Scandinavian Socialism

(Jump to the challenges directed at me dealing with America protecting these smaller countries)

The Myth

Gay Patriot introduces us to the myth often put forward by the left. This post by Gay Patriot will add to the video by Bill Whittle that follows it:

One of the myths Progressive Leftists elevate to “fact” by constantly repeating it to each other is the idea that Scandinavian countries are the closest on Earth fulfillment to their socialist dream utopia. ~ Gay patriot

…continuing…

Scandinavian Hell

Kyle Smith, writing in the NY Post, digs a little deeper and discovers that, like almost everything Progressive leftists believe, the Myth of Scandinavian Utopia really is as much a myth as the college rape epidemic, the genius of Barack Obama, or the popularity of gun control.

Visitors say Danes are joyless to be around. Denmark suffers from high rates of alcoholism. In its use of antidepressants it ranks fourth in the world. (Its fellow Nordics the Icelanders are in front by a wide margin.) Some 5 percent of Danish men have had sex with an animal. Denmark’s productivity is in decline, its workers put in only 28 hours a week, and everybody you meet seems to have a government job. Oh, and as The Telegraph put it, it’s “the cancer capital of the world.”

So how happy can these drunk, depressed, lazy, tumor-ridden, pig-bonking bureaucrats really be?

I think my favorite paragraph is where he cites the Scandinavian Social Contract as the “Ten Commandments of Buzzkill.”

“You shall not believe that you are someone,” goes one. “You shall not believe that you are as good as we are,” is another. Others included “You shall not believe that you are going to amount to anything,” “You shall not believe that you are more important than we are” and “You shall not laugh at us.”

They read like the 10 Commandments of Progressive Leftism…

…read it all…

Economics 101

In an excellent Bloomberg article entitled, “Booming Sweden’s Free-Market Solution,” the myth is dismantled in toto by Anders Aslund. Here is a snippet:

…From 1970 until 1989, taxes rose exorbitantly, killing private initiative, while entitlements became excessive. Laws were often altered and became unpredictable. As a consequence, Sweden endured two decades of low growth. In 1991-93, the country suffered a severe crash in real estate and banking that reduced GDP by 6 percent. Public spending had surged to 71.7 percent of GDP in 1993, and the budget deficit reached 11 percent of GDP.

TURNING POINT
The combination of the crisis and the non-socialist government under Carl Bildt from 1991 to 1994 broke the trend and turned the country around. In 1994, the Social Democrats returned to power and stayed until 2006. Instead of revoking the changes, they completed the fiscal tightening. In 2006, a non-socialist government returned, and Finance Minister Anders Borg, with his trademark ponytail and earring, has led further reforms. Sweden successfully weathered the global financial crisis that started in 2008, and the Financial Times named Borg Europe’s best finance minister last year.

Before 2009, Sweden had a budget surplus, and it has one again. For the past two years, economic growth has been 4 percent on average, and the current-account surplus was 6.7 percent in 2011. The only concerns are the depressed demand for exports caused by the current euro crisis and an unemployment rate that is about 7.5 percent.

Sweden’s traditional scourge is taxes, which used to be the highest in the world. The current government has cut them every year and abolished wealth taxes. Inheritance and gift taxes are also gone. Until 1990, the maximum marginal income tax rate was 90 percent. Today, it is 56.5 percent. That is still one of the world’s highest, after Belgium’s 59.4 and there is strong public support for a cut to 50 percent.

The 26 percent tax on corporate profits may seem reasonable from an American perspective, but Swedish business leaders want to reduce it to 20 percent. Tax competition is fierce in some parts of Europe. Most East European countries, for example, have slashed corporate taxes to 15-19 percent….

Reason.org Weighs in on the “Swedish” experiment, how it got its wealth, noting how it squandered it, and how it is returning to the pre-70’s ideology:

  • Sweden is a powerful example of the importance of public policy. The Nordic nation became rich between 1870 and 1970 when government was very small, but then began to stagnate as welfare state policies were implemented in the 1970s and 1980s. The CF&P Foundation video explains that Sweden is now shifting back to economic freedom in hopes of undoing the damage caused by an excessive welfare state.

And do not think for a moment that the free-market has not allowed Sweden or other Nordic nations to get back on their feet. This is is pointed out in the following “101” presentation on economics:

The Above Video Description via Reason.org:

For those of us who place more trust in free markets than state-directed economies, we must inevitably (and repeatedly) confront the skeptical interlocutor who details the “successes” of Swedish social democracy. “If state intervention into the economy is so bad, high taxes so destructive, then why is Sweden such a success?” It’s an irritatingly simple question with a incredibly complicated answer, though I do recommend pointing out, when the conversation turns to health care and secondary education, that nothing, in a state the confiscates a massive portion of your income, is “free.” But as many have pointed out, during its boom years, Sweden was a pretty free market place; from the 1970s through the 1990s—when taxes and regulation dramatically increased—the economy slowed until it spun out in the early 1990s…

[….]

