is spending 4.5% of annual GDP on defense. Defense spending with no wars in 2000 was 3% of GDP, so the burden to the country is only 50% higher than it was in 2000 when there was no war, and defense spending as a percentage of GDP, in 2000, had reached its lowest level since the 1930s. Defense spending during the Cold War, 46 years, averaged about 8% of GDP.

Even if you took the largest estimate of spending for the Iraq war through 2017, the average per year of spending on defense and the wars would still come out to not more than 6% of GDP, equal to or less than what Reagan spent on defense in the 1980s.

Simply comparing inflation adjusted dollar estimates of other wars does not accurately reflect the national investment and burden on the country in both periods. Doing so suggest that all the United States would have to do to have a military as large as it had in World War II would be to simply double current spending which adjusted for inflation would technically be equal to World War II cost. But, this would not even come close to paying for a 16 million man military or the equipment levels seen during World War II. Doubling spending would bring the total as percentage of GDP to 9%, well below World War II levels of spending which were almost 40% of GDP.

In addition, the report does not attempt to adjust the cost for other wars by adding the same additional cost for veterans care, interest cost, etc. that it adds to the cost for the current war.
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:06 PM   #3
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[q] The GDP argument exasperates defense budget expert Christopher Hellman. To say that defense spending as a percent of GDP is historically low “is accurate, but it is also misleading,” said Hellman, who heads the Project on Military Spending Oversight. It is equally accurate to say that the proposed 2008 defense budget, minus war funds, “is more than 25 percent above the Cold War average — and this for a military one-third smaller than it was in 1990,” he said.

The Pentagon is hardly starving. “Since Sept. 11, 2001, annual defense spending — not including funding for Iraq and Afghanistan — has grown by $120 million, an increase of 34 percent,” Hellman said. The only reason the percentage of GDP is smaller is because the U.S. economy has grown even faster — 44 percent over the same period, he said.

To cite the “historically low percentage of GDP” argument as reason to further increase defense spending “is a specious argument, Hellman said. “It’s like your landlord saying that since you got a pay raise, your rent should increase.” The GDP number describes the value of the U.S. economy. It tells nothing about how much the military needs to spend, he said.

“What happens if GDP decreases?” as it might during a major recession. “Would the military then support a parallel reduction in its budget? I think not,” Hellman said.

The defense budget’s percentage of GDP best serves as a measure of the burden military spending is placing on the U.S. economy, said Baker Spring, a defense analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. At 4.4 percent — the proposed level of defense spending when war costs are included — defense spending can hardly be said to be an economic burden, he said. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid consume 8.7 percent of GDP, nearly twice defense’s share, he said.

The U.S. economy could easily handle spending 5 percent of GDP on defense, “but I’m not saying we need that much,” Spring said. “Heritage is the most pro-defense think tank in town, and our benchmark is 4 percent” in peacetime, he said. It is the portion of GDP devoted to entitlements, not defense, that is a matter of concern, Spring said. With baby boomers nearing retirement age, the U.S. will be “trying to swim upstream against a demographic tidal wave” if it attempts to provide the full Social Security and medical benefits long promised. “It will bankrupt this country,” he said.

But if Congress tries to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, the handful of generals and admirals complaining about their paltry share of the GDP will be overpowered by the cries of 79 million baby boomers. AFJ

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/03/2545232

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Old 03-09-2008, 10:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
[q] The GDP argument exasperates defense budget expert Christopher Hellman. To say that defense spending as a percent of GDP is historically low “is accurate, but it is also misleading,” said Hellman, who heads the Project on Military Spending Oversight. It is equally accurate to say that the proposed 2008 defense budget, minus war funds, “is more than 25 percent above the Cold War average — and this for a military one-third smaller than it was in 1990,” he said.

The Pentagon is hardly starving. “Since Sept. 11, 2001, annual defense spending — not including funding for Iraq and Afghanistan — has grown by $120 million, an increase of 34 percent,” Hellman said. The only reason the percentage of GDP is smaller is because the U.S. economy has grown even faster — 44 percent over the same period, he said.

To cite the “historically low percentage of GDP” argument as reason to further increase defense spending “is a specious argument, Hellman said. “It’s like your landlord saying that since you got a pay raise, your rent should increase.” The GDP number describes the value of the U.S. economy. It tells nothing about how much the military needs to spend, he said.

