Friday, August 1, 2014

I love all child refugees but … where will the money come from? Part III

Quote from a Facebook friend:

“Much as my heart breaks for the children who want to come here because circumstances are better … circumstances will not be better here if we allow more people to live here than we can afford to support.”

So says one of my Facebook friends.


Note: This is the the third in a series articles entitled “I love all refugee children but ...” In the series, I discuss the child refugees that recently started flooding into the United States from nations torn by drug wars, poverty and deprivation.      Your own comments and views are welcome as well.                                         



I am so glad that she  brought up this topic, as it is an important question and one that is well worth discussing.

My friend is burdened with taxes and cannot afford any more increases.   She is concerned that our population is growing too fast, especially our unemployed workers. Hers is a sister remark to an earlier question: Where will the money come from to deal with the influx of newcomers. I will address both in this article.

I sympathize with her.  I too, feel that my tax burden is already high enough.

Two questions remain: “Can we afford to accept these child refugees? Or can we afford to reject them?

I. Where will the Money Come From?

The money should come from the national budget.

Furthermore, with proper planning I believe there is no reason for processing or care of these children  to require any increase in taxes (which I will elaborate on in just a little bit).

In my opinion, the federal government should reimburse reasonable, actual costs to states that welcome refugees, but that is possibly a topic for another time.

Question: “Wouldn't accepting the refugees just be growing government bigger and bigger?”

Answer: “No, I don't think it would unless we wanted it to. There is no logical reason that a refugee program would automaticaly grow the total size or of government, at leassst in terms of cost.”

Please allow me to explain how and why this is true.

A Note For Religious and Spiritual Readers:

The Bible says:“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. [Leviticus 19:34]


Legitimate Question: “What if no families come forward to accept these kids?”

Will they not become wards of the state? 

I would find that inconceivable, that  kindhearted, generous Americans would find it in their hearts to sponsor a child, but for the sake of argument, let's ask ourselves: "What if none did, or what if not enough did?"

Answer: We would be okay and the children would finally be safe. And if we treat them kindly, believe you me, they will never forget that.

Government facilities to temporarily house these children already exist!

During the last 15 or 20 years the government has closed about 350 or 400 military bases. Umatilla Army Depot, for example, in my old home county of Umatilla, Oregon, reportedly was set for closure by 2015. The facilities included barracks, mess halls, recreation facilities (gymnasium), thousands of acres of land, some them already landscaped and more. These have, for the most part, been sitting there unused or underused, for decades.

Furthermore, another round of BRAC (Base Reuse and Closure) is probably about to begin. A 2005 Commission recommended that Congress authorize another BRAC round in 2015, and then every 8 years thereafter.

 Even though the bases already exist, they are only one of many potential avenues to explore. My point is that we can easily find physical facilities to house some of  these kids temporarily if we only choose to do so.

It is not a matter of whether we can house them if necessary, but whether we care enough to do so.

“Won't all these children become permanent wards of the state?”

That seems highly unlikely: Very few children presently require permanent barracks or living facilities, since 56 percent of the newcomers are released to family members who already live here in the USA.

Living quarters, like so many other aspects of this issue, are not a matter of scarcity, but of priorities. We can make excuses until the cows come home, but it boils down to whether the American people have the will to make good things happen. The question is not, “Are there facilities?” 

Rather it is, “Will we rise to the occasion?”

But we have no extra money!

False: Let's look at some simple budget facts concerning the Federal Budget and discretionary spending:

Extra slop in defense spending

Defense spending is a legitimate need, in my opinion. However, wars of aggression, invasions of other nations, and wars of choice are not necessarily legitimate needs.

But even when we are not fighting there is enormous room for give and take, and I hope to convince at least some readers of that in the paragraphs that follow.

To use a frayed analogy, the national budget is much like the budget of a household, only with larger figures involved.

Your wife or husband's “want” list may include a lot of extras: a vacation in Europe, perhaps. That trip may be fine if you have the money, but not a  true need.

Survival for ten thousand or more children, on the other hand, is a need, and we ought to adjust our national priorities accordingly.

It is like a family where one spouse likes guns, pickup trucks, fishing boats and vintage guitars perhaps; the other spouse likes diamond jewelry, trips to Europe and designer clothing; and then  the kids may want to go to Disney World.

But stuff comes down the chute: Suddenly our sister in Oklahoma  dies and her children become homeless and one of the family wage earners is laid off.  What do we do? We adjust our priorities and makes some compromises. So we go to Europe one year and buy the vintage Gibson archtop the next year, or five years from now. (Let's not go into motorcyles, four-wheel drives and restored vintage cars, though I would love to.)