…So here is my bottom line: When some American pundit, with expertise is everything, explains why some European welfare state “works,” or how everything you know is wrong about taxing income at 75 percent, do a little digging, make use of Google Translate, and don’t trust that, because Swedes and Danes tell researchers that they are happy, the United States should introduce “daddy leave” and provide subsidies to syndicalist newspapers.

The best English-language explication of the Swedish model comes from my pal Johan Norberg, who wrote this brilliant piece for The National Interest a few years back. And watch my interview with Norberg on Swedish welfare politics here and on Naomi Klein here.

The following interview is Johan Norberg, author of In Defense of Global Capitalism, sits down with reason.tv’s Michael C. Moynihan to sort out the myths of the Sweden’s welfare state, health services, tax rates, and its status as the “most successful society the world has ever known.”

National Review seems like a good place to continue the theme of showing how the Nordic countries have used the free-market system to recoup what it has lost with previous regulations that crippled free-enterprise. Here is a comparison between Sweden and Venzuala that was helpful in explaining how Sweden has less regulations that us in many places (a recent phenomenon BTW):

Talk to a Bernie Sanders voter about “socialism” — and they can be very insistent about using the word — and you’ll get paeans to Sweden, which is not a socialist country but a country with large, expensive welfare state. The distinction is not trivial: There is relatively little in the way of state-run enterprise in Sweden; the Swedish government is in fact only a 60 percent partner in the postal service. The Swedish government is, alas, in the casino business, albeit in a more transparent way than American government is. On the Heritage economic-freedom rankings, Sweden isn’t that far behind the United States. It has very high taxes, but taxes are not the only burden that governments put on the economy, not necessarily even the most important, and Sweden outscores the United States on a number of important metrics: free trade, property rights, freedom from corruption, investment freedom, monetary policy, etc. The United States’ small edge in the rankings comes mainly from relatively low taxes and a much less regulated labor market.

Reason.org again weighs in on whether Sweden is the right model for the U.S. to emulate:

The Above Video Description:

To the American mind there may be nothing more quintessentially Swedish than the leggy, blond supermodel.

But there’s another Swedish model that inspires almost as much admiration—the Swedish economic model. With a generous welfare state and high living standards, Sweden seems to prove that socialism works. Much of the hope that swept Barack Obama into the White House rests on the belief that America could reach new heights under a regime of enlightened progressivism, that we could be more like the Swedes.

Not so fast, warns Stockholm University sociologist Charlotta Stern: “If an American told me that the US should be more like Sweden I would say I don’t think it’s possible.” The United States can centralize its health care system and pass other laws that mimic Sweden’s welfare state polices, says Stern, but it’s impossible to replicate a culture that allows those policies to operate about as smoothly as possible. Swedish bureaucracies inspire trust, but their American counterparts (DMV, TSA, IRS) inspire punch lines, if not outrage.

But America could emulate some of the Swedish policies that don’t require extensive bureaucracies. Take school vouchers. Teachers unions in America regard the idea as free-market radicalism, but families in Sweden enjoy universal school choice. Sweden adopted its famously progressive policies during the 1970s, but after years of sluggish economic growth the land of ABBA altered its course in the 1990s, adopting a host of free-market reforms, from deregulation to tax cuts.

Although much of the disco-era welfare state remains, economist Andreas Bergh credits the free market reforms with reviving his nation’s economy. “Sweden is moving in the market economic direction,” says Bergh, “but that does not mean America should be moving in the socialist direction.”

What if the two nations continue on in different directions? Maybe some day when America is looking for a way to rejuvenate its economy, pundits will point to a different kind of Swedish model. One that increases individual choice and competition.

“Sweden—A Supermodel for America?” is produced by Daniel B. Klein, and written and produced by Ted Balaker, who also hosts. Shot by Jonathan Liberman and Henrik Devell, with additional production support by Zach Weissmueller and Sam Corcos and post production by Hawk Jensen and Austin Bragg. Special thanks to Niclas Berggren, Martin Borgs, Nils Karlson, and the Ratio Institute.

A Challenge Directed At Me

In conversation about an audio upload to my YouTube Channel of Dennis Prager discussing Bernie Sanders, I was challenged with this:

  • Sweden is not a Nato member so how does the US pay for Sweden defense? Pointing at Whittle and saying “because he say they do” won’t cut it.

