Putting the Navy’s new $4 billion floating war machine into a real world perspective

Putting the Navy’s new $4 billion floating war machine into a real world perspective

CultureOctober 17, 2016 By Ethan Desmond

The United States Navy recently unveiled its new, stealth-focused destroyer — the USS Zumwalt. Although a “stealthy” boat that is 600 feet long might seem contradictory, the Navy boasts that it is less detectable by radar and will be manned by half the crew of a regular destroyer, despite being one and half times larger. It also cost taxpayers $4 billion. 

With the growing tensions between the U.S., North Korea and Russia, it's arguable our military may actually need these sophisticated weapons in the future, even though the government has a track record of being loose with tax money. But $4 billion for one ship? That seems steep, even by U.S. standards.

Let’s put the price of this one battleship into perspective ...

1) It cost more than some countries make in a year

The $4 billion ship eclipses the GDP of 35 different countries. Although most of them are small islands or impoverished nations, we are still talking about a single ship costing more than what Belize and Liberia make in a year combined.

When you consider the fact America's Navy wants to build three of them (down from their original hopes of 32), we begin to seep into the GDP of countries like The Bahamas, Mongolia and Armenia. But hey, launching radar-guided missiles from a stealth destroyer 60 miles away does sound more badass than buying everything made in Sierra Leone in 2016.

2) The U.S. could eliminate childhood hunger for one year (with change to spare)

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it costs, on average, between $500 and $1300 to feed a family of four every month in the United States. For an individual 9 to 11-year-old child, it costs between $160 and $320 to feed them for a month.

Lets say the U.S. put that $4 billion towards feeding the 13.1 million American children who live in impoverished households. At $210 a month, per-child, the government could provide food for 1,601,794 children. That’s 300,000 more children being fed than the 1.3 million in need of food right now.

3) Lots of people could go to college

According to College Board, the average cost for an in-state tuition to a 4-year public university is $9,410 — or $37,640 for a 4-year bachelors degree. At that price, Uncle Sam could foot the bill for 106,269 people to obtain a college degree, for the cost of one of the three destroyers the nation plans to build. Bring in the fact that 62 percent of Americans don't even have an associates degree, a simple shift of funds could be a pivoting point for those that want to get an education.

It goes without saying that America should invest in the safety of our nation, but maybe there are some other things that need attention beyond $4 billion toys for our armed forces.

There's no saying what a smart, well-fed nation could do. You know, like avoid war altogether.