Monday, August 2, 2010

Part 1 of 3: What to do with the Department of Defense

The Defense Department just misplaced $8.7 billion. This story is similar to when we misplaced $12 billion back in 2007. And these two mishaps taken together are like the time Alban (one of my housemates) didn't deposit his rent payment on time and caused us to get an overdraft fee... except a billion times worse.

When something is so large and complicated that either we can't keep track of $20 billion going through the system, or we don't care, it's about time to cut it down to a more manageable size.

Note: The following figures are from this page that details the issue much better than I can.

When compared to the rest of the world, our military budget is out of control. We spend more on our military than the next 14 largest spending countries combined (data here). For a rundown of what this looks like in list form, go here.

So, we spend a lot compared to the rest of the world. In fact, these figures make us look a little silly, kinda like the New York Yankees of defense spending. No wonder everyone hates us. Here's what this looks like for our budget:

The reason for the discrepancy between the two graphs is that the first is only taking into account "traditional" sources of tax revenue. The second graph looks at federal spending as a whole, which includs Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid that are funded a little differently.

Note: A lot of folks who don't think we spend too much on the military like to use a graph that can be found here. However, after a little checking, this other graph has a few accuracy problems and dubious sources (plus they separate defense spending from Iraq War spending to make them look smaller). For those reasons I've decided to stick with my OMB numbers.

What I'd like to stress is that we are spending too much on the military. These sorts of spending levels aren't about safety anymore. These sorts of spending levels are about our politicians funneling money to whomever they want and being able to point to national security as the reason. This is unacceptable.

Note: This is part 1 of 3. 

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