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Author Topic: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex  (Read 1622 times)

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Offline tednlou2

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Thought this was worth a mention.  As much as people like to talk about General and President Eisenhower, I'm often surprised his warning is often dismissed without much reflection.  His warning has obviously come true.  I believe our current defense budget is around $900 Billion per year???  I know the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not counted in the defense budget under Bush.  I'm not sure whether this has changed now. 

It seems Americans have just accepted that we spend so much on military.  Contractors purposely put plants in just about every district in order to ensure funding stays in place.  I believe for one plane, parts come from over 30 districts.  It is always funny to me how many complain over spending for welfare or "pork" projects, which is really pocket change.  Many push for drug testing for people who get food stamps or other assistance.  There was a bill introduced here in KY to do just that.  So, it is strange how so many are very willing to spend so much on military and wars, but complain about $1 Million going to a science center.  Or, they complain about taxes, but still want this kind of military spending.  We know who is getting rich--companies like Halliburton and Lockheed.  It certainly isn't the troops who often have to rely on assistance.  Eisenhower warned about spending so much on military that all other programs would have to fight for what's left.     

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#41126403

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY


Offline pozniceguy

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 10:53:19 AM »
Many people I know  are very aware of the "warning"  by Gen Eisenhower.....  and are very grateful for all the jobs provided by that industry.  Interesting to note that almost every significant  scientific and many medical advances have come about because of the involvement of that industry....  A whole industry(  integrated circuits and  other chips)  now running almost every device in the world  was pioneered by the Military projects   even mundane stuff like  Velcro came out of a military contract......    so while  weapons are expensive  the science and manufacturing capacities created by the industry have enormous impact on the general society
Much of the Money goes into  research and development, before it gets to the actual manufacture of equipment, many of the development contracts are awarded to Universities and Laboratories....there is a long and complex chain of events  that provides essential research/development/ and scientific breakthrough to get to the advanced capabilities of current Military Hardware...
   Congressmen want it in their district because it provides jobs  and in many cases recognition  for the Universities and Labs in their Home state 
and BTW as a percentage of GNP  the amount on Military spending has been shrinking since the Reagan years   and is slated to get smaller every year in the  proposed budgets

Nick
remember the good times...honor the past but don't live there
Le stelle la notte sono grandie luminose, nel cuore profondo del Texas

Offline mecch

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 11:02:36 AM »
Obviously there are tons of economic benefits to a huge military industrial complex, but come on isn't there another way to keep science and technology advancing, and people employed, without the ultimate purpose being war and death?  Wasn't that his point, having witnessed the destructions of WWII?
I heard that the US military budget is slightly larger than ALL the other budgets combined around the world.

National defense is important but so are many other things government spending can do.

Maybe the federal govt could just say, OK, let's balance the budget exclusively with military cuts, and tax revenues. What, suddenly China will invade the US?
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Buckmark

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2011, 01:55:44 PM »
Interesting to note that almost every significant  scientific and many medical advances have come about because of the involvement of that industry....  A whole industry(  integrated circuits and  other chips)  now running almost every device in the world  was pioneered by the Military projects   even mundane stuff like  Velcro came out of a military contract......   

It's pretty bold claim to state that almost every significant scientific and many medical advances came from the military industrial complex.  And sounds outrageous unless you can back it up with some evidence.  The example you cite about Velcro is incorrect.  It was invented by an individual in Switzerland.

Let's imagine for a minute that the claim is true.  That would mean that government spending is good and leads to tangible benefits for US citizens.  But that doesn't jibe with the myriad of conservative politicians who claim that "big government" is crowding out private business and stifling innovation in the private sector.  And yet most conservatives are generally big proponents of military spending (which, yes, has been shrinking but is still a huge portion of the federal budget).

I just don't understand politicians reluctance to support other government spending, for example, healthcare, and yet have no problem supporting military spending.  Actually, I do.  Congress members listen to and are supported financially by big, well-connected businesses , and not to individual citizens.

