By Christopher Overfelt
I am going to use a personal anecdote to illustrate the absurdity of the $793 billion National Defense Authorization Act recently passed by Congress. As a mechanic in the Air Force from 2002 to 2011, I spent much of my time documenting the work I performed on aircraft. This meant that after every job completed, I had to log into a computer program and enter what task I accomplished, what aircraft I worked on, and whether or not that aircraft was safe to fly again.
The computer program we used to document our work was an outdated one from the early 1990s. In 2003, the Department of Defense decided it needed to update the platform. A software company called Oracle was contracted to design and implement the updated program. Year after year, we were told that the new program was coming while we continued to use the old program. The project ballooned in cost and went well over the time it was supposed to take. In 2009, the project was finally scrapped, never to be implemented. The Department of Defense paid Oracle $1.9 billion for their work, despite never finishing the project. If you check Oracle’s stock now in 2021, you will find that they are one of the highest grossing tech companies on Wall Street.
The National Defense Authorization Act, like the Department of Defense, is a misnomer. There is no defense involved in this spending bill. It is a siphon for taxpayer money into the hands of corporations like Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and the list goes on and on. If you look at the financial records of your local Congress member, you will find these same corporations funding their campaigns. Members of Congress get to tout “troops” and “patriotism” while pocketing cash in exchange for sending our taxpayer money into the pockets of corporate America.
$793 billion can go a long way towards providing Americans with the health care, education, climate change mitigation, and housing we so desperately need. Why then, year after year, do Democrat and Republican politicians continue to spend more of our taxpayer money on the military? As the old saying goes, “look to see who profits.”
—Chris Overfelt, a member of Veterans for Peace, serves on the Board of PeaceWorks-KC. Copyright 2021, Chris Overfelt, Rosie Davila, Pace e Bene, Veterans for Peace, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.