Saturday, July 16, 2011

Where War Has Gotten Us - A Math Lesson

As we sit today wondering whether or not those in Congress and the Executive Branch of our government will sit down and decide what to do with our debt ceiling, just consider a few inconvenient truths, one only recently come to light thanks to Wikileaks.

We've been at war in the Middle East for twenty years now. A war propagated by neocons convinced that reshaping the Middle East was in the U.S. interest. Think this is conspiracy theory driven fallacy? The Wikileaks dump of over 400,000 diplomatic missives has certainly caused much in the way of public embarrassment for the U.S. and it's allies, but there are a few choice and damning tidbits, like how we gave Iraq the green light to invade Kuwait just to give us an excuse to brand Iraq a threat worthy of invasion.

What does this have to do with a budgetary crisis? Our own General Accounting Office still pegs military expenditure as roughly 20% of our annual budgetary expenditure. The problem with this lies in the accounting, because the GAO includes the Social Security Trust Fund as part of its budgetary calculation. Keep in mind the important but often forgotten fact that the SSTF is fed by FICA taxes and not Income Tax.

If we do a few things the budgetary problem becomes much different. If we take the SSTF, Social Security, and FICA off the table a very different picture emerges. And let's take the looming insolvency of the SSTF off the table for now. It is a concern, but not a pressing one in the immediate term.

If we do this and run the numbers against the U.S. Governments own accounting figures, the Military and all of it's obligations end up being around 54% of the annual expenditure. 54% of an expenditure where we are also borrowing roughly 40 cents on the dollar to pay for it.

So the question becomes, why are we at war?

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