Monday, February 9, 2015

Arithmetic and Radical Jihadism
     If you choose to engage the question of whether we are winning the Global War on Terrorism you may want to consider the fact that there are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.  Sixty two percent of them are under the age of thirty.  Many of these young Muslims are disenfranchised, unemployed, repressed and angry or frustrated by totalitarian governments and bleak futures.  Sixty two percent of 1.6 billion is about one billion.  Half of these are men; 500 million men.  Assuming that just one percent of these angry young men might be inclined toward radical jihadism, that gives five million potential jihadists.  The US military response to organized radical jihadism is to attempt to disrupt, degrade , and destroy these organizations.  Executing this military response requires killing, capturing, or seriously wounding individual jihadists.  The US government estimates that the air campaign against ISIS has killed three to five thousand ISIS fighters and that ISIS is recruiting new fighters at a faster rate than we are killing them.
     Do the math.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

That Costs Extra
     I own two seat licenses at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  On the open market they are worth about twenty thousand dollars.  That fact alone does not gain admission to a single game for me.  The Steelers say that if I want to attend games for a single season I have to send them several thousand dollars more.  That costs extra.  Thus, I have "skin in the game"financially as I watch my favorite team live.
     Many people believe that the complex American defense budget is too large.  In fact, it is larger than that of the next fourteen countries in the world COMBINED.  Many of those same people are also concerned with a widening civil-military gap and rising US militarism.  Two elements of the proposed 2016 US defense budget are the $534 billion base budget and the additional $50 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO); totaling $585 billion.  The OCO budget funds the war in Afghanistan and other counter terrorism operations.  So we have a Pentagon seat license costing $534 billion per year.  If we want the Pentagon to actually do something they tell Congress that's going to cost you another $50 billion.  That costs extra.  Congress usually approves (aka, buys the season tickets) with taxpayer dollars.  Most taxpayers are unaware of the fact that they have been charged extra.
     In order to address the concern of the widening civil-military gap and rising militarism, we might consider a small change in the way we fund the OCO budget.  We could add the proportionate cost of the OCO to every American's individual tax return as a separate war surtax.  This would amount to approximately $1,000 per year for each taxpayer.....creating "skin in the game" for both the average citizen and Congress.