“What happens if GDP decreases?” as it might during a major recession. “Would the military then support a parallel reduction in its budget? I think not,” Hellman said.

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/03/2545232

[/q]

Christopher Hellman forgets that simply adjusting for inflation and comparing the sums of spending between different time periods is not an accurate way to show whether the military is receiving what it needs today. Again, if you went by Christopher Hellman's measure, the United States today is making 50% of the effort that it made in World War II when the United States had a military of 16 million troops as well as hundreds of thousands of tanks, aircraft, ships, and other equipment far in excess of anything today. If the United States simply doubled its defense spending, you may have the equivalent of what we spent during World War II in inflation adjusted dollars, but you certainly would not have anywhere near the same size military in numbers of troops or equipment.

But most importantly, it does not reflect the actual burden to the United States. The only accurate way to show the burden of defense spending on the country is to compare the level of spending to GDP. Christopher Hellman in fact does not dispute that, his arguement is that it does not tell how much you actually need to spend.

I challenge Christopher Hellman, yourself, or anyone else to name any weapon system, training, pay, or other part of the military budget you think you could justify cutting from the military budget this year independent of funding for the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Another way to look at it, although not as accurate as using GDP, is what percentage of the annual federal budget is for defense spending. Over the past 7 years, defense spending has fluctuated between 17% and 19% of the annual federal budget. In World War II, defense spending reached 90% of the annual federal budget. In Vietnam it was 50%. When Reagan was president it was 28%.
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Old 03-09-2008, 10:44 PM   #5
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You cannot even begin to tell me that the current war and World War II are comparable. That we're spending significantly less than we were in WWII does not make the amount we're spending just a-ok.

But as you've clearly indicated, you're the expert here.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:02 PM   #6
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the cycle starts again.

we find out that looking at GDP is a useless way to gauge military spending.

but then we are told, no, it is the best way to gauge military spending.



obfuscate, obfuscate, obfuscate.
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Old 03-10-2008, 08:34 AM   #7
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The war has nothing to do with the economy. Too many houses. I'd like to live in one of those, they must be palatial.
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Diemen
You cannot even begin to tell me that the current war and World War II are comparable. That we're spending significantly less than we were in WWII does not make the amount we're spending just a-ok.

But as you've clearly indicated, you're the expert here.
The comparison was only made to emphasize that simply comparing inflation adjusted dollar amounts of defense spending between years is not an accurate way to compare to compare defense spending especially when your talking about its burden to the country.

The United States spent an average of 6% of GDP during the peacetime of the 1980s. Today with two wars being fought, the United States is only spending 4.5% of GDP. As a percentage of GDP, the wealth of the country, were spending significantly less than we did in the 1980s.
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
the cycle starts again.

we find out that looking at GDP is a useless way to gauge military spending.

but then we are told, no, it is the best way to gauge military spending.



obfuscate, obfuscate, obfuscate.
In the article you posted, Christopher Hellman, does not dispute the fact that when looking at the burden to the country, defense spending as a percentage of GDP is the best way to do that. His only point is that it does not explain the need for that level of spending, but thats not what this thread is really about.

Another, but less accurate way is to compare the portion of the annual federal budget that Defense Spending takes up. Again, today the United States spends between 17% and 19% of the annual federal budget on defense. In World War II it spent 90%. In Vietnam the figure was 50%. During the 1980s under Reagan it was 28%. In the 1990s under Clinton it was 16%.

If you know a better way to gauge military spendings burden on the United States versus other time periods, please show us.
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Strongbow
If you know a better way to gauge military spendings burden on the United States versus other time periods, please show us.


the best way to gauge military spend in is inflation-adjusted raw dollars. comparisons to WW2 are silly, as would be comparisons to the Civil War.

what's far more relevant is the fact that the US makes up about 50% of worldwide military spending, distantly followed by the UK, France, and Japan. global spending has declined since the end of the cold war as well, yet the US has not followed this trend as it's spending has gone up in inflation adjusted raw dollars since current spending is very, very near Cold War levels.

