Our Health or Our Safety: American Priorities Based on Budget

COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic seemingly came out of the blue for most of us, and it’s clear that the country was not prepared for it. In fact, our response to this threat clearly indicated to me that dealing with infectious diseases was not only something not being thought about by our government, but something not prioritized.

How do I know this? Budgets.

Looking at budget numbers clearly show priority of some things over others, but one thing really stands out. Which is more important, our health or our safety? One could say if you are not healthy and alive then the need to be safe is secondary. On the other hand, if you are not safe then your health may be irrelevant.

Our Health or Our Safety

Well, the fact is that the costs of keeping us safe are enormous compared to keeping us alive by protecting from diseases. The annual defense budget is nearly two trillion dollars compared to just $52 billion for human health services. In other words, the health services budget is less than 1% of the defense budget.

The Cost of the Wars and Defense

According to Congressional Research Services, since the 9/11 attacks the U.S. has spent well over one and a half trillion funding wars. Additionally, there are non-war expenditures included in defense expenses.  As of the end of year 2019, approximately 6,967 U.S. servicemen and women have died during OCO/GWOT operations since the 9/11 attack. A further 52,802 have been wounded.

The Cost of Human Health Services

The big question is are we spending enough to prevent infectious disease that can attack anytime now or in the future? Countries who invested money in preventing infectious diseases have proven that the spread of the virus can be contained.

Funding for National Human Health Services

Just in the last two years the CDC budget has lost $10 billion in funding, from $62 to $52 billion. Likewise, the 2021 budget has an almost ten percent reduction in HHS (Health and Human Services) funding.  This is not a good formula for fighting the war against infectious diseases.

Moral of the Story

Clearly, our country prioritizes war and defense over the health of it’s citizens, and that prioritization is showing up in a bad way during this pandemic.Every citizen is vulnerable to infectious diseases. Furthermore, the inability to contain the disease has resulted in loss of jobs, closure of small businesses, and the inability to work regularly.

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