To which I responded with a quote from an International Business Times article:

Finland is joining military exercises with other Scandinavian countries, as well as several members of NATO, in late May, Finnish media report. The maneuvers called Arctic Challenge will span 12 days, starting May 25, and include nine countries and close to 100 planes. The drills, over Sweden and northern Norway, come amid increased tensions between Russia and its Baltic and Nordic neighbors.

Sweden and Switzerland, which like Finland are not members of NATO, are expected to join the exercise, along with NATO members Norway, the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Finland plans to send 16 F-18 Hornet fighter jets, while the other countries will supply Gripen “multirole” fighters, F-16s, Eurofighters and Jet Falcons, as well as transports and tankers, Russian news agency Sputnik reported. The Norwegian armed forces said the purpose of the Arctic Challenge exercise is to “learn to coordinate efforts in complicated flight operations conducted in cooperation with NATO.”

Russia has ramped up military activity along its borders with northern Europe, causing consternation in several Baltic and Nordic countries and pre-emptive actions to head off — or prepare for — a possible military crisis. Latvia, which reported a Russian submarine near its coast in mid-March, is beefing up security on its eastern border, while Finland recently began a letter campaign notifying some 900,000 reservists of their duties in a potential crisis. Sweden also intercepted four Russian planes flying over the Baltic Sea in March with their radios off. Russian jets have been intercepted in other instances while flying in European international airspace….

I also pointed out that this promise went back to the Cold War, and was not known about till a Swedish defense think-tank/security firm uncovered the agreements in 1994. The original story’s link has been lost, but it is here on FOI’s site. FOI’s “about us” page has this:

  • FOI is one of Europe’s leading research institutes in the areas of defence and security. We have 1,000 highly skilled employees with various backgrounds. At FOI, you will find everything from physicists, chemists, engineers, social scientists, mathematicians and philosophers to lawyers, economists and IT technicians…. The Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence Material Administration are our main customers. However, we also accept assignments from civil authorities and industry. Our clients from the defence sector place very high demands on advanced research, which also benefits other customers.

Here is the info from the old article via WIKI:

Initially after the end of World War II, Sweden quietly pursued an aggressive independent nuclear weapons program involving plutonium production and nuclear secrets acquisition from all nuclear powers, until the 1960s, when it was abandoned as cost-prohibitive. During the Cold War Sweden appeared to maintain a dual approach to thermonuclear weapons. Publicly, the strict neutrality policy was forcefully maintained, but unofficially strong ties were purportedly kept with the U.S. It was hoped that the U.S. would use conventional and nuclear weapons to strike at Soviet staging areas in the occupied Baltic states in case of a Soviet attack on Sweden. Over time and due to the official neutrality policy, fewer and fewer Swedish military officials were aware of the military cooperation with the west, making such cooperation in the event of war increasingly difficult. At the same time Swedish defensive planning was completely based on help from abroad in the event of war. Later research has shown that every publicly available war-game training, included the scenario that Sweden was under attack from the Soviets, and would rely on NATO forces for defence. The fact that it was not permissible to mention this aloud eventually led to the Swedish armed forces becoming highly misbalanced. For example, a strong ability to defend against an amphibious invasion was maintained, while an ability to strike at inland staging areas was almost completely absent.

In the early 1960s U.S. nuclear submarines armed with mid-range nuclear missiles of type Polaris A-1 were deployed outside the Swedish west coast. Range and safety considerations made this a good area from which to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike on Moscow. The submarines had to be very close to the Swedish coast to hit their intended targets though. As a consequence of this, in 1960, the same year that the submarines were first deployed, the U.S. provided Sweden with a military security guarantee. The U.S. promised to provide military force in aid of Sweden in case of Soviet aggression. This guarantee was kept from the Swedish public until 1994, when a Swedish research commission found evidence for it. As part of the military cooperation the U.S. provided much help in the development of the Saab 37 Viggen, as a strong Swedish air force was seen as necessary to keep Soviet anti-submarine aircraft from operating in the missile launch area. In return Swedish scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology made considerable contributions to enhancing the targeting performance of the Polaris missiles.

Some More Discussion

In this first back-and-forth, I noted some of the above and got this response:

  • Seems Sweden is searching for the viable balance of Capitalism and Socialism. Good for them. Bernie Sanders seeks the same.

To which I respond:

They want [and have] a lower tax rate than Sanders wants. They dumped their “wealth tax” and “death tax.” They lowered their corporate tax-rate and want it at 20% and below. Lessened regulations on businesses… on-and-on.

Bernie wants the 70’s through 90’s Sweden… I am down with the 2006 and beyond Sweden.