but you're right, these numbers don't tell us how the money should be spent, or would be better spent. but take into account that the UN spends a total of $20bn. the cost of funding of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009 alone is $170bn. and you're ignoring the fact that the $440bn is foisted on US taxpayers, not the US economy. why should we pay in the neighborhood of $3 trillion for a war that the vast majority think was a mistake and predicated upon lies?

are you going to argue that, should the US economy shrink, the military budget should shrink correspondingly? should we just spend on the military a certain percentage of GDP, no matter what GDP actually is at the time?

you see the fallacy of trying to make these broad, self-serving historical comparisons. if anything, increasing the US budget probably inspires the same behavior in China, Russia, and India, which then inspires likewise behavior in, say, Taiwan and Pakistan.
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Old 03-10-2008, 03:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511




the best way to gauge military spend in is inflation-adjusted raw dollars. comparisons to WW2 are silly, as would be comparisons to the Civil War.

Just comparing inflation adjusted dollars does not tell you about the burden to the US economy or the US tax payer. The only way to do that is to compare it to GDP(the total wealth of the country) or the annual federal budget(US tax revenues going to the government). How much the government brings in in tax revenue is partly dependent on the overall size of the economy. The two are not seperate.

Again, how does simply comparing inflation adjusted dollar sums tell you how much of a burden it is to the United States economy or tax payer? It doesn't really tell you anything in that regard, because in order to know how much of a burden it is, you have to be able to compare the totals to wealth. You can't measure how much of a burden a certain level of spending is to an individual unless you know how much money they have relative to that spending.



Quote:
are you going to argue that, should the US economy shrink, the military budget should shrink correspondingly? should we just spend on the military a certain percentage of GDP, no matter what GDP actually is at the time?
I think this clearly shows that your mis-understanding the whole point. If the US economy shrinks, and US military spending remains the same or rises, then what I would say is that the burden to the United States in terms of defense spending has become greater. The point here is measuring the burden to the United States under any circumstances and whether the United States is able to continue to pay such a level of defense spending.

What the United States needs to spend is a different issue from what impact a certain level of spending has on the United States and whether that level of spending can be sustained over a certain time period.


Finally, even if you compared inflationed adjusted dollars in defense spending today, to the Vietnam war, todays spending would still not buy you the same number of troops, tanks, ships, and other types of equipment needed to carry out the nations missions. It would be accurate to compare it to the 1990s, but go further back than that, it gets less and less accurate.
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Old 03-10-2008, 03:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Strongbow
I think this clearly shows that your mis-understanding the whole point.
No, he hasn't. He's got the point perfectly, and he's run rings around you in arguing it.

Quote:
Originally posted by Strongbow
If the US economy shrinks, and US military spending remains the same or rises, then what I would say is that the burden to the United States in terms of defense spending has become greater. The point here is measuring the burden to the United States under any circumstances and whether the United States is able to continue to pay such a level of defense spending.


You've said it yourself. If the economy shrinks - and most analysts believe that we are heading into a recession - then what looks now to be quite a moderate % may turn out to look quite a large one after several quarters of negative real GDP growth.
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:15 PM   #13
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repetition is not argumentation. the "burden" on a country has as much to do with shifting percentages of spending on things like, say, medicare and social security on an aging population. 5% in 1960 vs 5% in 2010 are going to exact a very different toll on a population relative to what else it chooses to spend it's money on. we don't spend the same % of GDP on social security than we did 30 years ago, nor will we spend the same 30 years hence. needs change. the 50% of GDP is entirely appropriate to WW2, and it seems, when taken in raw dollars and given the cost-benefit of the adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and the long-term costs of establishing a sucking, bloody, hate-inspiring American Empire in Mesopotamia and given what the rest of the world is spending, that 5% of GDP is actually far too high.
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
repetition is not argumentation. the "burden" on a country has as much to do with shifting percentages of spending on things like, say, medicare and social security on an aging population. 5% in 1960 vs 5% in 2010 are going to exact a very different toll on a population relative to what else it chooses to spend it's money on. we don't spend the same % of GDP on social security than we did 30 years ago, nor will we spend the same 30 years hence. needs change. the 50% of GDP is entirely appropriate to WW2, and it seems, when taken in raw dollars and given the cost-benefit of the adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and the long-term costs of establishing a sucking, bloody, hate-inspiring American Empire in Mesopotamia and given what the rest of the world is spending, that 5% of GDP is actually far too high.

