Painful Truth about Federal Spending


All we here about lately is related to federal spending.  Deficits, debt, taxes.  These are all ugly words.  The Democrats want this, the Republicans want that.  Nobody can agree.  It seems like they only thing the federal government can do is agree to disagree.  Meanwhile, you and me, the taxpayer and citizen get to pay the price.

Being a liberal, my ears always perk up when I hear something from the right complain about big government and taxes.  I’ve always felt confident that taxes are necessary and usually over exaggerated when discussed.  Something I find to be very interesting is how much I hear complaints about spending on medical, social and welfare programs, despite overwhelming evidence showing that these are not necessarily the biggest expenditures that our government has.

Today I visited the website http://www.usgovernmentspending.com to see what I could find out about our federal government’s spending habits.  The following list shows the top contributors in federal spending.  These numbers are displayed in Billions of dollars.  However; it wouldn’t necessarily matter if it were thousands or millions.  The real issue here is what percentage of our tax dollars are paying for what.  I’ve additionally included a pie chart showing the same data.

Pensions (Social Security, etc.) 793.2
Health Care 882
Education 129.8
Defense 964.8
Welfare 495.6
Protection (Police/Courts) 60.7
Transportation 94.5
General 33.2
Other Spending (Public Services) 158.4
Interest 206.7
Federal Spending (FY 2011)

One item should stand out amongst the rest.  Defense spending!  This is by far the single largest item on the budget.  Sure, there are some close seconds; however it still remains our number one item related to spending.  Over 1/4 of all government spending is on defense.  Related to defense is “Protection”.  I did some further research and found that this covers police, fire and court services provided by the federal government (in addition to those provided by our state and local tax dollars).  So, if we’re going to be a bit technical, we may as well include some of this amount in our “defense” category as well.  This would or course take the single largest line item and make it even larger.

Next comes old folks.  Social Security and Pensions are payments made to people who are retired.  Most of the $793 Billion paid in this category is for Social Security.  Most Social Security payments are made on behalf of someone who either died already or is well on their way to being dead.  Additionally, the “Health Care” category is almost exclusively spent on old folks.  A lot of debates about “Obamacare” are out there, but the bottom line is that more federal spending on old people occurs than has ever been planned to be spent on the young.  In fact, Obama’s health bill addresses the concerns of the young by asking that they pay for the care in which they receive!  What a novel idea!  Don’t worry you old people; you’ll still be ok because we aren’t going to ask you to contribute any more than you’ve already have.  You just sit back and relax in the hospital (that everyone else pays for) until you croak.

Over a 1/4 of the “Welfare” category is spent paying unemployment.  Although I never received unemployment, I have benefited from this category, as we all have.  When I was very young and made very little money, my wife and I received federal assistance in the form of WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and Medicaid.  After getting through that tough time I was able to complete getting my education and get back on track.  Every since then, for some strange reason I’ve been more of a contributor to government revenue than a burden.  Despite this, I still support spending on welfare.  Everyone needs a little help now and again.  The remaining welfare dollars are spent on dead beat parent’s children and health care for those unfortunate Americans who do not have available or affordable medical insurance options.  I happened to be one of those American’s in 2009.  I was self-employed at the time.  I made good money; however no affordable health care option was available to me for over a year.

The remaining line items are insignificant by comparison to the biggest ones, so I’ll spare us some time and get to the point.

If we would simply stop fighting wars in foreign countries (cut the defense spending dramatically), cut off our oldest generation and let them fend for themselves, and quit giving to the poor; than perhaps we can make progress towards less government spending.  On the other hand, if we did do that, we’d be stuck with a nation in potential peril from threats both foreign and domestic.  We’d have a pile of dead bodies from the elderly and starved children to clean up (we could take the cheap way out and simply have a grandeous bonfire!)

Here’s the problem though.  We’d never be helping educate our youths (that’s yoots for all of you who are familiar with “My Cousin Vinny”).  They’d never realize that the benefits of being productive out way living on welfare.  Perhaps it’s not the best idea to have everyone fend for themselves and live in poverty.  Maybe it is.  I guess living in Beirut wouldn’t be so bad….or would it?

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