Dancing outside my comfort zone

Posts tagged ‘Military spending’

July 22, 2014 Having a WTH moment

I don’t normally speak up on political issues but today, I actually raised my voice about two, only because people are prone to spreading misleading and incomplete information about both.  My reward for suggesting that there was more to the issue than this graphic might indicate, was to be de-friended!  After I picked my jaw up off of the floor, and my body too, after a nice, long bout of belly rumbling laughter, I knew I’d have to write about this today, but only after bringing in a few more facts and figures to help explain my position (not that I’m for or against, but that cutting military spending has further reaching implications than the anti-militarists want you to know).  Like any fanatic, they use facts and figures to “prove” their point, but the facts and figures they use are highly selective as they only want to prove their point, rather then educate people.

Always remember the golden rule: attack the post, not the poster.

Let me make it clear that I completely observed the rule “attack the post, not the poster” and, in fact, didn’t attack at all!  I merely pointed out that the graphic seriously oversimplified the issue, failing completely to recognize how many people are employed, either directly or indirectly by the military and military contractors.  I mentioned how deeply the communities with military installations (not to mention those which house a lot of military contractors!) depend on their business to stay alive. I cited the serious economic effects which the first space shuttle explosion caused in the city of Los Angeles when the program was temporarily halted, causing Rocketdyne, who manufactured the main engines, to lay off about 10,000 people.  Not only were businesses which were directly related affected, but so were things like restaurants, gas stations, car dealerships and grocery stores as their sales declined severely while people had no jobs!  That isn’t even taking into account the impact on the State from such large numbers on unemployment!

So let’s start with employment. According to the BLS, as of June 2013, there were over 1.4 million people employed as active duty military personnel.  In addition, according to Clearancejobs.com, in 2012, the military employed over 800,000 civilians and over 775,000 civilian contractors.  That’s 2,975,000 people with jobs, give or take a few thousand.  Even if we figure an average of $20 an hour (which, given what I know about some of the civilian and contractor’s salaries may be low), that adds up to $123,760,000,000 per year including employee payroll taxes which go back into government coffers.  This means nearly 3 million people contributing to our economy.

And this doesn’t even consider all of the people working on projects for the government who are either indirect or billed with the project rather than as wages.  It also doesn’t take into account the reservists who only work part time unless they are deployed.

Then there’s the part of that 700 Million (though I won’t vouch for the accuracy of someone else’s number) which pays for “hard goods” like uniforms, toilet paper, office supplies and planes.  People are employed to take orders, fill orders, deliver, produce, manage and any number of other jobs related to producing and selling a product.  More dollars into our economy and tax rolls!  Again, I’m not even taking into account the money these companies and their employees will also spend for gas, food, housing, other essentials and maybe a few luxuries.

The trickle down effect seems endless!

Try taking all of those wages out of the economy and see what happens!  Believe me, the $178 billion this short-sighted individual professes will eliminate poverty simply wouldn’t happen.  And what’s worse, the number would be a great deal higher with so many people out of work!

Let me share a few more facts with you.  When my son-in-law returned from Afghanistan, he searched for two years for a full-time, decent paying job.  Meanwhile, he took courses in college and attended some specialized training which would, supposedly, qualify him for a job as an EMT.  The best he was able to do was a part time, $10 an hour job at Petco!  Trust me on this one; he was the rule, NOT the exception!  He ultimately made the decision (and put in a great deal of legwork) to return to active duty military where he’d not only have a full-time job to support he and his wife, but would be able to pick a career path which he’d have been unable to afford to study as a civilian.

They offer careers and the training to go with them in a multitude of disciplines.  Here are just the top level categories:
Administrative occupations
Combat Specialty occupations
Construction occupations
Electronic and Electrical Equipment Repair occupations
Engineering, Science, and Technical occupations
Health Care occupations
Human Resource Development occupations
Media and Public Affairs occupations
Protective Service occupations
Support Service occupations
Transportation and Material Handling occupations
Vehicle and Machinery Mechanic occupations
Machine Operator and Production occupations

The Army trains and employs veterinarians while both Army and Navy train and employ doctors, nurses, dentists and other medical personnel.  There is also training and employment for all different kinds of engineers and scientists, much less just about any other career you can think of.  How many of the people who enlist could even afford the education?  Sure, they commit a certain number of years of their life to serving our country in exchange, but they come out with a marketable skill and no student loans (and don’t even get me started on the status of some of that black hole!)

Cities and even entire counties depend on the revenue generated by the presence of military personnel.

But what about economic impact to individual areas?  Take, for example, the proposed closure of Moody AFB in Georgia.  Here is what the local Chamber of Commerce says about how much the base contributes to the local economy and what would happen should the base be closed.

http://www.walb.com/story/24819852/military-downsizing-could-affect-valdosta-lowndes-co-economy

To summarize the article, the base contributes about $450 million to the local economy, helps attract business and a whopping thirty percent of local business is directly related to the military base.  The local Chamber predicts that the real estate market would collapse should the base be closed, and countless other businesses would have to close their doors as well.  Granted, this only affects about 100,000 people in the City of Valdosta and county of Lowndes,  Other areas like San Diego, California, Norfolk, Virginia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Bremerton, Washington (just to name a few) would likely see a much bigger impact and a significantly larger addition to the poverty numbers.

If nothing else, we need to do our own research, check the facts and understand the issues before we allow our emotions to make us look foolish.

All I’m really trying to say is that there are a lot of people out there who use real facts and figures to get us fired up over an issue without giving us any indication of where those facts and figures really came from. Just as many of us check Snopes before forwarding emails and posts about something scary or dangerous, let’s check the facts and figures which are provided to us by “reputable” sources too. Aren’t there enough people out there who are hating each other for no good reason already?

Let’s be the ones who add to the love and harmony rather than the hate and anger in the world!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I live in a place where diverse opinions can be expressed.
2. I am grateful that most of my friends and associates are open minded and actually want to hear both sides of an issue.
3. I am grateful for almost infinite sources of information which we may compare and contrast to determine what we will and will not believe.
4. I am grateful for a mind that thinks.
5. I am grateful for a forum in which to air my views, and allow for the airing of differing viewpoints (as long as the golden rule is applied!)

Love and light
 

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