Too much military spending got us into this mess

The coronavirus pandemic — and all its far-ranging societal, economic, and global consequences — are the manifestation of four catastrophes of America’s own making: An endlessly growing “War on Terror”; deepening economic and health inequalities due to declining investment in public goods; a rise of anti-democratic governance; and an unsustainable relationship with the planet we all exist on. If we recognize that this emergency didn’t appear out of nowhere, we can use it as an opportunity to imagine and build a better world.

For the majority of the past two decades, the US government has equated Americans’ national security with military supremacy, spending and obligating $6.4 trillion on America’s post-9/11 wars and allocating over two-thirds of the federal discretionary budget — the part that pays for public health, environmental protection, and virtually everything the government does other than programs like Medicare and Social Security — to the Pentagon each year. At the same time, the government has cut funding for public health programs, scrimped on investing in infectious disease research, and stockpiled weapons instead of medical equipment.

Since the pandemic began, the US military has hardly been able to protect itself from the coronavirus, much less protect the American people. Nothing made that more obvious than the Pentagon’s decision to pay tribute to the nation’s front-line workers with a series of expensive flyovers by Blue Angels and Thunderbird squadrons planned for at least 22 cities. At over $60,000 for each flight hour, that’s a total of at least $1.32 million — enough to provide many ventilators, masks, and other equipment that’s been in short supply.

Read the full article here in The Boston Globe.