Thursday, April 12, 2012

PHB On Owning Things

I have a handwritten "post" on hoarding that is apolitical. But this post was sparked because I was too lazy to change the channel when NPR started talking about a nuclear Iran, so there will be some politics, but hopefully not much. This is really more about money.

One of the great frustrations of me and many Americans is the size of our defense budget. It's G.I.G.A.N.T.I.C. The frustration is from the sense that this budget is out of line with our needs, and our ability to afford it. Whether our truly gigantic budget - literally multiples of the sum of the defense budgets of the rest of the world - is out of line is something that should be discussed. Why do we have all our bases abroad? What do we get out of it?

I happen to think that we as a society are better off if we, who are able, take some care of our least able members, allowing them to live a life of dignity and worth which they could not afford or get to on their own. I think this is reason enough for a welfare program and international aid. I do not think it is reason enough, necessarily, for OUR welfare program our our current international aid so we don't need to fight on those details here. That doesn't mean that I don't also seek out reasons why we give other countries money. Some of the money we give out just seems insane.

But some of the insanity may have come clear to me tonight. I've never been all that great with current events and politics. Some of it is from my inherent lack of respect for positions given by bureaucracies - I just plain don't see some connections. Some was because my first exposure to it in elementary school was so confusing and over my head that I just had to put it in a "don't know"/"not good at it" category and it has only been in recent years of reading blogs that I feel I've gotten a bit of a handle on things. Which is what makes me think I should blog about this.

As the commentators (really, some of the most knowlegeable and least divisive I've heard in a while) explained some back history of nuclear weaponry, they discussed the difficulties of what to do now. We'd bombed Japan with nukes and it was gruesome. The scale of nuclear weapons give us the potential to do damage on a previously unknown scale. We the people can wipe out countries in moments. This is a tough thing to face. Who gets this power?

Apparently there was "the Irish Resolution", which is pretty simple on its face, and which was considered unlikely. Essentially, my understanding of it from the show is that those countries with nuclear weapons can keep their technology but must not sell it or gift it to others. Those without must not seek to gain nuclear weapon technology, and all must be subject to inspections. Who would go for that? Well, in exchange for promises of protection the world went two decades without any non-nuclear countries becoming nuclear. Hunh. Who knew that would work so well?

But that key piece in there is that those with nuclear vowed to protect those without. Retaining ownership of the bomb means that our defense budget and personnel aren't just for us, they are for our neighbors too. Because the cost of NOT providing that protection is having more nuclear weapons in the world. Containing and negotiating with the governments who do have them is tricky enough. Every new player adds significant complexity to the fragile balance. And that might be worth spending some defense budget money that seems on the surface, rather gratuitous.

File this under "things that make me go hrmmmm."

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