Using cross-national fixed effects models covering 25 EU countries from 1995 to 2010, we quantified fiscal multipliers both before and during the recession that began in 2008.
We found that the multiplier for total government spending was 1.61 (95% CI: 1.37 to 1.86), but there was marked heterogeneity across types of spending. The fiscal multipliers ranged from −9.8 for defence (95% CI: -16.7 to −3.0) to 4.3 for health (95% CI: 2.5 to 6.1). These differences appear to be explained by varying degrees of absorption of government spending into the domestic economy. Defence was linked to significantly greater trade deficits (β = −7.58, p=0.017), whereas health and education had no effect on trade deficits (peducation=0.62; phealth= 0.33).
The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post. …
The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology. Continue reading
At one point, there were something like 1,000 installations in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, from bases large enough to be small American towns to tiny combat outposts. In 2015, there were at least 800 significant U.S. bases in foreign countries (and more small camps and places where U.S. military equipment was pre-positioned for future use). No great power, not even Britain at its imperial height, had ever had such a global military “footprint,” such an “empire of bases,” and yet in this country it was as if no one noticed, as if it were of no importance at all.
Let’s start with a baseline look at the Pentagon’s finances at this moment. At $600 billion-plus per year, the government is already spending more money on the Pentagon than it did at the peak of the massive military buildup President Ronald Reagan initiated in the 1980s. In fact, despite what you might imagine, the Obama administration has pumped more tax dollars into the military in its two terms than did George W. Bush. According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the U.S. currently spends four times what China does and 10 times what the Russians sink into their military. Continue reading
SIPRI is proud to announce the online release of its extended military expenditure data. Previously, the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database covered the period 1988–2015; the extended military expenditure data goes back in most cases at least to the 1960s, and in some cases to 1949.
The new data highlights long-term trends in military spending. In the case of the USA, clear peaks in spending can be seen during the Korean War, the ‘Reagan build-up’ and the more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Western Europe, military spending rose steadily during the cold war, while in Africa, military spending has surged in recent decades as the continent’s economies have improved.
Take the current budget. It’s down slightly from its peak in 2011, when it reached the highest level since World War II, but this year’s budget for the Pentagon and related agencies is nothing to sneeze at. It comes in at roughly $600 billion—more than the peak year of the massive arms buildup initiated by President Ronald Reagan back in the 1980s. To put this figure in perspective: Despite troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan dropping sharply over the past eight years, the Obama administration has still managed to spend more on the Pentagon than the Bush administration did during its two terms in office. Continue reading
Cripin Blunt, the Conservative chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, spoke after Angus Robertson in the debate and he said he would not be voting for Trident renewal.
Earlier, in an intervention, he said that his current estimate was that Trident renewal would have a lifetime cost of £179bn.
- Blunt said Trident renewal would be “the most egregious act of self-harm to our conventional defence”.
Sara Flounders’ remarkable 2009 article on the Copenhagen climate meeting tied together the military and climate change, but delinking of the two persists. She wrote that “with more than 15,000 participants from 192 countries, including more than 100 heads of state, as well as 100,000 demonstrators in the streets – it is important to ask: How is it possible that the worst polluter of carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions on the planet is not a focus of any conference discussion or proposed restrictions? …the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.”
Overall, environmentalists pay little attention to the military, and the anti-war movement does not address the climate. Both squander precious time. At a slow pace, industrialized countries have been “transitioning” to clean energy since the 1960s, without any specified and enforceable time frame. Renewables remain a very small part of the energy mix and will not remedy the carbon-intensive military or industrial agriculture. Transition fuels like natural gas and biofuels have proven to be disastrous to human communities and to the climate. By contrast is the fast pace rapidly rising temperature, accelerating greenhouse gas concentration (due to amplifying feedbacks), increased military spending including nuclear weapons, and new weapons/surveillance/pacification technology. At some point recently, the climate goal shifted from elimination of greenhouse gases to mitigation. Continue reading
To begin with, basic income would give us all genuine freedom. Nowadays, numerous people are forced to spend their entire working lives doing jobs they consider to be pointless. Jobs like telemarketer, HR manager, social media strategist, PR advisor, and a whole host of administrative positions at hospitals, universities, and government offices. “Bullshit jobs,” the anthropologist David Graeber calls them. They’re the jobs that even the people doing them admit are, in essence, superfluous.
