Gray Panthers of San Francisco
April, 2006 Newsletter

Take the Money and Run

March 18, 2006 Anti-War Demonstration and Rally


It is a spring ritual for the Gray Panthers every year to take a look at taxes and spending—where the money comes from to run the government, and where it goes. The War & Peace Committee’s part in this is to try and put military spending in some perspective.

In a report to the American Economic Association at its 2005 annual meeting in Boston, economist William Nordhaus wrote: “It is well known that the United States spends very large sums on national defense….The U.S. has approximately half of total national security spending for the entire world….In one sense, the $590 billion for national security is “small,” because it constitutes only 4.8 percent of GDP….On the other hand, national security spending is “huge” by absolute standards. It constitutes about $5000 per family.”

$5000 per family—that is, the total amount spent on national security divided by the number of U.S. families—is truly an astounding amount, especially when compared to some other categories of federal spending:

  • $2400/family for Medicare;
  • $2000/family for health;
  • $800/family for education, training, employment, and social services;
  • $600/family for transportation;
  • $200/family for natural resources/environment.

    (Figures based on information from the National Priorities Project.)

And the $5000 for the military still does not include money spent on life-long health care and disability costs for veterans, the economic cost to families who lose a contributor to the household income, interest payments by the government on debts incurred to fund military spending, or the terrible economic havoc wreaked on countries where the fighting actually takes place.

Is this really how we want our money spent?

(back to April 2006 Newsletter front page)