9 thoughts on “We’re Number 1! Economic Statistics USA

  1. Just thought I’d pop by and say that I enjoy reading your blog.
    I’ve just written a blog called ‘Sticking it to The Man’ about Economics – and I’d be keen to know more about the US budget spend.
    Fancy taking up the challenge?

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to link to your site. If you object, I’ll take it down.
    Innes Smith

    • Howdy Innes Smith, welcome to my humble blog.

      I’m always curious who reads my blog. It’s good to be able to put a name to one of those otherwise nameless numbers in the view count.

      I just now read ‘Sticking it to The Man’. Your view is in general alignment with my own. I can complain about the govt to no end, but I don’t hate the govt. Whether or not The Man means well, many politicians and public servants do mean well. I don’t mind paying taxes. And if the govt spent more money helping the poor and needy, I’d gladly pay even higher taxes. I like the idea of a govt that doesn’t let children starve, the elderly freeze in winter and the mentally ill left homeless and untreated.

      I’ll never understand why people don’t want to pay money to help others. It’s as if people think they’ll never need help. It’s ironic. I saw some data recently. A high percentage of people (including anti-govt Tea Partiers) who claim not to get any govt assistance actually do get govt assistance and yet somehow they are oblivious to it. They think that, unlike others, they deserve it and so it’s not really a govt handout.

      I’d also be keen to know more about US spending. Take up the challenge? It’s a helluva challenge. I’ve looked at a number of sets of data over the years, but it’s never been clear to me. In the US, there is a massive black budget of money that just ‘disappears’ and the media rarely ever talks about it. And I’m not sure how one would find data on all the money spent on the alphabet soup agencies, covert operations, spy networks, propaganda programs, etc. I’ll look into it here and see if I find anything that clears up the matter.

      As for your request, feel free to link to my site. I object not.

      Nice to meet ya

  2. Ben,
    Your Marmalade has now spread to Scotland (the home of marmalade, so how very apt).

    I agree that it’s hard to get a complete picture of Government spending – our UK Gov website is pretty good inasmuch as it lists a breakdown – but its own categories are a little arbitrary.

    Government spending 2011-12

    Have you ever commented on Donald Rumsfeld’s statement on the day before 911? The missing $2.3 Trillion from the Pentagon’s accounts?

    I like this handy graphic:


    and that’s just ONE trillion.


    Hey ho. As Frank Zappa said, “War means work for all!”

    • There are a few problems I see with trying to determine the real data. There is, as I already stated, the problem of black budget spending that isn’t claimed and acknowledged.

      But, also, the US does a lot of deficit spending. And there is the money spent on paying the interest on the growing debt. I don’t know how all that gets calculated.

      What bothers me even more is that Social Security gets included as part of the budget. It’s, in fact, listed as 20% of the budget. I call bullshit!

      Social Security pays for itself. The money people get out of Social Security comes from the money they put into it. The money that goes into Social Security doesn’t go into the general fund for the budget but is theoretically kept separate. The problem is that politicians have ‘borrowed’ (ahem, stolen) from it using bonds that are supposed to be paid back and now they’re saying they can’t pay back the money they stole.

      So, the black budget which doesn’t pay for itself doesn’t get listed and Social Security which does pay for itself does get listed. WTF! How am I supposed to figure out honest numbers with such misleading data?

    • Here I’ll try to give you a quick assessment. I’m going to take the standard breakdown I see on the Wikipedia page.

      I’ll remove the Social Security and I’ll add in the known black budget.


      It’s hard to tell, but recent years seem to show that the black budget is on average about $2 trillion which is $2,000 billion. To put that in perspective, the 2010 US federal spending (without the black budget & without Social Security) is $2,800 billion or $2.8 trillion.

      Of that fiscal spending, almost $700 billion was defense. It’s a bit confusing, though, about how much of the black budget is already accounted for. Apparently, $50 billion of the black budget is defense. That seems to leave $1,950 billion of black budget which isn’t a part of the defense budget.

      I can’t find any info pointing out what accounts for that missing money or what relation it has to the budget. I’m assuming it’s spending that happens outside of the budget and simply is left out of all budgetary considerations. However, I’d assume almost all of the black budget is ultimately involved with defense spending.

      So, to add the two together, I get about $2,600 billion by rounding down to the nearest $100 billion. And, without defense and social security, the rest of the budget is $2,100 billion. All combined, that is a $4,700 billion budget. I’ll round all the individual areas of spending to the nearest $100 billion.

      Defense/Black Budget –
      $2,600 bil – 55%
      Medicare/Medicaid –
      $800 bil – 17%
      Net Interest –
      $200 bil – 5%
      Other Mandatory –
      $400 bil – 8%
      Discretionary –
      $700 bil – 15%
      Combined spending –
      $4,700 bil – 100%

      I have no idea if those calcluations have any correspondence with reality. I’d have to do more research. That is just my tentative calculation. I’m not sure where I can determine the exact numbers for the 2010 black budget. And I’m not sure how to ascertain whether I’m correct that most of the black budget isn’t already accounted for.

    • Let me show you something else. The black budget is probably too confusing and I probably am misunderstanding it. Even without the black budget, the military spending still adds up to more spending than everything else. The federal govt has a way of deceiving the public by making it look smaller. Here is what they do (go to the link and you’ll see 2 pie charts to show the differences):


      “This is a distortion of how our income tax dollars are spent because it includes Trust Funds (e.g., Social Security), and the expenses of past military spending are not distinguished from nonmilitary spending.”

  3. It might take me a while to trudge through the data. I’ll try not to get too obsessive about it. I have the problem of wasting hours, days, weeks perusing data on the web. I’m like an alcoholic who can’t just have one drink. And don’t get me started about hyperlinks… which lead to other hyperlinks, ad infinitum.

    That visual portrayal of one trillion was nice. Numbers are just abstractions without context. I’m not a big fan of numbers. They make me feel stupid, those uppity elitist numbers!

    Ya know, I couldn’t tell you if I’ve ever commented on Rumsfeld’s statement about the $2.3 trill. I couldn’t even tell you offhand if I’ve ever written anything in my blog about the black budget. I’ve known about the issue for many years, maybe first learning about it in the late 90s when I first started listening to Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM. The idea of a black budget does make me very curious, but sadly that curiosity can’t be sated for the reason that anyone who actually knows where the money goes isn’t telling. Where is Wikileaks when you need ’em?

    • Ben,
      I think all of this is too good to lie in the bottom drawer of your comment file! You should do another blog article about budget transparency and ‘black budgets’.

      I think the $2.3 trillion ‘missing’ defence spending was probably due to piss-poor accounting/record keeping (which doesn’t surprise me – nobody joins the armed services to fill in XL spreadsheets).

      However, like you say, the bare facts speak for themselves:
      USA Defense Spending: 54% of total budget
      UK Defence Spending: 6% of total budget

      In God you trust? With that much spending on military hardware? 😉

      • I’ll see about working this up into an actual post. I’m not that certain about whether I can add anything of much insight or intelligence. The numbers I scratched together might not be valid at all. The black budget issue confuses me.

        I’d like to see a pie chart that includes the entire budget with the black budget as an additional category. And I’d really like someone to explain the black budget. How can the govt simply pretend like it misplaces trillions of dollars? That is one helluva accounting/record keeping mistake.

        I must admit seeing ‘In God We Trust’ on my money doesn’t give me much confidence. It seems to imply that we have to hope that our reward will be in heaven. Apparently the only gold backing our money are the golden streets of heaven. The mixing of religion and govt does scare me sometimes when I think of all those apocalyptic fundies who would love to bring on the End Times.

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