This is an amount that would solve virtually every fiscal problem America has -- state budget shortfalls, health care, education, environmental protection and retirement for many, if we ever found the will to emphasize human priorities, not making war and dominating the globe.
The "giant elephant in the room" is the destructive nature of American Empire -- the attempt to dominate the world with weapons and mega dollars. With this obscene amount of money going to war and the military, our leaders -- Bush, and now Obama it seems -- are addicted to "endless war" portending destruction of our collective security and a viable future under the pretence of securing it.
Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates the United States spends approximately $16 billion a month in Afghanistan, a number equal to the annual budget of the United Nations, or of all but 13 of the US states. (This fact and the following ones are excerpted from a recent appeal for support from the editors of Alternet.)
The cost of a month in Afghanistan is roughly equivalent to 262,500 teachers; 1,995,000 children in day care; annual health care for more than 5 million people -- and this is just one month!
Some right-wing demagogues are screaming "we are broke!" But that is mere hogwash. End the war, significantly cut the incredible trillion dollar annual military budget, and we would have plenty of money to take care of most everyone's needs -- and still be one of the safest countries in the world.
Do you know how much foreign aid the United States is giving the state of Israel currently? (Most of it now in the form of aide to buy the latest military hardware, provide military manufacturing subsidies and other financial aide enabling Israel to build those illegal settlements - illegal according to United Nations agreements - and pay for the living costs of the settlers -- all of which perpetuates Israel's state-sanctioned Apartheid policies ensuring tight control over the Palestinian population.)
8.2 MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY! (*Click here for the facts if you have a hard time believing this figure.)
Australia certainly does not have the percentage of its national budget and financial resources tied up like America does, but its policies aren't much better. Current leaders among both the Liberal (Coalition) and Labor parties are not doing much independent thinking -- they simply walk in lock-step with America (or so it would seem from what I observe living here and absorbing the news) praising and supporting America's military priorities and every foreign policy move.
*This week I attended a local meeting set up by Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine to watch a multiple-award-winning documentary they were showing entitled Occupation101. It is loaded with well-researched facts, but also deeply moving. The viewer is challenged to double check whatever he/she thinks they know about the history of the conflict in Palestine/Israel. (I encourage you to obtain your own copy of the DVD - or at least watch some of the excerpted clips in the online "multimedia" section right here. (The 8 million per day in aide to Israel is cited in clip #4, among other astounding facts.)