With the growing consensus of the job-killing unsustainability of federal spending, an idea that has long been whispered in the corridors of power is now finding a wider voice among a striking coalition of fiscal conservatives, religious pacifists, Six Sigma business black belts, and traditional gun nuts.
On Thursday, Senator Horst Gelignite, ranking minority member of the Senate Armed Services Committee made the case for defense vouchers - excerpted below - from the Senate floor.
“For over two centuries strict constructionists have conceded the federal government a monopoly on national defense. Over that same period, per-capita spending by the military has increased in adjusted dollars at twice the rate of inflation. Yet is the world a safer place? I submit that it is not. By all objective measures, government militaries are an expensive failure. It’s time to boldly flip the status quo on its ear.
“Foreign relations are twentieth-century relations. American priorities need to reflect the times. A disturbingly growing number of citizens no longer feel safe in their own homes. They’re choosing to practice their own defense paradigm, which is their natural right.
“Many of these people are choosing to invest directly in their own defense, whether it’s extra sash locks on their windows, weekend karate lessons, or a comprehensive basement arsenal.
“It’s not fair to make these people pay out twice, once for hardware and then again in government taxes. In today’s uncertain world, the defense dollar should follow the citizen.
“On one hand we have American Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Quakers who are scrupulously opposed to conventional military operations, believing that conflict can be better resolved through other means such as good works, meditation, and mediation. They should be given the means to effect these beliefs. Preliminary cost-benefit studies on these practices are very promising.
“On another front, a half century of conventional militarily-mediated conflict between Israel and Palestinians has brought taken us nowhere. Americans are weary of the stalemate It’s time to settle this thing one and for all by allowing taxpayers to direct their share of money to the side that can make the best case for it in the free-marketplace of ideas.
“It’s not a proper role for the government to be picking winners and losers abroad. Recent studies by respected, independently-funded think-tanks are suggesting that the best way out of the middle east conflict may be merely by equally funding all parties until the whole thing boils over into Armageddon.
“In this respect, I believe as a Republic we are ultimately obligated to trust and defer to the persevering insight and innovative independence that Americans have historically brought to difficult issues. Families are where the defense-values rubber meets the world’s cold hard road. Folks spend wisely when it’s their own money and I have no doubt that a public-private partnership approach toward defense through tax credits and direct vouchers will bring out the best in American ingenuity.
“Moreover, making the army and air force compete a bit for their share of tax dollars will make them leaner and more innovative. Frankly, I see defense vouchers as a win-win for America in the long run.”