I was just reading this article in the Washington Post which describes how the US defense budget has more than doubled since 2001, and that doesn't even count the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are calculated separately.
At $513 billion for 2009, the defense budget is larger than the total military expenditures of the next 25 highest-spending nations combined. And the military is getting a 4% increase for 2010.
But here is the kicker - most of it is actually being wasted on things that America doesn't really need, but which tend to better fill the coffers of big defense contractors.
Now, as much as we ever did in the Cold War, and perhaps more than ever with the financial crisis and the looming prospect of having to massively slash social programs to deal with ballooning deficits, America need the wisdom of Dwight Eisenhower (not exactly an icon of Liberalism), who famously said the following (quite well known, but worth quoting again):
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people....Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Ike had it right.