Last year, the federal government took in about $3.25 trillion. It spent $3.9 trillion, or $30,000 per household on average ($12,500 per capita). The majority of it paid for Social Security, Medicare, welfare, and federal agencies. Local and state taxes paid for the nuts and bolts: police, fire, schools, and most roads and transportation infrastructure. (For argument’s sake let’s assume none of this federal spending could be cut, putting aside the fact that it has risen to that level from an inflation-adjusted $87 billion per year in 1920 ($7.3B nominal), equal to $820 per capita, a 15-fold increase adjusted for population. In 1900, before the imposition of the income tax, revenues were an inflation-adjusted $19 billion, or $250 per capita, 50 times lower than today.) A huge and increasing percentage of the federal budget went to ‘national security,’ in other words, aggressive foreign intervention and the manufacturing of terrorism, or put more simply, to the shadow government’s long-running, potentially endless destabilization campaigns both in the Middle East (and Africa, Latin America, and Asia) and here at home.
In the year 2000, the Department of ‘Defense’ budget stood at about $300 billion, far more than the rest of the world combined, the culmination of a decade of dozens of military interventions, before which it was still more than all other nations combined. By 2011, it peaked at $721 billion, and stands at about $600 billion per year today, more than the rest of the world put together, and triple that of supposed enemies China ($131B) and Russia ($69B) combined. Meanwhile, average household income has sunk $4,000 below 2000 levels. Had defense spending just kept pace with inflation, DoD spending alone from 2000 to 2016 would have been $6.1 trillion, which itself was for the most part a waste of money, as the US has faced no real threats to its home soil since that time, and in reality wouldn’t have even if it had had a small military.
Instead, the DoD alone spent over $9.3 trillion over those 16 years, an extra $3.2 trillion, most of which was debt-financed spending to pay the up-front costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Intelligence budgets, a combined $50 billion, have also doubled since 2001, adding at least another $375 billion in waste. That figure doesn’t account for defense-related Department of State functions or the known portion of the CIA budget. Another approximately $400 billion has been spent on non-intelligence ‘counter-terrorism,’ entirely wasted since all major ‘terror’ events in the West on and since 9/11 have been staged. Then there are the war bills that came due later: Veterans Affairs outlays, mostly related to those fruitless and counterproductive wars, are now nearly $200 billion a year. Assuming a below-average lifespan for wounded veterans, and that half of costs relate to combat injuries, veterans-care costs directly related to recent wars will easily top $3 trillion plus interest in the coming decades, an uncontroversial estimate. Adding these four things together, we get to a figure of $7 trillion.
This article will focus on that easily identifiable amount of money that has been wasted since this century began, and what it could have done instead. It should never have been collected in the first place, but for this exercise we’ll assume it had to have been spent. The main reason it shouldn’t have been spent, moral considerations aside, is because interest related to the recent defense spending spike, at current rock-bottom bond interest rates (1.5% on average), is about $200 billion a year, with total annual interest on the debt at about $450 billion. At reasonable interest rates (around 5%, the historical mean), the former would stand at $650 billion ($1.3 trillion total) a year, or about $5,000 per household just for ‘War on Terror’ annual interest payments, with total federal government costs at $36,000 per household ($4.6T/131M). At 1980s rates (18% average), more than 1.5 times the entire current federal revenue would be needed just to pay annual federal interest, and funding the federal government alone on top of that would amount to more than $62,000 per average household.
The main point of this exercise is not to plan government finances, only to show what the people who currently run the world are doing with it, and what could be done instead, assuming the context we are in of deficit spending and centralized control. (Even if one believes that domestic terrorism is largely real, which it isn’t, and therefore the spending is worthwhile, it makes less than a $1 trillion impact on this analysis.)
1) Fully convert the nation to alternative energy. To outfit 90% (i.e., the rough percentage of households in areas that get enough sun to use one) of the nation’s 130 million households ($20k per home for 117 million homes, $2.4 trillion) with a full-power solar installation, plus a rainwater collection system on the 90% of homes with moderate to high rainfall, including a whole-home filtration system to filter both rainwater and often toxic tap water ($6.5k/home, 18,000 gallons/yr on average, 90 million homes, $700 billion), it would cost about $3.1 trillion. An additional $300 billion would be invested in wind power in low-population northern Plains states that have high wind potential. America gets far more sun than almost all parts of higher-latitude Europe, where solar power is still widespread, even in northern areas like Germany. The question is not whether solar is viable as a power source, but how long it will take to recoup the investment, which varies according to sunshine levels. Operating and maintaining large solar facilities (for apartment dwellers without land or rooftop space, or surplus facilities in desert regions), home installations, and wind power installations would create at least 5 million permanent, well-paying, self-sustaining jobs. Fossil fuels currently being harvested in the US that are not used for motor vehicles and petroleum-based products could be sold globally. Switching to alternative energy isn’t about ‘climate change,’ but long-term sustainability, peace, independence, and cleaner air.
