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Nica
07-20-2011, 11:42 AM
Rather than cutting social security and even military pay?? I understand that they give people jobs, but cutting back some funding couldn't hurt. Like the space program, for example. Do we really NEED to explore space when we can't even take care of our own people here on earth? Priorities are backwards. We give so much aid to other countries for the sake of diplomacy and our image, and we can't even feed our own.

I already know the answer. Greed. Just wanted to hear opinions.

FYI, I'm new here and an independent.

Marley23
07-20-2011, 11:46 AM
Sounds good. Now all you have to do is get everybody to agree which programs are non-essential, remembering that a program that seems non-essential to one Congresscritter might be a major issue for another.

By the way, NASA's budget this year is something like $19 billion dollars. It's something like 0.6 percent of the annual federal budget.

Giles
07-20-2011, 11:47 AM
I'm glad you know the answer, but first I'd like to know what the question is: what is a "non-essential program"? Don't you need to define that before you can answer the question?

Nica
07-20-2011, 11:50 AM
I suppose I should've worded it, not essential for the survival of the human species. :) The gov't surely wouldn't let us go hungry.

Giles
07-20-2011, 11:52 AM
I suppose I should've worded it, not essential for the survival of the human species. :) The gov't surely wouldn't let us go hungry.
By that standard, they're all non-essential.

(And the government does let some people go hungry.)

Oakminster
07-20-2011, 11:52 AM
As Marley points out, non-essential is in the eye of the beholder. At the moment, the House Appropriations Committee has proposed--and I think passed--a huge funding cut to Legal Services Corporation, which funds legal aid offices nationwide. These offices provide representation to low income clients in a variety of civil legal matters, including domestic violence, child custody, public benefits, consumer issues, etc. The cuts to field offices could be as high as 27.5%, which would almost kill many local programs--meaning even more poor people will be denied representation.

Nica
07-20-2011, 11:54 AM
I guess I'm just old school. The pioneer days don't seem so bad at this point. Less government programs and you fend for yourself.

DianaG
07-20-2011, 11:55 AM
In other words, the government should let people starve? Didn't you just say that would be bad?

TriPolar
07-20-2011, 11:56 AM
I guess I'm just old school. The pioneer days don't seem so bad at this point. Less government programs and you fend for yourself.

Have you ever fended for yourself?

Nica
07-20-2011, 11:57 AM
I am willing to try.

Jas09
07-20-2011, 11:58 AM
Mainly because that's not where the money is. You could define "non-essential" extremely broadly and still not balance the budget without touching entitlements, defense, or revenue.

Not to say it shouldn't be done - that's basically where the ~$1 trillion in "agreed upon" cuts are coming from. Stuff that both parties agree can be whittled back, and that aren't politically toxic to cut.

Two address your two listed programs: NASA has a $19 billion budget and foreign aid is about $50 billion (of which Israel is, I believe, the largest individual recipient - good luck cutting that).

Marley23
07-20-2011, 11:59 AM
I suppose I should've worded it, not essential for the survival of the human species. :)
You really need to be more specific here. Do you mean the entire human species, or just the human beings in the United States? Because the U.S. could disappear tomorrow and the species would go on.

The gov't surely wouldn't let us go hungry.
That's rather simplistic. The bottom line is that you can cut some money within a program without eliminating an entire program, and that's probably what will happen here.

The pioneer days don't seem so bad at this point.
I guess it depends on how you feel about bandits and dysentery. I'm against.

Jas09
07-20-2011, 12:02 PM
I guess it depends on how you feel about bandits and dysentery. I'm against.Hm... I guess I would come down as pro-Bandits and anti-Dysentery. But I'm willing to compromise.

XT
07-20-2011, 12:03 PM
Why doesn't the government consider reducing spending on non-essential programs?

AFAIK, that is exactly what they are considering. The trouble is, as others have already pointed out, what is or isn't considered essential is going to be highly dependent...mostly on who's ox is getting gored by discontinuing any given program. That's the trouble with any spending cuts...someone is going to be affected, and if enough people are affected by a given cut then they are going to be unhappy. Unhappy voters aren't something that politicians really try for, in general.

-XT

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:08 PM
AFAIK, that is exactly what they are considering. The trouble is, as others have already pointed out, what is or isn't considered essential is going to be highly dependent...mostly on who's ox is getting gored by discontinuing any given program. That's the trouble with any spending cuts...someone is going to be affected, and if enough people are affected by a given cut then they are going to be unhappy. Unhappy voters aren't something that politicians really try for, in general.

-XT

Isn't there a way to discern the core programs that this country needed when it was first established and start from there? (Sorry for my lack of eloquence.) Is it because of over population that this would be so difficult to do?

Shodan
07-20-2011, 12:10 PM
We give so much aid to other countries for the sake of diplomacy and our image, and we can't even feed our own. Actually we give about $50 billion (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/apr/13/barack-obama/barack-obama-says-foreign-aid-makes-1-percent-us-b/) in foreign aid each year.

The US federal budget deficit is approximately $1.6 trillion per year. Do the math.

Regards,
Shodan

Swords to Plowshares
07-20-2011, 12:11 PM
The very fact that you mention the space program when it's such a small part of the budget and it's done so much good for scientific research indicates to me that you need to do some more research before voicing opinions.