Regards,

Henry





"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline thunter34

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 04:31:27 PM »
That mohawk has made you fiesty, Henry.
AIDS isn't for sissies.

Offline zach

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 05:28:55 PM »
Velcro, invented by Swiss hunter George de Mestral in 1940, but didn't really do much until NASA (Air Force) started using it. Not very tactical stuff though, opening velcro is a sure way to draw pesky enemy attention.

True, the US Military spends way to much money. To clarify, not quite 900 billion, but whats a few hundred billion among friends.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/factsheet_department_defense/
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 05:40:25 PM by zach »

Offline Buckmark

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 08:30:05 PM »
That mohawk has made you fiesty, Henry.

The mohawk, and years of therapy.  8)
"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline tednlou2

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 01:34:33 AM »
Those velcro shoes came in handy before I learned how to tie my shoes.  The point is taken how the military has made many scientific advances.  My point was how we're willing to spend so much on military when we have so many problems here at home.  We have an infrastructure that is in desperate need of attention.  We have a health and education system in serious need. 

We either have to raise taxes to maintain defense spending or make cuts.  Reagan ran up defense spending so much that cuts to education and other programs were cut.  Many believe this was done on purpose to starve other programs.  Secretary Gates has given several speeches how we cannot keep funding defense at current levels and has asked for cuts.  We make planes that the military doesn't want and don't work.  Is it really necessary to still have troops in Germany, S. Korea, etc?  You know we'll be in Afghanistan and Iraq for decades.  Many defense companies commit fraud by overcharging or low-balling estimates when they know it will be much higher.  This happened with the new fleet of Marine One helicopters that Bush ordered.  It came in billions over budget and was canceled only after outrage.  I'm sure the outrage only came because many thought Obama had ordered them as they would be delivered during his presidency.  Halliburton was purposely overbilling for services in Iraq.  They would claim, for example, that they fed, did laundry, and other services for thousands more troops than they actually did.  The important question is whether people in the defense lobby secretly push for more U.S. military action in the world, so that we keep buying their products.  No wars or being the world's police, no need to buy so much equipment.     

As for the $800-$900 Billion, there is disagreement about these figures.  I guess it depends on what is included in "defense" as to how you come up with the true totals.  The true figure is somewhere between $700-900 Billion for 2011--when you include nuclear weapons and things like that.  And, when you include interest on the debt to fund these levels. 

http://stonegardeneconomics.com/blog/?p=1117

http://www.ourdime.us/355/budgetinfo/national-defense-spending-growing-fast/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#38159201

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#29898517

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#33525272

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#30079360




Offline pozniceguy

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 01:51:29 PM »
Thanks guys  appreciate the interest,  I was  part of the "complex" for many years both in the government and in Industry.   the "velcro" comment"  was a misstatement  on my part  I was at Lockheed when they decided to use that technology and licensed it from the inventor... made some changes  to the basic  design and construction and used it to hold the cables on the side of missiles... that was the product that became so popular...

as for the research and development I was personally involved in many programs that supported advanced research and development of electronic products as well as some manufacturing and assembly techniques  which have become the basis for most of the production in effect today....   the  electronic  gyro that is the mainstay for most location systems, the technique of  "blow moulding"  that is the standard for large "pieces" of molded flexible materials  ( like car bumper covers)  , the large  spin moulded Fiberglas  tubes  for missile casings, (  become sewer pipe liners and even light poles) many of these items were "invented by individuals"  but brought to practical and useful status by support from Military funding.   
if there was another way to push the technology  for "commercial purposes" I have seen little inclination to do that.  Most universities that are serious researchers seem to work very hard at getting contracts from government agencies in particular the Pentagon  or DARPA.
so is that the only way to make these things happen?  ...obviously not  but it seems it is the the primary way that many of these advances happen  because the "risk" factor is too high for many private investors

Nick
remember the good times...honor the past but don't live there
Le stelle la notte sono grandie luminose, nel cuore profondo del Texas

