Alternate Uses for U.S. Ukraine Aid

Date: 02 June 2023

Author: Indescribled 

Tags: Europe, Economics

The United States is a massive contributor to the conflict in Ukraine; so much that it is really a proxy war between the U.S and its NATO lackeys against Russia. We previously wrote about the history leading up to the conflict itself and the current situation. Today’s focus is the actual funding given to Ukraine by the U.S government. With crumbling infrastructure, little to no social safety nets, rampant COVID cases, and more, the billions sent to Ukraine could have made massive improvements to the situation of the U.S.’s own workers.

Puirpose of Ukrainian Aid. Center for Strategic and International Studies. 2022.

Before looking at what could have been done, we first need to see just how much money has actually been sent to Ukraine. The  Kiel Institute for the World Economy reports that, from Jan 24 to Nov 20, 2022, the U.S. has sent a total of $51 billion in aid; split into $24.38 billion for military aid, $10.50 billion humanitarian, and $16.11 billion financial. The Center for Strategic and International Studies reports total aid being $68 billion as of Nov 18, so the exact number may be uncertain. At least $50 billion so far, at the least. However, neither figure provides the full picture—there has been aid proposed since then, and neither considers any funding since 2014 in the lead-up to the special military operation. On Nov 22, 2022 the U.S. provided another $4.5 billion. In addition, another $44 billion is proposed in a recent congressional spending bill, which would bring the total to nearly $100 billion. As for historic funding, it is certainly less, but there have been sizable contributions since at least 2014:

Annual U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine. Defense Priorities. 2021.

The US government has sent at least $100 billion to prop up the illegal and corrupt government of Ukraine, but what else could that money achieve?

End World Hunger

The United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) told Elon Musk that his money could end world hunger and gave a $6.6 billion proposal to do so. The proposal solves world hunger for one year, by buying, storing, and transporting food to those in need as well as giving cash and/or vouchers to those in need. While not a socialist solution, which would involve investing in the agricultural development of countries so they can work toward self-sufficiency, it would be a better use of billions than funding war in Ukraine.

End U.S. Homelessness

A 2012 unofficial estimate from Mark Johnston in the Department of Housing and Urban Development was $20 billion annually to “effectively eradicate” homelessness. A lot has changed since 2012—homelessness has increased as well as the price of housing, utilities, food, almost everything. Even if the estimate has doubled, $100 billion could last 2.5 years. Even if it only lasts one year, it would be a better use than arming a reactionary government in Ukraine. 

Eliminating homelessness is at odds with capitalism—the capitalist class relies on having a homeless population to keep wages low. Ending U.S. homelessness could even be free and happen right now—there are 16 million vacant homes in the U.S and only an estimated 580,000 experiencing homelessness as of Jan 2020. The situation has likely gotten worse due to the COVID pandemic, but about 27 homes being available per homeless person is more than enough.

High-Speed Rail & Free Public Transit

While having complete nationwide rail is considerably more expensive than funding to Ukraine, rail in specific areas is definitely affordable. There are so few completed, or even estimated, projects in the U.S., but some include:

$100 billion is more than enough to complete at least some regional or city specific routes. 

Another option, instead of high-speed rail, is to make existing public transit free. For example, in Portland, Oregon the budgeted 2023 revenue from passenger fees is $62 million. The 2022 MTA budget for New York City, and more, lists $6.87 billion from fares and tolls. We will not go through every city in the U.S. here, but it seems clear that a lot of cities could have free public transit instead of funding fascists in Ukraine. 

More stimulus checks

The U.S. population is 330 million. With $100 billion, everyone could get a little over a $300 stimulus check

End School Lunch Debt

School lunch programs cost around $19 billion per year in the U.S. 1.54 million students can’t afford their meals, and the debt from that is a total of $262 million annually. Similar to public transit, student, or rider, revenue is not the primary source of funding—although finding exact percentages or dollar values is difficult because it seems to vary by district. The funding is primarily from federal reimbursements for each meal served. Whatever the actual percentage is, with a total cost of $19 billion for the nationwide school lunch program, $100 billion should be able to cover all of the student payments for many years.

Clean water in Flint and Jackson

In 2016, Reuters reported that Flint, Michigan’s Mayor said fixing the infrastructure could cost $1.5 billion. Meanwhile, in Jackson, Mississippi, officials estimated that fixing the infrastructure could cost $1 billion. Flint and Jackson are not the only places with dangerously tainted water. After fixing both of them, there would still be $100 billion left to fix any other water infrastructure.

Drinking water in Jackson, MS. Molly Minta. 2022.

Buy Twice

A few months ago, Elon Musk infamously bought for $44 billion.

Winter catalogue. Red Prints Publishing. 2022.

Send everyone in the U.S. the entire Red Prints Publishing catalogue 

Currently, the entire Red Prints catalogue would cost $170.46, assuming you do not buy duplicate copies of books. After using code “WELCOME15”, which gets you 15% off on any Lulu purchase, it comes out to $144.89 before shipping. With a U.S. population of 330 million, it would cost us $47 billion to get works by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and many more in the hands of everyone in the country. We could almost do it twice if shipping costs were not too high (this is not a paid advertisement).

Many critics of social plans, such as free college, often ask “how will we pay for it?” to seem as if they would support the plans, but the plans are so economically unsound that they cannot justify doing so. Here, we have only considered U.S. funding to Ukraine specifically and have not even mentioned the massive military and police spending across the country. The $100 billion sent to Ukraine would be able to solve many problems across the country. The money to solve many problems in the U.S. already exists, but it is not being spent on those problems, not being spent to improve the situation of the workers. Money is being spent to maintain the bourgeois state and expand imperialism across the globe, not to improve the domestic situation.