Marley23
07-20-2011, 12:11 PM
Isn't there a way to discern the core programs that this country needed when it was first established and start from there? (Sorry for my lack of eloquence.) Is it because of over population that this would be so difficult to do?
What people wanted from the government in the 1790s is not a useful guide to how government programs should be funded in 2011. You may have noticed that the U.S. has changed a lot in the last 200 years- and many of the changes are because people decided they wanted the government to do something it wasn't doing before.

XT
07-20-2011, 12:12 PM
Isn't there a way to discern the core programs that this country needed when it was first established and start from there? (Sorry for my lack of eloquence.) Is it because of over population that this would be so difficult to do?


Not that I know of, since this country isn't the same as the country that existed 200+ years ago, and so it's needs and the needs of our citizens have changed. For instance, do you really want to cut the military back to a token regular army, with militias and privateers making up the bulk of our military? Do you really want to cute law enforcement back to basically nothing outside of the towns and cities, and even there have it be completely inadequate?

You just can't fit the US back into the mold that it filled when we were a small sea board nation of 13 states....or even 25 states...or even 40 states.

-XT

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:13 PM
What people wanted from the government in the 1790s is not a useful guide to how government programs should be funded in 2011. You may have noticed that the U.S. has changed a lot in the last 200 years- and many of the changes are because people decided they wanted the government to do something it wasn't doing before.


Maybe my thoughts reflect on a time of mass destruction. Never mind. Can I rescind this thread?

brewha
07-20-2011, 12:13 PM
We didn't care much about oil in the 1790's. Now we do. So, now we gotta play nice with the middle east. Which means we have to fight some people to protect some people.

We can't just ignore most of the world like we used to.

Jas09
07-20-2011, 12:15 PM
Isn't there a way to discern the core programs that this country needed when it was first established and start from there? (Sorry for my lack of eloquence.) Is it because of over population that this would be so difficult to do?The US population in 1790 was around 3.5 million. It was almost entirely agrarian. The life expectancy at birth was around 40, and infant mortality was around 25%. Only white men with property could vote and black men in the South were property. We didn't have a standing army.

Shodan
07-20-2011, 12:16 PM
Isn't there a way to discern the core programs that this country needed when it was first established and start from there? We didn't have Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security when the country was founded. And that is mostly where the US spends its money. I have heard the federal government described as "an insurance company with an army". Bit of an overstatement, of course, but expressive of an obvious truth.

People expect the government to do more - they just don't want to pay for it (or want someone else to pay for it).

Put it this way - what programs do you benefit from, that you are willing to have cut?

Regards,
Shodan

msmith537
07-20-2011, 12:17 PM
Actually we give about $50 billion (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/apr/13/barack-obama/barack-obama-says-foreign-aid-makes-1-percent-us-b/) in foreign aid each year.

The US federal budget deficit is approximately $1.6 trillion per year. Do the math.

Regards,
Shodan


I know math make brain hurt, but the simple answer to the OP is that, based on this chart, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Federal_Spending_-_FY_2007.png) 63% of Federal spending is on Defense and entitlements like Social Security and Medicaid & Medicare. Everything else is mostly small potatoes.

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:17 PM
We didn't have Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security when the country was founded. And that is mostly where the US spends its money. I have heard the federal government described as "an insurance company with an army". Bit of an overstatement, of course, but expressive of an obvious truth.

People expect the government to do more - they just don't want to pay for it (or want someone else to pay for it).

Put it this way - what programs do you benefit from, that you are willing to have cut?

Regards,
Shodan


So could we turn this into a discussion about what everyone considers essential and non-essential?

Jas09
07-20-2011, 12:18 PM
Maybe my thoughts reflect on a time of mass destruction. Never mind. Can I rescind this thread?It doesn't need to be rescinded, because it is an important question - what is important for government to provide?

It's just that looking backwards isn't necessarily the best way to answer that question. We should consider what we, the people, want to empower our government to do. What do we want to fund collectively? How do we want to pay for it?

None of these are easy questions, and certainly can't be answer with "let's just go back to the way it was". That type of reflexive reactionary attitude is naive.

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:20 PM
We didn't have Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security when the country was founded. And that is mostly where the US spends its money. I have heard the federal government described as "an insurance company with an army". Bit of an overstatement, of course, but expressive of an obvious truth.

People expect the government to do more - they just don't want to pay for it (or want someone else to pay for it).

Put it this way - what programs do you benefit from, that you are willing to have cut?

Regards,
Shodan

And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :) I don't receive any sort of benefits... just my paycheck. I don't have insurance... still thinking.

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:22 PM
It doesn't need to be rescinded, because it is an important question - what is important for government to provide?

It's just that looking backwards isn't necessarily the best way to answer that question. We should consider what we, the people, want to empower our government to do. What do we want to fund collectively? How do we want to pay for it?

None of these are easy questions, and certainly can't be answer with "let's just go back to the way it was". That type of reflexive reactionary attitude is naive.

I understand where you're coming from, but I really don't find it naive. I think government has grown too large and people expect too much.

spifflog
07-20-2011, 12:22 PM
Maybe my thoughts reflect on a time of mass destruction. Never mind. Can I rescind this thread?

No need to rescind this thread, or apologize.

You've brought to light some things that we always need to remember.

-Government programs are next to impossible to kill

-No matter what ridiculous program you could come up with, someone - at the very least those employed by the program, will view it as vital.

