Our Military Budget Is Out Of Control

Josie Krupens, Opinions Editor


   The allocation of the federal budget has been a huge topic of debate for a while, and for valid reason. The amount that the government spends on the military is huge; it accounts for more than half of annual U.S. discretionary spending, and in the fiscal year of 2021, the budget plan includes spending 740.5 billion dollars on the Pentagon. Meanwhile, other important programs and fights against threats to the general welfare of Americans remain unrecognized and underfunded (scientificamerican.com). America should be spending less on its military, and diverting some of those funds to programs that will directly benefit its citizens.

   According to Scientific American, the U.S. military budget in 2019 accounted for 38 percent of military spending worldwide, and far exceeded Russia’s and China’s. Supporters of the whopping military budget press that it’s being used to keep America and its interests safe, but in reality, the Pentagon has a history of failed projects. From prototypes of weapons and vehicles that were never built to projects — like that of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is expected to fully cost 1.5 trillion dollars and still riddled with malfunctions and defects after 20 years — it seems as if the Pentagon just pours taxpayer dollars into the first ideas that pop into their heads. Canceled programs over ten years cost taxpayers 46 billion dollars (scientificamerican.com). This is a blatant waste of money that could be used to better address problems that are happening now in America, rather than simply fulfilling the military’s wartime fantasies.

   This military spending is especially concerning when considering the pandemic still surging through the country. According to a website about healthcare and finance, there were shortages of medical supplies to safely treat patients with COVID-19, such as ventilators and personal protective equipment. This resulted in both medical staff and COVID patients being unsafe (healthcarefinancenews.com). Meanwhile, despite the military’s surplus of money,  there “…has been of little use to the civilian health care system in combating [COVID-19]”   (scientificamerican.com). There is no excuse for there to be a shortage of important medical supplies during a pandemic, which is itself a threat to national security, as the Pentagon spends billions on faulty weaponry.

   It’s not impossible to shave off some money in the budget without some kind of disaster happening, like some fear. Some money could easily be trimmed from the nuclear program, something even Pentagon officials have admitted to. According to Scientific American, “The United States plans to spend more than 1.5 trillion dollars over the next 30 years to completely replace the entire nuclear triad with new weapons and delivery systems.” However, the weapons being replaced have been upgraded over the years, making an entire replacement unnecessary (scientificamerican.com). Some of the money planned to be spent on the nuclear program can be moved elsewhere, and without jeopardizing lives. Of all departments that could have extra money to spare, the military shouldn’t be it, when compared with issues like healthcare.

   So, where should the money go? The Washington Post lists a variety of pressing issues in the U.S. that could be much better addressed if military spending was cut from the current 3.5 percent of the GDP to 2 percent, which is around what many European countries spend. This would give the U.S. 3 trillion dollars over the next ten years (washingtonpost.com). Some believe money should go to schooling. “I believe that some of the money that we spend on the military would be better suited for schools, which definitely could use more money,” said Senior Abby Cosgrove. And with all of that money over the course of ten years, according to the Washington Post, student loan debt could be wiped out entirely, with money to spare to eliminate tuition costs, as well as “…put 50 billion dollars for teacher raises and another 50 billion for school resources, to offset education cuts in the 29 states where funding has fallen below their levels about a decade ago” (washingtonpost.com). Many struggle to get a higher education because of cost, and military money would be much better spent educating  youth, for the good of the country.

   Education is not the only thing that could be remedied from the reallocation of federal money. Three trillion dollars could put a significant dent in childhood poverty and homelessness, maybe by starting a program to give out widespread financial aid, or build affordable housing. The money could be used to provide health insurance for those not already insured, which would also help those in poverty who can’t afford to get medical treatment. Or, it could be used to reduce the federal deficit, and pour some money into Social Security and Medicare, which are both experiencing shortfalls (washingtonpost.com). Three trillion over ten years is a large estimate, but even if there was less money trimmed from the military budget, it would still help immensely with the less-funded issues that many Americans face daily.

   Politicians need to realize that protecting the country against foreign threats isn’t the only issue for America. There are plenty of other issues harming the country and its citizens from within, that, with some money, could make America a better place to live for many who are currently struggling. Maybe, instead of pouring money into war, politicians should actually pay attention to America’s citizens.