reply to HeyJude
said by HeyJude:We spend as much on defense as the rest of the world combined.
I don't this we are anymore.
Even the British Empire did not do that at the height of its power. They were content to spend as much as the second and third place countries, combined.
In our case, Russia + China = 30% of our defense budget.
Or perhaps you think that's unfair, because Russian and Chinese soldiers get paid less than ours. So use purchasing-power parity. At PPP, Russia + China = 50% of our defense budget.
Half of our annual defense budget is $350 billion. At $775 to serve each home with DSL, that works out to 452 million homes -- and there are only 114 million households in the US. In other words, three months of the overspending on the defense budget would be enough to wire up the whole country. (Of course, you'd allocate the budget over multiple years, because the suppliers couldn't make the equipment fast enough.)
And that $775 is to bring DSL to underserved rural areas, which by definition are expensive to serve. You could probably supply fiber to the suburbs/exurbs for the same amount -- especially with the volume discounts that you get for such a large buildout. China Telecom and China Unicom are getting astonishing prices due to the scale of their buildout -- 100 million people with at least FTTN by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).
With the remaining budget, you could also build high-speed rail, improve the power grid, resurface our highways, fix our bridges, etc. Remember -- $350 billion of money freed up every single year, to be spent on projects in our own country instead of blowing stuff up in other countries. And we would still be as powerful, relative to our competitors, as the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
Of course, this would never happen. Still, it's tantalizing to dream.