Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Price of a Bomb: A Rundown with Batwoman

Today I thought I'd share something close to my heart with you. See, while my brother is a Marine and I support the idea on a war on terror, I think the military budget should be cut. Let's start with, oh, 1%. This translates to about one billion (1,000,000,000) dollars. To put that in perspective, that is about half of what it would take to start up the public health insurance option (which would seem to cost no tax money anyway). Considering this, I thought we might consider on what we could be spending that money, where else it could go and why the military is not the best place for it. I am not an expert on economics or military science, so I brought in someone who also is not an expert, but opinionated and fiery. Today's guest is Batwoman. Batwoman, how do you feel about the amount of money the US is putting into its military and not into its healthcare? Would you say it makes you mad enough to kick a gorilla?

And some to spare, I guess. You even drew some blood. Well, let's get down to business, then.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the US spends 5.3% of its GDP on education. That ranks us 57th in the world. That's below Slovenia (41), Ethiopia (43) and the Sudan (42). We're behind Cuba (9!). The only countries we respect above us are Switzerland, Norway, Finland and the UK, which spends 5.6% of its GDP on education. With our GDP at about 14 and 1/4 trillion, that's a lot of money, but we're .3% behind England, which doesn't seem like too big a deal until you realize that England has (besides its health care) free secondary education. That's right, the English get free college. I have to take out about 48 grand in student loans this year. Granted, I'm going to a private school (I actually wanted to learn how to turn on a camera), but that is just way too much damn money. I am getting loans from the government, but really, there is no good reason for me to be paying this much, let alone being punished for trying to improve myself and my position. Imagine if everyone could go to school for free. Just think of how much better this country would be if everyone were trained to think critically, compose arguments succinctly and stop being so stupid.
On the other hand, if college were affordable, a lot of people would stop joining the armed forces. What do you think, Batwoman?

Speechless and slinking from a geisha's room? Me, too.
As I mentioned earlier, the $1 billion that constitute 1% of the US military budget would go halfway to getting the public health insurance option running. Some people think this program shouldn't exist at all, which makes sense when you consider that children should be allowed to die from entirely treatable diseases. We could take $1 billion from the 17 going to nuclear weapons to make up this money. Some people might think this is also a bad idea, and they're probably right; the fact that our current cache of nukes is hundreds of warheads, each about one hundred-fold more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb just goes to show how much more we need to make. Do you think these people are right, Batwoman?

You're right Batwoman, those bitches are silly.
Now, I'm not saying we should take money from the $3 billion spent on family housing. I've seen some of the houses troops' families live in, and they still aren't that nice. Those people more than deserve that money.
I'm by no means saying the $70 billion spent on retired pay is wasted, as that money is going to people who served their country and deserve their pension, just like anyone else.
I'm just saying, I'm sure we can find 1% we can spend somewhere more worthy than, say, building a new fighter jet when the US already has the best jets ever.
A good choice might be helping the poor. From 2009 taxes, almost 12% will go to help the needy, compared to the 44% going to the military. The gap between the rich and poor, and the rate at which that gap is growing, is larger than anywhere else in the world and the largest its been throughout American history. With $1 billion, Obama could bring back the Food Commodities Assistance program, which cost $300,000 and help struggling single mothers get a bag a groceries free every month. That money could fund soup kitchens or help poor children get free lunches at school. Instead, it's building bombs and buying guns.
By the way, the military spends about twenty two times more than what is spent on education and jobs, science and the environment and over double what is spent on health care.
I was thinking recently about something I read in a book of Norse mythology. It talked about how warriors and sailors were guaranteed a special place in the afterlife, the high seats at Valhalla, for their professions on earth. I also remember a statement issued by a union around WWI, mourning the deaths of soldiers but wondering why their brothers who died in mines or on railroads were unsung. Nothing has changed: we still hold fighters aloft and let workers toil unappreciated. I'm not saying my brother should be given anything less than the best, but I think we should try to respect all Americans, all people. This might be the best way for us to get along.
We all might end up getting better, being happier.

Or we might all get shot at by terrorists while fighting gremlins and werewolves. Both are equally likely.

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