U.S. Gov’t Defense Budget vs. Fire Fighting

Jim Washburn has an eye opening, if a bit inflammatory, opinion editorial in this week’s OC Weekly:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it is flat-out insane for a nation to spend billions on a missile defense shield while leaving itself defenseless against the damage that any nitwit, domestic or foreign, can do to us with a single match. A great many experts will tell you a missile defense shield simply won’t work and that, moreover, none of the terrorists we regard as a threat have a missile that could pester us. Meanwhile, the threat of arson is so palpable that I could instead be writing this article in big letters in the layer of ash blanketing my neighborhood.

Why even mention the missile defense shield at this charred moment? Because we have only so much money and resources. We have only so many scientific minds. We have only so much civic will. And we are frittering it all away on a bunch of fearmongers’ hardware instead of on programs that might ever conceivably do us some good, particularly in weeks such as this.

Do you know how many nuclear warheads the U.S. has? As of February, we had 10,729 operational nukes, and Bush wants to build a pricey new generation of treaty-busting ones.

Do you know how many firefighting tanker planes we have? Thirty.

For a nation that has spent the last two years venerating Firefighters, why don’t we allocate them the resources and staff to do their jobs?
San Diego, with a high proportion of tax-cut fervored Republicans, got caught with their pants down. Right or Left or Center, we Americans need to rethink our approach to essential services and infrastructure and tax accordingly.
I don’t know about you, but I think I would like a well-staffed and equipped fire department, clean water & air, good roads, and effecient sewage treatement over more warheads.