messed up priorities

I am absolutely astonished at the United States military budget. This year alone, we will spend $466 billion dollars solely on our military. About $200 million is spent in Iraq every single DAY, which means the total cost will most likely exceed $1TRILLION when it’s all said and done (if its ever all said and done).

Sit down for a second and try to wrap your mind around that word trillion. Can’t do it?military spending Ok, try 200 million. Hard to do, isn’t it? I found some websites (here’s one) that help put our military budget into perspective, and I’ll use this example because I’m hungry and kinda fat: Suppose I want to buy pizza for a few people with the $200 million dollars I have in my budget. DaVinci’s charges $10 for a pizza, so I’d be ordering 730 pizzas for each person in the United States. That would provide every man, woman and child in America with 2 pizzas a day for the entire year.

So, where does our priorities get mixed up in all this? Here’s an example! The United States has commited $1.4 billion dollars to Africa to fight malaria. All we need to do really is buy bed nets for people who can’t afford them. You have to commend the government for at least trying to fight poverty around the world, right? The thing is, that $1.4 billion is spread out over the next 5 years. Again, to purposely belabor the point, $1.4 billion will be spent on the military today alone…. and tomorrow…. and the next day….

We’re spending $200 million a day in Iraq because Saddam killed anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million Kurds. That’s a death rate of 25,000 to 50,000 people per year. Yet, we spend $800,000 a day on something that kills 2 million anually. If you’re hearing me say we shouldn’t be in Iraq or we shouldn’t have removed Saddam from power, you’re not hearing me (though I do still have questions). There’s just something wrong with our priorities.


16 responses to “messed up priorities

  1. Our priorities aren’t mixed up, your thought process is.

    We donate money of our choice. You can’t tell people how much they should or shouldn’t donate. Our military is something we own, not something we donate to. You are comparing apples to oranges.

    I’d also like you to compare the cost of an Abrams tank to a mosquito net, if you would. Perhaps you could get us a chart on that.

    Our priorities aren’t to solve the worlds problems. Our first priority is to protect ourselves, which costs a lot more money than fighting disease. Oh. And tell me something. How much would we be able to donate if we didn’t exist?

  2. “Our priorities aren’t to solve the worlds problems. Our first priority is to protect ourselves….”

    I wonder if Jesus lived his life under a belief system like that?

  3. Kevin,
    I went back and read what I just wrote, and it came across as much more of an adversarial and rhetorical remark than something I wanted to truly engage your thoughts and challenge your response to Brian in a respectful way. Sorry if I sounded like a jerk.

    Anyway, I think what I was alluding to was that our country’s priorities are, indeed, mixed up when viewed under the scope of the living Christ and his message of love and mercy.

    Though we do have a responsibility to protect our citizens from attacks, we also bear a moral responsibility to demonstrate protection of all our brothers and sisters around. In this case, I am not sure how we could look in the eyes of Jesus and justify our level of spending on weaponry, furthered funding on ambiguous military directives, and…well, let’s say it…fighting when we are not caring for the sick as much as we are capable.

    I believe that God has allowed great power for this nation with the hope that his people would use that power for mercy. Use it on others who are obviously in dire need instead of on themselves who have perceived fears of a nation that still has not been tied to the terrorist attacks we used as justification for moving into Iraq.

  4. Kevin,
    If by “donate money of our choice” you actually mean “are forced to pay taxes” then I’d agree with you. The Federal Budget is not comprised of charitable donations, however (and we’d be in trouble if it were).

    I’m sure we don’t need pie charts to know tanks cost more than mosquito nets. That’s not the point. I simply highlighted what we’re doing about one aspect of poverty (disease) and compared that to what we do for the military.

    Ultimately (as Matt alluded to) I come from the mind frame as a Christian that we have an obligation to take care of people in this world. Maybe I can change the title of my post to “Mixed Up Priorities According to Biblical Principles” or something like that.

    I wonder why the need to protect ourselves even exists. Maybe because we kill people and they want some revenge. I wonder if people would hate us if we were spending our time and resources alleviating poverty and helping people around the world.

  5. A few questions:

    How much is Canada through China spending on helping the less fortunate – Both in the fighting of desiease and/espescially aiding people that can’t defend themselves from oppressors?

    Brian – great Pizza analogy – it helps
    Kevin – great with the mosquito nets vs. tanks


  6. It’s hard to hold our nation to the standards of Jesus Christ. Christians as individuals are responsible for leading a Christlike life. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit to empower us to do so. Our nation has not.

    I think there is a backlash from all the evangelical talk about how we are a “Christian nation” in that now we have to answer for the fact that often the actions of government don’t match with the life of Christ. While our nation has a rich spiritual heritage I don’t think I can expect a secular organization to abide by the Beatitudes (especially when the church has such a hard time with them!)

  7. Good points, Luke.

  8. Definitely good points and things we need to always keep in mind. It’s really disturbing when people call us a “Christian Nation.”