Candy Stores for the  Military-Minded

I am a veteran of the US Navy, and I believe there is a place for the military and preparedness. However, when I look at the record of certain US Congressman (Buck McKeon comes to mind), something seems whacky.

Look at it this way: If the president of your company came and asked you if you could use anything in the budget next year, what would you do? If you were like most people, you would add a few extra things just in case they came along and started cutting later. And if that worked, if you got away with it, you might add even more the next time. Why not? Your division is important to the company and you do a great job. Am I right? And that is exactly how it works with the military establishment and the Pentagon.

Except that, with the military establishment, the contractors have gotten away with far more padding than most people ever imagine (as I will document below).

To make matters worse, nobody in government wants to be the one who voted against military spending if a worst case event happens, so Congress errs on the side of caution. Always. Please stay tuned, because the figures below will speak for themselves. The result is a military spending budget that becomes more gloated year after year.

By way of introduction, the military budget for FY 2010  was $851.3 billion. That is just for one year. Now, that's a lot of money! But how much exactly, in every day terms?

I divided correctly, the above amount is roughly enough to build some 28 million brand new homes at $300,000 each. [Mathematicians, did I do that correctly? Thanks for checking my math.]

And that is just one year's military budget. Over ten years, military spending is devouring the equivalent of 280 million new homes. That's a lot of homes. Note that there are 115 million families (or households, more accurately) in the United States. So when you support new military spending, you want to think long and hard about whether this spending is a want or a need. We basically spend enough on the military to buy a new home and a new vacation home for every American household. Again, this is assuming my math is right.

USA compared to the rest of the world 

In 2013, the United States accounted for  36.9 percent of the entire world's military. Spending. Please let that sink in.

The USA spent roughly $600 billion on the military that year.

By comparison, the next highest spender was China, which weighed in at  $122 billion. But China has international borders with 14 sovereign states, more than any other, except Russia, which also has 14. In addition,  to that they have  a land border of 13,743 miles,  the longest land border of any country.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

The United States, by way of comparison has 5,525 miles of border with Canada and 1,989 miles with Mexico, a total of 7,514 miles.   Our maritime border reportedly includes 95,000 miles of shoreline.  The number sounds high to me and I had to wonder if the figure included places like the Philippine Islands, Guam, Midway, Japan ... you get the idea. But I just don't know. The article did not explain that very well.

Nevertheless, U.S. Navy reportedly has a larger budget than the entire Chinese military.

http://defensetech.org/2014/04/09/chinas-navy-advances-as-u-s-budgets-flatten/#ixzz39AdVgS5oDefense.org

 Our arch-enemy, Russia, with the third highest military budget, spent only $68 billion! And the amounts for various nations go down from there.

You may or may not have heard the constant stream of spin from Chairman of House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon, but he is always harping on how unprotected we are due to the leadership of President Obama, whom he never miss a chance to criticize and condemn. This is the Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States! Excuse me, I know this seems like a digression, but I am getting at something here, because Congressman McKeon's dislike for the President drives him to spend Government money like water, but not on the right things! He and others like him take $ millions that could be used for helping people like the child refugees, and wastes them on obstructionist political antics.

Really! Senator McKeon is the one who headed up the $3 million, fruitless, Benghazi investigation, the resulting report of which I believe is about to be thoroughly discredited. Watch for it in the news. You see, Mr. McKeon does not mind spending $ billions for unneeded military machinery, nor $ millions for anything that he thinks might discredit our standing President, Mr. Obama. And he is not alone. This is just another example of the extravagance of the mind set of the people in the House of Representatives who are holding the country hostage today. Extravagant when it suites their agenda. Not otherwise.  Frivolous law suites, 50 attempts to overthrow the health care act, spend sped spend with reckless abandon in attempt to thwart a progressive social program, on and on, all paid for with, guess whose money? Yours and mine. Are you seeing a pattern here? I sure am.

Now if we allow ourselves to take our frustration out on helpless children like these refugees, that is not worthy of us.

Fighter jets, tanks and smart weapons are Buck McKeon's domain. Let's take a look at what some of these super-toys cost: We have already learned that the US budget is approaching a trillion $$ per year for the military. But what do the various weapons cost, and how useful are they?

Would you believe, nuclear weapons?

Wait a minute. I thought that the USA was interested in making the world safe by stopping the proliferation of … groan. Not so at all, it seems

According to a 2012 article  <http://www.ploughshares.org/what-nuclear-weapons-cost-us>  the USA was set to spend over $600 billion on nuclear weapons programs over a ten year period.

All that time we were threatening war with other countries that were building nuclear power plants because, according to the spin at least, there was the mere possibility that they could adapt the technology to make nuclear weapons.