-While I agree with your underlying believe that we should be caring for ourselves more and relying on the government less, that "red state" mentality is becoming more rare.

PigArcher
07-20-2011, 12:25 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :) I don't receive any sort of benefits... just my paycheck. I don't have insurance... still thinking.

Do you drive on public roads? Do you live in an area with adequate police and public safety services? Did you attend public school or university, or work with or for anyone who did?

I understand where you're coming from, but I really don't find it naive. I think government has grown too large and people expect too much.

Can you give an example of how "people expect too much"?

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:25 PM
No need to rescind this thread, or apologize.

You've brought to light some things that we always need to remember.

-Government programs are next to impossible to kill

-No matter what ridiculous program you could come up with, someone - at the very least those employed by the program, will view it as vital.

-While I agree with your underlying believe that we should be caring for ourselves more and relying on the government less, that "red state" mentality is becoming more rare.

Thanks! I agree with all you say. I just really want people to think about what is necessary and not in their lives, I guess. We lose sight of that.

DianaG
07-20-2011, 12:25 PM
The "red states" being the ones that get the most federal aid, that's an interesting turn of phrase.

Giles
07-20-2011, 12:28 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :) I don't receive any sort of benefits... just my paycheck. I don't have insurance... still thinking.
One federal program is the federal highway system. Do you travel on interstate highways? Do you buy goods that have been transported on interstate highways?

XT
07-20-2011, 12:28 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :) I don't receive any sort of benefits... just my paycheck. I don't have insurance... still thinking.

You benefit from all of the things that society provides, such as roads, clean food and water, schools, a nation that is internally secure from internal and external threats, a system of trade that is maintained world wide and protected by a strong military and myriad other things that you use every day and never give a seconds thought too...pretty much all of the stuff that the folks in 1776 didn't have but wanted. And you pay taxes for all of that stuff, as well as lots of stuff that you might never use but that some of your fellow citizens might...just like they pay taxes for stuff that they might never use but you might.


I understand where you're coming from, but I really don't find it naive. I think government has grown too large and people expect too much.

It has grown too large and people do expect too much. The problem is, how do you lower their expectations? Where do you start with lowering them...and what, as a society, are we willing to accept.

-XT

Marley23
07-20-2011, 12:29 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from.
Did you go to public schools? Do you drive on roads?

I don't have insurance... still thinking.
So if you get sick or have an accident, the public will foot the bill.

Jas09
07-20-2011, 12:30 PM
I understand where you're coming from, but I really don't find it naive. I think government has grown too large and people expect too much.And yet, the two items you listed account for almost nothing.

What, specifically, do you think is non-essential that is a large budget item? Social Security? Medicare? Defense?

Each of these items grew out of a real need, so I think you are compelled to explain why the situation prior was preferable to the situation after.

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:37 PM
And yet, the two items you listed account for almost nothing.

What, specifically, do you think is non-essential that is a large budget item? Social Security? Medicare? Defense?

Each of these items grew out of a real need, so I think you are compelled to explain why the situation prior was preferable to the situation after.

I am asking everyone to discuss what they feel is essential or not, actually. One could also debate what a "real need" is.

Ludovic
07-20-2011, 12:38 PM
roads, clean food and water, schools, a nation that is internally secure from internal and external threats, a system of trade that is maintained world wide and protected by a strong militarySure, but besides those, what has the federal government ever given us?

Stranger On A Train
07-20-2011, 12:39 PM
In other words, the government should let people starve? Didn't you just say that would be bad?Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. By embracing multiple contradictory concepts simultaneously, the o.p. is demonstrating the expansiveness of his mind. We can just hope that he doesn't blow an illogic board.

Stranger

spifflog
07-20-2011, 12:39 PM
And yet, the two items you listed account for almost nothing.

What, specifically, do you think is non-essential that is a large budget item? Social Security? Medicare? Defense?

Each of these items grew out of a real need, so I think you are compelled to explain why the situation prior was preferable to the situation after.

There is a chicken or the egg issue at hand here.

We can agree that Social Security is a "real need" I suppose. But at one point, it was a very small part of one's retiremenet plan. Now, some think SS should be enough pay for one's whole retirement plan.

We are becomming more "entitled," would you agree with that??

Marley23
07-20-2011, 12:40 PM
I am asking everyone to discuss what they feel is essential or not, actually. One could also debate what a "real need" is.
What if something isn't essential in the sense of survival, but most people agree it makes our society better? Does that make it a valid priority, or an instance of over-expanded government?

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:40 PM
Did you go to public schools? Do you drive on roads?


So if you get sick or have an accident, the public will foot the bill.

Luckily, my doctor takes payments.

Jas09
07-20-2011, 12:43 PM
Luckily, my doctor takes payments.Have you ever been admitted to the hospital?

Marley23
07-20-2011, 12:43 PM
Luckily, my doctor takes payments.
That works great until you need something you can't afford. Guess what happens then?

Nica
07-20-2011, 12:44 PM
Could we break it down by state? Where all the citizens of a state would contribute to state run programs that benefit only themselves? I dunno.

DianaG
07-20-2011, 12:49 PM
Sure we could. We'd just have to dissolve the federal government. I mean, a lot of those states would be good and fucked, but personally, I relish the idea of a return to fiefdoms.

