Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Matter of Priorities

F-15 Armament Load
According to an article in the Council on Foreign Relations, the United States spends substantially more on military endeavors than any country in the world. If war spending and allocations to the “Global War on Terror” are excluded, the U.S. military budget is still more than seven times that of its next closest competitor, China. If you include those other expenditures, U.S. military spending surpasses that of all other countries in the world combined.

Now there is some debate on whether or not defense spending, specifically spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hurts or helps the U.S. economy. Certainly, the military-industrial complex feels strongly that defense spending helps the economy. Building guns, tanks, planes, and ships creates jobs, after all. And the more we blow up, use up, have shot down, or see that military equipment sink to the bottom of the sea, the more we have to manufacture, and that makes for steady employment, if not great longevity for our troops. It's also interesting to consider that in addition to all the money we spend on blowing things up (shock and awe), we spend another bundle paying major U.S. corporations like Halliburton, to "reconstruct" them (all in the interests of "nation building").

One quarter of each dollar we pay in taxes (actually twenty-six and a half cents) goes to the military (not including veteran's benefits). But that doesn't tell the whole story. Because we've had to borrow money to pay for our wars, we pay another five cents of every dollar to service the debt; a debt by the way, whose interest accounts for the third largest portion of our tax dollar.

It seems to me that the question comes down to priorities; could we be creating jobs by spending our [borrowed] money on something more permanent, such as modernizing our deteriorating infrastructure, i.e., domestic reconstruction, or on improving our inner city schools (two cents of our tax dollar goes to education), or, god forbid, on health care?

What do you think?

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