Former Republican senator from Illinois, Everett M. Dirksen reportedly said,
"a Billion here and a billion there, pretty soon we are talking some big money".
Except now we are already talking "Trillions".
We have an easy solution in America for any problem- just throw some money.
There doesn't have to be any accountability.
News Item - " Between 2002 and 2015, American school children went from a ranking of 15th to 24th in reading"- International Adult Literacy Survey.
Meanwhile, since 2002, federal funding for education increased from $ 50 billion to $ 68 billion in 2016.
What is point in increased spending if we are deteriorating in our performance?
Where is all the money going?
To illustrate: In fiscal year 2016, federal government spent under $4 trillion. Here is the breakdown of the expenditure by categories:
Human Services spending (Social Security, Medicare, Health, Income Security, Veterans benefits and Education)- $ 2.7 trillion, or 73%
National Defense- $ 607 billion, or 15.3%
Net Interest payments on government debt-$240 billion, or 6.1%
The entitlement programs account for almost 75% of the federal budget. Adding the national defense expenditure, almost about 90% of federal budget is earmarked. Controlling the cost of federal government is thus an impossibility. In addition, the federal government invariably spends more than it takes creating a perennial deficit. The current national debt is estimated to be $21 trillion.
The last time we had a surplus was in the 1990's during the Clinton Presidency.
With no surplus, we end up borrowing more money to fund our emergencies like the 2008 financial collapse, and 2020 pandemic relief. By now, the federal deficit is so huge, U.S. citizens have become numb to it. We insist on fiscal discipline for individuals, hard working families, and businesses.
However, we let the Government spend our tax dollars like a drunken sailor.
Only difference is that sailor at least becomes sober the next day.
An article in "2021 Americans for Prosperity" quotes the following ridiculous examples of government waste as exposed by Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma:
1) In 2015, the federal government spent $ 374,087 in tax payers dollars observing senior adults' dating habits;
2) In FY 2014, the Bureau of Land Management spent $67.9 million to manage the growing population of wild horses in American west;
3) From 2011 to 2014, the Department of Defense spent nearly $43 million to build a Compressed Natural Gas filling station in Afghanistan;
4)The Department of Agriculture spends about $ 200 million of U.S. Tax payers money annually to market U.S. Raisins in foreign countries;
5) From 2011 to 2015, American tax payers paid $2.6 million to fund a trucker weight-loss program.
Many of our federal Department budgets are greater than those of several countries.
Since my migration to the U.S., I have observed the following cyclical trend.
Every 10 years, U.S. goes through huge economic, political, or natural turmoil as shown below:
- 1970's Vietnam war, internal strife and lavish federal government spending brought the years of stagflation- high inflation combined with high unemployment and stagnant demand for country's goods and services;
- 1980's The Savings and Loan Crisis left the country with thousands of bankrupt Savings and loan institutions creating economic fiasco;
-1990's The First Iraq war and subsequent economic downturn;
-2000, 9/11 national tragedy and subsequent international economic collapse;
- 2010, The subprime economic crisis and economic disaster;
-2020, Covid-19 pandemic creating an international crisis.
Every time, the country was unprepared and unready to face the challenge.
Meanwhile, the debt keeps on accumulating.
What will happen in 2030?
We will probably face another debacle while being bold, flat footed, and found wanting.
Our government seems to follow J. Paul Getty's axiom,
"If you owe the bank $100, that's your problem;
If you owe the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem".