By Paulina Anaya.
Trump’s announcement of a forecasted increase in military spending has been much awaited, though perhaps not in the most welcome manner. Trump’s presidency has no doubt been controversial, and his public statements don’t fall far behind either. Monday’s announcement presented a 10% increase in military spending. Out of a hundred dollars, 10% is $10 – simple math, right? Well, this is not an ordinary 10% sum, as Trump’s forecasted increase would represent $54 billion more in military expenditure.
The U.S. military budget for 2015 was $596 billion – a figure greater than the total sum of the next seven countries with the biggest defense budgets. Here’s a list of all the countries with the highest military budgets on the planet, so you can see the numbers laid out:
|Country||Military Spending in 2015|
|United States||$596 billion|
|Saudi Arabia||$87 billion|
|United Kingdom||$55 billion|
There is a reason no one wants to wage war with the U.S.; not because they would not be respectable contenders, but, because budget-wise, any country is much weaker than the U.S., it is important to keep in mind that since 2015 the figures on those budgets have only risen. Although the U.S. still lands first place in military spending, the current $603 billion budget remains insufficient for Trump. If it is approved, the additional $54 billion would enter the federal discretionary spending of 2018.
The 2015 discretionary spending equaled $1.1 trillion, in the same year $596 billion was set aside for the military. What does this mean? The national priority is clearly the military. 54% of the federal discretionary budget was for the military.
“We’re going to do more with less,” Trump said this morning at the White House; the plan would be to cut back funding for several agencies and use that money for the military. In reality, it would not be doing more with less, but tweaking the current total discretionary budget and tightening all other sectors’ budgets enough to provide the $54 billion that Trump plans to add to the military budget. It is yet to be seen how the President of the U.S. will increase military spending while preserving welfare programs. Besides making a major campaign promise, Trump has also said that this move is one that would “rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we [Americans] most need it”. Perhaps safety around the world is not at its zenith, and it is alright for any nation to be precautious regarding national security and immigration, both very debatable topics on the Trump agenda, but depleted is not exactly the word anyone would use to describe a $603 billion military.
Even more concerning is that only $70 billion are set aside for education, which, compared to the military budget, is a mere crumb. No other country spends as much on its military as the U.S., thus, by investing more in the military than in education the U.S. government is basically investing in the possibility of a future war. It is a heck of a lot of money to be spent on the possibility of war (war is never completely off the table but neither is it completely on it yet), especially if it is at the expense of other federal agencies and sectors. If funding is cut back on education, for example, we’d be diminishing our long-term investment on a brighter future for the coming generations because the key to progress is an educated society. What kind of example is it to say that cutting off funds for education is fine especially if it is for an unnecessary increase in the military budget? Let’s face it, any budget increase in a military already worth hundreds of billions of dollars is virtually unnecessary meanwhile approximately 800 million people live in extreme poverty or are displaced from their homes because of conflict in the countries they come from, which would account for hundred millions more.
Let’s assume that exactly 800 million people around the world live in extreme poverty and that each one lives on $1 per day, my calculations reveal the following:
In comparison to the military, ending extreme world poverty is not a national priority. Of course the calculation I made was based on the assumption that 100% of the 2015 U.S. military budget was used towards ending extreme poverty- something that will never happen- but if just a percentage went towards ending world poverty the U.S. could still “end” it several hundred times. In other words, that military budget would have been enough to sustain 800 million people living in extreme poverty for two years, two weeks and one day. Now that my point has been made, it would be wise to reconsider just how wise or unwise a $54 billion increase in the U.S. military budget would be, considering the circumstances. Where are we letting the government invest our money? But the bigger question is, why are we letting them?
Featured Image: “SALUTE TO OUR MILITARY PARADE, Fairbanks, Alaska” was originally posted to Flickr by Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright. The image has been licensed for fair use by the creator under the Creative Commons license – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). No modifications were made.