The Problem with Spending

George Monbiot wrote yesterday:

There are two ways of cutting a deficit: raising taxes or reducing spending. Raising taxes means taking money from the rich. Cutting spending means taking money from the poor. Not in all cases of course: some taxation is regressive; some state spending takes money from ordinary citizens and gives it to banks, arms companies, oil barons and farmers. But in most cases the state transfers wealth from rich to poor, while tax cuts shift it from poor to rich.

Is that even true? In an earlier post, I made the case that through the stimulus package, government was stealing from the poor and giving to the rich — predominantly the financial industry. But the problem is far greater in terms of the arms industry. Government defines itself as the legitimate monopoly on violence and defence in most countries: this means that the arms industry’s main (and often only) client is Government. Now, I am not denying that nations should be capable of self-defence. But the modern state transfers massive wealth from poor and middle class taxpayers and into the hands of defence contractors. Let’s look at a great graphic from the War Resisters’ League showing where your income tax really went in 2009:

Here is a full breakdown of that:

Current Military
$965 billion:
• Military Personnel $129 billion
• Operation & Maint. $241 billion
• Procurement $143 billion
• Research & Dev. $79 billion
• Construction $15 billion
• Family Housing $3 billion
• DoD misc. $4 billion
• Retired Pay $70 billion
• DoE nuclear weapons $17 billion
• NASA (50%) $9 billion
• International Security $9 billion
• Homeland Secur. (military) $35 billion
• State Dept. (partial) $6 billion
• other military (non-DoD) $5 billion
• “Global War on Terror” $200 billion

Past Military,
$484 billion:
• Veterans’ Benefits $94 billion
• Interest on national debt (80%) created by military spending, $390 billion

Human Resources
$789 billion:
• Health/Human Services
• Soc. Sec. Administration
• Education Dept.
• Food/Nutrition programs
• Housing & Urban Dev.
• Labor Dept.
• other human resources.

General Government
$304 billion:
• Interest on debt (20%)
• Treasury
• Government personnel
• Justice Dept.
• State Dept.
• Homeland Security (15%)
• International Affairs
• NASA (50%)
• Judicial
• Legislative
• other general govt.

Physical Resources
$117 billion:
• Agriculture
• Interior
• Transportation
• Homeland Security (15%)
• Commerce
• Energy (non-military)
• Environmental Protection
• Nat. Science Fdtn.
• Army Corps Engineers
• Fed. Comm. Commission
• Other physical resources

And in light of that, I give you Dwight D. Eisenhower (1961):

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