How Much For What

Flipping idly through the pages of the Internet, I happened upon a fascinating piece of information. It came as a bit of a surprise. It shouldn’t have; after all, I am a realist, one of advancing years to boot and therefore not likely to be surprised so often. But alas, my brain is demonstrably younger than my body — my father often referred to me as a late-blooming flower (I ought to have been named aster, he — or someone of his mind — once remarked — and my social graces remain to this day infantile.

But to the point. I happened upon not one piece of information, but upon two such pieces. Here is the first, in that most readily-accessible of forms, a chart.

Global Military Expenditures

True. We (the US of us) spend more money on military than anyone else in the world. To be approximately exact, of the total world-wide expenditures on military, we account for 46.5 percent. Not quite half. In second place, China, which spends 6.6 percent of the global total, about one-seventh of what we spend.

All right, you say, but so what. We have a lot of folks to defend, and protect, and provide services for, and like that. In fact, we have millions of them. Tens of millions, if you want to get serious about the count. (And you can trust me, because I worked on the US Census this year.) We have, by actual numerical percentage-wise mathematical calculation, more than 300 million people.

And who else has how many? Well, lessee. There are the Chinese, something in the million range as well. How many millions? Here’s another chart.

Population Percentages

There are nearly 1,340 millions of them. Hmm. Quite a few. In fact, about four times as many of them as there are of us. And we spend — what was it now, anyone remember? Oh yeah it was — seven times as much as they do. Juggle it around inside your head for a while, and you might come to the conclusion that, person for person, we spend about 28 times as much on our military as the Chinese do.

In all fairness to the US Military Machine, we should point out how much we get for all our money. Consider our many recent signal military adventures, our outstanding victories in Viet Nam.

No, wait, don’t count Viet Nam.

Remember how well we fared in Somalia? We… no, don’t go there. Consider instead the triumphant conclusion of our adventure in Iraq.

So you aren’t impressed? Hey, wait until you see what we do in Afghanistan. Man, are we ever going to…

…are we ever going to learn?


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