Global military spending, 2016 to 2017

On the Conscience:Taxes for Peace not War home page is a counter showing the global military spending so far this year.  It comes from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) figures.  We use those because they are not particularly controversial; they do not include lots of things a strict pacifist would like to see included.  As I start writing this, the number is based on their 2016 figures and is £509,860,928,935.

Yes, global spending on militarisation (essentially, preparing for killing people), is five hundred thousand million pounds.  A million pounds, spent, half a million times.

For comparison, nobody wants to spend the £11,000m to £23,000m it would take to cure the whole world’s 185m people with Hepatitis C.  But we have spent £509,000m on arms so far this year.

(Hepatitis C treatment is the most expensive medicine in the USA, link.  Details of the cost of curing it, link.)

Anyway, it is time for me to update the web site because military spending figures for 2017 have been released.  And it has gone up by about 1.1%, once inflation has been taken out.  As an absolute sum just the difference is about £47,287m.  Military spending in 2017 represented 2.2% of the global gross domestic product.

(For reference, feeding the world’s starving people would cost £23,000m, £132,000m or somewhere in between.)

So, I have updated the script and now the number, based on the new 2017 figures, is £524,852,595,454 so far this year.
£524,853,983,114
£524,854,467,457
£524,854,865,718
£524,855,841,115
£524,873,308,033…

 

No reduction in defence spending until at least June 2022

As part of Theresa May’s £1 billion deal to buy the support of the DUP so she can stay in power, defence spending will be at least maintained until the next general election.

Link: www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-40245514

So there’s not much point campaigning for any kind of reduction for the next four or five years.

Specifically: “On defence, the parties have said they will ensure they meet the NATO commitment of spending two per cent of GDP on the armed forces, as well as committing to the Armed Forces Covenant. They will also look at ways to support reserve forces in Northern Ireland.”  UK GDP is just over £2,000,000 million, 2% of that is about £40,000,000,000 or about £750,000,000 per week.

Note that it is 2% of the Gross Domestic Product which is the entire output of the economy, not 2% of the tax income, nor 2% of government expenditure.

Military Spending Calculator error

The Conscience Online web site has a military spending calculator on its home page that shows how much has been spent so far this year globally on military expenditure. I noticed it displaying an 11-digit number despite it only being the 7th of January. “Oops” I thought, “I need to change it so it starts again from zero on 1st of January”.

I thought it did that automatically, but decided I must have been mistaken. There is no way we could have spent £22 billion on war-making in under a week.

So I went to see what was wrong and found the error: we spend too much on war-making. In the first six days and nine hours of 2017 the world has already invested £3 per person on killing or readiness to kill one another.

The global news was making a fuss yesterday about the cost of Donald Trump’s proposed wall between the USA and Mexico likely to be about half that with pessimistic estimates expressing concern it will be about the same. If the cost of the wall is a scandal, why isn’t spending 50 times that amount every year on delivering premature death and suffering also a scandal?