We can choose between guns and butter, but that does not mean it has to be all or nothing. There has to be a balance. I believe we are already too heavy on guns and Mr. Trump wants to skew that balance even more toward guns. We need to make the savings in guns so we can increase the amount that we give to butter.
Butter, of course, refers largely to education, the arts and quality of life things like health care and recreation that we all appreciate and wish we had more of. The University of Missouri is giving all Pell Grant freshmen a free ride this year and it will cost about $5 million. The cost of one B-2 bomber is about $3 billion. The cost of any major piece of naval hardware is well over $2 billion.
You do the math and you can see that not building any one major piece of military equipment would pay for a lot of education in this country.
While the military equipment should help keep us safe – although that is debatable in modern warfare – the boost in education support could have tremendous benefits to this country.
Well-educated people are less likely to end up in jail, for example. Obviously, they have to commit a crime to earn that jail time. Giving people a means through education to earn a good living and not succumb to the need to commit crimes should improve the quality of life for the rest of us who would prefer to live in communities with less crime. It is no fun being the victim of crime.
In that respect, we are actually making our lives better by making their lives better. So, look at it from a selfish viewpoint and do it for your own peace of mind and community safety.
Well-educated people are also less likely to have un-planned children. Having babies when you are too young and unable to earn a suitable income to support your kids is a sure way to disaster and too often, those unwanted and un-planned kids end up on the streets causing problems for the rest of us.
The simplest way to curb that problem is to ensure a great education for everyone so that they are more likely to choose wisely for themselves, which benefits the rest of us. Well-educated societies are better balanced and safer for everyone.
In addition to making education free for everyone, I would also hope that school teachers could have a very nice salary. We need to recognize that teachers have an extremely important function. They are largely responsible for getting all those kids educated so that they can contribute to society in a meaningful way and thereby earn a great income for themselves.
Let’s not build a few bombers, submarines or battleships and take that money and give everyone a free education right through graduate and post-graduate school. Make it across the board for everyone.
I am pretty certain that investing a few billion dollars per year into education would have a better payback than throwing those same billions of dollars into military hardware. If it improves quality of life for everyone, it would be well worth the change from excess guns to more butter.
Matt Nowak is a retired natural resources specialist and lives in Lansing.