The Simple Dollar » The Simple Dollar Talks Politics (Sort Of)

This link is to one of my favorite financial blogs. It is an excellently written blog with a lot of insight into personal finance, with an eye towards frugal living. There is a wisdom in the blogger post that is for a late twenty-something that I lack as a forty-something. Then this pops up in my feed reader and it forces me to comment:

The Simple Dollar » The Simple Dollar Talks Politics (Sort Of)

This is the part that really just made me have to write this:

From my eyes, we vastly overspend on the military and vastly underspend on paying off the national debt and erasing many of the mistakes of the last thirty years. If we made a serious commitment to pay off the national debt like the one that was in place at the end of the Clinton administration, we could support every single program that we currently support and also drastically lower taxes.

It is funny that “Clinton Administration” and commitment to pay off the national debt are used in the same sentence. No, it was that crazy Republican congress that made draconian cuts like raising budgets by 3 percent instead of 4.5 that even acknowledged we have a debt issue.

Now this was based on a web based tool that would show you where your tax dollars go. I will show you his example:

Of the $10800.00 you paid in taxes:
$2937.60 goes to the military
$2019.60 goes to pay the interest on the debt
$2257.20 goes to health care
$648.00 goes to income security
$486.00 goes to education
$367.20 goes to benefits for veterans
$280.80 goes to nutrition spending
$205.20 goes to housing
$162.00 goes to environmental protection
$32.40 goes to job training
$1339.20 goes to all other expenses

This makes it look like military spending is the biggest part of the budget. Let me show you how I look at this.

Of the $10800.00 you paid in taxes,
$4071.60 goes to things I call the nanny state that the government has no business doing Broken out as:
$2257.20 goes to health care
$648.00 goes to income security
$486.00 goes to education
$280.80 goes to nutrition spending
$205.20 goes to housing
$162.00 goes to environmental protection
$32.40 goes to job training
$2019.60 goes to pay the interest on the debt rung up by the programs above.
$1339.20 goes to all other expenses
$2937.60 goes to the military (That the government is required to do by the constitution)
$367.20 goes to benefits for veterans who put their lives on the line so that we can be free to complain about our country.

Much like our personal budgets, a government that spends too much on the luxuries even when it cannot afford it, winds up deep in debt. It really is that simple. If you think I am wrong about this, they please explain why the preamble of the Constitution contains “provide for the common defense” and does not contain “pay health insurance and provide education”. If you don’t address this single point, then you are not addressing the issue.

Think about the “education” item for a minute. How many “federal” schools do you have around you? I don’t know of any. So the government funds education but it doesn’t have any schools? Where does that money go? Well, the department of education has a cabinet level secretary as well as staff and office space to pay for. Does that count towards “education”? The government has a bunch of people who have the job of making sure that schools using Federal money are obeying Federal rules. Is that counted in “education”?

Now to the most important part:

Once you’ve really figured that out, support those candidates that match your views, even if they’re not popular. Don’t worry about opinion polls or what everyone else thinks or which candidates the media covers or doesn’t cover: look at all of the candidates, even those not in the Democrat or Republican Party, and find a candidate that feels the same way that you do, and then support that candidate. For me, at least, I often have tons of political buttons and materials for various candidates from parties large and small and from various political races – I don’t worry too much about their party, I worry about what they stand for and whether it matches what I believe – and more importantly, what I’m willing to stand for with my wallet.

It is funny in a shocking sort of way that someone who can have such great ideas on frugal living and personal finance would encourage a political situation that can only destroy the nations finances. If we follow this advice we end up with candidate attempting to “buy” our vote by giving us some of our money! It is just plain offensive to me that we can have the discussion of the government providing “income security” or “nutrition spending” (What the heck is nutrition spending? That could be a whole different article.) when the government is spending more money than it take in in taxes.

If you want to talk about priorities in government spending, you have to look at it in terms of obligations versus luxuries. The government is obliged to provide for “common defense” it is a luxury to be able to provide health insurance.