2) Rebuild all infrastructure nationwide. To repair all US infrastructure up to code, it would cost about $2 trillion. Stipulate that only American citizens and US-based companies can be hired for the work. Any worker shortfall would be covered by paying students to attend free training in technical school. If the projects took 30 years to complete, they would create about 1.5 million semi-permanent, well-paying jobs.
3) Create an unbeatable, decentralized civil defense force. To build a storage and training facility in every community (20,000 towns @ $1.5 million average building cost, $30 billion), on police or firehouse grounds for example, stocked with an AR-15 or equivalent rifle and ammunition, helmet, body armor, uniform, and military accessories for every able-bodied adult male below age 70 (90 million @ $2,000/each, $180 billion), and a 2-year supply of food and emergency supplies for every citizen (320 million @ $1000 each, $320 billion), half of which would double as ‘tappable’ reserve for any domestic hunger relief, it would cost about $530 billion in total, between the three items. Police officers or National Guard members in each community could be tasked with the maintenance of supplies and training of citizens in civil defense. Once trained, citizens would have the option to keep their gear at home, Swiss-style. This kind of program would make America virtually immune to foreign occupation, even if the national military were disbanded, and allow for a large measure of geopolitical stability independent of events at the national scale. The idea would be to create a decentralized and impenetrable second line of defense so that military expenditures can be reduced or even eliminated, and, if need be, smaller political units like cities or states could become responsible for their own defense. Who would mess with a guerrilla army of 90 million (the next largest would be 8 million, and 2 million for any country of means) whether or not there was a national military on top of it? No one, that’s who. Why has no country (except Switzerland) done this? Because it puts power in the hands of the people, who governments typically view as subjects rather than citizens, rhetoric about democracy notwithstanding. (One might say ‘Well then they could just nuke us from afar’ or ‘They could set off a bioweapon’ These things would be pointless in that they would do nothing to provide economic or political gain to a foreign power, assuming that’s who ‘they’ is. Sadly, the only way those things might occur is as an act of spite or desperation by our own rulers seeking to reassert federal control. Or one might say ‘they’ could just wreck the economy. Again, only authoritarian, globalist elements, the scourge of our and any government, could theoretically gain from that, not an independent foreign nation.)
4) Begin reparations for blacks and American Indians. To provide every black man (of American origin) and enrolled member of an Indian tribe who is married with children or has at least a high-school education (16 million) and has business or agricultural experience or education (offered for free if not), and every enrolled member of an Indian tribe who meets the same criteria (1 million) with an up to $200,000 grant to start a business, buy agricultural land and equipment, or build a community-owned economic facility (community-owned factory, farm, sawmill, etc.) it would cost $1.1 trillion, assuming 30% of eligible people applied. An additional $500 billion would be earmarked for the doubling of the grant amount to $400,000 for domestic manufacturing businesses. Those that hire other members of the same minority groups would receive full tax exemption on those hires for 10 years, tax-neutral since the jobs don’t currently exist. The reason men only men would be eligible is because the aforementioned groups lost huge amount of jobs from industrial outsourcing and to immigrants, and because the welfare system economically incentivizes single motherhood and the separation of families. This would be a start at reparation for the slavery, universally broken treaties, erased histories, distorted identities, and stolen land of both groups. The reality is that most of the above items, including this one and the above, would ultimately, if not immediately, be of great benefit to millions of white Americans also. Any expired infrastructure-renewal jobs would be easily replaced from this business investment. The reason black people and Indians are receiving extra focus is that both (mostly) native groups are currently facing deep crises- as groups, not necessarily individuals- with deep historical causes that need to be faced in a productive way (not ways that have worsened their problems for decades) if the country wants to be a just nation and be on a more solid long-term social and economic footing; a lot was taken, agreements were betrayed, and something should be given back. (Peoples are conquered and displaced all the times, but in this case we have the same government today that provably violated its own agreements back then, and can and should still be held to account.) In a small-government context this could be land, mineral rights, and/or oil rights owned by the government and the largest, non-market-entity, ‘too big to fail’ banks and corporations as part of a forced break-up. The property titles of these cronyist behemoths are documents certainly no more sacrosanct than the aforementioned treaties.
5) End ‘world hunger’ and water contamination. To offer food aid and basic, mobile water filtration units to all at-risk populations globally for the next 20 years (at which point many of those populations will likely be economically advanced enough to not need aid) would cost about $600 billion, and would allow private charities to focus their resources on a multitude of other problems in those places. The total for this and the above items is $7.13 trillion.
Some other potential projects that could be undertaken: A) convert the most harmful crops (i.e. GMO soy and corn, the ‘dirty dozen’ crops with heaviest pesticide content) to organic. B) Implement a vast system of large, town-operated vegetable gardens, which would greatly increase the country’s food security. C) Create a venture capital fund to make low or no-interest small business loans for export-oriented or non-service domestic business startups, prioritized for formerly long-term industrial employees who have lost their jobs from NAFTA and similar ‘free trade’ agreements, and coal workers who became unemployed due to unexpected changes in government policy.
