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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5635/new-2007-edition-of-the-visual-guide-to-where-your-federal-tax-dollar-go/

New 2007 Edition of the Visual Guide to Where Your Federal Tax Dollar Go

September 19, 2006 by

This past spring I pointed to a large visual aid that illustrates the budgets each agency receives.

The new 2007 edition has just been released and it lives up to its predecessor.

And while the data will not be a surprise to readers of Mises.org, the fact that roughly 2/3 of the $1 trillion dollar discretionary budget goes to military related divisions should help put Randolph Bourne’s maxim into perspective: “War is the Health of the State.”

More: 1 2 3 4 5


Chris Meisenzahl September 19, 2006 at 5:48 am

How does the non-discretionary budget compare in size to all of this?


TGGP September 19, 2006 at 7:42 am

I had always assumed Rothbard or some other Austrian came up with that quote. So it was a progressive? Oh, horror of horrors!

Person September 19, 2006 at 9:10 am

So, Tim, I take it that you bought the whole “only discretionary spending matters!” story, hook, line, and sinker. Lock, stock, and barrel. Larry, Curly, and Moe.

In anticipation of quasibill’s next comment: no, I’m not saying that defense spending is “no big deal”. I’m just saying, don’t use a flawed metric to “prove” some old maxim. (Btw, it’s exactly this metric that is used to trivialize the size of the federal budget.)

Vince Daliessio September 19, 2006 at 9:18 am

Agreed – separating the budget into “discretionary” and “non-discretionary” is manipulative at best, dishonest at worst, particularly when our “compassionate conservative” president has added trillions of dollars to the “non-discretionary” side. This graphic is designed to highlight the size of the(frank)military budget, not completely a bad thing, but it also exaggerates its importance in the total obligations of the government.

Tim Swanson September 19, 2006 at 10:46 am

It was an illustration, take it as you will — maybe go outside and get some sunlight too.

Vince Daliessio September 19, 2006 at 10:53 am

LOL Tim, didn’t mean to put down the worthy exercise of the creator of it, nor your posting of it, just that omitting 2/3 of the budget just because it’s “non-discretionary” makes it easy to beat up on military spending (which is clearly out of whack) while implying that SS and Medicare are A-OK, which we know they are not.

quasibill September 19, 2006 at 1:51 pm

Person – obsess much?

Vince, et al,

I thought the chart explicitly mentioned the “non-discretionary” (what a great term – like Congress can’t ignore limits placed upon it…) spending was excluded, and also noted that the funding for “non-discretionary” items came from a separate source. As a result, the chart is not misleading from the viewpoint of spending as a part of general income tax revenues – the chart shows it all. If you want to know about how your payroll taxes are spent, this chart clearly denotes that it doesn’t address that issue.

I think if I were to make an irrelevant complaint about the chart, I’d start with complaining that it doesn’t show our military spending compared with the next 20 highest spending nations in the world. Or perhaps comparing with any nation in our hemisphere (you know, the ones that are actually remotely likely to invade us?) That might make for an interesting chart…

Vince Daliessio September 19, 2006 at 2:11 pm

quasibill said;

“I thought the chart explicitly mentioned the “non-discretionary” (what a great term – like Congress can’t ignore limits placed upon it…) spending was excluded, and also noted that the funding for “non-discretionary” items came from a separate source.”

I agree that they address “non-discretionary” spending (politically non-discretionary, at any rate), but then they dismiss it as though it were somehow irrelevant to the discussion. Mentioning it and moving on reflects the “elephant in the room” situation, ignoring the greater portion of federal spending, and implicitly suggesting that either this spending; a)is OK because it has a “dedicated” tax funding; b) is not worth discussing because it is “necessary”, and: c) it is somehow not part of the problem.

Person September 19, 2006 at 2:23 pm

quasibill: I added the caveat because you were (judging from history) going to misinterpret my comment as a trivialization of defense spending. You took my request for inflation adjustment of defense spending on another thread out of context as well. Predictibility on your part is not obsession on my part.

quasibill September 19, 2006 at 2:29 pm


I’ll agree that it is an “elephant in the room” situation, but at the same time it does make important points, given that the ‘discretionary’ budget balloons each year as well, and there are those minarchist types that pretend that there is no problem with granting taxation power for purely military purposes. This chart shows that even if you cut out SS and medicare (by reneging on a promise made to its own citizens, for which it extracted payments in exchange), you’d still have a massive budget that is in fact dominated by military spending. It’s my current understanding that current SS and medicare payments are in fact met by current tax income. The problem with those programs (aside from the fundamental ethical one) is future oriented. If Congress in fact declared that it would stop all future SS and medicare payments, that would be that. Not so for the discretionary budget, which is currently in the red, and will have to be paid off by offsets in the future – in effect, taxing our descendants for our benefit. (Not that any of this should be taken for advocating SS and medicare, they should be eliminated as soon as possible. Just noting the qualitative difference is actually a valid distinction when discussing the evil of taxation)

It’s also useful when placed in historical context – the warfare state always precedes the welfare state. Politicians want the shiny military toys, but in order to get the proles to suffer the taxes required, they eventually have to offer bread and circuses. It’s pretty apparent that that M.O. is at work currently – this administration could care less about fiscal restraint, as long you support endless war in the middle east, they’re okay with pretty much any domestic spending bill you put forth.

Curt Howland September 20, 2006 at 8:15 pm

I like the chart because of highlighting all the different ways the government spends money. Most people would not realize that aid to Egypt and Israel are so large, or that there’s two completely different agencies for doing the same thing, the department of Forestry and the Bureau of Land Management.

I was listening to the Penn Jillette radio show recently, and heard him ask the caller what they would do if elected president. Oh! To be asked that question! “Fire everyone, sell everything, Executive Order the government into impotency.”

This chart mostly reminds me of how there is nothing left that the Fed.Gov _doesn’t_ interfere with.

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