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The Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Why Profit Can't Trump Security

I like to remind folks that we spend as much on our military as all the rest of the world’s countries combined. But to be precise, our exact percentage of spending, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, is only 48 percent of the world’s global expenditure on the military. I’d like to point out that that’s an awful lot of money.

According to, between now and 2013 we will spend about $3.6 trillion on everything from guns to grub so we can kill or be killed. And all of that spending — if you listen to the recent health care debates — is the bad kind.

All that $3.6 trillion is basically the government spending our money without our consent. Unless you think Congress represents you, in which case you must be ignoring the SurveyUSA poll that puts public support for a health care public option at 77 percent. Which would make passing that part of the bill a no-brainer if we had a representative republic, but we don’t.

That enormous expenditure for the military includes a public option. Soldiers voluntarily join a government-sponsored program for their own well-being or for somebody else’s well-being. Sometimes they choose that public option because it’s financially advantageous and other times join just because it seems to be the right thing to do.

Imagine opting for the government option over private enterprise, such as getting a job at the mall, just because you think it’s morally correct. Shocking!

Let’s face it: The military is a socialist enterprise. It’s run by the government and every bit of it is financed with taxpayer dollars. If you try to withhold financial support for the military you’d better have a good lawyer, because there are penalties for not supporting the government and they include jail time. Go to if you dare and check out what happens to you if you don’t pay what Congress decides you owe.

And more than just a fiscal government program, the military tells the members of the public option what to do, even in their spare time. They tell soldiers who they can and can’t kill, how much weight they must gain or lose and even what sort of romantic relationship a soldier may openly pursue.

Where are the redbaiters when it comes to the thought police in our socialist military infrastructure? Where’s the crusading right wing on these issues?

Even Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly know that if the military were a private enterprise it would have to turn a profit and the consumer choice would be required. If people didn’t like the product, they wouldn’t have to buy it.

What would happen if 50 million Americans decided that they didn’t need the military and refused to buy “military coverage”? Well, the rest of the decent Americans would pick up the tab with higher premiums and use their taxes to pay for unnecessary emergency war visits.

What if the president ordered the military into a hurricane-ravaged region but the for-profit military didn’t think they could make any money filling sand bags? Well then, the for-profit military could decide to deny the Defense Department’s claim and not provide the service.

Our founders knew that the public defense was too important to leave to the private sector. That’s why it’s against the law to desert your post. Imagine making it against the law to deny health care coverage? The thought makes me quiver with joy.

That’s why I’m sick of this health care debate. Our government clearly believes forcing U.S. citizens into compliance with a government agency is acceptable. Because of these public-option soldiers, our inner city youth and rural farmland kids are told to be proud of enlisting in the government option when the private sector fails them.

Can’t find a job in the private sector? Can’t afford tuition at a local college? Join the military and Uncle Sam will employ you. Why isn’t the right wing fighting this unfair competition in the marketplace?


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Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States."  Her new novel, The Magic Diary, is due out in late spring.

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