Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Budgets and Pies

Let's talk budgets.

In our family, I have the responsibility of writing the checks to pay the monthly bills (although I don't actually write many checks anymore -- we pay most things online -- but that's beside the point).  Our biggest check we cut each month is for the mortgage.  And yes, we could certainly have a smaller house and a smaller mortgage payment, but even if we downsized, our mortgage check would still be the largest each month.  A roof over one's head is expensive, period.  And putting a roof over the heads of the family is a basic, primary responsibility that MUST be met.

What I'm getting at is, the fact that our mortgage is the biggest chunk by far out of our monthly bills does not, in and of itself, imply any irresponsible spending on our part.

I bring this up because of a chart posted on FB yesterday by a friend.  It's a pie chart labeled "Discretionary Spending FY 2013", and it shows that military spending constitutes 56.94% of the spending.  That blue military piece of the pie appears to engulf the rest; everything else is a sliver (the next biggest slice is Education at 6.35%).  The unspoken message of this graphic is that our military spending is obscenely out of line because it takes so much of the pie.

And I take serious issue with this message.  Military spending SHOULD take, by far, the biggest chunk of the pie.  Frankly, if we're just talking percentages, I think it should take much more.  Now, I'm not saying there aren't cuts to be made in that department, and if the Republicans are refusing to consider military cuts, that's wrong (I don't know if they are or not -- I'm not following the Fiscal Cliff crisis because my heart simply can't handle that stress right now).

But as I've preached before:  I'm a libertarian-leaning conservative, and I believe there are a few specific, limited duties prescribed for our federal government and of those, the military is one of the most important -- and undoubtedly, the most expensive. There is simply no problem with the relative size of that slice of pie.  If that blue military piece shrinks as a result of upcoming negotiations, I will find THAT to be irresponsible on our government's part.  Reduce the dollar amounts, all of them -- don't just adjust where the money is allocated.  Or if allocation adjustments need to be made, give the largest allocations to the duties specifically prescribed to the federal government in the Constitution, such as the military.

Images are so powerful.  But they can be so deceiving, too.  Let's use our eyes responsibly by engaging our brains as well.  Thank you.

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