The Most Depressing Stat You’ll Read This Week

I had already listened to this podcast, but missed the point the first time. Thanks to Mr. John D. Cook for the heads-up.

It’s from the recent EconTalk interview with Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University.

They note that approx. 70% of the U.S. federal budget is allotted to either warfare or welfare. Think about that. 70% of the massive budget for some combo of:
1. killing people
2. stealing from people with the threat of violence, and giving the stolen property to those to whom it does not belong

The political left claims to abhor #1 (at least when it’s not their guy doing it) and loves #2.

The political right claims to abhor #2 (at least when it’s not their guy doing it, and not going to their favored interests) and loves #1.

Those of the libertarian persuasion abhor both #1 and #2.

Tabarrok on Innovation – EconTalk: Let’s talk about government, writ large. You have a provocative idea in the book, that we need to get away from what you call the warfare-welfare state and toward a more innovative perspective in government’s role. Talk about the warfare-welfare state and what you think we ought to be replacing it with. The warfare-welfare state is really what we have in the United States. If we look at where we are spending our money, a huge fraction is in warfare and in welfare. By welfare you mean transfer payments, not just aid to the family or something like that. You look at the big four: defense, social security, Medicare, Medicaid–these are 60-70% of the budget. And this is all about transfer payments, it’s all about dividing the pie. It’s not about growing the pie bigger so much. It’s all warfare and welfare.

Please note that it’s not that I’m against defense spending, it’s just that I think we call a great deal of militarism and empire-building “defense.” I suspect that if we honestly limited so-called defense spending to actual defense we could get by on perhaps 25% of the current budget.

Related links:
Has The U.S. Become An Empire?
Guns and Butter – 2011 Style
Government: The redistributionist behemoth – The Washington Post

  • John

    We could use more partisan politics and less cooperation. Right now politicians are saying “I’ll vote for your warfare if you’ll vote for my welfare” and going into debt to do so.

  • Anonymous

    THeft is theft, regardless if it be by government or by brigand. What the money is used for is not nearly as important as the way it is gathered.