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Americans Are Missing Crucial Critical Thinking When it Comes To The Federal Budget

The federal budget in 2016 was $3.8 trillion dollars. That’s a lot of money. Roughly two-thirds of that money goes to mandatory spending (Social Security, Medicare, Transportation, Veteran’s Benefits and the like). A little less than a third ($1.1 trillion) goes to discretionary spending. Of that the biggest piece (55%) goes to the military.

*Click below to enlarge (charted by Statista)

2016 military expenditure by country and share of global total. Statista
2016 military expenditure by country and share of global total.

We outspend the Chinese 3:1. We outspend the Russians 9:1. To hear it from our senators and representatives, we’re failing in the military arms race against the rest of the world, yet we’re outspending the next top 8 countries combined. If you include nuclear warheads and national defense we’re closer to $700 billion. This figure ($611 billion) doesn’t cover the war in Afghanistan or Syria. It doesn’t cover Homeland Security; it doesn’t cover Veteran’s Benefits.So one question to be asked is: how come other countries are seemingly so much better than us at military spending? Why is it we are worried about the Chinese whom we outspend 3:1? Why are we quaking when the Russians are spending a paltry $70 billion on their military? One answer is that fear and uncertainty help guarantee large military increases, help maintain these high costs (it’s also a budget within which we have people getting fat selling the government $1200 toilets and $3000 coffee pots. Yes, American companies are ripping off American taxpayers!).

Roughly a quarter of the $611 billion pays salaries. Ok. A third is operations and maintenance (doesn’t cover the war budgets, that’s a different part of the budget); and slightly more than a third is for “major weapons systems”.

So, now, think of this: what would happen if we dropped the military budget to, say, $400 billion. We could still pay salaries. We’d force the military to be a more efficient in operations and maintenance and we get lean and mean over new weapons systems.But think of the benefits! With that $211 billion in hand, free college becomes achievable. We come closer to free health care. Roads get fixed, bridges are repaired, subways work again.

A healthier better-educated population designing, building (and using) modern infrastructure would be a much better answer to more jobs and better salaries.

On balancing the federal budget ….

Cutting the budgetAs much as we all may distrust the 536 folks charged with setting policy, there are rational agenda-free offices within the government doing a bang up job and quietly making interesting though potentially controversial suggestions on fixing the very institutions they work for. More on these folks later.

Our sputtering economy is tops on everyone’s minds these days. And I applaud both the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements for venting their frustrations. This is America; this is a country built upon the premise that everyone has a voice. The problem with both movements is that in their frustration they rail against institutions that grant these rights and freedoms and their stridency while applaudable is not built upon promoting actionable solutions. Instead they are founded on the premise that that which they find objectionable must be torn down or removed. The government just can’t stop spending money tomorrow. Wall Street can’t stop working tomorrow or pull all paychecks. It’s not black and white, it’s 256 shades of gray. And it’s in recognizing and solving for gray that real workable solutions can be achieved.

Let’s face it, whether we like it or not, we’re all (well, maybe almost all) in this together and there are always workable solutions. This is a country that came of age and became a world leader because we were more industrious, more clever. We threw caution to the wind and came up with better more effective solutions. The time is ripe for being clever again. The time is ripe for making tough decisions and leading again by example. There is no better way to lead than by putting your money where your mouth is.Lincoln Memorial under construction

Let’s take the deficit and our debt issue…..

Continue reading On balancing the federal budget ….

Congress and its $550 million jets

So Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight jets and upgrade their private jet fleet. And they’re doing this, while  criticizing corporate America for having private jets and being out of touch with the public. You just can’t make this stuff up. And then they sit like starry-eyed deer in headlights when they are lambasted in town hall meetings.
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Sometimes you have to scratch your head and just wonder: “Do they get it?” “What island are they living on?” How could they possibly have exhausted so much vitriol at the American car manufacturers and corporate America’s use of corporate jets and then go turn around and upgrade their own fleet? Are they even listening to themselves.

Some thoughts on GDP (and how to lower taxes)

Some thoughts on the US GDP

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a fascinating little number. As a basic measure of an economy’s performance, it measures the market value of all goods and services made in a nation in a year. Simplistically one way (there are 3) to measure GDP is to add together: consumer spending (or consumption), business spending (or investment), government spending and the net of imports and exports.


GDP = C + I + G + (X – M).