Is anyone seriously gearing up for a nuclear war? Apparently so. Wouldn't such as state be a threat and an unsettling factor for the entire world. Yes indeed.

Like North Korea, the USA must have nuclear war in mind.

Source:  http://usmilitary.about.com/od/armyweapons/l/aainfantry1.htm

I have read mixed reports on whether the USA is now going forward or backwards on this issue under President Obama. For example see this:

“The International Nuclear Material Protection and Cooperation saw the highest cut of $260.6 million. This deep cut can be explained by the several actions taken by the Obama Administration in 2010 and 2011 through the Threat Reduction Initiative. [Emphasis mine.]

Unfortunately the same article also  claims that the USA is simultaneously beefing up our capacity to return to producing nuclear weapons in the future. But a cut of $260  million for something as useless and objectionable  as nuclear weapons was possible!

Can you see how easy it would be to find a few $ million or even a few $$ billion for social services, refugees, infrastructure development, research and more? If only we were not so warlike. Again, this are matters of choice. Do we really need to spend more on defense than the top seven other countries? I question that, but there is big money at stake isn't there?

I think I can declare with certainty: It is not scarcity but fear of foreigners that holds us back from helping child refugees and doing many other positive things. A few thousand, even a few million refugees could not break this nation if we only would order our priorities.

[Note: If you find a legitimate problem with any of my sources please let me know so that I can correct my error.  Accuracy is important to me and to my readers].

I am trying to talk here,  about budgets and priorities and reasonable applications for defense purposes.  How many military items would we need to forego in order  to save ten thousand children from death, poverty and miserable living conditions?

The answer is: Not very many. We would not have to cut much at all, as will be seen below.

To save ten thousand children we will have to look for some serious savings, but where?

Jets and Excess Air Power: A story of useless or unused Raptors


According to the above site: “Many people say the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is the best fighter jet in the world, hands down. One thing is for sure — it’s the most expensive at $211 million per unit.”

I believe the DOD budget had 188 of these on its budget in 2012,  the time of the article.

That was published in 2012 by Buck Sexton, as were the next few items. [See  http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/01/13/here-are-five-of-the-most-expensive-military-weapons-on-earth/ ]

That information may no longer be correct, or it may have been flawed to begin with. However another site describes a history of ordering/purchase changes, budget cuts and and re negotiations etc. That site concluded as follows:

“In April 2006, the cost of the F-22 was …  $361 million per aircraft ….  Cost was estimated at $178 million in 2006, based on …” etc.  Good information can be hard to come by as the situation is constantly changing. At one point the total program cost was to be  $62 billion, around $339 million per aircraft. In March 2012, the GAO increased the estimated cost to $412 million per aircraft.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-22_Raptor

But say, once of these jets at the lower estimate of $211 million each? Would the military really miss just one if it saved the lives of every child refugee that Latin America could possibly send us? As we have seen, the numbers of these aircraft that are really necessary are indeed quite flexible.Some of them are surely expendable.

On the other hand, caring for refugee children is not an extravagance, it is a need. Not only do they need us: We need them! These children are going to show what we are really made of ... for better or for worse.

Perhaps  you are thinking the USA could not possibly spare even one aircraft: "You will make our nation vulnerable to attack!”

You may change your mind after you read about the case of the unusable Raptors and Eighty billion $$ tied up in admittedly excessive or unusable air power:

My source (ABC News) published in 2011 an article that speaks for itself:

“More than five years and nearly $80 billion after the world's most expensive fighter jets joined the U.S. military fleet, the high-tech stealth F-22 Raptor has yet to see combat -- despite the U.S. Air Force's involvement in three simultaneous major combat operations.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/77-billion-raptor-22-fighter-jets-war/story?id=13322450

The USA had tied up $80 billion in aircraft that we could not use, even though we were at wars involving air strikes. One article noted that it was determined that the Raptors were not suitable for the modern kind of wars that we were involved in. Words to that effect.

Five of the Most Expensive Killing Toys in the World: Wouldn't you like to know how much the five most expensive military weapons cost? Here goes,  as reported by to http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/01/13/here-are-five-of-the-most-expensive-military-weapons-on-earth/

Please keep in mind that the numbers are constantly changing, as upgrades are made, as the military orders more, or fewer,  aircraft than originally planned, so the figures may be outdated (and the numbers can go either way, up or down).


A Brief Aside for Religious and Spiritual Readers

The Bible says this: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” [James, NIV] 

Submarines

The Virginia Class subs were among the most useful strategic tools in the DOD arsenal.  These nuclear submarines reportedly can carry 38 different weapons, including Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, mines and torpedoes. The Department of Defense supposedly had 30 of these $2.5 billion mobile undersea missile platforms budgeted.

