Of those government functions which are exclusively meant to be done at a Federal level in the United States, one of the most obvious is the military. The Pentagon, after all, receives in excess of $600 billion in federal dollars annually, dramatically more than any other military on the planet.
That’s not stopping individual US states from throwing growing amounts of money at them as well, however, with many states looking to bribe their way out of future base closures by bankrolling upkeep on the bases, and in some cases significant upgrades.
The schemes started cropping up in 2009, when the military started shifting money out of their construction budgets and started pushing Congress to allow them to close military bases that they neither need nor want. Congress has opposed the closures, but states seem to believe they’re in a bidding war for keeping bases.
States defend the expenditures on the grounds that military bases generate considerable commercial activity, though they are also in some cases spending hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading bases that, ultimately, the Pentagon may not want anyhow.
With states facing budget crunches, many are trying to buy the continued presence of economically important sites, but in the case of Pentagon bases analysts see them throwing their money away, as the upgrades they’re buying are unlikely to have more than a marginal impact on base closure decisions anyhow, and may just leave them with shiny, new boarded up bases.
5 thoughts on “States Increasingly on the Hook to Keep Military Bases Open”
Here in Pendleton County, West Virginia, the Navy just closed a small base. It had been a base used mostly by the NSA to gather radio data from foreign sources – a mission being transferred and centered at a mega-facility in Utah. The base was valued at $200 Million and no-one wanted it. No federal agency wanted it – even the State turned it down as a possible prison site. The base has office buildings, a fire department, housing and it is deemed worthless. Of course, all of the well-paid civilians who worked at the base are frantic and leaving. The GSA will auction it off, eventually. Maybe, someone will buy it for the copper pipes in the buildings. What a lesson in the absolute uselessness of military spending.
"…lesson in the absolute uselessness of military spending."
Perhaps "politically-influenced" military spending is more appropriate. The pols are always funding stuff the military has no need nor want of.
You have a point – the Navy base at Sugar Grove, WV was a product of the largesse that old Sen Robert Byrd directed to this part of Appalachia. The real irony is that his "people" here have turned on Byrd and the Democrats and are now as deeply Red as any country club in Mississippi. It is so weird when people who are dirt-ass poor vote Republican. Of course – ignorance, racism and extreme clannishness usually go along with white poverty. But, it makes for a toxic mix that is not welcoming to the urbane, educated, and progressive population that an rural area would need to make use of of a modern facility stranded deeply in true "flyover" country. In this area, the social event of the year is deer hunting season. Ask for couscous in any local diner and the waitress would slap you for talking dirty to her.
Been there – know it well. As a matter of fact, here in Vermont we have pretty much the same problems except here the teabagger-influenced have ginned up the "American Exceptionalism" emotion to the point where many believe that the military can do no wrong and you are vocally damned if you even imply differently. They refuse to even consider the fact that the US policies might be even remotely responsible for the current declining state of the world – and that especially includes all 3 of those elected to represent us in DC – Bernie most especially.
And not to forget, as the rightwing radicals have hijacked the Conservative message, the leftwing radicals have hijacked and corrupted what was a liberal message. Now, it's all just "what can you do for ME, instead of "them" that are different."
And they all worship at the alter of America the Great!! But please, don't pull the bandage off the scab of truth that lies underneath. They won't believe it and they will despise you for putting it in their faces. But, hey, it's pretty here in the Spring.
They don't call it a military-industrial complex for nothing.
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