Congress Proposes to Increase Military Spending to $700 billion

 

Approved by the Armed Services Committee by a 27-0 vote in late June, the overall Senate bill provides $640 billion for core Pentagon operations, such as buying weapons and paying troops, and another $60 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Trump’s budget request sought $603 billion for basic functions and $65 billion for overseas missions.

As their House counterparts did, the Senate bill rejects Mattis’ plan to launch a new round of base closings starting in 2021. He told lawmakers in June that closing excess installations would save $10 billion over a five-year period. Mattis said the savings could be used to acquire four nuclear submarines or dozens of jet fighters. But military installations are prized possessions in states and lawmakers refused to go along.

Any base closings? Any discussion about cutting back on the ambitions of its advocates, the global footprint, the number of missions, the empire maintenance? Nope. Just like every other function of government, it continues to grow.

Are you kidding me? We have wars to fight, people to kill, money to spend, and jobs to protect.

Here.

 

That $65 billion in “overseas missions” is called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund.

It is a separate pot of funding operated by the Department of Defense and the State Department, in addition to their “base” budgets (i.e., their regular peacetime budgets). Originally used to finance the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the OCO continues to be a source of funding for the Pentagon, with a fraction of the funds going to the State Department.

Since the OCO fund has very little oversight and is not subject to the sequestration cuts that slashed every other part of the budget in 2013, many experts consider it a “slush fund” for the Pentagon.

Details here.

 

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Air Force could recall up to 1,000 retired pilots

Flash:

The Air Force could recall up to 1,000 retired pilots after President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at addressing what the Pentagon has described as an “acute shortage of pilots.”

The order, which Trump signed Friday, amends an emergency declaration signed by George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Under current law, the Air Force is limited to recalling just 25 pilots. The order signed by Trump temporarily removes that cap for all branches of the military.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, said in a statement that the Air Force is currently “short approximately 1,500 pilots of its requirements.”

Any discussion about cutting back on the ambitions of its advocates, the global footprint, the number of missions, the empire maintenance? Nope. Just like every other function of government, it continues to grow.

 

BLACK LIBERTY MATTERS

This is an interesting article on how liberty is interpreted through the lens of American history. And its not good.

Starting with history and American history, here is Samuel Johnson’s bitter rhetorical question about the American revolution: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”

Because:

. . . But often it is masters. Understanding all too well how they rule over other human beings, they identify being ruled like that as the great social evil, and they fiercely refuse to be subjected to it. Slaveowners and their neighbors can see what unfreedom is like, and they resist it for themselves. This is only partly because they come to identify their freedom as their freedom to own and rule slaves, and are desperate to protect their status as masters. In a more general way, they become very sensitive to anyone proposing to treat them as they treat slaves.

And:

The language of freedom in American political discourse has very often been appropriated for the defense of white supremacy. We have often heard the loudest yelps for liberty among those trying to protect the terror and apartheid states of the Jim Crow south, the quasi-serfdom of sharecropping, segregated schools, miscegenation laws, and the suppression of black votes. Particular types of freedom or particular strategies for limiting governmental power—freedom of association, religious liberty, federalism, bicameralism, and so on—all came to be identified at one point or another primarily as ways to prevent the federal government from breaking the power of white rule, just as before the war the protection of private property rights had so often been identified primarily with the protection of slaveowners’ supposed property in other human beings.

Conclusion:

Reimagining libertarian politics in light of the truth that black liberty matters will take a lot of intellectual and moral work. And this task, reorienting a set of ideas and ideals in light of a morally compromised history, of understanding what lessons need to be learned from it, of separating the arguments for liberty from the yelps, is insiders’ work. No one else is going to do it for us.

That’s for sure.  Read the whole thing.

Notes About Automation

Automation scares people these days: driverless cars, robots doing housework and manufacturing parts, devices that listen and talk to you.

