If we were to spend Defense on...

The United States spends $584 Billion on defense annually.1 That's enough to...

Establish 14 Lunar Colonies... every year.

Yes. Not 14 total. 14 per year. The cost of such a lunar colony is estimated at $40B, as of 2015.2 Assuming a 20-man crew each, we could have twenty-three thousand Americans on the moon by the end of the century. At that population, about 700 moon babies would be born annually.

Send one million people to Mars... every year.

SpaceX is considering a project to send people to Mars. At least, they were in 2012. They estimated the cost to send colonists to Mars, per person, is $500K.3

Build an Imperial Star Destroyer... (almost) every year.

Now, obviously we don't have space lasers that powerful (oh wait, we do5), or even ion engines (oh wait, we do6), but we sure as hell can make a 1:1 scale replica model of the Imperial Star Destroyer, for just $636B.4

Build 94 Space Elevators... every year.

The cost of costructing a single space elevator was estimated to be $6.2B in 2004.8 This equates to being able to construct 94 space elevators, every year.

Build more than 250,000 Miles of Roads... every year.

The cost of building a road is quite variable, apparently, but in ideal places it can be as low as $2M per mile.7 This equates to being able to construct over 250,000 miles of road, every year. That's more than the distance between the Earth and the moon!

Deport every American in only 6 Years.

ICE apparently spends an average of $10,854 per deportee.13 This equates to being able to deport every single American in a little over 6 years.

Fund Universal Healthcare. And Free College Education. And Solve World Hunger. And Quadruple NASA's budget. With Hundreds of Billions annually to Spare.

Even using the high-end estimates for universal healthcare and free college education here9 and here10, we would still have over $400B annually to spare.

Maybe we could pave some roads, too? I mean, downsizing the military by even 20% gives us so much money I literally can't find anything else to do with it. Solving world hunger would cost a measly $30B11, but that still leaves a ton of income to spare.

Quadrupling NASA's budget would cost less than $60B per year12, so even with that there's still over $300 Billion to spare. Screw it, I'm out of ideas.

In Conclusion

What the hell are we spending $584 Billion on, exactly? Certainly not on our veterans, that's for sure!

Sources

  1. "The Federal Budget in 2016: An Infographic". CBO. 2016. Link.
  2. Howell, Elizabeth. "Moon Base Would Be Cheap with Help from Private Industry: Report". space.com. 2015. Link.
  3. Coppinger, Rob. "Huge Mars Colony Eyed by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk". space.com. 2012. Link.
  4. Eng, Kynan. "How much would it realistically cost to build an Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer?". Quora. 2016. Link.
  5. "Ignition Experiments". NIF. ND. Link.
  6. "Ion Propulsion". NASA. 2016. Link.
  7. Elswick, Frank. "How Much Does It Cost To Build A Mile Of Road?". Midwest. 2016. Link.
  8. "Space elevator economics". Wikipedia. 2017. Link.
  9. "How Much Would Universal Healthcare Cost?". TrueCostBlog. 2009. Link.
  10. Kessler, Sarah. "How Much Would Bernie Sanders’s Plan To Make College Free Actually Cost?". Fast Company. 2016. Link.
  11. Rosenthal, Elizabeth and Martin, Andrew. "UN says solving food crisis could cost $30 billion". New York Times. 2008. Link.
  12. "NASA FY 2017 BUDGET REQUEST". NASA. 2017. Link.
  13. Carranza, Rafael. "How much does it cost to deport one migrant? It depends". azcentral. 2017. Link.