Now, everybody knows that the U.S. spends an incredible amount of money on defense. One way of looking at this comparing spending next to other major world players.
Pretty staggering. But another way of looking at spending is how much the average American contributes to this budget. This, via Chris Preble at Cato:
The [recently passed $680 billion] defense bill represents only part of our military spending. The appropriations bill moving through Congress governing veterans affairs, military construction and other agencies totals $133 billion, while the massive Department of Homeland Security budget weighs in at $42.8 billion. This comprises the visible balance of what Americans spend on our national security, loosely defined. Then there is the approximately $16 billion tucked away in the Energy Department’s budget, money dedicated to the care and maintenance of the country’s huge nuclear arsenal.
All told, every man, woman and child in the United States will spend more than $2,700 on these programs and agencies next year. By way of comparison, the average Japanese spends less than $330; the average German about $520; China’s per capita spending is less than $100.
In addition to cost-benefit analysis critiques, it’s worth just letting this number sink in a bit. That dwarfs the individual cost of Medicare ($1,083), Medicaid ($620), or Social Security ($1,813). Something tells me Americans would be a bit less enthusiastic about foreign misadventure and outward force projection if they knew how much it cost them.