What the War Machine Could Buy

In 2020 the U.S Government spent approximately $934 billion on the military. Of that, about $720 billion was utilized by the Department of Defense (DOD). These are extremely disproportionate numbers when compared to other national expenditures. The funds spent on the seemingly endless war machine have the potential to replace death and destruction with peace and sustainability.


The United States spends about 11% of its budget, or $720 billion per year, on education. Which is surprisingly, what the DOD spent in 2020. Schools in the U.S are deteriorating quickly; public and federal funding have incrementally lowered over the past decade. Teachers are being paid less and the general level of education has declined. With all that in mind the United States has prioritized funding endless wars over re-vamping the education situation.

According to a study undertaken by the Department of Education it would take approximately $200 billion to bring the nations schools into good condition. Which would only be about 21% of the military budget for one year. Imagine what the public education system would look like if they only spent half of that every year!

Clean Drinking Water

The American Society for Civil Engineers gave the United States drinking water infrastructure a grade D+. This equates to a lack of infrastructure investment by the U.S and means that living conditions could be better.

There are roughly 240,000 water breaks across the country and each year 6 billion gallons of clean drinking water is lost due to leaking pipes. Evidence is also surfacing that details contaminated water in almost 3,000 towns, most of which have higher lead levels than Flint Michigan. Not to mention an astounding 20% of private wells have contaminants that exceed EPA standards for clean drinking water.

Maura Allaire, a water economist at the University of California, conducted a study in 2018 that unveiled a shocking discovery. About 21 million Americans were consuming water that violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. For those unaware, the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by congress in 1974 and is intended to protect the public drinking water supply form natural and manmade contaminants.

With a little over 11%, or $105 billion, of the 2020 military budget the U.S. could afford to upgrade all drinking water infrastructure and waterways. The potential to substantially increase the living conditions of Americans is available, but not acted upon by current lawmakers.


In America, 42 million people are apart of households that can’t afford food and of that 13 million are children. In this culture of constant surplus, it’s devastating to imagine that hunger is so needlessly rampant.

In most of these situations the people who can’t afford to feed themselves or their families aren’t just lazy. They truly can’t keep up with the rising cost of living. This, matched with varying levels of education, community funding, and socio-economic situations contribute to the depressing circumstances Americans are finding themselves in.

Using only $25 billion (a lowly 2.6% of the military budget) hunger could be solved in the United States. This exceedingly small slice of the pie could drastically improve the lives of suffering Americans. No longer would we hear stories about CPS taking children away because their guardians can’t afford their school lunches. Parents wouldn’t have to worry about feeding their families if we could urge legislators to act with empathy for the starving citizens in America.


There are approximately half a million homeless Americans in 2020. That’s roughly seventeen people per ten thousand and 200,000 of these will be forced to sleep outside in unsheltered conditions. This number is steadily increasing as the rate of homelessness has been on the rise for the past three years.

It’s estimated that a little over just 2% of the 2020 military budget would be necessary to abolish homelessness in the U.S. This number equates to about $20 billion. We are seeing the elderly, the sick, young children, and veterans all fall victim to homelessness. It is truly a problem that shouldn’t exist in the richest country in the world. Politicians are much more concerned with purchasing missiles, bombs, and planes than they are with purchasing livable conditions for the people who elect them.

The United States military industrial complex is a multi-billion-dollar expenditure for taxpayers. Rather than spend money on enhancing the basic living conditions for Americans, the funds are diverted towards funding endless wars. With wages stagnating and the cost of living rising it is only a matter of time before Americans can only afford the necessities. The middle class may eventually dissipate into poverty as the ultra-rich continue to harbor wealth and influence politics. So, let’s educate our youth effectively so they can grow into responsible citizens, focused on the common good. Let’s make sure that no American ever must worry about feeding themselves or their children. Let’s keep people from sleeping on park benches and under bridges. Let’s ensure that everyone has access to clean water, always. Let’s stop allowing career politicians to divert funds for the people, by the people, towards death, destruction, and aggression.

By: Patrick O’Connor


  1. The Militarized Budget 2020 (nationalpriorities.org)
  2. Fast Facts: Expenditures (66) (ed.gov)
  3. America’s schools are crumbling – what will it take to fix them? (theconversation.com)
  4. Civil engineering group gives West Virginia “D” on infrastructure report card – Transportation Today (transportationtodaynews.com)
  5. https://www.asce.org/uploadedFiles/Issues_and_Advocacy/Infrastructure/Content_Pieces/the-economic-benefits-of-investing-in-water-infrastructure-report.pdf
  6. https://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm/lifelines/february-2017/thousands-of-u-s-cities-have-worse-lead-problems-than-flint/
  7. https://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm/lifelines/july-2016/how-safe-is-your-well-water/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20U.S.%20Geological,be%20a%20potential%20health%20concern.
  8. https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/09/drinking-unsafe-water-contaminants-solutions/
  9. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-04/documents/epa816f04030.pdf
  10. Joel Berg: How We Can End Hunger in America (Part 1) (justharvest.org)
  11. Homeless population rises for third year in a row as Trump administration confirms controversial leader of homelessness agency – CBS News

current events economics education energy politics progressive public education school funding

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