Jas09
07-20-2011, 12:54 PM
Actually a lot of things are state-run - Medicaid for example. I haven't seen any evidence that they do a better job, but it's certainly possible. Not sure what a state-run Army would look like, we haven't had that for a very long time.

Vermont just passed a single-payer health-care system, which will be an interesting test.

Cheesesteak
07-20-2011, 12:54 PM
Rather than cutting social security and even military pay?? Since when is military spending "essential"? Sure, some military spending is essential, but the US spends a ridiculous sum of money on the military, and we don't even have an organized, government level enemy that's remotely on our scale. We spend 43% of the world's military budget, China is second, and has 1/6th of our budget.

We probably should cut $150M from the wastrel's at NPR, Legal Services and Planned Parenthood, rather than decimate the military by cutting a $485M program the Pentagon doesn't even want (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2010/05/28/173297/engines-vs-ui/).

Shodan
07-20-2011, 12:57 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :) I don't receive any sort of benefits... just my paycheck. I don't have insurance... still thinking.

OK, do you agree that Social Security and Medicare can be significantly cut?

Regards,
Shodan

Marley23
07-20-2011, 12:57 PM
Just to back up-

Rather than cutting social security and even military pay??
Has anyone proposed cutting military pay? I think that would go over like a lead balloon. Cutting defense spending is not the same as reducing pay for people in the military.

Jas09
07-20-2011, 12:58 PM
We probably should cut $150M from the wastrel's at NPR, Legal Services and Planned Parenthood, rather than decimate the military by cutting a $485M program the Pentagon doesn't even want (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2010/05/28/173297/engines-vs-ui/).Oh God... that damn F-35 engine program. It's pisses me off every time I see a reference to it... fortunately, I think it's finally been killed for good (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04/25/pentagon-ends-f-35-alternative-engine-project/).

kunilou
07-20-2011, 01:09 PM
Forget the impact on services, just consider the impact on employment. There are 3,000,000 civilian fderal employees (http://www2.census.gov/govs/apes/09fedfun.pdf) and 288,545 organizations (http://www.usaspending.gov/explore?&&carryfilters=on&tab=By%20Prime%20Awardee&fiscal_year=2011&tab=By+Prime+Awardee&fromfiscal=yes&trendreport=top_rec)who contract to provide the gummint with goods or services.

As for foreign aid, in 2008 (last year I have stats for) the U.S. gave a combined $49 billion in military and economic foreign aid combined. (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s1296.pdf) That's $5 billion less than United Technologies (http://www.cnbc.com/id/42494839/10_Companies_That_Make_Billions_From_The_U_S_Government?slide=5) made from its government contracts last year.

I'll agree that our priorities are wrong. But let's try to figure out what they should be.

Clark K
07-20-2011, 01:22 PM
A surprising number of people who get government benefits don't think they get government benefits. Not saying Nica is necessarily one of them, but his/her remarks reminded me of it.

Here's a NYT blog post about the study: http://tinyurl.com/3u5vbzk

It found, for instance, that 47 percent of people who get the Earned Income Tax Credit think they don't get any government benefits. Forty percent of people who use the GI Bill think they don't. Fifty-three percent of people who get student loans think they don't.

Just food for thought.

XT
07-20-2011, 01:29 PM
We spend 43% of the world's military budget, China is second, and has 1/6th of our budget.

And China has about 1/100th of our military commitments. We spend 43% of the worlds military budget (assuming your figure is correct) but we pretty obviously have over half of the worlds military commitments, being the only world military superpower, and pretty much the teeth in organizations like NATO.

Whether we SHOULD be carrying the water for the majority of the western worlds defense is debatable, but using these sorts of figures is pretty silly IMHO, since it's a complete apples to oranges comparison. China is a regional military power with regional military commitments...the US is a world wide military super power with commitments militarily that span the globe. Bit of a difference there.

-XT

TriPolar
07-20-2011, 02:03 PM
I am willing to try.

I don't think you realize how hard that would be. There isn't enough land to grow the food we need without modern technology. Distributing that food also requires technology. And all of that has been supplied directly or indirectly by the government. 300 million people can't live off the land in this country working individually, or in small groups. Now if we did try it, there would be a rapid decline in the population as people flee, starve, or are murdered, but what's left won't be some kind of Little House on the Prairie Utopia.

artemis
07-20-2011, 02:22 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :)

Don't bet on that one. Do you have private long-term disability insurance that's NOT tied to your workplace? (I rather doubt it; most people don't.) Have you priced it? (Here's a hint: do this sitting down. You'll pass out when you see what it costs.)

You're only one crippling accident away from needing Social Security; it's the only long-term disability plan the average worker has. And if you look back at history, you'll see that that safety net was invented for a reason. "Fending for yourself" works well only if you're young, hale, and lucky. Otherwise, it pretty much sucks.

The Other Waldo Pepper
07-20-2011, 02:23 PM
Don't bet on that one. Do you have private long-term disability insurance that's NOT tied to your workplace? (I rather doubt it; most people don't.) Have you priced it? (Here's a hint: do this sitting down. You'll pass out when you see what it costs.)

You're only one crippling accident away from needing Social Security; it's the only long-term disability plan the average worker has.

Has he been paying into it?

artemis
07-20-2011, 02:29 PM
Has he been paying into it?

In one of his earlier posts the OP said he's receiving a paycheck, so that's almost certainly a yes. Most people who are working are paying into Social Security.

