The Unintended Consequences of Military Spending

Rhys Holman, Reporter

In 2017, the United States spent 611 billion dollars on the military. That’s more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany…combined. The fiscal irresponsibility of the United States military spending has many consequences ranging from economic to social.

The United States is currently over 20 trillion dollars in debt and reckless military spending doesn’t help to solve the issue. Despite recent tax cuts and expanding national debt, there have been no cuts to the military, which made up 54% of United States’ discretionary spending in 2016. With growing debt, the military must be looked at for cuts instead of already underfunded areas such as the Department of Education (DoE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which suffered further cuts in funding in recent budget proposals despite their combined budgets being only 11% of the military’s, which had its funding increased.

These cuts have exacerbated the problem of a lack of funding in education, which has manifested itself in schools. Teachers are paid pitiful amounts and schools are in states of disrepair that can’t be fixed due to lack of funds. Some schools aren’t even able to keep their students warm in school during winter months. This hurts students’ ability to engage in school, which hurts their political engagement, thus hurting their ability to participate politically, eroding democracy.

But cuts in education funding have sparked resistance in recent months, particularly in response to the underpayment of teachers. There have been a multitude of strikes by teachers around the country, including in West Virginia and Oklahoma, in response to being undercompensated for their work. These efforts have proven successful in West Virginia, with teachers securing a 5% pay raise as well as increased funding in general. This has created social momentum which will hopefully snowball into more money for schools around the country. Changes like this show a shift towards acknowledging education as vital to the foundation of the country. Only through actions like these can the damage done to students and schools be reversed and help engage students once again, both socially and politically.

But focus on military spending hurts not only the United States, but the whole world. The vast spending on the military reflects extreme militarism that has existed in the United States in recent decades. This has spilled over into increased military intervention around the world, leading to the needless deaths of innocent civilians. In the first seven months of Trump’s presidency, it was estimated that his drone strikes alone killed between 2,800 and 4,500 civilians. This militarism will continue to increase and kill more and more innocent people unless changes are made.

Cutting military funding not only helps to soften the national debt and allows for underfunded areas such as education to be revitalized and brought to the forefront of America’s priorities, but also reduces civilian casualties in other countries brought about as a result of the militarism fostered by vast military spending. Reducing military spending is a first step in reversing America’s culture of militarism and revitalizing education, saving lives of those in America and all around the world in the process.