And we’re not talking about just a handful of people here. In a survey of 12,000 professionals by the Harvard Business Review, half said they felt their job had no “meaning and significance,” and an equal number were unable to relate to their company’s mission. Another recent poll among Brits revealed that as many as 37% think they have a bullshit job. Continue reading
One issue that is ripe for attention is the effect corruption has on military aid programs. Providers of such assistance need to take more care to ensure that their partners are not subverting the purpose of these programs by engaging in corrupt practices.
U.S. military aid programs are a case in point. According to data compiled by the Security Assistance Monitor, this year the United States is providing over $8 billion in arms and training to 50 of the 63 nations that Transparency International has identified as being at “high” or “critical” risk of corruption in their defense sectors. …
Widespread corruption poses other serious challenges to providers of military assistance. There is a danger that tilting aid too heavily toward the defense sector can strengthen it at the expensive of civilian institutions, undermining civilian control of the military. There is a significant risk that this may be occurring among key recipients of U.S. security assistance. The Security Assistance Monitor’sassessment of dependence on U.S. military aid demonstrates that, for 2014, U.S. military aid accounted anywhere from 15% to 20% of defense expenditures of recipient countries like Egypt, Pakistan, and Burundi; over 50% in Liberia; and over 90% in Afghanistan. …
Corruption in defense assistance programs is about more than just a diversion of funds. It is also a threat to local, regional, and global security. Any effort to reduce global corruption must make cleaning up corruption in military aid programs a top priority.
Corruption in Military Aid Undermines Global Security
Please go on to read the whole article, link at the end.
From spending $150 million on private villas for a handful of personnel in Afghanistan to blowing $2.7 billion on an air surveillance balloon that doesn’t work, the latest revelations of waste at the Pentagon are just the most recent howlers in a long line of similar stories stretching back at least five decades. Other hot-off-the-presses examples would include the Army’s purchase of helicopter gears worth $500 each for $8,000 each and the accumulation of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons components that will never be used. And then there’s the one that would have to be everyone’s favorite Pentagon waste story: the spending of $50,000 to investigate the bomb-detecting capabilities of African elephants. (And here’s a shock: they didn’t turn out to be that great!) The elephant research, of course, represents chump change in the Pentagon’s wastage sweepstakes and in the context of its $600-billion-plus budget, but think of it as indicative of the absurd lengths the Department of Defense will go to when what’s at stake is throwing away taxpayer dollars. Continue reading
The world heaped more than $1.6 trillion on military programs and personnel in 2015, roughly 1 percent more than in 2014, a SIPRI analyst declared at the nonpartisan Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. on April 5. The increase follows four years of decline, which was preceded by 12 years of steady increases.
So the brief falloff is over, and the familiar routine is back. Continue reading
At a “state of the Air Force” press conference, Air Force secretary Deborah James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh listed seven companies that will build components for the new plane. They didn’t provide many details as to what those contributions will be, but a quick look at the history of the companies provides some indication of how this project will be built. It also shows the program is being designed to have broad political support by spreading the work across numerous states and congressional districts.
Veteran military reformer Franklin “Chuck” Spinney described political engineering as “business as usual” for programs of this kind. “By designing overly complex weapons, then spreading subcontracts, jobs, and profits all over the country, the political engineers in the Defense Department deliberately magnify the power of these forces to punish Congress, should it subsequently try to reduce defense spending by terminating major procurement programs.”
The essence of the situation begins, but doesn’t end, with civilian control of the military, where direction, oversight, and final decision-making authority reside with duly elected and appointed civil officials. That’s a minimalist precondition for democracy. A more ideal version of the relationship would be civilian supremacy, where there is civically engaged public oversight of strategically competent legislative oversight of strategically competent executive oversight of a willingly accountable, self-policing military.
What we have today, instead, is the polar opposite: not civilian supremacy over, nor even civilian control of the military, but what could be characterized as civilian subjugation to the military, where civilian officials are largely militarily illiterate, more militaristic than the military itself, advocates for — rather than overseers of — the institution, and running scared politically (lest they be labeled weak on defense and security). Continue reading
Another way to conveniently increase the military spending while pretending otherwise.
The definition of foreign aid has been changed to include some military spending, in a move that charities fear will lead to less cash being spent on directly alleviating poverty.
The change in wording was agreed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) after the UK and other countries lobbied to be allowed to use overseas aid budgets to support the military and security forces in fragile countries, as long as this still promotes development goals. Continue reading