Someone else joined the discussion, and mentioned the following:

  • My family is Swedish and I can tell you with 100% accuracy they are way better off than we are…. Across the board pretty much.

Again, I respond:

There is a Swedish economist in the post that from first hand experience (and expertise in his field) telling you they are where they are because of the free market and a reduction [greatly] of the welfare state/socialism enterprise. [And, BTW, they use the many life saving drugs produced by the profit motivated “Big Pharma” spending on R&D to extend the lives of their fellow Swedes.]

When you get all these health care services for “free” then people start taking them for granted, calling ambulances without second thoughts, and going to the doctor for simple things that you don’t really need to see a doctor for… False alarms for ambulances and fire trucks end up costing the government and indirectly tax payers huge amounts of money every year. Which is why Sweden has as of late started to reform its health care system by privatizing parts of it. Mind you, these are somewhat limited in scope, but people are able to pay now for private care (1-in-10 now have private insurance/health-care).


…The paradox is that America has been doubling down on government authority over healthcare with the Affordable Care Act, just as more and more European governments, including Denmark, England, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, have been forced by public outcry to address the unconscionable waits for care by introducing new laws. But it is even more essential for American voters to realize, and for our government leaders to acknowledge, what other countries are beginning to recognize all over the world. These governments have started to understand that the cure for their failed nationalized health systems is a shift to privatization. And citizens under government-dominated health systems are increasingly circumventing their own systems, pursuing private healthcare to solve the uniformly poor access to care and limited choices.

Let’s consider Sweden, often heralded as the paradigm of a successful welfare state. The facts tell a very different story. Having failed its citizens in healthcare access, the Swedish government has aggressively introduced private market forces into healthcare to improve access, quality, and choices. Although once entirely public, over a quarter of Swedish primary care clinics are now run by the private sector. Sweden’s municipality governments have increased spending on private care contracts by 50% in the past decade. Private nursing facilities now receive substantial public funding to care for patients. Widespread private sector competition has also been introduced into pharmacies to tear down the pre-2009 monopoly over all prescription and non-prescription drugs. Since the Swedish government sold over half of its pharmacies to private firms in 2009, 20 private firms entered the market and over 300 new pharmacies opened, not only improving accessibility but providing the first pharmacies ever to many small towns.

Moreover, despite the fact that an average Swedish family already pays nearly $20,000 annually in taxes toward healthcare according to Swedish economist Per Bylund, about 12% of working adults bought private insurance in 2013, a number that has increased by 67% over the last five years. Half a million Swedes now use private insurance, up from 100,000 a decade ago, even though they are already “guaranteed” public healthcare….

(Hoover Insitute, “Defining Ideas: The Surprising International Consensus on Healthcare“)

Gay Patriot ends the beginning of this post well:

…In the pre-Reagan Era, the media was just as left-leaning and reluctant to discuss the poverty and oppression that permeated the Soviet Union. But there were enough people willing to talk about it outside the media for the truth to get out. The pervasiveness of social media should make it easier, not harder, for conservatives to get a message out around the media gatekeepers. Millennials should be told what happened in Venezuela after his ideological brother Hugo Chavez took over; they should be told how toilet paper became a black market commodity and supermarket shelves became bare. And they should be made aware that Sweden is not quite the utopia they’ve been taught it is, either.

Military Spending vs. Education and Health-Care Spending

(I am changing some of my “Pages” to “Posts,” so some of this info is older to my site)

Total GDP Expenditures on

★ MILITARY (2014): 3.5%

★ EDUCATION (2014): 4.9%

★ HEALTH (2014): 17.1%

NATIONAL REVIEW has a great article on this:

A few more thoughts on the view from 1957. Relative to the size of the U.S. economy (which is to say, as a share of GDP) we have cut military spending to barely a third of what it was in 1957, from 9.8 percent of GDP then to 3.3 percent of GDP now. Even though we were spending three times as much on national defense in 1957—and even though we had lower taxes (17.2 percent of GDP then vs. 17.7 percent of GDP today) we ran a budget surplus. It’s usually described as a “modest” surplus, but at 3.4 percent of GDP, the budget surplus of 1957 was proportionally larger than military spending is in 2015.

So, where’d the money go?

Feel free to consult the historical data yourself, but the short answer is: welfare spending.

The broadest budget categories are national defense, human resources, physical resources, net interest, other functions, and undistributed offsetting receipts. National defense, net interest, other functions, and undistributed receipts are pretty self-explanatory; human resources includes welfare and health-care programs, entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security, and education spending. Physical resources means things like energy development, transportation, natural resources maintenance, environmental conservation, and community- and regional-development programs, the “infrastructure” we’re always going on about.

