Judging by Budget, U.S. Values Defense over Health


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“I demonstrate my values through my actions. Buying myself a huge arsenal of guns, while failing to pay for my sick uncle’s medicines or my children’s schooling would demonstrate my value priorities.
Perhaps I do need some guns against potential bandits (setting aside the pacifism of prophets such as Jesus and Buddha for the moment). But suppose I purchase 1,000 guns for this purpose? The safe inference would be that something else is going on in my psyche beside the need to defend my family…..”

Author: Carlo Filice, State University College at Geneseo. However, these views are his own and not necessarily those of his department or college.
Published in: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York. Click here for link. Please note: link is not permanent.
Date: December 18, 2007

Read the full article:
Judging by Budget, U.S. Values Defense over Health
(427 words)
by Carlo Filice
I demonstrate my values through my actions. Buying myself a huge arsenal of guns, while failing to pay for my sick uncle’s medicines or my children’s schooling would demonstrate my value priorities.
Perhaps I do need some guns against potential bandits (setting aside the pacifism of prophets such as Jesus and Buddha for the moment). But suppose I purchase 1,000 guns for this purpose? The safe inference would be that something else is going on in my psyche beside the need to defend my family.
A group or nation’s values can be judged similarly. The recently signed bill HR-3222 provides $459.6 billion for “defense” spending in 2007-08. This is much more than the combined defense expenditures for the next 10 nations (China, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India and South Korea).
This total does not include the interest on the money borrowed to pay for our government’s deficit, to which these sums annually contribute.
This total does not even include the extra budget money for the ongoing Iraq war (the administration submitted a request for a further $45.9 billion in war-related spending for fiscal year 2008).
For some perspective, look at the debate in Washington over extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program. We now spend $5 billion a year on this program. As things stand, 8.7 million American children remain uninsured. Democrats and some Republicans in Congress unsuccessfully tried to add about $35 billion more over five years — enough to cover about 4 million more children. Had it passed, we would have ended up spending $12 billion per year on children’s health care — without covering all the uninsured children.
Now compare: $12 billion for the health care of low- and middle-income children with $500 billion for defense!
Can we safely infer that something else is going on, besides the need to defend the country? (President Eisenhower’s warning about the country’s becoming the victim of the military-industrial complex comes to mind.) Can we not conclude that our values, as a group, are upside down?
Perhaps we are being hoodwinked by politicians, corporations, generals and so forth. But the numbers are very plain and easily accessible. Yet we do not see much public outrage over these insane priorities.
One wonders what Jesus or Buddha would say about such priorities. Jesus often uses the word “hypocrites” in reference to the words and actions of many groups of his time. We may want to keep this word in mind when we celebrate “peace” during the upcoming holidays.

Carlo Filice chairs the Philosophy Department, State University College at Geneseo. However, these views are his own and not necessarily those of his department or college.