U.S. spends more on military, but China’s money goes further

Admiral Wu Shengli, Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army Navy, renders honors during a welcoming ceremony for Adm. Gary Roughead, United States Chief of Naval Operations, while visiting PLA Navy headquarters in Beijing. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Brett Gillin

At this point, it’s common knowledge that the United States spends more than any other nation when it comes to funding our military. Pundits will argue why this is, be it to help police and protect the world, to keep jobs flowing in the military-related work-forces, or to deter countries and groups from attacking the U.S. But one interesting debate that is being brought up is whether or not the United States is getting their money’s worth when it comes to military spending.

This article on Bloomberg View points out perhaps the United States’ biggest “competitor” when it comes to military spend: China. The article points out several flaws in the “We spend more than everyone else, so of course we’ll continue military domination” arguments. Take, for example, the rate of pay for a soldier.

Bloomberg points out that even the lowest paid U.S. soldiers bring in around $18,000 per year. That doesn’t count, in any way, the health care and veterans’ benefits that come to that soldier. When you look at what China pays their soldiers, you see that they actually pay only one-ninth of that amount, and have little to no concern about ongoing healthcare and veterans benefits. In other words, for dollar the U.S. spends on a single soldier, China can put nine on the battlefield.

While it’s probably not news to many people that labor in China is far cheaper than in the U.S., when it comes to the rest of the military spending, China can beat the United States in nearly every category. Take, for example, how much cheaper it is to feed their soldiers with the cost of food in China being dramatically lower than that of the U.S. Bloomberg is careful to point out that when it comes to the heavy machinery and resources like Oil, the costs are similar no matter what nation is doing the purchasing, thanks to world markets.

The article also points out how the United States has recently sunk hundreds of billions of dollars (nearly 2.5 percent of the nation’s GDP) in the much-maligned F-35 Lightning fighter jet program. For all the money that has been sunk, the F-35 is not an operational jet as of yet, and many observers don’t feel that the F-35 jet is not all that unique or as big a difference-maker as it was touted to be. On the other hand, China has been consistently producing higher-than-expected weapons.

While this issue is not something that should strike grave fear into our sense of national security, it is certainly raising some eyebrows across the nation. Even as defense spending decreases throughout most of the world, Asian countries are increasing spending, and by the looks of things, getting a little bit more for their investments than the United States.



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