What Sort of Society Do We Want To Be?

As we have seen from the debates over the budget between the two ruling parties in DC, which resulted in a very near shutdown on April 8, public programs appear to be at the center of the debate; such programs as health care, education, and environmental protection. The GOP and the Tea Party insist that for the budget to be balanced the people must sacrifice many of the programs on which we have come to rely, not only those which help many of us to survive (health care) but those which have allowed us to thrive (education). Yet many of the programs that are under attack take up relatively small portions of our national budget in comparison with programs not under attack, such as the defense budget and that for the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as tax breaks and subsidies to big business and corporations. Let’s compare, shall we:

In 2010 the federal budget for Education was $127.8 billion ($46.7 in discretionary funding and $81.1 in recovery act funding); for the DHHS (Dept of Health and Human Service), which oversees funding for health care programs and assistance to needy families, was $99.2 billion ($76.8 in discretionary funding and $22.4 in recovery act funding); and for the EPA it was $17.7 billion ($10.5 in discretionary funding and $7.2 in recovery act funding). Combined, these programs do not compare to the combined total of two of the most wasteful departments, the Dept. of Defense, the budget for which was a whopping $671.1 billion ($663.7 in discretionary funding and $7.4 in recovery act funding),  and the DHS, the budget for which was $45.5 billion ($42.7 in discretionary funding and $2.8 in recovery act funding). [1]

The Office of the President’s proposed 2011 and  2012 budgets (for which a full report of actual expenditures will not be available until the end of each fiscal year) request the following amounts for each of the afore-mentioned programs: [2]
Education~ $72.9 billion (2011), $77.4 billion (2012)
DHHS~ $81.3 billion (2011), $79.9 billion (2012)
EPA~ $10 billion (2011), $9 billion (2012)
DOD~ $549.1 billion (2011), $553 billion (2012)
DHS~ $43.6 billion (2011), $43.2 billion (2012)

Again, we see that the combined total of the three departments under attack by the GOP and Tea Party Republicans do not equal the combined total of the two departments not under attack. Moreover, subsidies and tax cuts to corporations and big business, which the GOP and Tea Party Republicans refuse to eliminate/reduce, cost the taxpayers (the people) an additional multiple-billions every year. On average, corporate welfare (tax breaks, subsidies, and etc) cost the nation about $125 billion a year, according to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); the CATO Institute reports similar figures, putting the amount at around $100-$120 billion annually.[3]

There is no denying that the deficit is high or that the budget needs to be reduced. However, as the numbers show, cutting the funding for education, health services, and environmental protect together will do nothing for reducing the budget, and will only decrease the overall quality of life for tens of millions of Americans. And this is where we, the people, must consider the trade-off between taxing and spending (the budget), in other words on what do we want to spend our money. The trade-off on spending our budget on education, health services, and environmental protection is that our society as a whole is prepared to enter an ever more competitive global society, that we will be healthier and stronger and more able to contribute to our society, and that we will ensure a safe, clean, healthy ecosystem for future generations.

America is a nation and what is a nation if not a society, which is a voluntary association of persons operating together toward the common end of mutual benefit? The programs on which we are willing to spend our money speak volumes for the sort of society we are. At the moment, we are presenting ourselves as a nation to be a society of warmongering, paranoid corporatists who value money and power over people and progress. Is this the sort of society we really want to be?

Recommended Reading:





http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=6378055 (this link shows campaign contributions, no wonder corporations get all the breaks)



[3] http://www.progress.org/corpw30.htm; http://www.cato.org/corporate-welfare

© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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