By ETHAN SMITH
If you’ve flipped on the TV and shuffled through news channels at any point over the past few years, odds are you heard something regarding our nation’s debt and budget. Apparently, somewhere along the way, we decided that we needed to start shelling out money for things like the War on Terror and “Checking Up on Iraq,” which is understandable to an extent; all governments have to collect taxes and spend money. The catch is, at some point, all governments are expected to pay their debts. It seems we forgot somewhere along the line that we would be expected to pay back that which we borrowed. The expectation of many voters is for the future president to see that our budget is balanced and our debts are paid. From this, it is safe to assume that voters will cast their ballots for whoever they have faith in settling our financial scores. However, in doing this, something will have to give. Either voters will have to pay more taxes, or the government will have to cut out the budgets of programs.
Nobody likes paying money out of their own pockets, so I find it highly likely that the programs will suffer. The question is, which ones? The answer, unfortunately, seems to be the charitable programs. According to an article titled “Election 2012: Tax Breaks Defended By Groups” in the October issue of “The Wall Street Journal,” many programs fear going under due to the removal of tax breaks due to the policies of both candidates. Such programs include Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Catholic Charities USA, the Salvation Army and Opera America.
It is my hope that the candidate who wins in November will allow these organizations to continue functioning. I believe there is a section of spending that could use some trimming down, and that is military and arms spending. I believe cuts in this area are justified on two grounds. One is that, in comparison to what we spend on charitable causes, our military expenditure is absurd. The second is that it portrays a stiff, stand-offish image to the world, which is not always desirable.
In The Nation’s May 22 article “How Much Does Washington Spend on ‘Defense’?,” Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer claim that the total military expenditure projected for 2013 is around 1 trillion dollars. The pentagon’s base budget is roughly 530 billion dollars, war-funding will run about 88 billion and nuclear arms will be nearly 17 billion. The list of expenditures in their article that are related to developing our efficiency in killing people goes on, and on, and on, and on until the total reaches 1 trillion dollars. It is important to notice that the journalists point out that we are projected to spend 64 billion dollars on education in 2013, and yet I somehow envision politicians arguing over what to cut in education instead of nuclear development.
I find it rather odd that, in the midst of our efforts to rebuild and better ourselves, we spend so much on contraptions whose sole purpose is deconstructive. This leads me to my second thought, which is that this expenditure on weapons ostracizes us from the rest of the planet. I’d bet my hard-earned money that if readers poke around, they will not find another nation that spends anywhere near as much money on weapons as the United States, both in private and government expenditures.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we need an army with guns. We must protect our borders and our freedoms. But how much do we need to do that? There seems to be plenty of countries that don’t, and they appear to be getting along just fine. When I see this contrast, it seems to suggest that we don’t much care to be friends with anyone, that we aren’t interested in what other people have to say and that we’ll play by whatever rules we feel like. Instead of acting like a nation that wants to be a part of a global community, we’re behaving like the creepy kid in middle school who would always try to invite people over to look at his knife collection.
Instead of cutting down on mentoring programs or the Salvation Army, lets buy fewer nukes, and a couple dozen less assault rifles. Instead of flexing our gun show, lets take care of our problems at home. Let’s better ourselves and get back on track.