The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Monday, April 21, 9:37 a.m.

United States defense budget needs transparency

The defense budget of the United States of America is nearly $20 billion more than the next 13 nation’s budgets combined. To put this monstrous number in a different perspective, the yearly defense budget is only 22 times less than our country’s entire national debt. But, while these numbers speak rather loudly, they do not answer the most important questions: “Why is this huge funding necessary?” and “Where does this money go?”

It seems that the general answer to the first question is, “fear.” There is little more of an explanation as to why our budget must be at least six times greater than that of China, a country four times larger than the United States in regard to population. While it is important to note that a secure defense is a necessity for a nation as powerful and as large as ours, it is equally necessary to realize that “secure” does not mean “excessive.”

If we know “why,” it becomes important to question exactly “where” this money goes. Even high-ranked officers in the United States Army have an average income that floats around $30 thousand. While this number does not include benefits, it is still striking to see that the most integral part of our country’s military is paid so poorly in comparison to other professions.

It would be normal to imagine that, with a budget of over $700 billion, the soldier would be the beneficiary of this incredible monetary investment. However, and unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, the funding is funneled into excessive homeland security projects, the construction of more and seemingly unnecessary weapons, ships, planes, etc., and the salaries of those who may not be the average “working man” of the military.

So, then, if we insist on spending such a vast amount on defense, why don’t we, perhaps, change how we allocate the funds? Instead of constructing missiles and hiring out contractors in the Middle East, why don’t we put the money back into the hands of the hardworking men and women who weather the hardships of war? As a country, we put so much weight on our safety, yet we allow money to be frivolously spent in areas that focus little on job creation and retention. The defense budget, then, either needs to be downsized, or the funds must be reallocated in a way that truly serves our country’s interest and the interest of those who serve our country.