Our New $270B Military Budget Could Buy Free Uni, A Boosted Newstart, And McNugget Mountain

On Wednesday, the government committed to spending $270 billion on defense over the next decade. That includes buying new, long-range missiles and investing in research and development to protect us from what Scott Morrison called a “more dangerous and more disorderly” world.

However instead of spending all that cash on death machines, the government could instead redirect those funds to making our world a little less “more dangerous and more disorderly”. Just a thought.

We put together a list of how much more bang the Australian government could get for its $270 billion bucks.

We could fund free uni and TAFE for all Aussies – twice

Numbers crunched by the Greens in 2018 show that uni and TAFE tuition fees could be scrapped entirely for just $133 billion over the next decade. That also includes a 10% increase in funding.

We could then finally get a taste of what free education is like, just like so many politicians who want to privatise it had when they were students.

Subtracting this from the $270 billion in military spending, we’d still have $137 billion lying around. Just imagine how insane our education system could be with all that cash.

We could recreate the Sydney Olympics every four years for a lifetime

In 2002 the New South Wales auditor general estimated the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games cost just under $6.5 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that equates to around $9.7 billion in today’s market.

Theoretically, we could take that military spending and throw the Olympics nearly 28 times in a row. That includes a few stadia and assorted sporting facilities, on top of the ability to, you know, conduct the world’s largest athletic carnival.

In this perfect world, we can only assume we’d also be able to watch Cathy Freeman win gold over, and over, and over again. Who needs long-range missiles when we only need 400 metres to prove ourselves as the best in the world?

We could keep NewStart at a living wage for a decade

The Newstart Allowance, renamed JobSeeker in March, is Australia’s go-to income support payment for the unemployed. It provides individuals with $565.70 a fortnight, which critics like the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) argue is far, far too low.

But the coronavirus pandemic didn’t just change Newstart’s name: it also brought about the Coronavirus Supplement, which adds an extra $550 a fortnight on top of JobSeeker.

ACOSS argues the Coronavirus Supplement should be “kept in place until our social security system is fixed for good so that it keeps people out of poverty.”

Unemployment figures from May state 927,000 Australians are out of work.

Let’s make the bold assumption that each of those hard-hit individuals receives JobSeeker and the Coronavirus Supplement for a total of $1,115.70 a fortnight.

How long could we keep that going, if we had $270 billion to spare?

Well, very roughly, $1,115.70 every two weeks equates to $29,008 per annum. Multiplied by 927,000, and it costs $26.89 billion to provide those recipients with their entitlements a year.

We could keep that going for ten years in a row.

We could literally end world hunger

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, it would cost $265 billion to end world hunger, just shy of that new defense funding. We’d still have a cheeky $5 billion left over to buy Ferraris or whatever.

This isn’t simply about reducing malnutrition or buying everyone groceries, either. According to the institute, that sum accounts for all the major investments needed to alleviate poverty and achieve zero hunger in every single country by 2030.

This is, quite literally, world-changing stuff. Perhaps if people weren’t starving, there’s be no need for shiny new missiles in the first place. One can dream.

We could buy more McNuggets than we know what to do with

In a way, this could also contribute to ending world hunger.

In this scenario, let us assume that McDonald’s is running its legendary 24 Chicken McNugget for $9.95 promo. If you spent all $270 billion dollars at your local drive-thru, you could motor away with more than 651 billion individual nuggets. Yum yum.

Conservatively, let’s say each McNugget stretches 5cm from end to crispy end. That’s 1,303,000 kilometres of McNugget, which is enough battered chicken to stretch to the moon and back – and then back to the moon, again.

Acquiring that demonic quantity of chicken would surely intimidate any potential rivals in the Asia-Pacific region, negating the need to bolster defense expenditure. It would also sort you for lunch.

Think of how many of the arts stimulus packages you could buy

You could fund the government’s new $250 million arts industry assistance package a cool 1,080 times over. Think about it: a millennia of bonus funding for Australia’s cultural endeavours might even include support for artists who work outside of the current package’s select eligibility criteria. What a concept!

We could buy a hundredth of the world’s ant population

AntsAlive.com sells groups of approximately 60 ants for US $6.98, which ends up at around AU $10. At this rate, the Australian government could redirect that military spending to buy one trillion, six hundred twenty billion ants. Wow.

Unfortunately, they only offer free shipping within the US, but it’d be pretty difficult to ship that many ants in the first place. Better off just knowing we own then, without having to take care of them.

For anyone who thinks this is unfeasible, just remember: there are an estimated 100 trillion ants in the world today. There’s more than enough to go around.