What are the Priorities of a Federal Government

Been a while since we had a good theory question floating around in here, so I thought I'd toss this out. Got to thinking on it coming home this afternoon. If it was your government and your budget to structure as you'd please, how would you prioritize your resources for a federal government?

By example, here's mine:

1) Health and Welfare (not that kind of welfare) of the population: I believe ultimately that the primary role of the government is not to legislate but to support its populace. While I'm not a socialist per se (though, I've been called one before), I honestly believe that a civilized and empathetic culture supports its sick and needy. A lot of people, who are much more worried about the green pieces of paper in their pocket than actual people, will disagree and shout about how it's not their responsibility to help others, and they're looking out for number one, and blah blah blah. Honestly, it just goes in one ear and out the other for me.

2) Provide and support infrastructure: #1 doesn't mean I don't want an advanced economy and strong industrialized nation. We need roads, bridges, dams, power plants, airports, water ports, interstates, cities, towns, counties, and so on and so on.

3) Military Defense: Everybody else's number 1 (just wait and see) shows up at number 3 for me. While we certainly need a standing army to defend ourselves against outside aggression, the real world - not the evil exaggerated world you hear about on CNN - doesn't have much need right now for the ludicrous military spending of the US. It's a warlike tradition that my favorite past administrations recognized as stupidly bloated.

4) Education: We're not talking a cultural priority here, because in that context this is #2, but I'm keenly aware that education is as much if not more a state and local issue as a federal one. As I said, on a total expenditure level from all sources this comes in at #2 or tied for #1.

5) Protecting Natural Resources: And, yes part of that goes with using a reasonable perceentage of those resources toward industry, but with a much more eco-friendly bent than is current policy. I've never actualy hugged a tree, nor had a particular inclination for such, but I'm pretty disgusted with the narrow minded current culture that puts greater emphasis on the need for temporary and certainly fleeting wealth at the expense of the safety and concerns of future generations. Seems terribly selfish to me.

It is human nature to devalue that which we didn''t earn and to over-value that which we labor for. Housing, feeding and paying the less fortunate only increases the problem. It allows the less fortunate to safely exist in a needy state and devalue everything society gives them no matter how robust.

Im not saying leave everyone be and ignore the needs of one segment of society. I am saying the mechanics have to be in place to change ""gifted"" devaluation into ""earned"" valuation. Put them to work. If a prison inmate can make license plates, so can someone on welfare. Even if its only one measily day a week, a mother who has concerns about placing a child in day care can give up one day a week. There has got to be room for more creative ways to put people to work (just for one day a week) to earn the welfare check. Have an accredited teacher assisted home schooling where parents can learn (to read for instance) and be involved in their childrens education. This wouldnt be for each individual home but you could combine several welfare homes together.

If you are on welfare and decide to be irresponsible by having more children, each further claimant is another day of work to earn the check. This can be abused still by those having more than 5 additional children. Yet, this isnt about abusing the system. This is about stopping the erosion of the self that happens when we are regularly rewarded for complacency and lethargy.

Of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the only real right you have in this country is the right to work. If you choose to forego this right you can potentialy loose all other inalienable rights.

I hope this isnt too off topic. But I felt the need to explain why the well being of this country is at the bottom of my list in its current state and yet at the top of my list in my heart.

I can see that Fang, but I wasn''t talking precisely about welfare. I was talking about the other definition of looking out for the ''public welfare''. In other words, I''m talking more about socialized and government supported health care than paying people to not work.

That said, the abuses of welfare are often generally exaggerated. It is a significant but ultimately small portion of the population that takes advantage of the government, and it''s a far more serious (fiscally speaking) problem of the abuses of the rich than the meager (by comparison) abuses of the poor. However, there''s a traditional campaign to demonize the poor as lazy and irresponsible, and the source of a lot of general trouble. Like I said, some fit this description, but the vast majority do not.

Strictly speaking though, I was speaking of welfare in the sense of ''well-being'', and not so much in the politically charged sense.

1. To protect and defend the United States.
2. To maintain an open and free market.
3. To provide services that the individuals can''t.
4. Connecting the dots for the public.

