Where do America’s real priorities lie?


Military expenditures. We don’t hear much about them and when we do it’s quite vague. We either brush it off as another necessity or just ignore it.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis defines gross domestic product, or GDP, as the total the output of goods and services produced by labor and property of a country in a given year. According to the World Bank, the United States’ GDP is about $14.59 trillion.

As of 2009, the United States spends about 4.6 percent of military expenditures, which is equivalent to $663,255 million. According to the CIA world fact book, that makes the United States 25th in the world when it comes to military expenditures. Although this may not seem like a big deal, consider this.

Depending on what source you use, there are about 195 countries in the world. That figure should speak for itself.

 The data derives from information collected by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent international institute dedicated to research conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament by providing analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

The general consensus is that veterans’ benefits or destruction of weapons should be included, but surprisingly they aren’t.  According to the SIPRI, military expenditures include: personnel, such as retirement pensions of military personnel; social services for personnel and their families; operations and maintenance; and military research and development.

 I’m not saying that none of these things are important; without them our military would not be what it is today. But when we look at it, compared to other countries, the U.S spends quite a bit on the military.  The United Kingdom’s expenditure is 2.5 percent or about $69, 271 million, China’s expenditure is exactly 2 percent or about $98,800 million. Japan has the lowest expenditure of 0.9 percent, or about $46,859 million.

And so the question remains… “Where do our priorities lie?” According to the World Bank, the United States’ GDP for education is slightly higher than military expenditures by about 0.9 percent. But don’t get too happy, compared to other countries the United States’ GDP on more pertinent domestic issues is quite low.

 Education makes up 6.7 percent of China’s GDP, 1.2 percent higher than the United States. The United Kingdom’s GDP is 5.6 percent, 1 percent higher than the U.S. Those seemingly small differences amount to millions in potential resources for our nation’s comparably sub-par student body.  

As civilians, we’re not aware of exactly how much money goes into the military. Nonetheless, America economically commits itself domestic issues such as comprehensive education, health and energy reform, coupled with long-overdue infrastructure improvements.

Even with all of this in mind, our education system looks pretty bleak.  As a matter of fact, the military doesn’t even accept individuals without a high school diploma or GED.

According to the Center for Labor on Market Studies, in 2009 our dropout rate was 22.1 percent. Students feel that school isn’t for them or they just can’t make the cut. And with inadequate school facilities, particularly in low income areas, these sub-par students lack the essentials they need for an education comparable to international competitors and a better future. With the dumbing-down of the populace, we won’t even have enough people to that would be considered competent for battle.

But even so, in a country with an economy so dependent on conflict little will change unless the will of the people is carried out. As citizens, we haven’t done a good job of putting our priorities in order.