The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

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Above Photo: Getty Images

Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.  It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.  These are massive projects, but these costs as projected by the United Nations are tiny fractions of U.S. military spending. This is why the top way in which military spending kills is not with any weapon, but purely through the diversion of resources.

For similar fractions of military spending, the United States could radically improve U.S. lives in each of those other areas in that pie chart. What would you say to free, top-quality education for anyone who wants it from preschool through college, plus free job-training as needed in career changes? Would you object to free clean energy? Free fast trains to everywhere? Beautiful parks? These are not wild dreams. These are the sorts of things you can have for this kind of money, money that radically dwarfs the money hoarded by billionaires.

If those sorts of things were provided equally to all, without any bureaucracy needed to distinguish the worthy from the unworthy, popular opposition to them would be minimal. And so might be opposition to foreign aid.

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $25 billion a year.  Taking it up to $100 billion would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering.  It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth.  A December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world.  Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, especially if one other factor were added: if the $100 billion came from the military budget. People don’t appreciate the schools you give them as much if you’re bombing them.

Instead of investing in all good things, foreign and domestic, Trump is proposing to cut them in order to invest in war. New Haven, Connecticut, just passed a resolution urging Congress to reduce the military budget, cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs. Every town, county, and city should be passing a similar resolution.

If people stopped dying in war, we would all still die of war spending.

War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes.  And wouldn’t that be reprehensible if it were true?  We imagine that for 4 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world’s resources we need war or the threat of war.  But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind.  Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption.  Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war.  That’s what’s meant by unsustainable.

So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t do it first?  Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth’s climate and ecosystems?

Isn’t it time we made a choice: war or everything else?

  • Thom Rip

    More actions!

  • Robert H. Stiver

    If foreign aid is “about $25 billion a year,” let’s cut to zero the $4B or so we lavish every year on the criminal Zionist entity so-called Israel and thus take a helluva percentage bite out of that outlay.

  • DHFabian

    The anti-Israel rant is tiresome at best, and is merely bigoted ignorance that earns a response of contempt. It’s a declaration that Jews don’t deserve to survive, no matter how one tries to reframe the discussion, and it’s firmly rooted in America’s long anti-Jewish history.

    Do you know what Zionism is? Quite simply, it’s “a movement for (originally) the re-establishment and (now) the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.” Israel is both the historic and modern nation of the Jews. It’s a tiny piece of land, roughly the size of New Jersey. Israel is surrounded by vast, oil-rich Arab nations, most of which seek a 100% “pure” Moslem Mideast. IS involvement in the Mideast is not about Israel, but about oil. The Arab nations have it, and we want it. Americans have a voracious thirst for oil, and the careers of US politicians require ensuring abundant, reasonably affordable oil.

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  • PRINCE4EVER O(->

    Good article, except for one thing. All that money is fiat, it doesn’t really exist.

  • PRINCE4EVER O(->

    Why not stop all foreign aid?

  • PRINCE4EVER O(->

    Let Israel take care of Israel, all foreign aid should be stopped to every country. As far as oil is concerned, Russia is now the top producer. So, why aren’t we buying oil from them instead of provoking them?

  • Robert H. Stiver

    Thanks, Prince. On one level, I can’t disagree with you. On the other hand, there are many countries (e.g., my late wife’s country Japan) who do, along with the U.S., budget and allocate foreign aid; I’m not sure the U.S. should arbitrarily reject foreign aid as a tool of diplomacy and humanitarianism where it makes sense. In the case of the Zioentity, on any objective and sane basis it simply doesn’t qualify for or need U.S. largesse…that it uses, directly or indirectly, to perpetuate the belligerent occupation of Palestine, and to turn most of the world against the U.S for its hypocrisy and complicity in flouting international law. It is, inter alia, enabled to continue endlessly to refuse to face the music and consequences of its (i) invasion (by pre-Zioentity Zionist terrorist gangs and their fellow travelers) of the ancient land and people of Palestine, (ii) denial of any measure of justice and compensation to the indigenous residents of the “holy” land, (iii) longtime and deserved perception of being a cancer on the bodies of its regional neighbors, etc., etc., etc.

    I suppose I’d go off topic here if I mentioned the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the tragic UN Partition Plan of November 1947 and the roles they have played in placing the world in the dysfunctional morass that exists.

    Palestine Is Still THE Issue!

  • PRINCE4EVER O(->

    I’m no fan of false Israel of 1948, but you miss the point! Instead of giving free aid fiat money to foreign countries, we should make loans of fiat money to them and charge them interest on the fiat money like the global bankster Jewry does!

  • Robert H. Stiver

    “Point” taken — thanks!