Let me clarify something before I start: I’m not attesting to the accuracy of this graphic to the right. In fact, the friend who posted it on Facebook got a comment correcting the percentages. But I’m assuming the figures are in the ballpark, and the figures are somewhat incidental to my point anyway.I assume that my politically liberal friend who posted this did so as an unspoken criticism of the high percentage of money going to the military and the low percentages going to such things as education, housing, etc. As a politically conservative person, I have a different perspective on the graphic.
No doubt, there is probably a significant amount of money wasted in the military. And I acknowledge the arguments being made that our military presence in the world is out of control. However, can we at least acknowledge that the financial support of the military is a specific and legitimate duty of our federal government? That is a line item that MUST be in the budget, whether we agree on the amount or not. It is a DUTY – specifically listed in the Constitution.
“Medicare and Health”? Not in the Constitution. “Housing & Community”? Not in the Constitution. “Science”? “Transportation”? “Food & Agriculture”? “Education”? “Energy & Environment”? Nope. Yes, I know my liberal friends group those under Promoting the General Welfare, but again – let’s at least acknowledge that the category they are complaining about is the only one of those that the Constitution specifically gives to our federal government as an obligation. If our federal government were only spending its money on its Constitutional obligations, we would expect that the military would be the highest percentage. It’s the most costly obligation.
When I look at this graphic, I see only 37.1 cents of this dollar going to programs that are specifically designated as the responsibility of the federal government (military, government, international affairs – and I’m grouping veterans benefits in this, too, since it’s related to the military). 48.5 cents goes to General Welfare programs which are not addressed in the Constitution at all beyond that vague phrase in the Preamble. I find that to be the most troubling fact here. (Well, the second most troubling. That 14.5 cents to interest on the debt? Don’t get me started . . . )
Almost half of our federal tax money now goes to things that our Constitutional founders presumably never intended the federal government to be involved with at all. Almost half!! I wonder, if taxpayers of this country got almost half of their federal taxes returned to them, if they themselves would be able to cover – through private purchase or through charitable contribution – the costs of the services provided by those federal programs.
At the very least, they’d have more money for state and local taxes, which is where I believe these General Welfare programs belong.