October 15, 2007

Federal Budget

With all of the posts it is becoming harder to find a political topic that someone has not already covered. In my opinion the focus on the presidential race and the vast sums of money their raising has overshadowed other issues. My issue of choice is the federal budget, which is so irreparably damaged with all the war spending that most have given up of fixing it in the next few years. Our current account deficit for fiscal year 2008 stands at 258 billion dollars. The total debt is a staggering $9,048,823,310,499.34. Crunching the numbers that is $29,837.91 per person, which is about $3,000 more then the median individual income or almost three times the budget for the fiscal year 2008. Its current pace is an increase of a paltry $1.4 billion dollars a day. The payments on the interest of this debt alone are more then the federal government spends on medicare/medicaid.

Where does all the money go?

Well after searching through countless federal spreadsheets on the government website that the breakdown goes something like this.

Fiscal Year 2008:

Total Budget = 2,941,121,000,000
Social Security = 655,564,000,000 or 22.3%
Medicare/Medicaid* = 404,511,000,000 or 13.8%
Military** = 624,638,000,000 or 21.2%
Interest on Debt = 469,919,000,000 or 16%

These four sections add up to 73.3% of the total budget.

Education = 58,603,000,000 only 2% :-(

I couldn't find a clean pie chart or break down for the current fiscal year so I had to obtain these numbers from individual spread sheets, if anyone wants to check my math feel free.

* Obviously doesn't include state contributions to the program
** military spending does not include any kind of retirement benefits or veterans administration cost, it also does not include costs for the FBI or CIA

A New Era...

The Americas are on the verge of a new political revolution. Along with the United States own presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, there has been a similar spur of female presidential candidates in Latin America as well.

http://www.allsouthernchile.com/images/stories/aysen_photos/michelle-bachelet.jpgLast year Veronica Michelle Bachelet Jeria became the first woman to become president of Chile in Chile’s entire history. She beat her opposition, Sebastian Pinera, last year with 53.5% of the votes. She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile's free market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the country's gap between rich and poor. She was inaugurated on March 11, 2006.

Bachelet is not the only woman in Latin America to go for the presidency. Christina Fernandez de Kirchner is currently Argentina's glamorous First Lady but is assured to be Argentina's next president. Her husband, Argentina's current president, Nestor Kirchner first became governor of a small southern province of Santa Cruz and then became president in 2003. The couple moved to the capital, Buenos Aires, and decided that Kirchner would run in 2003 instead of Fernandez since he had a better understanding of economic policy and was better suited to lead a country that was on the verge of bankruptcy like Argentina was at the time. Under Kirchner Argentina made a remarkable economic recovery and had four straight years of economic growth.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40936000/jpg/_40936654_afp_kirchner_203.jpg(Nestor Kirchner and Christina Fernandez)

The switching between the spouses of the presidency is claimed by Fernandez to be, "part of an effort to set an example of relinquishing power in a country that has seen too many leaders overstay their welcome at the presidential palace." However, critics claim that this is only a elaborate scheme to bypass the constitutional ban on being in office more than two consecutive years. Interestingly enough if Hillary Clinton won the presidency next year than it will mark the ruling of the United States by two families for a quarter of a century.

With all these strong women entering the political sphere it is only a matter of time before female presidents stop being taboo and become another common aspect of our societies.

Now The Government Is Blogging Too?

Last week while trolling the blogosphere I discovered that even the government has turned to blogging as a way to connect to the population. The blog, entitled Gov Gab, mostly uses anecdotal situations from its 6 contributors to inform readers of how to navigate government bureaucracy in order to accomplish practical tasks. Recent posts tell how to change your address (go to the post office!), what paperwork you should fill out after you get married, and when the autumn leaves are at their peak in the DC area.

Link to Gov Gab

Overall I feel the blog is poorly designed and executed. They are only posting one entry a day despite having 6 regular contributors. The posts offer little insights that common sense or a quick Google search couldn't tell you. If I really wanted to know where to go apple picking I wouldn't turn to Gov Gab to find an orchard. The blog is very DC-centric which could turn people from other areas away. But the biggest con is that it is straight up boring, at least in my opinion.