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The Military: Closer to You Than Your Family

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What author Nick Turse calls the military industrial technological entertainment academic media corporate matrix is even closer than that.  I am typing this on an Apple computer, and Apple is a major Pentagon contractor. But then, so is IBM. And so are most of the parent companies of most of the retail chains around the country. Starbucks is a major military supplier, with a store even in Guantanamo.  Not only are traditional weapons manufacturers' offices now found alongside car dealers and burger joints in suburban strip malls, but the car dealers and burger joints are owned by companies taking in huge amounts of Pentagon spending.  A $4,311 contract back in 2006 went straight to Charlottesville's Pig Daddy's BBQ.

Almost no neighborhoods lack members of the military and military supporters, Marine Corps flags and Army bumper stickers.  If you wanted to get away from it, where would you go?  (Please don't shout "Leave the country!"  The U.S. military has troops in the majority of the nations on earth.)  When one family tried to get away from jet noise in Virginia Beach by moving to a rural farm, the military quickly opened a new base right next to them.  There is no escape.

I've seen local job ads for the National Guard, and for work "researching biological and chemical weapons" at Battelle Memorial Institute, and for work producing all kinds of weaponry at Northrop Grumman.  Then there's Teksystems, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and Pragmatics, and Wiser, and many others with fat Pentagon contracts.  Employers also recruit here for jobs in Northern Virginia with Concurrent Technologies Corporation, Ogsystems, the Defense Logistics Agency, BAE Systems, and many more. BAE, by the way, paid a $400 million fine last year to the U.S. government to settle charges of having bribed Saudi Arabia to buy its weapons -- just the cost of doing business.

From 2000 to 2010, 161 military contractors in Charlottesville pulled in $919,914,918 through 2,737 contracts from the federal government.  Over $8 million of that went to Mr. Jefferson's university, and three-quarters of that to the Darden Business School.  And the trend is ever upward.  The 161 contractors are found in various industries other than higher education, including: Nautical System and Instrument Manufacturing; Blind and Shade Manufacturing; Printed Circuit Assembly; Computer Systems Design; Real Estate Appraisers; Engineering Services; Recreational Sports Centers; Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences; Commercial and Institutional Building Construction; Analytical Laboratory Instrument Manufacturing; Sporting Goods Stores; Professional and Management Development Training; Research and Development in Biotechnology; New Car Dealers; Internet Publishing; Petroleum Merchant Wholesalers; and on and on and on.  I think I mentioned Pig Daddy's BBQ.

What could be wrong with so much socialistic job creation?  Well, just this: investing money through the military actually produces fewer and lower paying jobs than investing the same amount of money in most other industries, or even in tax cuts for working people.  It's worse economically than nothing, and yet it's all Washington wants to do.  We are putting over half of every dollar of federal income tax and borrowing into the military.  We could cut this by 85% and still be the top-spending nation in the world militarily.  Meanwhile we are failing to invest in infrastructure, green energy, education, housing, jobs, and care for our young, old, and ill.  The current trend will ruin us economically, as well as in terms of civil liberties, representative government, environmental destruction, social cohesion, hostile blowback, and weapons proliferation.  Reining in the military industrial complex has become a matter of survival.

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