Oct. 2, 2019
TO THE EDITOR:
According to information from “Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?” an article updated in January this year by a public charity called Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the United States spent $4 trillion in fiscal 2017. The revenue was $3.3 trillion.
The budget could be broken into roughly four types of expenditures:
Spending for “defense and international security assistance.”
Paying interest on the country’s debt.
Infrastructure and research.
Safety net programs.
Defense was allocated around $611 billion.
$263 billion was allocated to the debt.
Infrastructure and research ate up $160 billion, split evenly between the two.
After those expenditures, social programs totaled approximately $2.95 trillion.
$120 billion went toward education.
Benefits for retirees and veterans cost about $320 billion.
Social Security came in at $960 billion.
$597 billion was for Medicare, which around 59 million people use. (For the record, that’s about $10,000 annually per person.)
$48 billion subsidizes the Affordable Care Act.
Medicaid and CHIP, which require state matches and cover about 69 million people, came out to $355 billion.
Other safety net programs like food stamps, the child tax credit, energy assistance and more cost $357 billion.
Finally, non-security international spending and “all other” came in at $200 billion.
This seems wildly inefficient. The only programs that literally everyone in the country benefits from are infrastructure, research, defense, paying the national debt and probably whatever all that “other” spending is, which I’m sure includes Congress’ salaries.
The bulk of the spending goes toward what I would call personal expenses that won’t be valuable to everyone at every point during their lives.
For instance, you won’t have children in the public school system for longer than about 22 years per child. Some wealthier parents never put their children in public school. Assuming you live to be 95, only 35 years will be spent drawing Social Security and Medicare. Many people cycle in and out of the welfare and safety net programs, including Medicaid — but not all. Some may never see a dime of those expenditures while others might see a net profit.
Rather than allowing the government to decide how to fund these things that should largely be personal or charitable responsibilities, why doesn’t the government allow us to have the money directly?
Without borrowing of any sort — while keeping spending and taxation where they are except for a slight increase to actually start paying down the debt (think, paying more than the minimum payment on your credit card) — there would be about $2 trillion in the country’s kitty.
In our current system, government attempts managing that money because they believe they need to treat us like children who don’t know how to budget (for the record, my budget is balanced … unlike the deficit the government runs year after year). What’s worse is that the result seems to always be underfunded programs that are poorly run and cost more just from the necessity of administering them.
The administration costs of simply issuing a check would be far cheaper than trying to make sure everyone applying for money is eligible.
For the record, our population was at about 327.2 million in 2018 according to U.S. Census Bureau data. So, if you divide that $2 trillion equally among the population, each person would receive about $6,200 annually.
It may not sound like much, but remember there would be some years when you wouldn’t need much or maybe any of that amount.
People who are in worse shape financially and don’t pay as much in taxes would still be subsidized by those who are to some degree.
Furthermore, if children’s money were locked away, each child would have about $100,000 when they turn 18.
After all, it ought to be the parent’s responsibility to figure out how to take care of their children until those children become adults. Many parents already do that now … whether that means sacrificing a new pair of shoes for themselves in order to get a new pair for their children, or sacrificing their pride to seek out charity.
Additionally, required financial literacy training could help children understand how to spend their savings responsibly.
Final point: There’s an interesting candidate in the Democratic Party who would actually love to give each citizen $12,000 a year and who has a plan to tax big tech. to get the extra $2 trillion necessary to make it happen. He even has a policy recommendation of financial literacy education for all students.
His name is Andrew Yang, and this Republican will be switching to unaffiliated to vote Yang in the Democrat Party primary in February 2020.
I don’t agree with all of his ideas. I’m not even sure if his plan to raise an additional $2 trillion can work, but I do believe more money in our pockets from someone who trusts us to be responsible with it takes us in the right direction as a country.
I’m tired of being treated like a child.
How about you?
YANG GANG 2020