What if we re-allocated some of the $700 billion military budget?

by Mark Lancaster 9 days ago in finance

What kind of social issues might we be able to solve?

What if we re-allocated some of the $700 billion military budget?
Photo by Diego González on Unsplash

Disclaimer: I am not any kind of political or economic expert. I am a software developer that is curious about financing and government.

TL:DR; I developed an app where you can visualize a re-allocation of the US military budget.

There are a number of problems that have plagued the United States for years and has never been seriously addressed.

1. We are the wealthiest country, yet we have the second highest poverty rate amongst developed countries.

2. Our education system is absolute trash. I'm not even going to cite a source, because we all know the system is failing. Here's a table, albeit an old one.


3. Our infrastructure is falling apart and before we know it bridges and dams will fail more and more across the US.

These may not be the 3 most important financial problems in this country, but they are obvious and real problems that deserve immediate attention.

Visualization makes things easier to understand.

This past week I spent my spare time developing a small app that visualizes what a re-allocation of $700 billion might look like. Using sliders and toggles, you can run a number of different scenarios to see what kind of budget cuts or surpluses are possible.

Head to lesswar.com to run your own scenarios.

To me, the most interesting options are the two selections at the bottom of the calculator: legalizing marijuana and un-doing part of Trump's corporate tax breaks. If you give every impoverished family $1k a month and all teachers a $10k yearly raise, it would almost ENTIRELY be covered by the tax revenue from legalization and revised corporate taxes.

Even if you don't believe that the corporate tax cut should be rolled back and you reduce the amounts to $800 for families and $5k for teachers, the tax revenue from marijuana legalization brings the military budget cut needed to a paltry 1.1%.

For reference, that is the cost of 1 new Ford-class aircraft carrier to bring almost all US families out of poverty and give teachers the long-needed raise they deserve. Almost seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it?

Alternatively, if you simply legalize marijuana you can immediately pay for the vast majority of the cost associated with repairing ALL bridges in the United States that are in desperate need of it.

What can we take away from this?

There's no doubt that freedom comes at a cost, but at what point do we need to self-examine and decide whether the military industrial complex we've created in the past decades have come at a far worse cost? The cost of un-educated or children, failing infrastructure, and impoverished millions. We must begin to ask ourselves whether our national priorities should be re-evaluated.

I'm sure there are many out there already saying "you are anti-military", "you aren't supporting our troops", "you're an idiot". And well sure, I may be an idiot, but I'm simply asking "what if". What IF we re-thought how we used our billions in tax revenue? What IF we changed how we thought about military spending?

All I am merely suggesting is that this is worth the conversation. If you think it should be too, I'd ask that you share the app and challenge your local representatives to a conversation as well.

Next steps

Like I mentioned at the beginning, I am not any kind of political expert and as a software developer I'm always looking to iterate on my work. If you have suggestions or edits that you think should be made, don't hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter.

Mark Lancaster
Mark Lancaster
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