[….]

Recap: In GDP terms, we spend about a third on the military today compared to what we spent in the late 1950s. We spend almost exactly the same on interest on the debt. We spend 20 percent less on energy, transportation, the environment, and natural resources. And we spend almost four times as much on welfare. Again, that is in GDP terms, and our economy is a heck of a lot bigger than it was in 1957. As a share of all federal spending, welfare has gone from 23 percent of spending to 73 percent of federal spending. In constant-dollar terms, we spend 17.5 times as much. In nominal-dollar terms, we spend 150 times as much.

(Read It All)


Michael Medved dismantles a callers charge that we (as a country) spend more on the military than education and other social programs (2009).

One General says that 4% on military (GDP) if the floor… very bottom… we should not go below this percentage: Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called four percent an “absolute floor” (New York Times). Here Forbes explains a bit:

Bullets vs. Band-aids: Is Health Spending Crowding out Defense?

….But as an empirical matter, the share of GDP absorbed by federal taxes has been astonishingly stable since 1946—averaging less than 18 percent and exceeding 20 percent in only one year (2000).[3] The president’s own budget shows federal receipts going no higher than 19.2 percent of GDP by 2017. But he has put us on a path that his own Department of Treasury has declared is “unsustainable.” Why? Because health entitlements under Obamacare will grow so rapidly that federal spending as a share of GDP will grow by more than 40 percent by the year 2085. Rising health entitlements will account for every penny of that increase!

With projected federal spending topping 34 percent of GDP and the known politically acceptable levels of federal tax revenues falling below 20 percent of GDP, we are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Being able to afford even 4 percent of GDP for national defense—we’ve averaged 6.4 percent since 1946—will grow increasingly problematic. This is not just some future hypothetical: as it is, we currently are spending $50 billion less on defense in FY2013 than outgoing Secretary of Defense said just two years ago would be needed this year. And remember that Obamacare spending kicks in with a vengeance in 2014.  Thus, the choice between bullets and butter will be harder to make each year we keep kicking the can down the road instead of addressing health entitlements….

While the following video is about Bernie Sanders… the portion starting at about the 4:54 mark:

In another excellent “myth busting” article at The Heritage Foundation, we read some examples of the importance in the GDP metric for healthy ~MILITARY~ spending:

Defending Defense:
Setting the Record Straight on US Military Spending Requirements

(To see references, download PDF)

Myth

Additional defense spending is unnecessary as the United States already spends more on defense than half the world combined.

Fact

No other country in the world has the enduring vital national interests of the United States, and therefore the U.S. military has global reach and responsibilities. Comparing the unique needs of U.S. security and the resources required against those of other countries is misleading. Further, it is not surprising that the richest nation on earth and history’s “sole superpower” should have a first-rate military; the overall dollar cost is mostly a measure of the size of our economy. What is surprising is that we get so much from such a small proportion of our wealth. As Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation writes,

Defense spending is near historic lows… Between 2010 and 2015, total defense spending is set to fall from 4.9 percent to 3.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), even though the nation has assigned more missions to the military over the past two decades.[1]

A narrow focus on strictly dollar figures is also misleading. Consider China’s military budget, which Beijing claims is $78 billion for this year. The Pentagon estimates that the relative “purchasing power” of the Chinese military is actually closer to $150 billion, in good part because China does not have to pay their soldiers, sailors, and airmen anything comparable to what the United States pays its servicemen and women.[2]  By this yardstick, China moves from fifth place in overall military spending among the nations of the world to second.[3] And more to the point, China’s defense expenditures are focused primarily on gaining military leverage in a distinct region of the world—Asia—while the U.S. military has responsibilities everywhere. The resources the U.S. military can actually deploy “in theater” are not vastly superior to those of the Chinese. Simple comparisons of defense expenditures are deceptive measures of the unique needs of America’s armed forces.

Myth

Pentagon budgets were a “gusher” of new money in the Bush Administration.

Fact

In his recent drive to cut overhead, Defense Secretary Robert Gates indeed described the emergency supplemental appropriations for the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan as a “gusher.”[4] But as AEI’s Gary Schmitt and Tom Donnelly have written,

The budget increases that have occurred…are largely tied to fighting the wars. When Bill Clinton left the White House and Dick Cheney told the military that “help [was] on the way,” the defense burden stood at 3 percent of GDP—a post-World War II low. When George W. Bush headed out the door, the figure for the core defense budget was about 3.5 percent. This is an increase, to be sure, but not one to make the military flush after a decade of declining budgets and deferred procurement.[5]

One of the consistent and correct purposes of the wartime supplementals was to “reset” the force—to return the military to at least pre-war readiness levels. This goal is still a long way off. The backlogs at service repair depots will take years to work through.