Algher
07-20-2011, 02:47 PM
CATO made a nice website with their recommendations. Even if you disagree with them (and I am not in 100% agreement), it is a pretty good resource for thinking about how to cut FEDERAL spending.

http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/

Part of this debate should be both priorities and level of responsibility:
Federal: Defense, Certain programs such as Social Security, Interstates, Scientific Research, Space
State: Schools (shared with Community), Police, State Highways
Community: Police, Streets, Schools, etc.

There is too much overlap, and I think that the system could be improved if we moved more responsibility to the level of government that is best suited. I do not think that the Federal Government should be involved in the K-12 schools, and possibly not even at the University level.

Note - the list above is a quick burst for illustration and should not be seen as anywhere NEAR a complete listing.

septimus
07-20-2011, 03:09 PM
Priorities are backwards. We give so much aid to other countries for the sake of diplomacy and our image, and we can't even feed our own.

I already know the answer. Greed. Just wanted to hear opinions.

I'm surprised you mention foreign aid as one of your major targets. U.S. foreign aid is about $48 billion annual (that's about $150 per American); over one-third of that goes to three countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, each of which has major significance in the on-going Terror War. Are these three countries you want to cut?

This $48 billion is much bigger than that of the Space program, the other specific you mention, but it's really not so much: it would take three hundred years of spending at the rate to equal the present Federal debt.

Economic and military aid to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel fits in with our geopolitical and military strategies; I'd look elsewhere for clear signs of greed. Why do you think the aid is due to greed? I know you already know the answer; please tell us.

Nica
07-20-2011, 04:24 PM
I'm surprised you mention foreign aid as one of your major targets. U.S. foreign aid is about $48 billion annual (that's about $150 per American); over one-third of that goes to three countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, each of which has major significance in the on-going Terror War. Are these three countries you want to cut?

This $48 billion is much bigger than that of the Space program, the other specific you mention, but it's really not so much: it would take three hundred years of spending at the rate to equal the present Federal debt.

Economic and military aid to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel fits in with our geopolitical and military strategies; I'd look elsewhere for clear signs of greed. Why do you think the aid is due to greed? I know you already know the answer; please tell us.

Well, I was referring to the greed of big gov't and how they don't want to skinny their fattened wallets from some of what I deem non-essential programs. I didn't say aid was greed. But seriously.. how long can we continue to bail other countries' economies when we need to fix our own issues? You have to help yourself before you're strong enough to help others, imo.

Shodan
07-20-2011, 04:36 PM
But seriously.. how long can we continue to bail other countries' economies when we need to fix our own issues? You have to help yourself before you're strong enough to help others, imo.But fixing our own issues has to include reducing the deficit. Cutting back by $50 billion, and applying every penny of that to the deficit, would reduce the problem of the deficit by something like one-third of one percent.

So you have a reasonably clear answer to your OP - we don't spend enough on non-essential programs to make much difference.

If we are serious about the deficit - and we had damn well better get started being serious about it - we need to make two lists.

One is a list of all the stuff we can reasonably cut. Everything, in other words, that we can agree is nice-to-have but not essential. On the other list, we make a list of all the stuff that people really need and want, that we cannot really cut.

Then crumple up the first list and throw it away. We don't spend anywhere near enough on any of those programs to make any difference. All the cuts will have to come off the second list. That means, basically, entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, and defense.

Not foreign aid. Sure, we could do some token cutting to make sure nobody goes unscathed (to the extent we can - some things, like payment on the national debt, is Constitutionally obligatory), but we are not going to be able to get out of our current situation in any way even remotely pain-free.

No, we can't get out of it by taxing the rich, or not giving money to foreign countries. It is going to hurt you.

Life is pain, princess. Anyone who says differently is selling something.Or trying to get you to vote for them.

Regards,
Shodan

Nica
07-20-2011, 04:38 PM
But fixing our own issues has to include reducing the deficit. Cutting back by $50 billion, and applying every penny of that to the deficit, would reduce the problem of the deficit by something like one-third of one percent.

So you have a reasonably clear answer to your OP - we don't spend enough on non-essential programs to make much difference.

If we are serious about the deficit - and we had damn well better get started being serious about it - we need to make two lists.

One is a list of all the stuff we can reasonably cut. Everything, in other words, that we can agree is nice-to-have but not essential. On the other list, we make a list of all the stuff that people really need and want, that we cannot really cut.

Then crumple up the first list and throw it away. We don't spend anywhere near enough on any of those programs to make any difference. All the cuts will have to come off the second list. That means, basically, entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, and defense.

Not foreign aid. Sure, we could do some token cutting to make sure nobody goes unscathed (to the extent we can - some things, like payment on the national debt, is Constitutionally obligatory), but we are not going to be able to get out of our current situation in any way even remotely pain-free.

No, we can't get out of it by taxing the rich, or not giving money to foreign countries. It is going to hurt you.

Or trying to get you to vote for them.

Regards,
Shodan



Agreed! :)

Cheesesteak
07-20-2011, 05:12 PM
but using these sorts of figures is pretty silly IMHO, since it's a complete apples to oranges comparison. Not if you're questioning the choice to be in the orange business instead of the apple business. Countries all over the world have a happy, healthy, and safe citizenry, even though they spend half (per capita) what we do on nat'l defense. You can justify our spending based on us being the world's only superpower, with worldwide commitments, but then you have to justify the decision to be the world's only superpower, and the decision to commit our military to these places.

