past month’s activism has changed a great deal. One thing it’s
helped with is brushing aside the tired old argument over whether
government should be big or small. In its place we have the much more
useful argument over whether government should prioritize force and
punishment, or focus on services and assistance.
we want local and state governments that provide experts in
de-escalating conflict, professionals to assist those with drug
addictions or mental illness, and skilled experts at handling traffic
or responding to various sorts of emergencies, the funding is easily
and logically found.
It’s sitting in the oversized budgets
for armed policing and incarceration.
the level of the federal government, an even bigger opportunity
exists to move money from institutionalized deadly force to all
variety of human and environmental needs. While police and prisons
are a small percentage
of local and state spending, the U.S. government is expected to
in its discretionary
in 2021, $740 billion on the military and $660 billion on absolutely
everything else: environmental protections, energy, education,
transportation, diplomacy, housing, agriculture, science, disease
pandemics, parks, foreign (non-weapons) aid, etc.
other nation spends
even half what the United States does on militarism. Russia spends
less than 9 percent and Iran a bit over 1 percent (comparing 2019
budgets). China’s military budget is roughly on the scale of
U.S. police and prison spending — nothing like U.S. military
has soared during the past 20 years, and the wars it has generated
have proved counter-productive
and extremely difficult to end. This focus seems to have done very
little to protect anyone from COVID-19, from environmental disaster,
from the risk
of nuclear disaster, from unsafe workplaces, from all the suffering
inflicted by poverty, or from the lack of comprehensive healthcare.
both houses of Congress right now amendments to the National Defense
Authorization Act are gathering support that would reduce next year’s
$740 billion budget for militarism by 10 percent for the purpose of
redirecting those funds to wiser purposes. Moving $74 billion would
result in a budget of $666 billion for militarism and $734 billion
for everything else.
could the money come from, specifically? Well, the Pentagon is the
one department that has neve
an audit, but we do have some idea of where
some of the money goes. For example, simply ending the war on
Afghanistan that candidate Donald Trump promised to end four years
ago would save
a large percentage of that $74 billion. Or you could save
almost $69 billion by eliminating the off-the-books slush fund known
as the Overseas Contingency Operations account (because the word
“wars” didn’t test as well in focus groups).
per year in overseas bases, many of them bitterly resented, some of
them propping up brutal dictatorships. For that matter there’s
training and funding
of oppressive foreign militaries by the U.S. government. There’s
also such out-of-control weapons buying that unwanted weapons are
onto local police departments.
could the money go? It could have a major impact on the United States
or the world. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2016, it
would take $69.4 billion per year to
all U.S. families with children up to the poverty line. According to
the United Nations, $30 billion per year could end
starvation on earth, and about $11 billion could provide
the world, including the United States, with clean drinking water.
knowing those figures throw any doubt on the idea that spending $740
billion on weapons and troops is a security measure? Some 95 percent
of suicide terrorist attacks are directed
against foreign military occupations, while 0 percent are motivated
by anger over the provision of food or clean water. Are there perhaps
things a country can do to protect itself that don’t involve
money from militarism to other investments can be economically
and certainly all necessary steps to assist people in the transition
a small fraction of the money involved.
commentary was originally published by PeaceVoice.info