Well, in the case of your past post you were repeating the same things that do not even address what is actually being discussed.

National Security trumps every other spending issue in the United States. Fail to protect US security, foreign or domestic, and you risk being unable to provide for social security, medicare etc. The United States ability to spend money on anything is compromised when you don't protect the global economy or the planets access to key natural resources which heavily impacts the global economy and the United States. This in turn impacts the United States ability to pay for domestic programs like social security and medicare.

Ever since World War II, the United States become much more active and engaged around the world and intervened more often with military force, in order to prevent a 3rd World War or a much greater crises than the one actually being faced. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan easily win any cost benefit analysis when one looks at the vast cost and risk of NOT intervening in either country.

Again, I challenge you to name something specifically that you would cut from the US defense budget independent of the current US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan?
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:46 PM   #15
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Originally posted by Irvine511





what's far more relevant is the fact that the US makes up about 50% of worldwide military spending, distantly followed by the UK, France, and Japan. global spending has declined since the end of the cold war as well, yet the US has not followed this trend as it's spending has gone up in inflation adjusted raw dollars since current spending is very, very near Cold War levels.

The United States is in the middle of two longterm shooting or hot wars. Most of the rest of the world is not. In addition, its not accurate to simply compare inflation adjusted dollar amounts to other time periods since todays spending even adjusted for inflation would not buy nearly the amount of troops and equipment seen in many of the earlier time periods of the Cold War.

But more importantly, US defense spending relative to other countries tells you nothing about how much of a burden it is to the United States or far how long the United States would be able to sustain the level of spending. So its essentially irrelevant for the point being discussed in this thread.

The United States is nearly 30% of the global economy and continues to protect global security interest around the world. Defense spending has fallen since the Cold War primarily because of reductions in Europe and the former Soviet Union. In other regions of the world such as East Asia and the Middle East, spending levels continue to be high. Decreases in defense spending in Europe since the early 1990s has simply meant that Europe especially non-US NATO is less capable in responding to crises around the world. It is something many in NATO have recognized and are struggling, without much success, to fix.



Quote:
but you're right, these numbers don't tell us how the money should be spent, or would be better spent. but take into account that the UN spends a total of $20bn. the cost of funding of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009 alone is $170bn. and you're ignoring the fact that the $440bn is foisted on US taxpayers, not the US economy. why should we pay in the neighborhood of $3 trillion for a war that the vast majority think was a mistake and predicated upon lies?
Again, the point is how much of a burden current spending is to the United States and whether it can be sustained.

Its inaccurate to simply to take random spending figures for different situations and organizations and compare them. Comparing apples and oranges indeed. More than half of US defense spending goes to paying and training the troops.

Well, according to the latest gallup, the percentage who think the Iraq war was a mistake is 57% compared to 40% who do not think it was a mistake. Over 50% did NOT think it was a mistake until the end of 2005. More importantly, the war the United States is fighting today in Iraq is not the same war it was fighting in March and April of 2003.

Any one attempting to accurately judge whether the United States should remain in Iraq beyond 2009 must do so based on TODAY's realities and security needs in Iraq and the region, NOT on the debates from 2002-2003. The same can be said of Afghanistan. Its not 2001, its 2008, and US policy there must be based on today's needs.


Quote:
you see the fallacy of trying to make these broad, self-serving historical comparisons. if anything, increasing the US budget probably inspires the same behavior in China, Russia, and India, which then inspires likewise behavior in, say, Taiwan and Pakistan.
Showing US defense spending as a percentage of GDP or the federal budget is the only accurate way to tell how much of a burden any years defense spending is to the United States. The historical comparisons demontrate that as recently as the 1980s, US defense spending was a larger burden to the United States than it is today, despite the fact that the United States was not at war in the 1980s, but today is involved in two major wars.

China, Russia, India, Taiwan and Pakistan all have spending levels based on what they feel they need and what they can afford and sustain over time. The United States focus in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past 7 years has not caused China to reduce its defense spending despite a lower US presence in the Pacific, Korea and Japan. China's defense spending over the past 7 years has accelerated and is actually the 2nd highest in the world once you adjust for purchasing power parity and the items that China never includes in its annual defense budget.
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