Letter to the editor: Government spending should be transparent and aimed at bettering lives

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Perham Focus by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Perham Focus. To submit a letter, email or mail it to Perham Focus, Box 288, Perham, MN 56573.

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By John Rutten, Perham, MN

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

President Dwight Eisenhower warned the country of this ever-present danger in his farewell address.

Yet here we are debating another budget and how to spend the people’s money, and on what priorities.


The Pentagon is seeking another $700+ billion in this 1-year budget. They have multiyear weapons systems that are consistently over budget, with no end in sight. They are rarely required to submit themselves to an audit, and if they do, they either fail to finish the report or fail miserably. The Generals that run the department don’t even know where all the money goes, because there is no accountability across this vast “empire,” as reported in the investigation mentioned below. Yet Congress will casually pass this massive spending package without so much as a whimper.

Why is this so? The bottom line is -- and I hate to frame it this way but I don’t know how to separate the issue -- that the Pentagon budget is an accepted form of social welfare that both democrats and republicans can hide behind without any reprisals from their constituents. There is not a single district in the country that does not have defense department money flowing to it. So who is going to vote against such a bill that benefits “my” district? With such a hold on the imagination of the country, how can this ever be any different?

I could blather on about complexities and lack of transparency from this one bloated part of our government, but suffice it to say, from my point of view, it is well past time to turn “swords into ploughshares.” Just think if Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, and the rest of the military-industrial complex were building what the Chinese have built with their “public funding” -- high-speed trains, housing for their people, updated water systems, roads and bridges, incentives for students to gain the skills needed for health care, education and the trades. You get the idea. Instead, we continue to give Generals and Admirals more money than they even ask for.

I support the Biden spending proposals. Putting $350 billion per year into child care, greener energies, and the like are not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. It is less than half of the Defense budget per year, and will go to people who will spend it locally on necessities to make their lives better. And the kicker is that with a few tweaks to the tax code, a hard-nosed Pentagon spending review, and a myriad of other spending adjustments, this could all be accounted for to make the country stronger. Furthermore, the country supports such proposals.

Please call your Congress reps and let them know your point of view.

To listen to NPR’s On Point Podcast on this very important issue, search for “On Point Podcast, September 20, 2021: Is the Pentagon Budget too Big?”

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