Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sequester: Where The Money Goes

Mad Dog is still trying to track down where we allocate our funds as a people.
These charts are from different websites, government, conservative think tanks, Mother Jones. They seem to reflect subtle differences in how conservatives and liberals see the same numbers. Creative accounting.

Double click on them to make them more readable.

Notable, is how little defense spending takes up compared to other programs in some charts--as low as 14% in some and as large as 19% in others and even in those where it is 19% Veterans benefits are separated from defense spending, which of course is a little irrational. The cost of a soldier's prosthetic leg is a cost of war, not a social security benefit. With all the money we can see spent at the Portsmouth Naval Yard and in Norfolk Virginia and in the districts of the Tea Party Republicans from California to Pennsylvania, it is surprising that slice of the pie isn't bigger. Agriculture and farm subsidies look surprisingly small. "Education" is surprisingly, gratifyingly, large. I wonder what that includes. 

What is included in "protection" is not clear. Is terrorism, the CIA, the NSA in "defense" or in "protection?" Should Veteran's Administration be in "Health" for the VA hospitals or in "Defense?"  Or should it be in" pensions?" If you added up "defense" "veterans" "protection" then the defense slice would be bigger than Medicare.  Presumably, the Republican/Tea party/ Conservative Think Tank types split off anything they can from "defense" to make that slice of the pie look smaller. And they add whatever they can to Medicare and Social Security to make that look larger.

Before we can really understand the debate about whether we need to cut spending or increase income, Mad Dog suspects, we need to actually see what we are spending and on what.

Creative accounting likely plays a subterranean role here.


  1. Mad Dog,
    Good luck on your hunt- I'm assuming the top chart is the conservative think tank production-from that chart it would appear reasonable for defense spending to remain the same if not grow. I would imagine creative bookkeeping will be a factor in every chart you find..

    Off the subject of the budget-I just read an interview of Maurice Sendak by Emma Brocks-or Broches- my cousin forwarded to me. It was from the Dec. 2012 issue of The Believer-maybe you've seen it already-if not you should check it out-it's good-funny, sad, interesting.. I think you'd appreciate it..

  2. Maud,

    As you can see, I'm still updating the pie graphs. There are differences, but not quite as large as I first suspected. What you call things can change a slice size. There is defense spending and there is "Protection" spending, two separate slices on one chart, not on another.
    I will look up the Sendak piece. I read all his books to my kids, in addition to Shel Silverstein and the Narnia chronicles. So I'm a fan.
    I do want to read the Time piece on health care spending.

    Mad Dog

  3. Mad Dog,
    Yes it is confusing- each chart seems to divide things somewhat differently-not just with defense but with, for example, income security vs. welfare and pensions on another chart-are those supposed to be the same thing? Did I guess wrong on which was the conservative think tank chart?

    You do have to read the Time article- to say it's an eye opener is an understatement, no wonder Jon Stewart was so fired up about the piece-I'm curious to see what you think...

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