Beyond the hypocrisy is a much larger point: National security is the fundamental safety net.
I’m sure some of my beloved critics will say it is hypocritical for me, a professed small-government advocate, to defend military spending.
Indeed, I do favor limited government. But what I really favor is constitutional government. And the preamble to the Constitution calls for the federal government to “provide for the common defense.” The very next phrase, by contrast, calls for it to “promote (not provide for) the general welfare.”
In other words, provide guns, promote butter. Provide swords, promote plowshares. Or, to make it a bit more current, provide a strong military, promote charitable relief for the poor.
Calls for more spending on food stamps and other entitlements at the expense of defense twist the constitutional mandate upside down.
Defense is the one area where government should be – needs to be – big enough to let everything else exist. Without it, we will no longer have the luxury of debating how much to spend on education, health care and food stamps. Those become trivialities when your national survival is threatened.
I say all this with a major caveat: Defense spending is indeed wasteful and in many cases corrupt, as is the case in government at every level.
I witnessed a bit of that as a junior-level Army officer decades ago, on something as simple as leave. It was laughably easy to game the sign-in and sign-out procedures to gain an extra third to a half as much vacation time as you deserved. But the colonels at the top of my department did it, so everybody else below them did it, too.
Imagine if everybody took only the time off they deserved. Productivity would soar. And that is just one example. Everybody knows the procurement process is larded with waste and corruption.