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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sticker Shock: Bailout + Defense Budget

We taxpayers are reeling from the shock of a $755 billion dollar bailout for banks that made bad mortgage loans that appears to be a done deal this weekend. But the government budgeted nearly the same amount for military expenditures in 2009 last week, and that somehow slips under our radar.

The 2009 Defense Authorization Bill was passed last Wednesday to the tune of $612 billion. This does not include nuclear weapons research, maintenance and production (~$9.3 billion, which is in the Department of Energy budget), or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (which are largely funded through extra-budgetary supplements, ~$170 billion in 2007). So the total annual investment in our "defense" is more like $790 billion dollars.

Ten years ago, the Defense Authorization Bill was $270.4 billion dollars.

It was eerie not hearing Obama talk about reducing the defense budget in the first debate, and instead watching McCain position himself as a defense budget cutter with the expertise to do so. Ouch!

How do we feel about building a war machine with our earnings that accounts for almost 50% of all the military expenditures worldwide? No other country spends more than 4.5% of the world's military expenditures. Are we safer for all this killing power?

How do we feel about this amount when we look at these alternative ways to spend it?
• $19 billion is the annual shortfall to eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally.
• $12 billion is the annual shortfall to provide education for every kid on earth.
• $15 billion is the annual shortfall to provide access to water and sanitation.
• $23 billion is the annual shortfall to reverse the spread of AIDS and Malaria.
(source is The World Bank)

Resouces for this blog:
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
Borgen Project

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