-Andy O’Brien, Assistant Editor
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a $3.8 trillion budget for the next fiscal year. The plan calls for raising military spending from $523 billion to over $600 billion. Meanwhile, some estimates say that the total U.S. government debt will reach $21.7 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2015.
America has long had the world’s most formidable armed forces. A study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies found that the U.S. spent $581 billion on military expenditures in 2014, which was the most of any country. Next was China, coming in at $129 billion. Only six countries in the world spend more than $50 billion on defense annually.
Despite the spending disparity, the American people are still hesitant about demilitarization. Our paranoia veils the reality that we spend four and a half times the amount of any other nation on our military. If wars were won by the dollar, the U.S. could defeat all other top-ten defense spenders combined, and still have over $15 billion remaining. America’s defenses are well equipped to take on any threat.
And lately, we haven’t been threatened enough to justify all of our spending. During the Cold War, we were involved in an arms race that demanded mammoth spending and constant innovation. The world is in a different place now. Although we have less than friendly relations with some nations, we are not in direct contention with a world superpower the way that we were with Russia. It’s time the American people realize that our military might, although impressive, is also excessive.
America doesn’t need to raise defense spending. Here at home, we have a myriad of problems facing our own people today. The American Institutes for Research found that in 2013, there were 2.5 million homeless children in the U.S. The same year, 69 percent of college seniors graduated with student loan debt. The average amount owed was over $28,000. As usual, there are more problems than money to solve them. Unfortunately, we consistently allot money to places where there are not problems that the American people face.
By attempting to increase the military budget over $77 billion, the government is reassigning about $240 per year from each citizen. If I were asked, I would never approve this.
I’m proud to be an American, and I am grateful for all the men and women who fight to protect my freedom. However, when defense spending is about $1,900 per citizen annually, I have a problem. I would rather see that money feed a child who goes to sleep hungry at night, or help pay the medical bills of a struggling senior citizen. I would rather see that money take care of our veterans, who notoriously struggle through unemployment and homelessness after their military days are over.
America is a great place to live, and the safety and security that we have because of countless brave men and women is a cause worth supporting. However, I believe that we should use our taxpayer’s money to address problems stateside before we spend any more billions of dollars fighting less consequential battles overseas.