1920's Soviet propaganda
The eagle watches from the mountain
As the warriors turn into fools
And the dice are thrown on sacred ground
And they move closer to the truth
--Closer to the Truth, Tony Joe White
are [sic] there justice and conscience in the USA?
And who are the people that
really respect justice and conscience?
Dr. Nguyen Trong Nhan
A soul for a piece of bread.
Misery makes the offer; society accepts.
--Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
When discussing warfare, Americans often use the imagery of guns and butter when reckoning costs. We are now so affluent, or at least so able to borrow funds, we think that we can have both guns and butter without sacrificing either. We cannot, however.
Federal poverty guidelines for a family of four is $22,350, and you can bet that income doesn't allow for much butter on the white bread. Consider survival for your family of four at that level of income: That is $5,588 per person per year, $465 per person per month, or $18 per day.
Contrast that with the $800,000 expended per year per perpetually incarcerated prisoner at Guantanamo Bay (the Cuban Club Med), which is approximately $2,100 per prisoner, per day. We bet that they eat better and get better medical care than do our poorest American citizens. Halal food is better than the E. coli tainted tubes of Smithfield Farm turkey the Walmart denizens may choose.
An MRAP costs anywhere from 400,000 to $800,000 (depending upon Bluetooth and Sirius radio compatibility.) The cost is before theatre-level upgrades, organic weapons and commo gear. We have at least 10,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan, not counting those left in Iraq. A Humvee goes for $140,000, leaving Ranger with sticker shock.
His original thought was to compare poverty guidelines with the cost of a single machine gun, but that cost is not readily available. A 2005 figure of $4,080 for a Minimi purchased from Belgian conglomerate FN is much less than a previous figure of $15,000 for the 7.62 version, but cost were not readily available online. (Any knowledgeable cost estimates would be appreciated.)
Contracts total 100's of Billions, but as the number of guns are not listed, unit prices are unknown. But to the basic weapon, one must add the price of assault packs, top-end optics, telescoping stocks, lightweight bipods and shorter barrels. All involve separate retrofit contracts which went to FN, an off-shore company with U.S. factories. Other contracts went to Colt, HK, Glock and Baretta, all foreign-owned.
Provenance matters: Why does a Superpower buy foreign weapons to fight its wars? Our needy citizens get minimal financial assistance while our war profits go overseas.
What happened to U.S. arsenals like Springfield and Rock Island, to include arsenal ammunition production? What of Winchester, Remington, H & R, Inland Division G.M. and all the other U.S. weapons designers and producers? These firms kept money in the U.S. to finance butter while churning out the weapons systems.
When the cost of a single machine gun can exceed a year's poverty-level income for a family of four, something is rotten, and it's not in the state of Denmark. That country and its neighbors do not seem to suffer the social ills that perpetually eat away at our bottom half.
When a machine gun fires and will not stop, it is called a "runaway gun"; expending the belt or twisting it is the only way to shut the gun down; a straightforward fix for an attentive gunner. But how do we stop the downward spiral of someone in the beaten zone of long-term poverty?
The Russian Revolution was founded on the slogan, "Peace, Bread and Land". People were tired of war and they were hungry.
Are we close to being animated by that slogan, yet?