More profoundly, very little wartime funding went to increase the number of U.S. ground forces. The strains on soldiers and Marines—reflected in rising suicide rates, for example—have yet to be fully calculated. And despite the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq and President Obama’s deadline for drawdown in Afghanistan, the Army and Marine Corps will continue to deploy overseas for years, an effort that can only be sustained by a reduced pace of operations, sharing the constant burden across a larger force.

There is a moral obligation not only to bind the wounds and tend to the families of those who have fought so well and so long, but also to give them what they need to continue to answer the call to service. Further, the government’s Constitutional obligation is to “provide for the common defense,” and to “secure the blessings of liberty” now and for future generations. This is the government’s fundamental obligation to its citizens and its cardinal contribution to our liberties.

[….]

Myth

Current levels of defense spending are unaffordable.

Fact

The defense budget is a relatively small slice of the $14-plus-trillion American pie. And it’s a shrinking slice: as a percentage of our economy and as a percentage of the federal budget, the burden of defense is declining. President Obama’s long-term budget projections also reduce Pentagon spending in real dollars.

Moreover, the idea that defense cuts will restore fiscal health simply does not add up: suppose Pentagon spending for 2011—$720 billion—were eliminated entirely.[7] This would only halve this year’s federal deficit of $1.5 trillion. And defense spending is a drop in the ocean of today’s $13.3 trillion of government debt. From the Korean War to the collapse of the Soviet Union, total U.S. defense spending was about $4.7 trillion.[8] So had there been no military spending at all during the Cold War, the savings would not equal even half our current national debt.

Talking about defense spending in isolation while discussing the overall federal budget is also misleading. Defense is not the source of the federal government’s fiscal woes. As Mackenzie Eaglen notes,

The substantial decline in the defense share of the budget largely reflects the dramatic growth of entitlement spending. Entitlements now account for around 65 percent of all federal spending and a record 18 percent of GDP. The three largest entitlements— Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—eclipsed defense spending in 1976 and have been growing ever since. If future taxes are held at the historical average, these three entitlements will consume all tax revenues by 2052, leaving no money for the government’s primary constitutional obligation: providing for the common defense.[9]

Over the past decade, necessary defense spending increases are responsible for less than 20 percent of all new spending from 2001 to 2009. This does not even include 2009 stimulus spending totaling $787 billion, with almost no money for defense.

Myth

The United States should not be “the world’s policeman.”

Fact

At a cost of less than one nickel of the American taxpayers’ dollar—and only 4.9 percent of U.S. GDP—the United States has fought two wars and provided the essential backbone for a system of global security; by any measurement, it’s an amazing bargain.[10]

The investments made during the Cold War—including the Reagan build-up— continue to pay global dividends. Europe, for the first time in centuries, enjoys a durable peace. East Asia, for millennia a theater of violent competition, is emerging as an economic dynamo, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Yet this peace and the prosperity it helps to create are not self-generating or selfsustaining. No other nation, or group of nations, is ready, willing or able to take on America’s role. As the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel observed, the future is

…likely to place an increased demand on American “hard power” to preserve regional balances. While diplomacy and development have important roles to play, the world’s first-order problems will continue to be our security concerns….As the last 20 years have shown, America does not have the option of abandoning a leadership role in support of its national interests….Failure to anticipate and manage the conflicts that threaten those interests…will not make those conflicts go away….It will simply lead to an increasingly unstable and unfriendly global climate and, eventually, to conflicts America cannot ignore.[11]

In short, the cost of preserving America’s role in the world is far less than would be the cost of having to fight to recover it or, still greater, the cost of losing it altogether. While many Americans would prefer to see our allies and partners play a larger part in securing the blessings of our common liberty, no president of either political party has backed away from America’s global leadership role —a bipartisan consensus that remains strong evidence that American leadership is still necessary to protect the nation’s vital interests.

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) makes the continuing point of just-how-much burden is put on the U.S. military around the world (Defense Spending 101 PDF):

We are spending more on our military than half of the rest of the world combined is spending on defense. Do we really need to spend that much?

Questions about what America spends on defense versus what other nations spend on defense should be understood in the context of what we ask our military to do, what our role in the world is, and who our enemies and adversaries are and are likely to be.

From the Cold War to the post-9/11 world, US spending on national defense has given our country a military preeminence that, in turn, has yielded enormous strategic returns by:

  • Protecting the security and prosperity of the United States and its allies;
  • Amplifying America’s diplomatic and economic leadership throughout the globe;
  • Preventing the outbreak of great-power wars that marked previous centuries;
  • Preserving the international order in the face of aggressive, illiberal threats.

