Funding for the future: Knowledge or war?

Courtesy // Tiffany McGaughey

Everyone knows that the United States military is too large, however, Americans aren’t told how large it actually is. According to a White House report, President Obama put aside $561 billion for defense for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which is already $38 billion over budget. On the other hand, the Department of Education was given only $70.7 billion. The United States is interested in its future, but it hasn’t decided which future to pursue.
The future the government seems to be pursuing is one of military might. The past century has been a great arms race, from the invention of the gatling gun to the atomic bomb. Nearly every diplomatic dispute has boiled down to a threat of war. Why have most countries decided to adopt a militant ideology?
The U.S. government has every right to be concerned about national security, between snarling dictators and clever computer hackers. But it doesn’t have to pour money into the military program to ensure the stability, safety and satisfaction of its citizens. To look towards a brighter future, we need toappropriate some ofthe defense budget into the Department of Education.

According to Forbes, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has a simple idea to address this enormous problem. If the government were to cut only $18 billion from the defense budget (which is already $38 billion over budget) every year, tuition costs at state colleges would drop by nearly 55 percent.
Sanders wants to go even further  and has the goal to make college tuition in public universities and public colleges free. Slate reports that Sanders has “a very rational framework for how we theoretically could make higher ed more affordable.” The idea is to eliminate the revenue universities pull from tuition costs (approximately $70 billion, nces.ed.gov), and instead have most of that money come from the government, money that could be pulled out of the hyper inflated defense budget.
The education plan that Sanders has proposed would benefit universities and the future generations they teach. Although much to current students’ dismay, this plan would likely be enacted at least a year into the presidency, provided that Sanders wins the election. So most current college students would not benefit from this new legislation.
However, you may be surprised to hear that a very small part of the defense budget goes towards universities. Not universities specifically, but to a program that takes place at every federally funded university and school in the country: recruitment.
Just the other day, I saw the US Army crew tabling outside the student center, handing out flyers and encouraging people to join. With the utmost respect to our soldiers and veterans, I don’t see why the Army would table at a university like Sonoma State. If students had already worked so hard to be enrolled at Sonoma State, why would they want to leave?
Of course, students could have a patriotic passion, and that is honorable. But there are already over a million men and women in active service, and nearly a million more in reserve. The military is already too large, and despite being over budget, it keeps pushing for expansion.
The government knows that its future lies with the current generation of students, but instead of pursuing a peaceful and beneficial future, it chases wealth and power. Roosevelt’s Big Stick ideology might have made sense a hundred years ago, but the times have changed. The United States needs to step up and address the future of our country, and put down the Big Stick.