Defund the Military and the Police--Not Planned Parenthood
Before writing this, the first word I typed into the search engine was 'defund', and the suggested searches were always to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is an organization that helps people. What most people don't realize is that Planned Parenthood does WAY more than help people get abortion services and information, but the Republican media outlets are telling people that tax dollars are going to abortion services (when they are not), and thus politicians and people think that we should defund Planned Parenthood despite the fact that most of their services are for breast exams, Pap tests, HIV tests, and much more. Despite the fact that most people oppose defunding Planned Parenthood, the 45th President has been encouraged to do so. Why defund Planned Parenthood that helps save lives when you can defund the military and police that takes lives?
Consequently, more than half of the US tax budget goes to funding the military. According to the US Department of Defense, the military will be receiving $582.7 billion in 2017. At least 22% of US citizen’s tax dollars go to national defense (Evangelista.) The US tax budget should defund the military and police due to human rights violations, and tax dollars are shifted away from social programs.
Furthermore, the military and police violate human rights on a grand scale. For one, racial disparities are prevalent with military and police abuse (Snyder.) Social and racial control are encoded in drug laws (Snyder.) For example, as far back as the 1800s when US politicians criminalized Chinese immigrants on the basis for distributing opium-whether it was true or not (Snyder.) Similarly, cocaine was criminalized because the drug was associated with African Americans, then marijuana because of an association with Mexican immigrants (Snyder.) Also, the duration of prison terms for black males is 4% longer than white males, while duration of imprisonment for Hispanics is 6% longer than white males (Ulmer, Painter-Dabis, &Tinik.)
Likewise, immigration and firearms are racially encoded laws (De Giorgi.) For example, immigration target Mexican and Muslim immigrants. There is a new fear of Muslim immigrants as well since 9/11 which are associated with terrorism and having weapons. Additionally, the budget for mass incarceration has increased, while the funds for welfare and education have decreased (Harris.) For instance, between 1986 to 2013, states increased spending on K-12 education by 69% and higher education increased by 6%, and funding for corrections increased by 141% (Harris.) This is shown by the new state and federal prison that opened every 10 days between 1990 and 2005 in the United States to compensate for the growing population of men and women (Kirchhoff.) This is all while the police and military budgets are being over-funded despite the “blatant waste totaling $30 billion that could be cut tomorrow, including defense and discretionary spending” (Giokaris.) Specifically, $432 million went to funding warplanes that will not be used and a $34 million unused military facility (Giokaris.) And at a cost of $82.5 million to the taxpayers, schools and police jurisdictions are receiving military-grade equipment like that used in war (Giokaris.) And in fact, the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan up until 2016 has amounted to $4.79 trillion (Crawford.)
As mentioned, education is not being funded at the same rate of corrections and police departments. But the impact of this is even more devastating. For instance, in 2015 out of the $1.11 trillion tax budget, 6% went to Medicare and Health, 6% went to education, 6% went to housing and community, 3% went into social security, labor and unemployment, and 1% went to food and agriculture, while 54% went to the military (“Federal Spending.”) If less went to the military and police budget, tax dollars can be shifted to programs that affect more of the population, like housing and education. At this point, the military is taking away from the resources we could have. Imagine the US using half of their budget to education, food, housing, and other social programs instead. This would create a society that was more educated, well-fed, and properly housed, thus the system would reduce crime and simultaneously the US would not need as much police and military enforcement, especially because crime is currently at an all-time low (Eisenberg.)
There are many racial disparities in police and law enforcement, and many other ways that were not discussed like stop-and-frisk. But the military does damage on a larger scale. The military and police use tactics such as surveillance, racial profiling, torture, killing civilians, displacement of refugees, and detention without trial, which all violate human rights (Evangelista.) According to the Iraq Body Count project as of March 2016, civilian deaths amounted to 155,923 to 174,355 due to military action and violence. As a result, the US government should work towards defunding the police and military when these departments both violate human rights, and trillions of dollars are being completely wasted (Giokaris) that could be going to things that would benefit the majority of the population.
Crawford, N. “Costs of War” Watson Institute International and Public Affairs Brown University (2016): 1-22 Print.
De Giorgi, Alessandro. "Five Theses on Mass Incarceration." Social Justice 42.2 (2016): 5-30. Print.
"Department of Defense (DoD) Releases Fiscal Year 2017 President." U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. N.p., 9 Feb. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/652687/department-of-defense-dod-releases-fiscal-year-2017-presidents-budget-proposal>.
Eisenberg, A. “Incarceration Incentives in the Decarceration Era.” Vanderbilt Law Review. 69(1) (2016): 71-139. Print.
Evangelista, Matthew. "Pie Chart Flyers - Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes." War Resisters League. N.p., 15 Apr. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://www.warresisters.org/resources/pie-chart-flyers-where-your-income-tax-money-really-goes>.
"Federal Spending: Where Does the Money Go." National Priorities Project. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/>.
Giokaris, John. "20 Ridiculous Ways the Government Wasted Your Money in 2013." Policy.Mic. Mic Network Inc., 25 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <https://mic.com/articles/76985/20-ridiculous-ways-the-government-wasted-your-money-in-2013#.r8VMZtUNi>.
Harris, Alexes. A Pound of Flesh: Mentary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor. (2016.) Book.
Kirchhoff, Ssuzanne M. “Economic Impacts of Prison Growth.” Library of Congress Washington DC Congressional Research Service (2010): 1-39. Print.
Snyder, D. “One Size Does Not Fit All: A Look at the Disproportionate Effects of Federal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences on Racial Minorities and How They Have Contributed to the Degradation of the Underprivileged African-American Family.” Hamline Journal of Public Law & Policy (2015): 1-34. Print.
Ulmer, Jeffery, Noah Painter-Davis, and Leigh Tinik. "Disproportional Imprisonment of Black and Hispanic Males: Sentencing Discretion, Processing Outcomes, and Policy Structures." Justice Quarterly: JQ 33.4 (2016): 642-81. Print.