America must conquer real threats if we are to reverse the inevitable slide into the annals of ancient empires following the downward slope from England to Rome. If we fail to overcome our formidable obstacles, historians will dissect America’s recent political machinations and federal budgets to interpret why we failed to reverse course as we battled our decline. My guess is that our descendents will wonder how America ever became so transfixed on military and healthcare.
Fear has driven America to the brink. To escape the jaws of death, we have become obsessed with healthcare, spending twice what the rest of the industrialized world spends and more than the incomes of most people in the world. Half of our health care budget is desperately spent in the last six months of our lives. America’s combined federal medical expenses of Medicare and Medicaid exceed $740 billion dollars annually.
To ensure that no 20th century military will ever rise up against us, America’s military budget has grown larger than all other countries on the planet combined. we expend $1.4 trillion dollars (shocking) annually including the DoD budget ($653 billion), military budgets of other departments such as NASA ($153 billion), the war on terror ($162 billion), current wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya ($200 billion) plus $484 billion of carrying costs from past military spending. Ironically, our obsessively growing military budget may prove the old saying that pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.
Since our civil war, no battles have been fought in America and 2,977 American lives were lost to foreign terrorists. 9/11 exposed our vulnerability to terrorism, but we lose more Americans to deadly American-on-American violence in two months than we have lost to terrorism and foreign invasion in 150 years. The odds that you will be murdered are about 1 in 200 in your lifetime, and considerably worse if you live in a city. 16,000 Americans are murdered and 1.5 million are victims of violent crimes every year. Our real threat of internal violence has grown to overwhelm our potential threat of external violence, yet America continues to spend $1.4 trillion dollars annually against potential foreign invaders and only $150 billion dollars on police, federal enforcement and prisons combined.
So we spend a combined $2.2 trillion dollars to protect ourselves from the perceived threats of foreign invasion and from dying 180 days before our time. $2.2 trillion dollars is 100 % (ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!) of federal revenues collected in taxes from the American people. To pay for our obsessions, all other services and interest on the debt are paid for with borrowed money. How have we let our fears overtake reason and push America to the binge spending brink of what may be coined by historians as America’s Greatest Depression?
Rather than crowd out our budget with perceived threats, America must assess our greatest threats and opportunities going forward and they must then be supported by our budget. Our debt has unfortunately been allowed to bubble into a historic crisis that could threaten to pull the world’s reserve currency into hyperinflation, so it has become our most urgent threat. Yet as our political leadership chooses to gamble with the debt ceiling, they have placed military and healthcare costs that consume 100 percent of our federal taxes in protected fortresses of untouchable expenditures. With this display of political bravado, they have boxed the impossible solutions of either eliminating the rest of government or raising taxes to a level that would plunge America into an austerity led depression.
The fable being spun inside Washington’s beltway is that minimal cuts can be made from military and healthcare as Congress and the President fight hand-to-hand combat to eliminate their political opponents’ favored programs. Are we to believe that America can turn around its deadly retreat with the table scraps given to us by our military and healthcare industry? Our political leadership continues to misread their vital mission of the people’s work. America knows it is not elimination of political opponents’ pet projects that will right our course but it is the charting of the true north of America’s best opportunities that must be protected by our budget.
In business, companies that present such insolvent balance and P&L sheets as exist in America’s federal budget, are subjected to the rigors of the turn-around specialist. All budget items no matter how large or small are prioritized as to their future value for the company and those below the expected revenue line are slashed. We must now subject our country to this difficult rigor that can best be accomplished with consensus of the American people.
The secret of the turn-around specialist’s success is that they know their employees will have been subjected to the harsh realities of drastic budget alignments and will end up hating the turn-around specialist as much as they love what he did for the company. The specialist knows when their vital work is done that they must leave the company to find the next financial disaster to correct.
The turn-around specialist work that America must endure is not for the weak of heart and will be distasteful to politicians that wish to be elected next term. But it must be done. The men or women, including those running for President, that stand up before the American people stating they will do the hard work, pledging only one term, are perhaps the only ones capable of getting the job done.