High Reward From Targeting So-called High Risk
|March 11, 2011||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
High Reward From Targeting So-called High Risk
Ex-Pentagon adviser says US should cut Afghan aid
The US is in debt but to cut spending, Americans dont have to suffer. Indeed, we could save money and lives. We trim, blend, and append two 2011 articles from (1) the Weekly Wastebasket, Feb 18 (Volume XVI No. 7) on the GAO by Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS), and (2) Associated Press, Mar 2, on the Pentagon.
by Taxpayers for Common Sense and by the AP
- High Reward From Targeting So-called High Risk
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has made it clear that taxpayers are not getting their fair share of money from oil and gas extraction.
Over the last two years the Department of the Interior (DOI) — the agency charged with assuring the public’s revenues are collected — has not collected the public’s revenue.
Meanwhile the federal government is giving $40 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry over the next ten years.
GAO finds an excess of federal property; a 2011 report found 45,190 underutilized excess buildings in federal hands, and the number is increasing. These buildings cost $1.66 billion annually in operating and maintenance costs.
As potentially the biggest elephant in the room, the GAO estimates $70 billion in Medicare and Medicaid funds are lost to fraud.
Eliminating these improper payments would cut the budget by more than House Republicans are targeting in the FY11 spending bill.
JJS: An even bigger elephant in the room is spending to kill foreigners whom the US disagrees with or might feel threatened by. But at least one man in the military speaks up for reason.
- Ex-Pentagon adviser says US should cut Afghan aid
According to a policy brief by Mark Moyar, a former professor at the Marine Corps University and frequent consultant to US and international forces in Afghanistan and the Mideast, US foreign aid “should be slashed immediately.
Less money should be accompanied by a narrower focus away from common good programs designed to lift the whole of Afghan society and accompanied by clearer security objectives behind each program, Moyar said.
The assessment challenges basics of counterinsurgency theory as the 10th spring fighting season in Afghanistan approaches and American commanders claim tactical gains ahead of the planned start of a US withdrawal in July. In provinces like Helmand and Kandahar, the US has devoted large amounts of money to areas it has failed to control.
Since 2001, the US has spent nearly $23 billion on aid programs in Afghanistan. Moyar echoes Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s sentiment that the volume of US contract cash and development money fuels corruption and delivers as much harm as good.
Moyar says aid should focus on short-term security goals, not long-term democratization or infrastructure plans. Money should be used to buy the allegiance of power players, from national decision-makers to tribal authorities, with the immediate goal of co-opting them on US security objectives.
“Afghanistan is a hierarchical society and elites make the decisions. Most leaders can be bought because they are not ideological diehards.
In Afghanistan, stronger military forces, national police and provincial governments under the control of Kabul will make security better, but he says they need the support of local and sometimes undesirable partners.
Afghanistan ranks among the worst countries in the world for public corruption, a scourge that is pervasive from Karzai’s senior government officials all the way down to local levels.
t’s unclear how committed local figures will be to the American and Afghan government cause if the money dries up. The drawdown in US forces expected later this year will test the strength of US alliances at the local level.
Moyar’s report comes during contentious congressional deliberations over the budget and calls by some Republicans for sharp funding cuts for overseas aid programs.
To see the whole article, click here .
JJS: How much should the most powerful nation on Earth spend for killing foreigners? I dont know. But here’s one way to find out — make war unprofitable. That is, don’t let anyone make any more money off of war — whether waging it or supplying it or planning it — than one can make off of peace. Cap salaries in the war industry at no more than in the peace industry, at the same wage scale of people working in the nonprofit organizations that struggle for peace. Then, if powerful people could not profit so obscenely much from war, I bet they’d be far less interested in waging war and not nearly so insistent that the US constantly be invading some nation somewhere.
To go with this reform on the spending side, here’s one for the revenue-raising side — pay for war in real time; no more borrowing from the Chinese and rich people everywhere. If wars cost a half trillion dollars this year, then people must pay a half trillion dollars in taxes dedicated to nothing but wars. If citizens don’t like paying so much tax, they they’d have to learn to not like waging so much war.
One last idea. You may have noted that a lot of pro-war people are either losers or feel like they’ve been treated poorly by some group. So, let’s make people into winners and treat them with respect. The world won’t any longer seem so dark to them, and they won’t find so appealing the terribly dark “solutions” of today.
Using government policy, how can we make people into winners? Pay them a Citizens Dividend from recovered “rents”, a la Alaska’s oil dividend. How can we treat them fairly? Don’t tax their efforts; just make sure everyone pays for the values they take, not for the values they create. That is especially, don’t tax earnings or sales or buildings but do charge pollution fees and extraction fees and land dues.
This revenue policy is called geonomics. Every time any variant of it has been adopted, it has increased owner occupancy on land. Not only are people who’re secure in their homes less warlike, but once any notable nation adopts this model, its success will ensure it spreading all over the world, giving peace a chance to reign.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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