A friend posted an item to Facebook, pointing out that it would cost C$5 billion a year to provide free university to all Canadians, a fraction of the country’s $24 billion military budget. I thought translating this into American would be a useful exercise. Here goes:
Translating this in to American: We spend about $845 billion on the military, and personal expenditures on higher ed are about $165 billion. So for 20% of the military budget we could make higher ed free to individuals.
But that’s not all. The old rule of thumb for Canadian/American equivalence is to multiply Canadian numbers by 10. So if the U.S. had a Canadian-sized military, we’d be spending $240 billion, less than a third what we do spend. The difference could fund, along with the free higher ed ($165 billion), universal child care (about $75 billion/yr)—and we’d still have $345 billion left over. We could bring the officially poor up to the poverty line for another $150 billion or so, leaving almost $200 billion for, oh, I don’t know, clean energy R&D, high-speed rail, and public installations of beauty.
I didn’t mention health care, since that’s a story to itself. Public health spending alone (via Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) in the U.S. is on a par with the entire health budget, public plus private, in many countries with more sane systems. If you combine public and private spending in the U.S. and convert to a single-payer system, we could provide platinum-plated universal care to everyone.