In summary, were the money that was spent on destroying entire regions and eroding our civil liberties spent on ‘rebuilding’ this country, we would be living in a nation with little to no unemployment, much lower crime, renewed infrastructure, and a dramatically more independent energy and security base, with some of its deepest historical and demographic problems having begun to be healed. Again, I believe the money would be best kept in the hands of the private citizens who own it (since the above ‘plan’ would result in an equally large debt problem as we have now), but I’m trying to show what an alternative ‘big government’ path could look like. To re-emphasize, this analysis does not call into question any non-military federal spending or assume a military budget below pre-2000 levels, adjusted for inflation. It only refers to extra spending since the start of the War on (Staged) Terror and related military conflicts.
An alternative way to look at it this is in terms of annual deficits rather than foreign policy choices. If the federal government had operated within its vast means since 2000, but the money that has been spent had to be spent elsewhere, there would have been $15 trillion available for programs like the above. Deficit spending has increased the national debt from $5 trillion in 2000 to $20 trillion in 2016. The second Bush administration saw an increase of $5 trillion in debt, and the Obama administration will see $10 trillion added.
Describing all this in ‘stimulus’ terms, the amount spent on misguided foreign policy and sham counter-terrorism since 2000 equates to a $75,000 tax-free check (a refund essentially) for every working person who funded the policy. While I don’t support minimum wage laws in a free-market context (which we are not in), that equates to about $3.50 more per hour in hourly wage terms, bringing the lowest wages to about $12 in most states, a level decried as economically, even morally suicidal by some Republicans who laud or ignore war spending, and that’s assuming the subsidized or refunded amount was spread evenly among all workers and not weighted towards low earners. Were it even modestly weighted, the apocalyptic $15/hr mark could have been easily reached with no further expense to the private sector. Introduce this into the next simplistic minimum wage debate you enter.
As for administration of all the spending, items 1, 2, 4, and 5 would best handled at the town level, and audited at the federal level with existing agencies (e.g., IRS). Townspeople would jump at the chance to administer their share of trillions in spending, even if through a volunteer-only workforce, creating little new overhead for the program. Volunteer commissions chosen by lottery from the groups in question could manage item 6. Item 7 could be managed by private or semi-private charities who would be involved in the process, and item 3 could be managed by the state and federal DOTs.
This isn’t socialism (any more than we currently have, if socialism is defined simply as confiscation of domestic product by the state), and it isn’t anti-business. (It isn’t even anti-military, since without any of the above spending, the US would still have had a greater military budget than the rest of the world combined, without any of the great injury and loss of life, and separation of families.) It’s just (theoretically) reallocating money on self-sufficiency, peace, and production, rather than foreign wars and security theater. It’s too late for that $7 trillion, but don’t let them steal any more. If you want to prevent this from happening again, stop believing the false flag lies of the media-intelligence complex, stop supporting war based on the word of armchair ‘experts’ who never have to step in harm’s way, and stop voting for interventionist politicians, or for that matter any establishment politician, since all of them support only slight variations of the foreign policy status quo, if any variation at all. And remember that President is a position that can control foreign and monetary policy (e.g. Nixon, JFK), but whose power is limited in other fields. (If last election Bernie Sanders supporters had voted Ron Paul into office, for example, the actual policy outcome of his administration might not have been dissimilar to what Sanders would have done. Neither’s domestic platform had any chance of being implemented.) Through abuse of those two mechanisms alone the public has been fleeced of at least $16 trillion ($125k/household) in just 15 years (see note at bottom), not counting any taxes paid for ‘normal’ government function.
Lastly, don’t fall for the canard that the Democratic Party, least of all Hillary Clinton, is anti-war or anti-intervention, or would like to carry out anything remotely similar to the above program. The reality is that Democrats, in both practice and rhetoric (if a different, more technical kind of rhetoric), have supported just as many military offensives and overseen as much war spending as Republicans have (actually far more). They were also the most ardent supporters of slavery and Indian removal, and rather than having helped free economically disenfranchised minority groups, they have greatly reinforced their dependence on government and systemically undermined their family and community structure. That said, Republicans have not been much better in these regards for the last 75 to 100 years, and worse in others.
An honest observer can see that neither of the two party establishments has any intention whatsoever of allowing things to evolve in the above direction. What they do intend to do is funnel as much taxpayer money to the corporate oligarchs they represent as possible, in exchange for table scraps in the form of campaign donations, speaking and consulting fees, insider stock and real estate deals, etc., with little to no regard for the American people other than to keep them working, paying taxes, and not rebelling (at the ballot box, let alone physically).
(And let’s not forget about the Federal Reserve’s $29 trillion in loan guarantees made for private banks since 2008, and the $9 trillion in direct, zero-interest ‘rescue’ ‘liquidity injections’ that were actually given to them- including nearly a trillion to foreign banks- over the last decade.)