Sixty years ago in his “Chance for Peace” speech, Eisenhower listed what we could be buying with the ballooning defense budget. A sample:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. … We pay for a single fighter plane with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
John Ismay updates the comparison:
According to the National Association of Realtors, the national median price for a single family home (each houses four people) is $173,600, as of February 2013. Building enough of them to house 8,000 people would cost $347,200,000. Or put a different way, about a quarter of the cost of the Navy’s current Flight IIA DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The money spent on a single DDG, roughly $1.5 billion, would put durable roofs over the heads of more than 34,000 Americans. The proposed “Flight III” Burkes have an estimated delivery cost of $3 billion to $4 billion apiece. Or another way, it is enough to rebuild all the homes in New Jersey damaged by Hurricane Sandy.