President Trump’s proposed budget is truly horrendous, and the worst part about it is the obscene glut of military spending. It is now undeniable. With respect to the military industrial complex, we live in Orwellian times.
First, we talk about the what and the how, with a focus on the most important piece of the puzzle: private military contractors. Then we talk about the why, and that’s when we get to Orwell and 1984. We’re not talking about the surveillance state aspects of the book, for which it is most famous; we’re talking about talking about the military ones. After that, we talk about how we can easily right the course, through a single law. Finally, we close with what an ideal military looks like.
PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTORS
So here’s how it works. The government contracts with outfits like Blackwater and Halliburton for everything from advanced weaponry to laundry. Halliburton bills the United States government an obscene amount, $50 per bag of laundry, $5.00 for a ten cent bolt, that sort of thing.
Right off the bat, this is a huge red flag, especially for free market enthusiasts. War contracting is unique. First, the free market is necessarily skewed, as the government is the buyer and the American people the payer. The feds are not a business and thus do not have the same cost-control mechanisms in place; governments are notoriously more wasteful than corporations. Second, the industry presents some of the highest barriers to entry; try competing with Halliburton and Blackwater. It’s impossible, unless you’re friends with Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, or Steve Bannon. Nor are many at all inclined to try given the fact that, third, the industry is inherently dangerous and complex. Finally, there is a revolving door between the Pentagon/related agencies and the private military contractors, who pay a premium for former public sector employees of the friendly variety. All this together means that (1) there are incredible incentives on both the public and private sides to screw over the American people and (2) it is incredibly easy for to do so.
So we have this overcharging for everything, from nuts and bolts to tanks and bombs. Where does that money go?
Well, yeah, some of it goes to huge bonuses for executives and high salaries for even the mid-level employees. Blackwater mercenaries make a lot of money.
But all that’s only a fraction of the profits. Think about the scope of the opportunity here. War. Hundreds of thousands of troops on all sides, from so many nations.
And the rest of the money goes one place. The same place any smart business owner puts their profits. Reinvesting in the company.
The government of course knows this when they sign the contract. Indeed, that’s part of the reason they’re doing business with the private outfit in the first place.
Companies like Halliburton and Blackwater have far less regulation, oversight, transparency, and accountability than the military. The reinvested profits go into off-the-books military R & D programs that no one in either the government or the private outfits want the American people to know about. This is a truly psychopathic structure.
GEORGE ORWELL’S 1984
So now we come to the why. Listen, if you haven’t read 1984, you need to do so. It’s not long, and it’s the revolution’s Bible. Animal Farm too, which is even shorter. The beautiful thing about that one is that, in like 150 pages, Orwell completely destroys both communism and capitalism. This is not to say that it is an endorsement of socialism, because it is not; the socialists are portrayed as unable to compete with the other two. Hint/Tangent: we need new ideas people. Stay tuned.
Anyway. 1984 and the military industrial complex. In the book, the world has mostly divided into three megastates, all of which are more or less identical in operation: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. Our main character, Winston Smith, is an Outer Party member living in the first, in what is still known as London.
The three megastates are in a perpetual state of warfare. Both the Outer Party members (middle class) and the proletariat (lower class) are kept completely in the dark as to the true nature of the war, with the former all mind-controlled by state propaganda through a cognitive tool known in the book as “doublethink” and in our world as cognitive dissonance. Further, none of the three megastates actually have any interest in conquering the others, though all three classes, including the Inner Party, have themselves convinced otherwise, in the ultimate manifestation of doublethink. The true war is over the disputed lands, from which the megastates take slaves and resources.
The reason the megastates stay in a perpetual state of war, Winston Smith and the reader learn towards the three-quarters mark, is to eat up the production surplus. The goal of the Inner Party members—our global elite—is power. Power is the goal in and of itself, and it is beyond question a psychopathic one. Wealth, thought policing, propaganda, war: these are the tools.
So every gun made is one less child fed. You know who said that? Eisenhower. This keeps the middle and the lower classes downtrodden. Eating up the production surplus.
Is there any doubt that that is what is happening today, through the use of private military contractors in particular? Of course not; the only way to believe otherwise is to employ doublethink. And, though every president since Kennedy has been a part of this complex in one way or another, the Trump budget is the best example of our world’s Orwellian nature: taking money from Meals on Wheels and pouring it into military pork. Using war to eat up the production surplus.
Cognitive dissonance, in essence, is the holding of two contradictory beliefs as equally true at the same time. In 1984, we see an extreme example, where the Party members are actually trained to employ it. Yet the state does not need this formal training in order to encourage and spread cognitive dissonance among the masses. Indeed, we see it everywhere in our discourse today, in all races, all cultures, all along the political spectrum, and among all three classes.
ONE BILL TO FIX IT ALL
This is easy, people. Our bill does two things. Let me put them out there, and then we’ll get to the why. That’s part law, part politics.
First, the bill bans the use of job creation as a justification for military programs. Then we mandate that the money that would have gone towards any slashed military program stay in the region where that program took place, for ten to twenty years.
Hell, all you need to do is watch the West Wing to know that the reason there’s so much glut in the military budget is a one-two step. First, the military experiments. Then, after they realize that what they were building was worthless, they can’t shut the program down because of political pressure from members of Congress whose districts would lose jobs.
So we ban job creation as a justification. Further—and just as importantly—is this. It must be written into the law that courts and other oversight bodies have broad powers to consider a wide variety of evidence, including circumstantial evidence, in determining whether this rule has been broken.
From here, we’ve cut so much waste in the military budget. We have all this extra money, but we also have a lot of people without jobs. In comes the second part of our bill.
For both the middle and the working class, we see a wide variety of improvements in countless regions. The money spent on these military programs is in the billions and billions. All of a sudden, thanks to our bill, that money—which served no true purpose other than job creation before—is still creating jobs, but not on things that eat up surplus production.
We’re building and fixing roads and bridges. We’re building schools. We’re upgrading our telecommunications infrastructure. We’re building highspeed railways. Why should China and Japan be ahead of us on that? If it takes an American two hours to get somewhere and a Chinese citizen one, that’s a huge difference in productivity, with respect to transit. We’re putting people to work, and we have something to show for it, other than useless hunks of military hardware that never see a battlefield. Further, both the middle and working classes will see their income taxes decrease.
AN IDEAL MILITARY
Ideally, our military would not need private military contractors, except for things like vehicles and planes and some scientific research, with the military itself absorbing many of the functions that these companies currently do. Certainly not for soldiers. Further—and again ideally—the CIA and NSA would not exist, with the military again absorbing some of their functions. Indeed, even as we’re slashing the military in some places, in others it will grow. We’re going to need to build new wings on the Pentagon, such that calling it the Pentagon will no longer be appropriate. We’re going to have to rename it the Arrowhead.
Our bill is the first step in this direction. The second, and probably last, is equally simple: the military needs to hire more civilians.
Imagine if, instead of all these private military contractors, we had a well-paid Civil Service Corps? Civilians working for the military in a wide variety of ways. Young people serving their country straight out of college and getting paid for it. Teaching character and responsibility. Building pride in the stars and stripes across the board. Left or right, everyone has skill sets that the military can put to use. So let’s all read 1984 and Animal Farm and put an end to the military industrial complex by reclaiming our production surplus.
Featured image by The U.S. Army via Flickr.