With US President Donald Trump asking for a further $8.6 billion from the Treasury for additional funding for his wall, the USA could be looking forward to another shutdown. However, the money meant for it could possibly be better utilised for various other purposes. A conservative estimate of $15 billion is a huge amount, irrespective of its usage.
An investment of $15 billion, which is still lesser than how much Trump wants for the wall overall, could still have a tremendous impact on the US economy, or on the many development projects the US supports around the world.
President Trump might be well-served by considering investing in the future. Five ways of US could invest $15 billion that are not building a wall:
- Invest in Girls’ Education: The United States Agency for International Development has invested about 1/25th of a wall (or $600 million) in the Let Girls Learn initiative, which aims to break down barriers to education for 98 million girls around the world who are not enrolled in school. Imagine what 25 initiatives like that could do for girls’ education around the world.
- Invest in renewable energy: With an investment of $15 billion in renewable energy, about 400,000 individual American homes could install a solar panel (at $35,000 per 5kW panel), a 40% increase over the current total countrywide, or the US could double the current investment in wind-power projects through the Clean Power Plan.
- Solve half of the world’s food crisis: The New York Times has estimated that it would take around $30 billion a year to solve the global food crisis. With an investment of $15 billion, the United States could provide critical food aid to the world’s poorest inhabitants, seeds and fertilizers for farmers, and research on crop yields.
- Eradicate polio: The United States is uniquely positioned to initiate a final push to eradicate polio, a curable illness that has decreased by over 99% since 1988. The world would need a $1.3 billion investment to end polio for good, which would cost just a fraction of Trump’s proposed border wall.
- Alleviate student debt: US debt is at a staggering $1.3 trillion, which means a $15 billion investment in loan forgiveness would only relieve about 1% of student debt.
The numbers above are not intended to be gospel, but are used for estimates. Surely there are estimators out there who can do a better job. Education, energy, food, health, debt- seems like a much better utilisation of the resources that Trump is asking for.
The real point this brings to light, however, is twofold.
Firsty, this idea that we don’t have any money for things is debunked. We always seem to have money for prioritising wars, walls, and tax breaks for the rich.
Secondly, if we want to know why the United States is in such bad shape, look no further than their priorities. If you want to know what someone really believes in, look at what they spend money on. What we spend money on is wars, walls, and making sure a very few wealthy people profit off everyone else’s efforts and hard work.
CopiedCompiled by Shashwat Mohanty with inputs from Global Citizen and Daily Kos.