The table below is constructed from the table and data provided by Laura Saunders in her piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. It shows how $100 in our tax monies paid to the Federal government were spent on a range of government purposes.
|Civilian federal retirement||$2.57|
|Supplemental Security Income||$1.53|
|Foreign aid and international affairs||$1.14|
|Affordable Care Act subsidies||$1.09|
|Natural resource protection||$1.01|
|National Park Service||$0.08|
|National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities||$0.01|
Notice some things (I’m going to ignore some things, too, but this is my post on my blog; I get to do that). The bulk of the Federal social safety net—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—comprises in its aggregate nearly half of those hundred dollars. Yet these are the most easily and directly privatisable, and as a matter of personal responsibility and individual freedom, they should be. Each State should take care of its own poor: New Yorkers shouldn’t be paying any part of Illinois’ Medicaid costs in this arena, for instance. Each individual should be paying toward his own future retirement and retired medical costs (and/or the retirement and medical costs of his own parents, if he—not the Feds—wishes) and not for the current retirement and medical costs of complete strangers.
There are far better uses to which the Federal government should be putting those $48+. One such is plussing up another major component of the Federal social safety net: National defense (OK, I’m not using the standard definition of social safety net here, but I suggest that absent an effective national defense establishment, in very short order there won’t be any social to be kept safe). National defense currently takes up only a bit over 15% of that C-note, and it certainly could use some increases in order to fund more troops, more and better equipment, and much more rapid and broad R&D.
Then there’s that Interest cut. Those $6+ dollars are the interest on the national debt, a debt that continues to grow, courtesy of another datum Saunders provided. It takes an additional $15.24 beyond that Benjamin to cover the Federal budget deficit that’s growing our debt. A significant fraction of those $48+ could be sent toward the debt’s principle as well as those interest payments—which are only going to get larger as the underlying interest rates go up now that the Federal Reserve Bank (finally) is easing up on its artificially depressed interest rates.
One minor side note: congressional salaries aren’t actually zero; they’re just a good approximation of zero on this scale. But you already knew that.