It's no news that a large portion of our federal tax dollars goes towards defense spending. But your jaw might drop at the cost of the newest jet manufactured by the U.S. military, and just how much good could have been achieved domestically with the same price tag.
The $400 billion program to create a fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, which, as The Hill points out, is seven years behind schedule and chronically plagued with misfortunes and incompetencies, could have housed every homeless person in the U.S. with a $600,000 home.
The staggering fact, configured by Think Progress, is just one of several figures the news source put into perspective for taxpayers. For example, the amount spent per year to build the F-35 jets could easily fulfill a $16.7 billion request by the United Nations Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs to save countless lives from preventable causes around the world — and then have enough left over to fund UNICEF's budget request, too. The full cost of the jets program could also fund the National School Lunch Program, which feeds about 31 million students annually, for the next 24 years.
The mind-boggling cost for a fleet of F-35 jets exemplifies what Steven Conn would consider a military budget that doesn't have much of a positive impact on everyday Americans.
"Spending our taxes on the military doesn't yield much to make our lives or our communities better," Conn, a professor and Director of the Public History Program at Ohio State University, wrote on a HuffPost blog in April. "Big weapons systems and overseas military installations, to say nothing of feckless military adventures in Vietnam or Iraq, have done very little to fix our roads, improve our kids' education, or push the boundaries of medical research."
According to data provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the federal government spent roughly 19 times more on defense and international security assistance than it did on education in 2013. A graph created by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation illustrates that the U.S. spends more on defense than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the U.K., Germany, Japan and India combined.