This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Preface



Download 4.42 Mb.
Page133/137
Date31.05.2016
Size4.42 Mb.
1   ...   129   130   131   132   133   134   135   136   137

Helping American Veterans


After World War II, the GI Bill helped millions of veterans to go to college and otherwise readjust to civilian life. But many observers say that the United States has neglected the veterans of later wars. Although education benefits and many other services for veterans exist, the nation needs to do much more to help veterans, these observers say (Baker, 2012; Shusman, 2012). [39]

The high unemployment rate of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has made this need even more urgent. As one business writer put it, “Collectively, it is our patriotic responsibility to help our nation’s servicemen and women thrive in today’s economy” (Gerber, 2012). [40] Advocates for veterans with severe physical or cognitive problems also urge the government to greatly expand its very small program of monthly cash payments to these veterans’ families to help replace their lost incomes (Einhorn, 2011). [41]

As this brief discussion suggests, US veterans have many unmet needs. Our nation’s failure to meet their needs is shameful.

Other Impacts of War


When we think of the impact of war, the consequences for civilians and veterans as just discussed come most readily to mind. But not all civilians are affected equally. One of the many sad truisms of war is that its impact on a society is greatest when the war takes place within the society’s boundaries. For example, the Iraq war that began in 2003 involved two countries more than any others, the United States and Iraq. Because it took place in Iraq, many more Iraqis than Americans died or were wounded, and the war certainly affected Iraqi society—its infrastructure, economy, natural resources, and so forth—far more than it affected American society. Most Americans continued to live their normal lives, whereas most Iraqis had to struggle to survive the many ravages of war.

War also has impact beyond the consequences for civilians and veterans. As historians and political scientists have often described, wars have a significant economic and political impact. Many examples of this impact exist, but one well-known example involves the defeat of Germany in World War I, which led to a worsening economy during the next decade that in turn helped fuel the rise of Hitler.

War can also change a nation’s political structure in obvious ways, as when the winning nation forces a new political system and leadership on the losing nation. Other political and economic changes brought by war are less obvious. World War I again provides an interesting example of such changes. Before the war, violent labor strikes were common in Britain and other European nations. When the war began, a sort of truce developed between management and labor, as workers wanted to appear patriotic by supporting the war effort and hoped that they would win important labor rights for doing so. Although the truce later dissolved and labor-management conflict resumed, labor eventually won some limited rights thanks partly to its support for the war. As a historian summarized this connection, “By the end of the war, labor’s wartime mobilization and participation had increased its relative power within European societies. As a result, and despite the fact that endeavors to reward labor for its wartime cooperation were, in general, provisional, partial, and half-hearted, it was nonetheless the case that labor achieved some real gains” (Halperin, 2004, p. 155). [42]

Other types of less obvious social changes have also resulted from various wars. For example, the deaths of so many soldiers during the American Civil War left many wives and mothers without their family’s major breadwinner. Their poverty forced many of these women to turn to prostitution to earn an income, resulting in a rise in prostitution after the war (Rafter, 1990). [43] Some eighty years later, the involvement of African Americans in the US armed forces during World War II helped begin the racial desegregation of the military. This change is widely credited with helping spur the hopes of southern African Americans that racial desegregation would someday occur in their hometowns (McKeeby, 2008). [44]


Militarism and the US Military Budget


As discussed earlier, President Eisenhower eloquently warned about the influence of the US military and the size of the military budget. The defense industry remains a powerful force in the US economy six decades after Eisenhower issued his warning, and US military spending continues unabated. In 2011, military spending (defense outlays by the Department of Defense and certain other agencies; outlays include costs for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars) according to the government was approximately $768 billion. Defense outlays rose by 85 percent beyond inflation between 2000 and 2011 (see Figure 16.2 "US Defense Outlays, 2000–2011 (Fiscal Year 2005 Dollars)").

Figure 16.2 US Defense Outlays, 2000–2011 (Fiscal Year 2005 Dollars)

http://images.flatworldknowledge.com/barkansoc/barkansoc-fig16_002.jpg

Source: US Census Bureau. (2012). Statistical abstract of the United States: 2012. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Retrieved fromhttp://www.census.gov/compendia/statab.

Clarifying the Military Budget


As large as it is, the $768 billion just cited as the “official” figure for the US military budget is misleading in at least two ways. First, it excludes several military-related costs such as veterans’ benefits and interest on the national debt from past military spending. When these costs are taken into account, thetotal 2011 military budget ranged between an estimated $1.2 trillion and $1.4 trillion (Friends Committee on National Legislation, 2012; War Resisters League, 2012). [45]

Second, the government states that defense outlays accounted for almost 20 percent of federal spending in 2011 (US Census Bureau, 2012). [46] However, the calculation for this statement excludes the additional military expenses just discussed, and it uses a misleading measure of federal spending. This latter fact needs some explanation. Federal spending includes both mandatory and discretionary spending. As its name implies, mandatory spendingis required by various laws and includes such things as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and interest payments on the national debt. Much of these mandatory expenses are funded by trust funds, such as Social Security taxes, which are raised and spent separately from income taxes. Discretionary spending involves the money the president and Congress must decide how to spend each year and includes federal income tax dollars only. Critics of the military budget argue that it is more accurate to cite its share of discretionary spending rather than its share of all federal spending (i.e., mandatory plus discretionary).

Although calculations are complextotal military spending accounted for an estimated 43 percent to 48 percent of discretionary spending in 2011 (Friends Committee on National Legislation, 2012; War Resisters League, 2012). [47] To put that another way, between 43 percent and 48 percent of all federal income tax dollars were used for military expenditures that year. This percentage range is much higher than the 20 percent share of federal spending cited by the government solely for defense outlays.


Directory: site -> textbooks
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License
textbooks -> Preface for Teachers
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Preface
textbooks -> Chapter 1 Introduction to Law and Legal Systems
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Organization


Share with your friends:
1   ...   129   130   131   132   133   134   135   136   137




The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page