    The problem is this secular organization is run by a Christian. I guess what I’m appealing to is the standards of President Bush, who claims to uphold the standards of Christ. What makes me sick is this whole “we first need to protect ourselves” (and our affluent standards of living) comes not only from Kevin’s comments, but directly from President Bush himself, who claims to be a follower of Christ. Whether we like it or not, President Bush represents Christ to the rest of the world through his words and deeds. I guess maybe that’s the issue I should be more concerned about.

    Thanks for helping me process!

  9. We also need to remeber that Bush isn’t the only leader of this country. We (as Citizens) have placed him and all the senators and Representatives that run this country. I think as Christians we need to take a hard look at ourselves and realize that we have been week in pushing OUR agendas and voicing OUR priorities. I would love to see what the numbers were on Christians that voted this last election. What’s your Guess, 20% – 30%. I am ebarrassed to admit that I missed it – A little harder when you live in Costa Rica, but i should have non the less.

    As Christians, I think we have learned real well the whole “Meek & Mild” side, or is that because we are so focused on ourselves and our “fellowship with believers” that we let the world and its priorities walk right by and take the lead?


  10. And not like whimsical and/or unprioritized spending is isolated to government-funded militaries: The Boston Red Sox just bid $42 million dollars for the right to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Here’s the crazy (or crazier) part:

    a) This money, if accepted by the Seibu Lions of the Japanese league, only gives the Red Sox the right to NEGOTIATE with Matsuzaka. He might not even sign with them.
    b) If Matsuzaka is not able to reach an acceptable agreement with the Red Sox, they don’t get their money back. Thanks for coming. Try again next winter. Bwwwooojjjjjjjjjjjzzzhzhhzhzhzjjzjzhzhjzjjzhz!!!!! (that’s the sound of a huge Japanese gong, ninja style).

    In short, an American sports team, an organization within my favorite leisure organization in the world (MLB), is about to drop $42 millsky on a crapshoot of a chance that they will get to pay dozens of more millions to a guy who has never faced major league hitters. Now, THAT friends is beyond my realm of imagination.

    But I’m still gonna pay $159 for MLB Extra Innings next year, so who am I?

  11. Edit: apparently, the Seibu Lions would return the bid money if no agreement is reached (a guarantee not made in past negotiations with Japanese players like Ichiro, Matsui, Irabu…).

  12. I don’t really know why I’m leaving a comment here, other than to say that I agree with Brian…our spending policies are way out of whack. And I don’t understand what our government feels like it is protecting by having troops in Iraq…
    I love living in the US and the priveledges that affords, but if it’s at the expense of another race or country, or if that means “prioritizing” our spending to benefit ONLY the United States, how is that biblical? How is that even human?

  13. Does military presence in Iraq really benefit ONLY the United States? Or are we offering protection and the hope of stability to the people of that nation? (Lets not forget that the country was once ruled by a despot who was just sentenced to hang for his crimes against humanity.) Would the world be better served by pulling out and letting death squads roam free killing on the basis of religious sect? Should we just leave and let civil war break out?

    Matt J brings up the good point that spending priorities in the US are pretty much whacked in general. In the course of this war, I have often been amused by the fact that we can go about our lives every day here at home and not even realize we were at war. In the past war took funds away from typical spending. Goods were rationed and factories were converted to produce war goods. This time around it seems like status quo is working just fine.

  14. No…Luke, you’re right. We are trying to offer protection and the hope of stability to the people of that nation. I do think, like you said, we would be much more aware of “war” if our everyday lives actually were affected by our spending abroad, i.e. converted factories, rationing of goods, etc. And I also think that would broaden our understanding of exactly how much money is being spent in Iraq, as compared to say, Darfur, or India, or fill-in-the-blank with another third-world country.
    And so I guess that is my frustration…that we can spend as much money as we do in one area and neglect other areas that seem to be places of concern, also.

  15. I think you’re missing the BIG picture and it’s so BIG that really no one person could really understand it. But here are a couple points to chew on…

    Basically a “free world” is a profitable world for everyones economy and of course especially the United States.

    If we stopped spending so much money on our military which is all over the world protecting our assets and interests…would there be $466 Billion next year to spend on something else???

    The key point here is…if our military spending was not a priority and we made ALL our assets around the world vulnerable…let chaos irrupt in all the currently “free world” countries who are still not strong enough to stand on their own…what effect would this have on our economy here in the US???

    There is no simple answer. The only thing I know is we have a mighty sword right now that can bring freedom to A LOT of people…and also help bring prosperity to the United States so we can continue our military spending and continue our humanitarian efforts. So why not swing it?

  16. Ok, so I have $200 million dollars. And there’s 300 million people living in United States. That is LESS THAN ONE DOLLAR PER PERSON. But I can buy EACH person 730 Davinchi Pizza’s with $200 million??!!??? yeah, that makes sense. Maybe we should spend more money for good math teachers since ALL 15 people missed it. good times. Go colts!!!

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