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One factor that is overlooked is the percentage of the US budget spent on militarism compared with other industrialized countries.

The effective rate in the US is about 50%. As a consequence many people have an anti-tax attitude since they are not getting value for their taxes. The social programs that taxes fund in Europe are only being used half as efficiently in the US.

This lets the neo-cons build on the anti-tax feeling and blame the tax rate on social programs (especially for the poor). The net result is that safety net programs in the US are underfunded compared to elsewhere. Part of this libertarian mindset is to blame poverty on the victims as some sort of moral failing.

Just today a government commission recommended cutting back on the tax exemption for home mortgage interest. This will impact the middle class. In addition they recommended eliminating the alternate tax which affects only the wealthy. Just another example of shifting the burden to those least able to afford it.

I've written about the problems with wealth redistribution in this short essay:
Wealth Distribution

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 11:14:13 AM EST
Definition: Current military expenditures in US dollars; the figure is calculated by multiplying the estimated defense spending in percentage terms by the gross domestic product (GDP) calculated on an exchange rate basis not purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Dollar figures for military expenditures should be treated with caution because of different price patterns and accounting methods among nations, as well as wide variations in the strength of their currencies

(Note: The US figure is FY99...I'd think it is a bit higher by now...)

 Amount

  1. United States $276.7 billion (FY99 est.)  
  2. China $55.91 billion (FY02)  
  3. France $46.5 billion (2000)  
  4. Japan $39.52 billion (FY02)  
  5. Germany $38.8 billion (2002)  
  6. United Kingdom $31.7 billion (2002)  
  7. Italy $20.2 billion (2002)  
  8. Saudi Arabia $18.3 billion (FY00)  
  9. Brazil $13.408 billion (FY99)  
  10. Korea, South $13,094.3 million (FY02)  
  11. India $11.52 billion (FY02)  
  12. Australia $11.39 billion (FY02)  
  13. Iran $9.7 billion (FY00)  
  14. Israel $8.97 billion (FY02)  
  15. Spain $8.6 billion (2002)  
  16. Turkey $8.1 billion (2002 est.)  
  17. Canada $7.861 billion (FY01/02)  
  18. Taiwan $7.574 billion (FY02)  
  19. Netherlands $6.5 billion (FY00/01 est.)  
  20. Greece $6.12 billion (FY99/00 est.)  
  21. Korea, North $5,217.4 million (FY02)  
  22. Singapore $4.47 billion (FY01 est.)  
  23. Sweden $4.395 billion (FY01)  
  24. Argentina $4.3 billion (FY99)  
  25. Egypt $4.04 billion (FY99)  


"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 11:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Military numbers from government agencies tend to ignore collateral expenses such as veteran's benefits and veteran's health costs.

I would also add in the high costs of our policing functions. This is a quasi-military expense as well and does nothing for direct social programs. Prison population in the US is highest in absolute numbers as well as a percentage of the population.

Here's a link to some statistics:
http://www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 12:37:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ahah. I saved that graph when I saw it not long ago, it's pretty striking...

(click on graph for bigger version)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 03:31:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ignoring entitlements - i.e. SS and Medicare seems a bit unfair. Plus America is a federal system where a large chunk of public sector expenditures come from local and state governments, in particular pretty much all education spending and a good deal of health care. Public  health care spending for example is overall much larger than defense, yet on that graph it is virtually non existent. Education spending is also larger than defense. The latest comprehensive figures I could find were $373 billion for 1999-2000 not counting higher education spending. I'm sure that has increased significantly in the past five years in nominal terms and again, it doesn't include higher education. Public sector health care spending in the US is about 7% of GDP, again something you  don't see on that graph. In general the US  governments spend a lot on health care with pathetic results and a lot on education with very mixed results for K-12.
by MarekNYC on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 04:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Public  health care spending for example is overall much larger than defense, yet on that graph it is virtually non existent.

Are you sure about that? Last I heard, America is spending more on their military than the whole rest of the world put together...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 04:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
394 billion dollars!?!?!?!?!?!? That's way nmore than thee rest of the world...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 04:31:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you sure about that? Last I heard, America is spending more on their military than the whole rest of the world put together...

Umm, yes. Public sector health care spending is about 7% of GDP, defense is about 4%.  

by MarekNYC on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 04:44:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a true picture of the federal priorities, nevertheless... And don't forget who is at the receiving end of all these military toys, so it's legitimate that we care and be surprised. Your arguments about States vs federation are just too nuanced to have any impact!

I hope you will complain with the same vigor the next time we compare public sector expenditure between countries, and France (and others) are said to carry unsustainable burdens because healthcare is paid from the public purse instead of being paid by individuals to private insurance companies, or similarly with pensions...

... or when the marginal tax rates of France and the US or UK are compared, without taking into account the most basic automatic deductions, and the family allowances. Not everybody is a young bond trader...

I suppose all I am saying is - Americans seem surprised when superficial arguments are used against them, and don't seem to realise how often they make the same.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 06:13:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is this a true picture of?  If I were to draw up a graph of any country's spending and exclude health care, education, and pensions it would 'show' some rather strange priorities.  Or I could just draw a graph of non-federal public sector spending in the US and it would  indicate a 'true' picture of an America that spends virtually nothing on its military.  

The true picture is that America does spend significantly more on defense than most developped countries - about twice as much. It also spends quite a bit on health care but its people get a very poor return on that spending while private sector health care does very well out of it. I have no idea how education spending compares across countries.

As for what AEI or the WSJ do - well it does remind me of that study 'showing' that people in Mississipi are better of than Swedes. But I'm really not convinced that their quality of arguments about Europe are a model to follow.

by MarekNYC on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 11:40:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah, but it's fun once in a while, and it's especailly fun to see the outraged reactions from the people that do this day in and day out in their own publications (and I don't mean you, to be clear, you've been preety much consistent and fair in your positions on this site, even if I don't agree with all of it)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 05:26:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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