Yllaria
07-20-2011, 05:27 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :) I don't receive any sort of benefits... just my paycheck. I don't have insurance... still thinking.

Do you drive on public roads? Do you live in an area with adequate police and public safety services? Did you attend public school or university, or work with or for anyone who did? . . .

Not to beat a dead horse, but have you ever flushed a toilet that was connected to a sewer line? Most modern wastewater treatment plants were built with federal grants. You'd probably be surprised at how recently that was. Most upgrades are made with revolving federal loans.

I'm kind of fond of indoor plumbing.

XT
07-20-2011, 05:28 PM
Don't want to hijack the thread, so I'll just comment on this and then let it go:

Not if you're questioning the choice to be in the orange business instead of the apple business. Countries all over the world have a happy, healthy, and safe citizenry, even though they spend half (per capita) what we do on nat'l defense.

Yes they do...and in a lot of cases, especially in the western world, they can do so because we spend the money needed for our collective defense. Right now, if you are on the US's side, you don't need to spend more on defense because we are doing that already. If you aren't on the US's side then there really isn't much reason to spend more because there is no way you could catch up, though obviously countries are still trying (see China).

Eventually that won't be the case the and US will have to cut back...in fact, we may be at the point now. Do you really think that if the US cuts back massively on defense that things won't change, and it will be business as usual? That no one will increase their defense spending?? The void that we'll leave when we cut back will be filled by multiple countries or groups of countries increasing their spending to fill the power vacuum we'll leave behind, and I wouldn't be surprised if, world wide, military spending doesn't increase to exactly the same levels it is today. The only difference will be that instead of one large military superpower paying the lions share, it will be a lot of regional powers across the world increasing their individual or collective spending.

You can justify our spending based on us being the world's only superpower, with worldwide commitments, but then you have to justify the decision to be the world's only superpower, and the decision to commit our military to these places.

We do it because there has been and continues to be benefit to us by doing so...which is pretty much why all large superpowers from the past spend massive amounts on their military. It's why, when the US can no longer afford to have a military capable of world wide power projection and we have to massively cut back that there won't be a void where the US was, but instead a bunch of countries increasing their military spending so as to protect their own interests or to try and fill that void that the US will leave behind.

-XT

Qin Shi Huangdi
07-20-2011, 07:21 PM
Rather than cutting social security and even military pay?? I understand that they give people jobs, but cutting back some funding couldn't hurt. Like the space program, for example. Do we really NEED to explore space when we can't even take care of our own people here on earth? Priorities are backwards. We give so much aid to other countries for the sake of diplomacy and our image, and we can't even feed our own.

I already know the answer. Greed. Just wanted to hear opinions.

FYI, I'm new here and an independent.

The space program is a critical issue. I'd rather much cut Social Security, raise the retirement age, and close a few bases than abandon the space program.

Nica
07-20-2011, 07:41 PM
The space program is a critical issue. I'd rather much cut Social Security, raise the retirement age, and close a few bases than abandon the space program.

I guess I just don't see it as a necessity. If things get worse, it's a luxury in my eyes.

rogerbox
07-20-2011, 08:00 PM
Do you use the internet? Where do you think the vast majority of RESEARCH for those pay as you go medical procedures you get come from?

Face it. CIVILIZATION costs money, TAXES, instead of whining about the perventage like a spoiled child, consider how you live better than all the kings who EVER LIVED before the 1900s. This rosy tinted hue to the glasses of 'fiscal conservatives' view of the world is either stupidity or sheer madness.

The Hamster King
07-20-2011, 08:09 PM
I guess I just don't see it as a necessity. If things get worse, it's a luxury in my eyes.It's a tiny drop in the bucket.

Which do you want to cut:


Defense
Medicare
Social Security
If you want to get serious about reducing government spending, you need to tackle the big programs. Cutting tiny things like NASA, foreign aid, or NPR gets you nothing.

Personally, I think we need to start rapidly demobilizing. Excessive military spending is one of the things that killed the Soviet Union and its going to kill us as well.

Nica
07-20-2011, 08:24 PM
It's a tiny drop in the bucket.

Which do you want to cut:


Defense
Medicare
Social Security
If you want to get serious about reducing government spending, you need to tackle the big programs. Cutting tiny things like NASA, foreign aid, or NPR gets you nothing.

Personally, I think we need to start rapidly demobilizing. Excessive military spending is one of the things that killed the Soviet Union and its going to kill us as well.

I agree.

Chronos
07-20-2011, 08:29 PM
I find it amusing that the OP opposes government outlay, and wants to go back to the Age of Pioneers. Since, after all, that Age was only made possible by the government giving away huge and valuable tracts of land to anyone who asked for it, completely free.

XT
07-20-2011, 08:32 PM
I find it amusing that the OP opposes government outlay, and wants to go back to the Age of Pioneers. Since, after all, that Age was only made possible by the government giving away huge and valuable tracts of land to anyone who asked for it, completely free.

I guess I don't see the parallel here. It didn't cost the government anything to give away land (that wasn't doing anything 'useful' that could bring in government revenue), and in fact it was part of a strategy to get that land into production and settle areas that were completely unsettled (by Americans who would pay taxes) and unused...and eventually bring in tax revenue, as well as expand the useful territory of the US. I agree that going back to the pioneering days is silly (and impossible) but this doesn't seem a good argument for why it's impossible and silly.

