Prioritizing the Wrong Thing The United States has quickly worked its way to the top of the totem pole in its young history through dominating international relations. Lately, it seems, the more that time progresses, the more America turns into a seemingly corrupt country. The nation creates unfairness among security, equality and liberty. Our government has prioritized security through its extravagant military spending. Due to the government prioritizing security, exponential amounts of money were spent on the defense budget in 2011. $549 billion was requested by Congress for basic military measures and another $159 billion was requested for U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; totaling to an amount of $708 billion in military spending for that year’s fiscal budget. This vast amount of money was nearly equivalent to the military spending of all other nations in the world combined. Currently, the U.S. government spends about seven times as much as China, thirteen times as much as Russia, and seventy-three times as much as Iran; making up for about 39% of the worlds’ total amount of defense spent (Cutting). Is this really necessary? During the Cold War, the U.S faced significantly more dangerous military adversaries that possessed massive armed forces and arsenals. During that time, the U.S. was opposing East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Poland; who were all on the Soviet side. These countries in Eastern Europe were among the most powerful Soviet allies, and were members of the Warsaw Pact. Cuba, North Korea, China, Mongolia and numerous other countries were also allies with the Soviets at various times. Despite the enemies that the U.S faced during the Cold War era, the U.S. military spending accounted for only 26% of the total world defense budget (Wittner). Today, we have fewer enemies yet are spending more money due to the increase of technology in defense.
It is argued that the potential of another attack such as that of 9/11 will come with the reduction of money towards our defense budget. Even so, with an efficient plan, there would not be enough money cut from the military to turn it into an ineffective organization. If the government was to deduct approximately $487 billion in the next decade; there would still be a maintainable budget roughly larger than the next 10 countries’ military budget combined (Wittner). The U.S. would still spend $550 billion in the next decade, which doesn’t include the extra costs of war. Kori Schake of Stanford University 's Hoover Institution argues that, “our biggest threat is the scattered remnants of al-Qaeda” and that, “our state enemies (North Korea, Iran and Syria) don’t have the means to attack the U.S., and while Russia has Nuclear power; they don’t have enough population to be able to carry out a large scale war” (Cutting).
In order to be able to support the costs required for the overall defense budget, the main finances necessary to support the military are tax dollars. According to Chalmers Johnson, a political scientist and former CIA consultant, as much as $250 billion per year is used to maintain approximately 865 U.S. military facilities in more than forty countries and overseas U.S. territories. When calculating the benefits and losses of these kinds of expenditures, the U.S. should also include the opportunities missed through military spending. How many times have government officials told us that there is not enough money available for health care, schools, the arts, and parks, for public broadcasting, unemployment insurance, law enforcement, and maintenance of America 's highway, bridge, and rail infrastructure? Additionally, the United States has put so much money towards protecting our borders that patterns of negligence towards the preamble of the Constitution are becoming apparent. The preamble explicitly states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” (U.S.). If the United States keeps prioritizing military while overlooking programs such as welfare, it is defying the preamble and disregarding domestic tranquility.
The Utilitarian philosopher Jeremey Bentham would agree with Chris Gustafson when he says that, “putting such large funding towards defense would essentially be more beneficial than putting the funds towards things such as schools, parks and law enforcement” (National). This is because a cost-benefit analysis would fundamentally lean much more towards national security rather than equality. Bentham would argue that in order for U.S. citizens to be as happy as possible, we must be willing to sacrifice some “pleasures” so that security can remain at its peak. He would compare the notion that citizens would be much more worried if our country was prone to being attacked than if local parks aren’t being tended to. But, even with cost-benefit analysis, it is hard to deny that is a heavy price for making military power the nation 's top priority. With more than half of U.S. government spending going to feed the Pentagon, we should not be surprised that in America, it is no longer considered feasible to use public resources to feed the hungry, heal the sick, or house the homeless.
We would do well to recall an observation by one of the great prophets of our time, Martin Luther King, Jr.: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." If the United States desires to create equality and societal uplift of its citizens, there must be a change to where the fiscal budget is being distributed. In the case that the U.S. continues to prioritize military, our country as a whole will slowly but surely reach a breaking point.

Works Cited:
"Center on Budget and Policy Priorities." Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go. Cbpp.org, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258 "Cutting the Defense Budget Is a Gift to Our Enemies." Cutting the Defense Budget Is a Gift to Our Enemies. Intelligencesquaredus.org, n.d. Web. http://intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/past-debates/item/889-cutting-the-pentagons-budget-is-a-gift-to-our-enemies "Department of Defense." The White House. Department of Defence, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/factsheet_department_defense/Donnelly, "Should Military Spending Be Increased?" The Premier Online Debate Website. Debates.org, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2013. http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-military-spending-be-increased0p "List of Countries by Military Expenditures." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Sept. 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures "National Priorities Project: Democratizing the Federal Budget." National Priorities Project. National Priorities Project, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. http://nationalpriorities.org/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=36 Wittner, Lawrence S. "How Much Is Enough? America 's Runaway Military Spending." How Much Is Enough? History News Network, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. http://www.hnn.us/article/130258 "U.S. Constitution." Preamble. U.S. Constitution, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2013. http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_preamble.html

Cited: "Center on Budget and Policy Priorities." Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go. Cbpp.org, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258 "Department of Defense." The White House. Department of Defence, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/factsheet_department_defense/Donnelly, "Should Military Spending Be Increased?" The Premier Online Debate Website. Debates.org, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2013. http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-military-spending-be-increased0p "List of Countries by Military Expenditures." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Sept. 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures "National Priorities Project: Democratizing the Federal Budget." National Priorities Project. National Priorities Project, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. http://nationalpriorities.org/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=36 Wittner, Lawrence S. "How Much Is Enough? America 's Runaway Military Spending." How Much Is Enough? History News Network, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. http://www.hnn.us/article/130258 "U.S. Constitution." Preamble. U.S. Constitution, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

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