By Wayne Alt
During election years, it seems citizens become more aware of our national budget and how people are personally affected. This year is no different and maybe more concerning.
In 2018, President Trump increased the defense budget by $716 billion. Even our Department of Defense stated that an increase in the budget was unnecessary. Our country spends more on defense than the next 10-12 industrialized nations combined.
I propose that our nation’s priorities are misguided. Our elected leaders need to put our citizens’ needs a priority when designing the budget. If this were the case then instead of providing military weapons for Syrian insurgents and other terrorists around the world, we would have money available to repair and update our infrastructure.
Our nation’s roads and bridges are in deplorable condition. An example of this misspending is the recent bombings in Yemen of school buses, hospitals, weddings and funerals. The U.S. has also alienated many countries throughout the world because of conflicts and wars. Allocating money for infrastructure could provide quality drinking water to citizens.
Flint, Mich., is still an example of why that change is necessary. Here in Buffalo as well as other cities and rural areas, public school officials have spoken out about unsafe drinking water. The municipal water supplies throughout the country, including Niagara Falls, are infected. Our roads and bridges are in need of repair.
Public schools are another area of concern. There needs to be a balance so educational money is allocated for all our nation’s children, not just those in affluent communities. All our citizens deserve sufficient health care coverage as well. We spend more than any other industrialized nation but with inadequate coverage. It is not that we don’t have the resources, we are just spending them in the wrong places.
If there was more of a balance in defense spending then there would be money to increase the minimum wage so citizens could earn a livable income and be able to afford food, medication and other goods and not have to choose among these things.
I realize that much of this funding comes from our states; however, states have not been receiving federal grants and funding to make these changes.
It has become a controversial political issue but who can deny our climate is changing?
This summer is a perfect example of weather extremes that resulted in a cost to our citizens. I state this because FEMA never has enough resources these days to come to the aid of those in distress. I believe the money should be allocated in the defense budget for FEMA, not FEMA giving money to the defense budget. Defending our citizens also includes assisting them in times of disaster and need, not just for military spending.
Wayne Alt is co-founder of the Western New York Peace Center.