By John Lawrence
In 1961 President Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex (MIC). He said, “We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.” Since then spending on the military and the MIC has only skyrocketed. Taken together, they, not the rich, are the main job creators in the US. If you graduate from high school and can’t get a job, no problem.
The military will accept you with open arms, provide you with on-the-job training, even give you a signing bonus. Why stand in an unemployment line or apply for a job along with 500 other applicants? Or go into debt to attend some schlock college?
If you’re a college graduate and can’t get hired, try the MIC: the NSA, the CIA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics – they’re the real job creators.
The cost plus contracts that the defense contractors work under guarantee that there will be lots of jobs available. Why? Because the more they spend on labor including unionized labor, the more they make in profits. That’s the essence of a cost plus contract.
The more something costs, the more profits they make. Usually they make a 10 % profit over and above all they manage to spend including cost overruns. It’s the exact reverse of the commercial economy where they try to get rid of unions. Unions and the MIC are on the same wavelength. The more they pay labor, the more profits they make.
Despite spending trillions of dollars on war and preparation for war since 9/11, the US has managed to destabilize the middle east, incur great loss of life and limb of both US and foreign citizens and create millions of displaced persons and refugees. AND FOR WHAT?
Iraq was a stable society before George W Bush decided to invade it in order to be a war time President and wrap himself in glory (remember “Mission Accomplished”?). Now it’s being taken over by Al Qaeda and people there have to fear for their lives on a daily basis. When Saddam was there, Iraq was a stable society and there was no possibility of Al Qaeda gaining a foothold because Saddam hated them. Egypt was a stable society before they decided to get rid of Mubarek and now Egypt is in a state of chaos. Syria is busy blowing everyone and everything up. Same goes for Libya.
What has been accomplished by the US military? Answer: the destabilization and widespread misery of the middle east and northern Africa and the waste of trillions of dollars that could have been spent on improving the lives of American citizens.
The Syrian refugee crisis has exploded from about 270,000 people a year ago to today’s tally of more than two million who have fled the country. The pace of the diaspora has been characterized by the United Nations as the worst since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In addition, an estimated 4.25 million Syrians have been displaced within their country, bringing the total number forced into flight to more than six million.
If we hadn’t spent a cent on the military and the MIC, great portions of the world would be better off today, and we could have spent that money on improving the lives of American citizens and the state of American infrastructure. The United States has spent more than $7.6 trillion on defense and homeland security since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Results? Destabilization, chaos, refugee crises and lost opportunities to improve the lives of American citizens and citizens of other countries.
If we want to shrink the size of the MIC, a good place to start is here in San Diego. San Diego is home to the largest concentration of military in the world. Total employment in the sector accounts for one of every four jobs in the San Diego region. This includes uniformed military, defense contracting and civilian employment, and related support employment. San Diego is the home port for more than 60 percent of the ships in the Pacific Fleet. Expertise in the defense-related research and development includes command and control systems, reconnaissance and surveillance systems, unmanned vehicles and cyber security. Not to mention – drones.
If we want to establish a demilitarized-industrial-
The fact that we are absolutely dependent on military and MIC jobs in San Diego is tantamount to the fact that the US is stuck in the mold of a national militarist state. The US economy is utterly dependent on war and preparation for war despite the fact that all this spending and all these jobs have done nothing to make the world a better place. In fact it has done a lot to make the world a worse place.
The Barrio Logan Community Plan has had to do battle with defense contractor General Dynamics which owns NASSCO, a division that repairs Navy ships. GD even enlisted the help of its unionized workers to lobby against the BLCP on the grounds that jobs would be lost if the BLCP was approved. However, when the union figured out it was lied to by GD and NASSCO, they switched sides. The city council finally gave approval to the BLCP, but GD and NASSCO were not giving up. They have run a campaign to get enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot and have the voters decide. Meanwhile, they can lobby, advertise and try to convince the voters that the BLCP should not go into effect. The MIC is firmly committed to staying in San Diego.
This issue now is at the heart of the mayoral race between Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez. Alvarez wants the BLCP implemented while Faulconer continues to purvey the lie that 46,000 union jobs will be lost. Imagine that – a Republican campaigning for union jobs! It is inconceivable that any candidate, left or right, would campaign on the platform that military related jobs should leave San Diego. That’s how you know we are deeply and inextricably living in a national militarized state – when military related jobs are necessary to the functioning of the economy and to the maintenance of jobs. All those trillions of dollars spent on the military and MIC went to someone’s job or to corporate profits.
Meanwhile, a staggering number of women and children are at risk of falling into poverty. An estimated 42 million women — and 28 million dependent children — are saddled with financial hardship. According to a recent report, Maria Shriver said, “”These are not women who are wondering if they can ‘have it all’. These are women who are already doing it all — working hard, providing, parenting, and care-giving. They’re doing it all, yet they and their families can’t prosper, and that’s weighing the U.S. economy down.”
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the US gets a D+ on its infrastructure which needs $3.6 trillion in repairs. But fear not. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is continuing a vast construction program in Afghanistan, renovating bridges and building facilities for Afghan security forces. How nice of them. Do you think they might some day renovate bridges in this country?
Will San Diego ever transition to a truly civilian economy and away from a military related economy? 2014 doesn’t auger well for that scenario. “San Diego has emerged as an Unmanned Systems [that’s MIC speak for drones] hub. Recognizing the talent and opportunities present in the region, defense innovator Northrop Grumman designated San Diego its Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence. The designation meant 300 more jobs at the company’s Rancho Bernardo location.”
And then we have this quotidian prognosis: “The United States defense strategy has deemed that a Pivot to the Pacific, aligning defense resources with the Pacific Rim, is a crucial foreign policy strategy. Because of San Diego’s location and existing military footprint, this meant the region was well-positioned, despite sequestration, to gain valuable resources. The USS Reagan and its 2,500 person crew returned to San Diego after a year in maintenance. The USS Vinson, and its 6,000 plus crew, also returned to its port in San Diego. According to the SDMAC Military Economic Impact Study, the two aircraft carriers home ported here will each add about $500 million to the economy.”