-XT

Nica
07-20-2011, 08:32 PM
I find it amusing that the OP opposes government outlay, and wants to go back to the Age of Pioneers. Since, after all, that Age was only made possible by the government giving away huge and valuable tracts of land to anyone who asked for it, completely free.

And I find it amusing that so many lack ingenuity and a desire for real change. Just keep kicking the can. Done.

septimus
07-21-2011, 03:36 AM
I guess I just don't see [the space program] as a necessity. If things get worse, it's a luxury in my eyes.

There are plenty of technologists on this board who could do a much better job of defending the space program, but let me emphasize three points:
The space program has helped the advance of science, inventions and new materials. Artificial heart valves and modern children's braces are, IIRC, among the famous examples. Although I had no involvement with "Aerospace", it was obvious chatting with other engineers in the 1970's of Silicon Valley that the experience of such government programs bootstrapped the technological infrastructure that led to the Age of Computers. (Admittedly, some of the bootstrapping would have happened even if the space money had been spent on "necessities" like Weapons of Mass Destruction.)
The space program's budget is very small. You could multiply it by 50 and its size would still be called "chump change" in discussions here. Certainly it is far less than what "we" spend on advanced weapons.
One can view the space program as theater for the masses, As something to inspire us, as something to watch on TV instead of NFL. It might be illuminating to ask how much is spent on NFL, and is that a necessity? Dollar-for-dollar, I'm certain many Americans would judge the space money much better spent. (Yes, the finances are quite different obviously, as buying NFL tickets is voluntary. Public vs private spending is a whole other issue; please do not hijack yet another thread into Greed is Wisdom; Taxes are Theft, OK? )


From your comments, I'd guess you've never really "looked at the numbers" on Federal spending, Nica. Is your ignorance being fought here? Don't feel humiliated if you admit it has; to the contrary such a rare event will win you much respect!

septimus
07-21-2011, 04:30 AM
It might be illuminating to ask how much is spent on NFL, and is that a necessity? Dollar-for-dollar, I'm certain many Americans would judge the space money much better spent. (Yes, the finances are quite different obviously, as buying NFL tickets is voluntary....

Two further comments.

1. I miswrote to imply spending on sports is purely private. I'm in a hurry and can't Google the number right now, but public subsidies of professional sports leagues (especially taxpayer-paid stadium construction) is just about the same $$ as the total space program. (Local taxes vs Federal, but it's the same "taxpayer.")

2. Nica may be thinking "Whatever, let's cut some other programs then." But if you learn anything, learn you must deal with specifics. Your specific examples of foreign aid and space program were both very poor.

biddee
07-21-2011, 01:32 PM
Not American here, but doesn't EVERYONE who works pay into social security? I don't see how that is an entitlement program then. If I've spent 40-50 years paying into a program, when I retire I expect to see that money back.

sciurophobic
07-21-2011, 01:36 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :) I don't receive any sort of benefits... just my paycheck. I don't have insurance... still thinking.

Whether or not you benefit from a government program is irrelevant. Every program benefits somebody.

Great Antibob
07-21-2011, 01:44 PM
And I find it amusing that so many lack ingenuity and a desire for real change. Just keep kicking the can. Done.

Amusing?

Although the current debate seems to be dominated by people in favor of smaller government, there are still significant numbers of people in the country (with or without ingenuity) who believe the changes you suggest are neither economically nor morally justified and who don't see a need for a fundamental change but relatively minor changes related to depressed revenue and economic growth in the aftermath of a recession and the proper size (if any) of a social safety net.

You seem to operate from the assumption that everybody believes a smaller government is necessarily a morally or economically good thing. This is not a good assumption.

PigArcher
07-21-2011, 04:44 PM
And I find it amusing that so many lack ingenuity and a desire for real change. Just keep kicking the can. Done.

And the ingenious real change you're proposing is to go back to the 19th century? We had that, and ingenious people proposed the real change of having a society that looks after it's citizen's interests rather than ignoring them.

Ruken
07-21-2011, 09:00 PM
CATO made a nice website with their recommendations. Even if you disagree with them (and I am not in 100% agreement), it is a pretty good resource for thinking about how to cut FEDERAL spending.

http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/

Part of this debate should be both priorities and level of responsibility:
Federal: Defense, Certain programs such as Social Security, Interstates, Scientific Research, Space
State: Schools (shared with Community), Police, State Highways
Community: Police, Streets, Schools, etc.

There is too much overlap, and I think that the system could be improved if we moved more responsibility to the level of government that is best suited. I do not think that the Federal Government should be involved in the K-12 schools, and possibly not even at the University level.

Note - the list above is a quick burst for illustration and should not be seen as anywhere NEAR a complete listing.And even if you disagree with every suggestion CATO makes, it's at least a comprehensive plan, of which there are few. It helps to have a starting point for the discussion.

you with the face
07-21-2011, 09:31 PM
And the ingenious real change you're proposing is to go back to the 19th century? We had that, and ingenious people proposed the real change of having a society that looks after it's citizen's interests rather than ignoring them.

