$738 billion. That’s how much the House and the Senate have authorized for defense spending. The bill will now go to Trump to sign. In April 2019, NPR’s Matthew S. Schwartz wrote that the U.S.’s $649 billion was “as much as the next eight countries combined.” (Schwartz provided a link to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report.)

$738 billion. We’ve been in Afghanistan since 2001 and Iraq since about 2003.

If you follow the news at all, you’re bound to hear that “how will you pay for that” refrain for just about everything. I can’t remember the last time I heard it related to defense spending or military endeavors.

I don’t know SIPRI’s methodology, and I haven’t read their report. I imagine there’s a chance that Russia and China hide some of their spending from researchers. Let’s assume they do, and that the figure drops to as much as the next six countries combined. Is that more palatable?

I’ve been going through my catalog gathering photos for a project and I saw one I took in May 2018 at the Northwest Folklife Festival. A person is pushing a big ball away from a Seattle Center fountain and up an incline. The words universal healthcare are spelled out in chalk. At the time I thought I got lucky with the sisyphean analogy – pushing that rock up the hill of universal healthcare. The person rolling the ball uphill was wearing goggles, which made me think they were playing in the fountain below. I reckon there’s a chance that it was an intentional statement. Regardless, I thought it was a timely coincidence.


Universal Healthcare, Northwest Folklife Festival, May 2018.

Universal Healthcare, Northwest Folklife Festival, May 2018.

Photo notes: I got the white balance wrong in camera. I warmed it up some in Lightroom and used the dehaze slider to draw out the lettering a bit more. I haven’t looked for my original post, but I suspect it was harder to see universal healthcare.