By Hollis Wormsby, Jr.
Since the end of World War I the United States has been on a path as the world’s military superpower. In the aftermath of World War II the U.S. took on the role of being policeman to the world and drastically increased military spending even as our NATO allies drastically reduced theirs. Those on the far right who run what is known as our military-industrial complex would argue the money is well spent, but that is debatable given some of the U.S. military encounters since World War II.
In 2018, the United States reportedly spent between $650 and $700 billion on our military budget. Next in annual military spending was China between $170 and $175 billion. Surprisingly Saudi Arabia came in third around $82.9 billion ahead of Russia at $63.1 billion per year.
One of the reasons we do not have money to expand housing, education, health care is because of our disproportionate military spending. What happens on the national level with spending can have an impact on local services.
Countries like Japan expend very little on their military defense and have one of the strongest economies and highest standard of living of any country in the world. While we spend countless dollars providing for defense, Japan invests in its own infrastructure and has built a national fast rail system that rivals anything even imagined in the United States.
The United States military budget is also influenced by the lobbying capacity of the military-industrial complex. This group’s apparent goal is to create as much demand for high performance weapons as possible and then to sell all over the world.
The military-industrial complex convinces congressmen through financial contributions that the United States needs every high tech gadget that they can come up with, and uses the far right base as a rallying cry to prevent anyone from questioning what they do.
If we subtract what China spends on military from the United States total you get a net of $541 billion. Compare that to the fact that the entire budget for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is approximately $44 billion. Just think what more we could do for our own people and our infrastructure if we just reduced our military spending to align with the rest of the world. At least that’s the way I see it.
Full disclosure: Hollis Wormsby is a Senior Management Analyst of the HUD Birmingham Field Office.
(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)