As the congressionally mandated, bipartisan Independent Review Panel of the Quadrennial Defense Review spelled out, this has required a military that has four “enduring” tasks:

  • Defense of the homeland
  • Assuring access to the sea, air, space and, now, cyberspace
  • Preserving a favorable balance of power across Eurasia that prevents authoritarian domination of that region
  • Providing for the global common good through such actions as humanitarian aid, development assistance, and disaster relief

These are obviously large tasks, requiring significant military resources. They are also complicated, as the panel also notes, by five global trends:

  • Radical Islamist extremism and the threat of terrorism
  • The rise of new global great powers in Asia
  • Continued struggle for power in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East
  • An accelerating global competition for resources
  • Persistent problems from failed and failing states

The strength of this global international order provides America and its allies with real security at a low price while imposing tremendous costs on would-be adversaries. Consider the case of China’s rise. Over the past generation, China’s meteoric economic development has also allowed for a steady, now two-decades-long program of military modernization. Estimates are that Beijing now spends about $170 billion per year on its formal defense program, but that figure would be considerably higher if the Chinese military had to pay its soldiers, airmen, and sailors’ salaries comparable to what their counterparts in the US military earn.

Moreover, China’s expenditures are focused primarily on gaining military leverage in a distinct region of the world—Asia—while, as noted above, the US military has global responsibilities. The tasks in this equation are disproportionate: America seeks to keep the peace in East Asia because it is a vital element in the international system and important to America’s interests. while East Asia seeks to disrupt the regional balance and have no comparable stakes elsewhere.

The fact that we can afford to maintain a military capable of keeping the great powers of the world at peace is a bargain at four cents on the dollar. And the fact that our allies. including former adversaries, have renounced the use of force except in support of American-led coalitions should be thought of as a triumph. The further fact that a potential challenger like China has such a steep hill to climb is an advantage to maintain: it would be preferable to deter China than to fight her.

Rep. Randy Forbes on Obama’s Military Cuts

Here is a quick audio of Dennis Prager going over Congressman Forbes points:

Dennis Prager reads from an article detailing Congressman Forbes’ assessment of our military readiness due to Obama’s cuts in military spending. Some stories on this issue:

Rep. Forbes Decries Cuts To Carrier Wings, Cruisers & UCLASS In Navy 2017 Budget, via Breaking Defense: http://tinyurl.com/grsstbo
Interview: Randy Forbes, in Defense News.

Here are two videos from Rep. Forbes (2010 and then 2016) speaking to these issues:

We Spend More on Education than the Military (UPDATED STATS)

UPDATED STATS!!

Total GDP Expenditures on education from 2011 (source): 6.9%

Total GDP Expenditures on the military from 2014 (source): 3.5%

Total GDP Expenditures on health from 2011 (source): 17.7%

(The below was originally Posted April 4th, 2011)

I posted a link to the following audio of Michael Medved [as a response to a challenge from a youngster in conversation elsewhere on the WEB] taking a challenge from a caller on how much we spend on education versus the military.

He challenged the stats used by Michael Medved. I enjoy challenges like these if only it makes me work a bit harder to understand the minutia of the figures involved:

I wanted to post some of the stats here for my future use and set up the discussion as it went on FaceBook:

Young Man

  • Or……. We could just do away with the whole military industrial complex. Sounds allot better to me.

Me

  • How bout the “Educational Industrial Complex?” Your terms are meaningless. We spend more on education than we do on military.

Young Man

  • I’m not sure where you get your facts Sean, but last time I checked The Federal Government spends more on defense than anything else, Espically now sice we are running 3 wars and aid efforts to Japan.

Me

  • Here is a great example of a real world challenge. I have posted this to you in a previous discussion… but i doubt you actually take the time to stop and think critically on these issues, which demand time and reflection. This is only 5-minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV8ITndPp0A

Young Man

  • Yeah i’m sure Medvid gets his stats from Fox as well. Idk, why you gave me a vid of some guy droning on about Bush its really besides the point. Medvid does nothing to further your point either.

I wish to intercede here and mention the derangement syndrome often mentioned  inregards to a few people/organizations. Of course we had versions of this with most Presidential candidates, like Reagan. But I think it really hit a crescendo with President George W. Bush

Some terms for knowledge:

  • BDS – Bush Derangement Syndrome;
  • PDS – Palin Derangement Syndrome;
  • FDS – Fox Derangement Syndrome.

