“They Have Money For War But Can’t Feed The Poor”
The Cost of Military Spending in the United States And Why It Should Decrease
In each of the last three years, the federal government has been in danger of defaulting on payments towards the national debt. The debt now is estimated to be approximately $17 trillion (Dinan 2013). The idea of defaulting on these payments leads to several questions, one of which is: what has the delegated government of this country spent all of this money on? The answer to this question is not simple. First, the federal government does not spend $17 trillion every year. President Barack Obama has proposed a $3.8 trillion budget for 2014 (Kramer 2013). The next logical question is: what are we spending $3.8 trillion on? The two largest portions are earmarked for Social Security and Medicaid, publicly supported social programs that are arguably necessary as they stand. The third biggest slice of the pie, however, is being set aside for defense spending. Roughly seventeen percent of President Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion budget is being reserved for what is being billed as defending this country (Kramer 2013). The United States military, under the auspices of it’s various branches, employs more people than almost anyone else, but there is no threat on this planet worthy of such a price tag. Furthermore, excessive spending on the military could and should be redirected to programs like education. Either the money should either not be spent at all and the federal budget should be lowered, or the money should be spent on other programs. As excessive as this amount seems, there is at least one valid argument for keeping it this way: this contention is that Americans need the jobs created by the military. According to the Department of Defense, the United States military employs approximately 1.4 million people. In the private sector, that would rank it just behind WalMart as America’s largest employer (Hess 2013). Furthermore, a job in the military certainly pays better than minimum or slightly above the minimium wage. As Beth Asch, a military recruitment researcher for the RAND Corporation, notes: “In order to sustain a volunteer force with high-quality people, the military finds it has to pay people more than they would get in the civilian world” (Tomsic 2012). For example, an E1 private in the United States Army with less than two years experience is paid $8.75 an hour. According to the United States Army website, this “does not include bonuses, allowances, and other benefits.” “Other benefits” include health care for the soldier and his or her family, bonuses and allowances equating to thousands of extra dollars in provided goods and services, and incentives towards pursuing higher education (United States Army 2013). The bottom line is: the military creates jobs for people and pays them well. There are other factors to include in these employment figures as well. Bill Burford, a Command Sergeant Major in the United States Army, notes that an E1 is not necessarily a likely rank for a newly enlisted soldier. If two individuals go in together, they will both bypass the rank of E1 private and move directly to being E2 privates. Furthermore, without any disciplinary action, a private will achieve the rank of E4 specialist or corporal in a twenty-four month timeframe. The base pay for an E4 in the United States Army with two years of experience is $11.42 per hour. If a recruit enlists at the age of 18, then he or she will be making over $23000 per year by the age of 21, and that does not include any of the other benefits or bonuses discussed above (B. Burford, personal communication, November, 2013). As a job provider for the young people of the United States, there is none better than the military. However, as great a job resource as the United States military is, that does not come close to justifying the budget the...
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