Thursday, June 05, 2008

Are These My Priorities?

The lady in the cube next to me is very progressive. She has this flyer on her cube about where your income tax goes, labeled "Are These Your Priorities"? It's from some progressive organization called Friends Comittee for National Legislation.

So I'm looking at it... and it roughly represents where our federal income taxes go, and I'm thinking "what is the Federal Government for?"

As designed, it isn't supposed to do terribly much. Enforce the Constitution, and protect the country so that there's a Constitution to enforce. And the Constitution is basically a minimal and rough framework into which state and local governments are to fit.

I'm relatively "progressive" for a Libertarian, so I buy into the idea that basic infrastructure like US and Interstate highway systems ought to be coordinated with the states.

But really, is it so surprising that 43% of this source of budget money goes to protecting the country especially while we're at war? You know, maybe it's too much money. Maybe we shouldn't spend so much on defense. Even if that were true, why should that mean that we should spend more on, say, research on the sweat properties of African frogs? Or making sure everybody's health costs get paid? Not really covered by the Constitution at all.

Interestingly enough, note that the second highest expenditure -- nearly half of what we spend on defense, is health care. And the third is Medicaid at a little more than half that again.

I'm supposed to be alarmed at the percentage of my federal income tax goes to defense. But I'm not.

They go on to show how little other countries spend on defense, supposedly shaming us for the high percentage we pay for our defense. But the truth is, a lot of the free world can afford to pay less for defense because, frankly, their defense is subsidized heavily by ours. That is, because we spend so much on it and will go in and do a lot of the heavy lifting should they ever be attacked -- they can spend more money on, say, subsidized health care and public transportation.

What I'm really alarmed about will be covered in the next post.

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