 I believe that information has been deprecated, as the subs were considered too expensive.

Now the U.S. Navy is said to have awarded General Dynamics Electric Boats a record $17.645 billion in April, 2014, Funding the construction of 10 new SSN 774 Virginia-class Block IV nuclear-powered attack submarines.

“The Block IV award is the largest shipbuilding contract in US Navy history in terms of total dollar value.”

That's over $1.7 billion each. Not million … billion.

Source: http://defense-update.com/20140429_u-s-navy-orders-block-iv-virginia-class-submarines-worth-17-billion.html#.U9wuD_ldWSo

Trident Ballistic Missiles

$66 million each not counting research and development, and the Department of Defense has 561 Tridents on budget at the time the article was written. . Equipped with a three-stage rocket, the missile is capable of traveling at more than 13,000 miles per hour, and has a range of 4,600 miles.

The new, upgraded M109 Howitzer

“The U.S. Army has finally allowed its latest upgrade of the 50 year old M109 self-propelled 155mm howitzer to go into production. Initially 18 of the new 27 ton M109 PIM (Paladin Integrated Management program) will be produced, along with 18 of the 26 ton armored M992 CAT (Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked) ammunition carrier vehicles. These carry 90 rounds (the M109 carries 39) and have a crew of 3. Each pair of vehicles cost about $14.5 million. The M109 PIM has been in testing and revision (from problems found during tests) since 2011.”

Have you seen it? What a beauty. I can see why someone like Buck McKeon would want to order  a dozen or two. Heck it is so beautiful, I really want one myself! I just think it would look so cool sititng on my front lawn. My neighbors would be so impressed as they drove by.

But these are quite spendy as noted above, even though the basic design is apparently 50 years old? Can that be right? But that is what it says.

Each Pair (I guess they come in pairs, like horses and carts.) costs $14.5 million if my source is correct. It does cost a lot of money to kill people the American way. But if I were in the military I would surely want one of these to hide in as I went blasting the world to smithereens.

I could go on indefinitely but you get the idea. I will just list a few more high cost items.

The  V-22 Osprey – $95 million

A hybrid plane/helicopter  — called a “tiltrotor aircraft” – which means it can engage in extremely short take-offs and landings, as well as hover in place.

Has a much longer range than a helicopter. The Osprey is a transport craft that can travel up to 390 nautical miles without refueling at speeds surpassing 260 miles per hour.

If my source is correct, the 459 Ospreys  cost $95.2 million dollars each.

The Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer

Also known as the DDG 5, this destroyer reportedly has been part of the U.S. Navy’s fleet since 1995. These days there are about 60 in active service, with 15 more in the DOD budget. At more than 500 feet long, stem to stern, the larger generation of Arleigh Burkes displace roughly 9,200 tons, with 350 servicemen on each vessel.

The newest generation is equipped with two vertical launching systems for Tomahawk missiles, a 5″ gun, torpedoes and an advanced mine-detection system.

Hey, only $1,299.3 million each. I think we should have one stationed here in Richland, Washington. Or better yet, let's have them built right here! That would be a boon to our economy. ( Please do not take me seriously.)

I do think destroyers are clearly needed if we are going to defend all our coastlines.

But do we need every dollar that is in the Defense budget? I seriously doubt that. A minor cut in the DOD budge could probably provide for all the refugees who come here for the next 100 years.



How to increase tax revenues without increasing tax rates

A tax crisis occurs when the economy shrinks. Recessions don't always just happen: Sometimes they are intentional, as is the case when obstructionist politics comes into play.

You may say, “Nevertheless, I do not want to cut the military budget and I do not want to raise taxes either. What other options are there?”

Answer: “Plenty of options.”

Letting the military serve

Give the soldiers something of value to do! Put some of them, after screening to eliminate perverts, in charge of care and some of the instruction of these kids!

Well, I am getting tired so I am stopping for now.

I have many more ideas. You probably do. Talk to me. I have much more to say as well, but I have worked on this all day, and have not even taken time to practice the guitar: That is a no-no when you are paying for lessons.

I invite you to comment within the bounds of respectful discourse. I welcome your opinions, even if they may be contrary to my own, but please be cordial.

About me, Frank Ellsworth Lockwood


  • Retired public school resource room specialist
  • Fifteen years direct experience working with immigrant children.
  • Washington certified former public school teacher
  • Education MS in Education from Eastern Oregon State Universtity
  • Master's project topic: Reading styles of limited English proficient children
  • Author of the new novel: “Captains All” by Frank Ellsworth Lockwood, a coming of age story for adults.
#childrefugees #immigrant #immigration #refugees

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