True, true. But you have to admit that under Nica's plan, obesity would cease to be a problem, which would greatly bring down healthcare costs. Also, with everyone dying so young, Social Security and Medicare would eventually become obsolete needs too. Pretty ingenious if you think about it.

Fear Itself
07-21-2011, 10:50 PM
I guess I'm just old school. The pioneer days don't seem so bad at this point. Less government programs and you fend for yourself.In the pioneer days, that entailed shooting Indians and taking their land.

Just sayin'.

Bryan Ekers
07-24-2011, 11:57 AM
Do you really want to cute law enforcement back to basically nothing


Well, that can get pretty cute (http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa290/SWORDfish1_2007/sexy-cop.jpg), so I support it.

Danny-boy
07-24-2011, 09:26 PM
Maybe I'm being misled, but I believe it to be a flawed viewpoint to say the Space program, the Department of Homeland Security, and all the other etc. programs are too small to be worthwhile to be cut. Sure $50 billion could be considered chump change... but every penny counts, and they do add up to ~20% of our budget.

Just using these figures (whether they are true or not, I'll assume them to be marginally correct): http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/

We currently have a deficit of roughly 1/4 of are current spending. I could see how one would just want to cut the big programs, but shouldn't they all be cut somewhat? Foreign policy would be the easiest place to start I think, just bring all the troops home and we could cut A LOT of spending.

You could cut Social security just by letting people opt of out it, which I'm certain a lot of people think they could put their money to better use.

Perhaps I am naive to think that people have the ability to take care of themselves. When did "We the people" change from "you the person" to "we the society?"

-A concerned citizen of the United States

fumster
07-24-2011, 11:54 PM
And I can't think of any programs off-hand that I benefit from. Certainly not social security in the near future. :) I don't receive any sort of benefits... just my paycheck. I don't have insurance... still thinking.The FDA, highways, the FBI, the CIA, air traffic control, the Security and Exchange Commission, the NSA, the County Extension Services that made the US the most productive agricultural nation in the world, the Patent Office, the court system, Department of Labor which makes sure you get paid overtime for working >40 hours. You must live a very sheltered life if you don't fly, drive, eat, use medicine, or get police protection. Do you live in a cave?

There are countries in the world that don't provide government services. I think the technical name for them is "shit holes".

sqweels
07-25-2011, 01:22 AM
Well, I was referring to the greed of big gov't and how they don't want to skinny their fattened wallets from some of what I deem non-essential programs.
I was under the impression that bureaucrats and office holders receive fixed salaries. To what extent do they gain profits that they can pocket when their programs get more funding?

J Cubed
07-25-2011, 02:11 AM
Have you ever fended for yourself?

I am willing to try.

Move to Somalia. You can even take all the money you currently have. Check back in a year. If you're still alive.

Aspidistra
07-25-2011, 07:30 AM
And China has about 1/100th of our military commitments. We spend 43% of the worlds military budget (assuming your figure is correct) but we pretty obviously have over half of the worlds military commitments, being the only world military superpower, and pretty much the teeth in organizations like NATO.

Whether we SHOULD be carrying the water for the majority of the western worlds defense is debatable, but using these sorts of figures is pretty silly IMHO, since it's a complete apples to oranges comparison.

Speaking as a member of a US ally country, frankly, no you shouldn't. You could cut your military spending in half and still have an overwhelming superiority over any country in the world. Obviously you'd lose a huge amount of your diplomatic clout that way but which would you rather have - diplomatic clout or no bankruptcy?

If my own country's military budget should happen to need to rise in consequence (though I don't personally see that it would) since my country's military is supposedly lookng after my country's interests, and at least I get a 1/20,000,000 say in how it's spent.

Northern Piper
07-25-2011, 10:03 AM
Isn't there a way to discern the core programs that this country needed when it was first established and start from there? (Sorry for my lack of eloquence.) Is it because of over population that this would be so difficult to do?One quick way to look at that question is to list the Cabinet members. I've struck out the ones that didn't exist in Washington's first Cabinet. Since each Cabinet Secretary is responsible for administering programs, it gives you some feel for the difference between the activities of the federal government in 1791 and today:

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Defense (formerly the Department of War in Washington's Cabinet)

Department of Justice (formerly the Department of the Attorney General)

Department of the Interior

Department of Agriculture

Department of Commerce

Department of Labor

Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Department of Transportation

Department of Energy

Department of Education

Department of Veterans Affairs

Department of Homeland Security

So, roughly speaking, to return to what the federal government was doing in 1791: foreign affairs and defence; federal revenue; federal laws and federal court system.

It's up to each reader to determine if they would be comfortable with that today.

Danny-boy
07-25-2011, 03:01 PM
So, roughly speaking, to return to what the federal government was doing in 1791: foreign affairs and defence; federal revenue; federal laws and federal court system.

It's up to each reader to determine if they would be comfortable with that today.

I personally think that would be a great idea, but I'm sure enough people would not accept it. So it would either happen gradually, or more likely, not at all. That being said, if the dollar continues to be inflated so much, we'll probably end up being forced into a commodity based currency and an unfunded government.

LonesomePolecat
07-25-2011, 06:53 PM
As Marley points out, non-essential is in the eye of the beholder. A Cowboy Poetry Festival looks pretty God damned non-essential to just about everybody who doesn't directly benefit from it. So does any federal money that goes to subsidize any poet at all. Let 'em sink or swim like the rest of us.