It is hardly coincidental that on the same day the estimates of the budget deficit went up another $50 billion Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney announced the cancellation of a stealth fighter plane program which could have cost $57 billion. As painful as the cuts may be for 11,000 workers now facing layoff, we have to start somewhere in dismantling what President Eisenhower called "the military-industrial complex."
Such projects are virtually useless in terms of improving the quality of life of the average person in the United States. If we had paid the 11,000 workers to sit at home, few people would have known the difference. For grim evidence of where uncontrolled arms spending can take a nation, we need only look at the Soviet Union. That nation's economic woes can be traced to the fact that a huge component of the work force even now remains involved in that country's "military complex."
In the closing days of World War II, George Orwell wrote these perceptive words: "To raise the standard of living of the whole world to that of Britain would not be a greater undertaking than the war we have just fought." The task, he said, could be achieved if only we would commit ourselves to it for 20 years.