All people, without exception, are entitled to a good quality of life. I deeply believe that no matter who you are or what you’re doing, you deserve comfort. It shouldn’t be about productivity nor should it be about contribution to society. Rather, it should be about the understanding that all human life is inherently invaluable and that everyone deserves to have decent housing, food, clothing, clean drinking water, education, healthcare, a livable wage if they are working and a safety net for those who aren’t or can’t. It shouldn’t be about the cost. You cannot put a price on human life; it is not a commodity.
According to the Office of Management and Budget at the White House, the proposed spending in 2015 for public transportation in the U.S. ends up being about 2 percent of the president’s proposed discretionary spending. Science, International Affairs, Energy & Environment each come to about 3 percent. Social Security, unemployment, Medicare, housing, Government, and veterans’ benefits individually end up being between 5 and 6 percent. The amount the United States expects to spend on the military in 2015, by contrast, is about $550 billion – a whopping 55 percent of the total expenditures.
We spend more on war and conflict than we do the betterment of our own country. According to Think Progress, a popular political blog, the amount the United States spends on the military would be enough to “purchase every person on the streets a $600,000 home.”
I’m not suggesting that we buy everyone a mansion or completely cut funding to the military, but rather I am suggesting that we reallocate a small portion of the defense budget to be used for the public good here at home. Defense is important, but so is taking care of the people you’re defending.
In 2005, the State of Utah started a new program called “Housing First” that would attempt to end, or at least stifle homelessness. The idea was to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker, and the funny thing is that it worked. Homelessness went down and by providing these people with housing and a social worker it actually costs less than to leave them on the streets… by thousands of dollars.
James Surowiecki, a staff writer for the New Yorker said that, “Housing First isn’t just cost-effective. It’s more effective, period. The old model assumed that before you could put people into permanent homes you had to deal with their underlying issues—get them to stop drinking, take their medication, and so on. Otherwise, it was thought, they’d end up back on the streets. But it’s ridiculously hard to get people to make such changes while they’re living in a shelter or on the street.”
Matt Bruenig, a writer for Demos, a public policy organization said in one of his articles: “Eradicating or dramatically cutting poverty is not the deeply complicated intractable problem people make it out to be. The dollars we are talking about are minuscule up against the size of our economy. We have poverty because we choose to have it. We choose to design our distributive institutions in ways that generate poverty when we could design them in ways that don’t. Its continued existence is totally indefensible and our nation’s biggest shame.”