By Tyler Bauer
Earlier today, I wrote a piece on the role of welfare in the welfare-warfare state. Now, it’s time to look at the role of warfare in this relationship.
The idea of writing about the welfare-warfare state came to me earlier this week when I saw an article about the economic impact of our foreign policy shared on Facebook. I’ve always known about the impact of war on the national debt, but I didn’t know that our use of deficit spending to fund our wars actually worsens economic inequality. I recommend reading the article I linked to if you’d like to learn more about the effect of war on income inequality – the article explains it much better than I could. Instead of explaining that relationship, I’ll look at defense spending in federal budgets.
The federal budget for FY2016 allowed for a total of $3.90 trillion in spending. Of this $3.90 trillion, $605 billion – or 16% - went towards defense spending and “security-related international activities.”
For FY2019, the federal government pledged to spend $637 billion on defense, which makes up over 14% of the budget. While this is a substantial increase, the defense budget actually could’ve been higher – the originally proposed budget set aside $678 billion for defense spending. As of November 2017, post 9/11 military spending had cost the United States over $4 trillion, with trillions more in veterans benefits in the future. The longer the United States maintains a military presence overseas, the larger this price tag will grow.
It is hard to understand the amount of money spent on the military without comparing our government’s spending with that of others. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the United States spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. How do we manage to spend that much? By maintaining a military presence in 150 countries and being at war in seven countries. And, of course, by ignoring the principles this country was founded on.