Offline pozniceguy

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 02:20:34 PM »
as a different point in the discussion  they ( the politicians)  support the Military budget for the reasons stated earlier  ,,they respond to their constituents...about jobs....  all those military/Pentagon   contracts  equate to jobs  in their districts...every year there is a review of "uneeded" military installations and weapons  the Military always has a long list of things/bases they dont need or want....  but when it comes down to closing a base or canceling a contract there is a huge push back from the congress.   even the "independent" review panel that reccomends base closure/consolidations  get huge heat for their recommendations

 the estimates vary  from a factor of 3x  to 10x as the multiplier for money  spent in support of military projects and bases....Military bases  hire contractors, local employees and spend   for utilities and other supplies in their communities  it all means support to the political district.  Military members move in and out of communities  spend money on both ends ...

so just "cutting"  the budget is not a simple exercise. there is tremendous impact every time  there is a cut  usually to the local economy/jobs/ housing  etc

Nick
remember the good times...honor the past but don't live there
Le stelle la notte sono grandie luminose, nel cuore profondo del Texas

Offline mecch

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2011, 04:40:57 PM »
so just "cutting"  the budget is not a simple exercise. there is tremendous impact every time  there is a cut  usually to the local economy/jobs/ housing  etc
Nick

No one is denying this.
The point is, do elected leaders have the will and wits to find a way to reduce military spending, anyway.

For example, consider just the local regional impact in terms of jobs and leave aside the question of techonology and science, research, etc.

What if the loss of jobs were offset by grand public works spending.  What is, say 100 billion were cut from the defense budget but 50 billion was reallocated and spent on public works.  Wouldn't there be a multiplier for public works, as well?
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline pozniceguy

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 05:42:22 PM »
I agree there is always another way to do something.....is there the will or the wits  as was mentioned.... probably not  at least none has surfaced in the last 50 yrs or more ( as long as I have been associated with it)  every Military installation including many large manufacturing facilities  is a small  to mid sized city , owned and operated by the government .They consume services / supplies and jobs in just about all categories   from Janitors to   Embalmers , they provide contracts for housing/ apartments/food/ transportation /schools and just about anything you can find in a typical city  plus a few unique services and jobs.  Most other government funded activities are concentrated on a particular purpose  or need and seldom cross as many lines needed to support them as a Military installation.  so while other programs can be formulated  such as public works... ( usually roads, parks and sewer systems)   the Military instalallations already do all that with local labor and it almost always impacts the community in a major way..   so sure get your congressman to sponsor road building, parks , sewer  and other major infrastructure  and he/she will run headlong into all sorts of   " me too"  groups and will bog down into spending the money on studying the problem and try to figure out who is first in line.
I have personally talked with my congressman in every place I have lived in the states ( except Calif)  ...MA, OH, MIS, TX,NV, and FLA ...always got the same reaction  Military spending gets them the best bang for their area..with one vote

the next best thing is  "earmarks"  which seems to be on outs right now....

Is that too cynical??  probably, but after more than 50 yrs of being closely involved I think it is a pragmatic assessment.....  any "new folks" willing to jump in and "change the way Washington works" ...I will hold judgment on that one till I see action on the Presidents desk
so far I dont see any significant changes in the way it operates
Nick
« Last Edit: January 20, 2011, 05:45:57 PM by pozniceguy »
remember the good times...honor the past but don't live there
Le stelle la notte sono grandie luminose, nel cuore profondo del Texas

Offline bocker3

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Re: 50 Years Ago Today, Eisenhower Warned Of Military Industrial Complex
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2011, 10:34:03 PM »
There was a recommendation, a few months back, to close the Joint Forces Command here in Virginia.  Let me tell you -- every politician went nuts.  Even the new majority leader, Eric Cantor, weighed in on how this was a bad move.  You see, reducing spending is only a priority when it impacts someone else, if it impacts "me" then it is an ill-timed or badly thought out move.  There are lots of jobs associated with this command and no one wanted to lose votes by having things "get worse" for their constituents.

So -- I say, No -- there is no will to make changes in priorities.  And.....  that lack of will is from both politicians and citizens alike.  NIMBY is an incredibly tough foe to beat.

Mike
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