….Of course Sarah Palin felt this recent wave of hatred, but there is also this liberal transfer of emotion onto whole erganizations. Here I speak of Fox News. In order for this young man to reject facts… all he needed to do was connect the stated facts from Medved to Fox News, and wallah! the facts as well as myself are wrong. So I found the following to back the stats mentioned by Medved. The first comes from Wikipedia — I highly recommend the researcher at heart following the many links involved in this article — and it deals with the total expenditure as % of GDP by country spent on their military:

Rank Country 2009 Spending ($ b.) Share of 2008 GDP (%) World Share (%)
1 United States United States 661 4.3 43
2 People's Republic of China Chinaa 100 2.0 6.6
3 France France 63.9 2.3 4.2
4 United Kingdom United Kingdom 58.3 2.5 3.8
5 Russia Russiaa 53.3 3.5 3.5
6 Japan Japan 51.0 0.9 3.3
7 Germany Germany 45.6 1.3 3.0
8 Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabiab 41.3 8.2 2.7
9 India India 36.3 2.6 2.4
10 Italy Italy 35.8 1.7 2.3
11 Brazil Brazil 26.1 1.5 1.7
12 South Korea South Korea 24.1 2.8 1.6
13 Canada Canada 19.2 1.3 1.3
14 Australia Australia 19.0 1.8 1.2
15 Spain Spain 18.3 1.2 1.2

This next section deals with the total expenditure as % of GDP by country spent on education:

# 1 United States: 7 % of GDP
# 2 Denmark: 6.7 % of GDP
# 3 Sweden: 6.5 % of GDP
# 4 Canada: 6.4 % of GDP
# 5 France: 6.1 % of GDP
# 6 Australia: 6 % of GDP
# 7 Norway: 5.9 % of GDP
# 8 New Zealand: 5.8 % of GDP
= 9 Switzerland: 5.7 % of GDP
= 9 Austria: 5.7 % of GDP
# 11 Finland: 5.6 % of GDP
# 12 Belgium: 5.5 % of GDP
= 13 Germany: 5.3 % of GDP
= 13 United Kingdom: 5.3 % of GDP
# 15 Italy: 4.9 % of GDP

And this final section deals with total expenditure as % of GDP by country spent on health services:

# 1 United States: 13.9 % of GDP
# 2 Switzerland: 10.9 % of GDP
# 3 Germany: 10.8 % of GDP
= 4 Canada: 9.4 % of GDP
= 4 France: 9.4 % of GDP
= 4 Greece: 9.4 % of GDP
# 7 Portugal: 9.3 % of GDP
# 8 Iceland: 9.2 % of GDP
# 9 Australia: 9.1 % of GDP
# 10 Belgium: 9 % of GDP
# 11 Sweden: 8.8 % of GDP
# 12 Denmark: 8.6 % of GDP
# 13 Netherlands: 8.5 % of GDP
# 14 Italy: 8.3 % of GDP
# 15 Norway: 8.1 % of GDP

So let us do some addition and subtraction. Without the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military spending would be around 3.2% of the total total expenditure of GDP. Let us now add health and educational services: it would equal 20.9% of the total total expenditure of GDP.  Obviously the “Industrial Complex” lays more in education and health worker/government unions than in the military! One article makes the following comparison and then asks where he can sign up to this free stuff:

….Medicare spending in 2010 was five times the amount it was just thirty years ago. Medicaid spending is up six fold – as a percentage of GDP. In 1971 the federal government spent 1% of GDP providing health care to the elderly and the poor; now they are spending 5.5%. That is not a sustainable growth trend.

Year Medicare Medicare Medicaid Medicaid

% GDP Spending % GDP Spending

1971 0.7% $7.5 billion 0.3% $3.4 billion

2010 3.6% $520 billion 1.9% $273 billion

Once you add in Social Security and income security (welfare) spending, entitlements now account for 13.2% of GDP compared to just 6.7% in 1971. How, when the country is wealthier today than it was in 1971, can more people be entitled to more free stuff than ever before? The sense of entitlement is astounding. Plenty of people in the US believe they are entitled to other people’s money by merely gracing the country with their presence. The bottom 40% of income earners already faces no federal income tax liability, yet they feel entitled to free stuff. Seniors feel entitled to generous Medicare payments, but they didn’t contribute enough money during their working years to even come close to paying for their own medical bills in retirement. Again, they feel entitled to other people’s money.

All play and no work will make the US a poor country. At what point are the actual US taxpayers entitled to expect others to work and help pay the bills? Is there a section of society that is permanently entitled to sponge off of everyone else with no strings attached? If so, where can I sign up?

…(read more)…

What needs to change is the U.S. getting out of security issues Europe should worry about more than we should!

We need to clean our own fiscal house and not worry about others.