Thursday, August 17, 2006

There Goes Health Care

So, as I was writing my last post about civilian deaths and aerial bombing in Iraq, I started getting buzzed by fighter jets practicing for this weekend's Chicago Air & Water Show. They're very loud.

I'm not paranoid enough to think the buzzing is any more than a coincidence, but it did remind me of a joke my friend tells every time the Blue Angels buzz the Superbowl: "There goes health care."

He's not far off, sadly. Since Bush took office, defense spending has gone up every year, in part because of Iraq, in part for other things. Last year, we spent $500 billion, which didn't include large chunks of the expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan (which were submitted under separate "extraordinary" budget requests). So for the past few years, we've been spending 4-6% of GDP on the military. The UK, our ally in Iraq, spends about 2.5% of its GDP, which is pretty standard for industrialized nations.

The US's GDP is about $12.5 trillion. If, instead of spending 5% of all money made in America on the military, we spent 3.8%, we could use that 1.2% ($150 billion) to provide $2,000 for health insurance to every one of the 75 million Americans under age 18. (And that's if you just granted the $2,000 as a tax credit. If you made it a government program and cashed in on economies of scale, you'd probably pay $1,000 per child.)

Sweet as the Blue Angels are, if I were a parent, I'd probably go with the insurance.


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