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Military spending - why amounts don't mean what you think they do

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posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 05:28 PM
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Every time I read/hear people compare the US military to China or Russia I often hear people say dumb things like "who cares about them - they spend like 5 or 10% what we do on their military - do you think they can compete?". This is the dumbest and most ignorant thing I can imagine when it comes to comparing military spending between countries with such vast differences in their economies and political structure.

There are a few points that need to be addressed when it comes to this topic. The elephant in the room is overcharging the military as well as projects that never produce a usable product (multi-billion or ten/hundreds of billion $ projects that produce lumbering beasts - often "scraped"). A lot of our budget goes to making corporations rich b/c they charge $800 for a $2 O-ring or some such non-sense. And then we have no-bid contracts where the prices for products are outrageous. I don't see those things happening to the extent in Russia and I've never heard of that in China. There may be some such corruption in Russia but I doubt it is anywhere near the extent due to how their gov runs. China has an even tighter control on their military contractors from what I have gleaned from reports. They just get more for their money in these areas due to this factor.

Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) - This is like when you go to a poor country (Cuba was a good example) and find that you can live on $1-2 a day on their local economy and have decent food/drink/etc. The amount the country spends is in THEIR dollars/currency. Look at how much a doctor makes in Russia or China compared to the US. If a tank in the US costs $30 million, China may produce it for $2-5 million and Russia for $4-10 million (these are just examples, IDK the real differences). Add into that they are getting better product per $ because of less corruption/up-priced items - then this aspect is amplified greatly.


Government subsidies - we have these to in the US in the form of no-bid contracts and other under-handed methods used by the MIC. But China takes this to a whole new level, and Russia does it as well in some aspects from what I have read. This makes the products that they buy for the military less expensive so they can afford more of the products. I'm not sure of all the methods used in China, but they could offer the production company lucrative contracts for the civilian market where they make a lot of money (either from sales or actual gov subsidies - or even gov subsidizing shipping/cargo fees) This allows the company to sell military products at very low costs and have a net positive revenue stream. So they could even take a loss selling ammunition, night vision, scopes, drones, etc to the military and make it up selling other products to their ever-growing middle class and in the export market. I think Russia does this as well to an extent, though they are more secretive b/c we don't do business with them like we do w/ China.

Asymmetrical Warfare - things like cyber attacks and EMP's and such. These are things that can be done for relatively very little cost compared to conventional warfare and there is often plausible deniability and difficulty sourcing the attacker. These "brigades" can also be cloaked within government agencies not attributed to the military - they could even have dual roles where they provide support for society and also as an arm of the military (especially in intelligence gathering). They could fund these branches at the same level as their military and it wouldn't show up as military spending yet they can have serious potential as an offensive and defensive measures either as a first strike or retaliatory - all from a "non-military branch/operation"

There are other reasons the numbers don't matter so much but they needn't be explored here. Just know that when you hear people make comparisons and statements like that they are showing their ignorance of the matter or they are idiots, or worst of all colluding with the enemy.




posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 05:38 PM
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The military contracts keep a lot of people working here in the U.S. It is not just about corporate profits. It is also about good paying jobs. Tens to hundreds of thousands of workers depend on military contracts for work to feed their families and also contribute to the economy. I would much rather pay someone here in the states good money to produce quality items than to have Chinese companies make cheaper equipment and pay their people next to nothing in wages.

We just got done welding and producing some steel for a project at Boeing. The economy depends on our military more than people would like to admit.



posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 05:44 PM
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a reply to: liejunkie01

It's a catch-22 for sure.

Bloated over budget waste yet many jobs created, still has to be a better way.



posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 05:53 PM
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a reply to: DigginFoTroof

I know what you mean.
I was watching a maintenance guy change an oil seal on a machine and he told me that the part was $42 from the machine manufacturer.
He went to napa and bought the same seal for $6.

I'm sure the same thing happens on an Abrams tank or an f16.



posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 06:00 PM
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A lot of that US budget goes to honest R&D
The Chinese just pirate everything from the other countries.
Why foot a bill when they can steal it for free ?
Or , purchase decommissioned WW 2 equipment from Russia ?

edit on 11/27/18 by Gothmog because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 06:03 PM
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a reply to: DigginFoTroof

Same could be said for medical equipment and medical supplies.



posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 06:28 PM
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The Military Industrial Welfare System and road to quick riches for a select few.



posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 07:58 PM
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originally posted by: Bluntone22
a reply to: DigginFoTroof

I know what you mean.
I was watching a maintenance guy change an oil seal on a machine and he told me that the part was $42 from the machine manufacturer.
He went to napa and bought the same seal for $6.

I'm sure the same thing happens on an Abrams tank or an f16.


I did some research into prices of some parts used in the military and it was unbeleivably high for many common parts. This same thing happens in the civilian market as well. I looked at the pricing (private/confidential) for a shop that outfits police cruisers, fed SUV's and emergency vehicles. A light bar that wasn't even top of the line was near $3,000 and it didn't even have sirens. It used low quality LED's and wasn't even low profile. The thing probably cost the installer $2-300 as I found near identical items sold from China for less than $100.

Then you have radios and electronics, those are marked up a huge percent and installation is very costly as well. Even things like a smart phone mount, ($3-400) or a laptop mount ($600-1200). These things aren't worth what is being spent on them and people spend tax dollars like a drunken sailor.



posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 08:01 PM
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So do you guys agree that we can't compare military spending on a dollar/dollar basis? Do these issues (I forgot to add piracy and R&D in my list, thanks for adding that!) give the other countries an unfair financial advantage where their money goes farther? When an engineer makes $5-6,000 per year in China or Russia vs say $70,000/yr in US means they can hire 12-14x the engineers for the same amount spent - this goes for R&D, production (welders, fabricators,etc) and all other aspects. They have a SERIOUS financial advantage by having a "weaker" economy (less inflation I would say) .



posted on Nov, 27 2018 @ 08:06 PM
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a reply to: DigginFoTroof

Good thread

Couple things to add

First, just like all spending, it’s not about how much, but how wisely we spend

Look at education. Every year we through more money at it, and every year we get worse results.

Also, I get frustrated at accusations that military spending is cut in certain administrations

That is actually clever word play

In reality, these “cuts” are to the increase l, not the actual budget

For example, let’s say we spend 1 million dollars on the military in one year

We then increase that 10 percent every year for the next five years

That means 1.1 million year two spent, 1.23 or so year three, and so on

Then after year five, we only increase 5 percent

In reality, that would still mean we added 5 percent to military spending from year 5 to 6, but that would be called a 5 percent “cut”

Just a pet peeve of mine how people use language to play politics




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