Automation means a machine of some sort does the work instead of humans. “Machine” is a generic term that changes depending on the situation. Consider something you may be familiar with, for example, automatic payments to pay some of your bills. Do you pay your cable, electric, mortgage, rent, credit cards, or insurance electronically? That’s automation. You no longer manually write checks or send cash and there is no person on the receiving end opening the envelopes or counting the cash. There is no mail delivery to transport the checks or cash. Imaging yourself having to write 15-20 checks per month. No frickin’ way. The convenience is too good to give up.

Well, automation is taking place elsewhere, and that’s what we see. Do you have an electronic account with the medical center or hospital? Let’s you see your lab results, schedule appointments, pay bills.

And that’s only you as a consumer involved. How about business-to-business or within an organization? That’s robots or just some computer software to automate calculations.

Technology, of whatever type, is important to automation because that is the physical thing doing the work. But technology is useless without human action to invent the ways in which it could be used. Even a chainsaw is an improvement over an ax. And a car is an improvement over a horse.

If you’re worried about people losing their jobs, well, automation takes over the repetitive tasks humans can do. It may seem better to have a job where you perform repetitive tasks over-and-over, but after a while you’ve perfected the movements, what’s left? You’d feel like a machine, a cog in the wheel. That’s not good for your mental health.

Direct Primary Care Health Care

Reason TV:

Today there’s a small but growing movement of doctors who are opting out of the traditional health care system by no longer accepting insurance. This new approach is is called “direct primary care,” but it’s essentially a throwback to an era before insurance companies were responsible for covering routine services like ear infections or strep cultures.

. . .

Dr. Ryan Neuhofel, who’s been running his own direct primary care practice in Lawrence, Kansas since 2011, has a page on his website that lists the cost of each procedure, which the patient, not the insurance company, actually pays.

Need an x-ray? That’s $25 to 40, along with a monthly subscription fee that runs from $35 for minors to $130 for a family of four.

Most direct primary care practices charge a monthly subscription fee. It allows them to offer other services, like answering patient phone calls, text messages, or even having appointments over Skype—services that our insurance-dominated system doesn’t allow for.

And $55 per month for 19-69 year olds, and $75 per month for 70+. This can supplement your existing bloated health insurance, or maybe, depending on your circumstances, replace it. Get DPC for routine but get health insurance for catastrophic care.

You read that right. Finally a way out of the bureaucratic, government-organized cartel that is health insurance today.

Now, before you pooh-pooh the idea, do a little research to see if its right for you.

DPC Frontier is an organization for more information including a map to see if there’s an office near you.

Here’s a nationwide chain, Paladina Health:

Paladina Health is a subsidiary of DaVita HealthCare Partners, a Fortune 500 company recognized as a 2015 Top Workplace by The Denver Post. This is the fourth consecutive year that the company has appeared on the list, a list that is determined entirely by feedback from employees.

 

 

Cleveland OH Building Economic Ties to Cuba

Here:

In Havana last Friday, representatives from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority signed a non-binding “memorandum of understanding” with the country’s maritime authority aimed at laying the groundwork for potential future trade.

“The money is starting to flow down there,” said Darrell McNair, chairman of the Port Authority. “You don’t want to be last to the party in a situation like this.” In recent years, ports in other statesincluding Virginia, Alabama, Texas, and Louisianahave reached similar agreements. Cleveland, he said, is the first northern port city to do so.

More on Free Trade

From Daniel Hannan. . .

In Ricardo’s day [David Ricardo identified the idea of comparative advantage], protectionism was seen for what it was: a way to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich. Today, we have an extra 200 years of evidence proving that point. Would you rather be poor in North Korea or South Korea? And yet, against all apparent reason, free trade continues to be howled down as something exploitative.

Here is an example of comparative advantage:

She [Deirdre McCloskey] gave the example of 12-year-old Oliver helping his mother spring-clean the house. Mum can do everything better than Oliver: sweep the garage, polish the furniture, change the lightbulbs. But it still makes sense for Oliver to sweep the garage, freeing her up to do the tasks where she has greater comparative advantage.

 

Daniel Hannan’s new organization supporting free trade is here.