It’s About The Choices We Make

Got into a very minor talk around the dinner table with the in-laws and, for me anyway, it came down to the choices we decide to make. It mainly concerned what we choose to want our government to spend our tax money on. We (I’m referring to the US, being an American myself) choose to spend on some things and not others, and I think it reflects what we prioritize. I’m going to use this article from 2015, that talks about military budgets in 2014, largely because it was the easiest to grab off of Google, and I don’t think anything has drastically changed – the US hasn’t drastically slashed spending on its military, in other words.

And this isn’t to only single out the military, it’s really just the easiest thing to pull out of our budget and say,hey, we spend a LOT of money on this. In pure dollars, we spent more than anyone else in the world by a pretty godly sum in 2014 ($571 billion vs #2 China’s $129 billion). While we didn’t have the highest percentage of spending to GDP, we were still fourth blowing 3.5% on our military budget. And I’m not sure this includes things like the NSA and whatever things are kept off the publicly available books for security reasons. In short, it’s a ton of money.

So, I look at this and say, well, why can’t we knock that down to around 2% and re-invest that money into our social safety nets. Into our infrastructure. Into job creation programs (however you want to define it). How many business startups could be funded with some very low interest government loans with that extra cash?

My only real takeaway is that we must not care. Or if we do care, we don’t care enough to push something like this forward. Do we really need to blow that much more money on our military (which, in itself, is also a job creator, to be fair)(do we support our military to such a degree at least in part to boost the economy?)(maybe) or would that money do more our country if it was spent more at home than on military contractors and blowing up chunks of other countries?

I know a lot of this delves into the feeling of security and safety. The world is shown as some big,scary place full of people who want to hurt us. This fear doesn’t just show up in military spending but in what we are unwilling to do. Syria has been an unmitigated hell hole for a long time. Refugees have been wallowing in camps, scraping by, trying to just have an opportunity at a new life. Where were we? It’s not like the US is overcrowded.

But we refused to step up in any seriously meaningful way. There were excuses such as being unable to afford it. We could, especially since if we looked past our noses to the long term we would see that bringing in a bunch of young people would drastically strengthen to tax base for decades to come. The first five years would be tough, as we foot the bill to get them on their feet and moving, but the majority of them would do what we all do. Work hard, pay bills, and try to lead a better life. Or excuses that terrorists are hiding in these camps, waiting to be unleashed in some unexpecting country that takes them in.

Except why aren’t they terrorizing the countries they are currently interred at? Are they really that patient? Or do they just not exist?

In the end, we make our choices. We are choosing to live guided by fears, ignorance, and hate to varying degrees. It makes us less of a people, less of a nation. We can be better. If we choose to.

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