I wasn''t meaning that as a ""response"" to your post. I was just explaining a position close to home as I am on ""unemployment insurance"" as we speak. I can feel it eroding my self. I can see it worse in my friend who is living at home while on ""unemployment insurance"". We are both very talented intelligent people. I takes a lot to stay chipper. I really feel guilty not doing something. Hence, my interest in habitat for humanity and such a few weeks ago.

Although, the abuses of the rich may be far worse, I dont think you can put a price tag on something like illiteracy. And like I said its not about abuses. Its about changing self destructive patterns. Its about getting parents (upper, middle and lower class) involved in their childrens education. Its about giving back something for what you take. Its about helping people without just blindly donating money to make ourselves feel better.

Ah, I see, Fang. I was just all uptight because I thought people were going to read welfare the wrong way.

"Ulairi" wrote:

1. To protect and defend the United States.
2. To maintain an open and free market.
3. To provide services that the individuals can''t.
4. Connecting the dots for the public.

Could you explain the ""connecting the dots"" bit? I dont understand what youre going at there.

Also, to provide services the individuals can''t, do you mean the private sector cant? I just wanted to clarify, because Wal-Mart isn''t an individual, but it provides me with food, which is a vital service.

On #1, do you mean physically? Or a larger obligation to defend the principals of the United States as well as the borders?

"Pyroman[FO" wrote:
""]
"Ulairi" wrote:

1. To protect and defend the United States.
2. To maintain an open and free market.
3. To provide services that the individuals can''t.
4. Connecting the dots for the public.

Could you explain the ""connecting the dots"" bit? I dont understand what youre going at there.

Also, to provide services the individuals can''t, do you mean the private sector cant? I just wanted to clarify, because Wal-Mart isn''t an individual, but it provides me with food, which is a vital service.

On #1, do you mean physically? Or a larger obligation to defend the principals of the United States as well as the borders?

I mean like FBI, Police, etc. Connecting the dots is helping the population ''get'' things. Someone that buys a hyrbrid car gets a tax break on it.

1. A strong economy with special attention paid to agriculture, defense, and finished goods manufacturing.
Without a strong economy, you can''t afford anything else.

2. Defense and public safety. Police, FBI, NSA, Military, CDC etc.
If you can''t defend what you''ve already got, why bother improving something new?

3. Education and child welfare.
It''s all well and good to have a safe and rich population, but what''s the point if the next generation is just going to lose everything?

4. Public programs such as Medicare/ Medicaid, welfare, and affirmative action. (I would probably axe affirmative action.)

Be careful with those hybrid cars. IMHO the only one worth a snot is the Honda Insight that gets 70 MPG. The others get low 50''s MPG. There are conventional cars that approach or match that fuel economy.

I''d really like to see a hybrid Corvette. 12 second quater mile and 40''s MPG.... mmmmm...

A hybrid motorcycle, helicopter, boat, hovercraft or plane would rock too!

Though nanotechnology and fuel cells top my technology wish list.

I know this is offtopic, but I hear good things about the Honda Prius, which also gets 60-70mpg. I hear its fun to drive too, have you heard anything bad about them? I was planning on getting one after I get a real job.

"Pyroman[FO" wrote:
""]I know this is offtopic, but I hear good things about the Honda Prius, which also gets 60-70mpg. I hear its fun to drive too, have you heard anything bad about them? I was planning on getting one after I get a real job.

I tried one out and it was pretty good. They need to work on the ''get up and go'' of the hybrids.

1) Education (providing the best education allows for better opportunities, less racial/ethnic/religious hatreds, and assists with all the rest noted below)
2) Economy
3) Defense (which in my view, also takes on the meaning of using military force when seen as needed by the state)
4) Welfare/health (assuming the above were met, I''d assume less need for health issues, unless we''re talking about some plague in which case, see military)

Plato said a ''true'' Republic is getting a cross section of society and literally forcing the best and brightest to assume leadership for a term before selecting the next. He said, and I agree 100%, that the moment a person ''wants'' the power of public office, is the exact moment they don''t deserve it.

This seems like a thread that needs to be brought back, with the elections coming up.

FTR, I would go

1. reign in deficit spending to <1% of GDP.
With whatever money that gives us:
2. defense, broadly defined + NASA
3. infrastructure projects that states can't possibly handle alone, prioritized by projected ROI
4. education
5. public healthcare. If they can do this like it's done in Malaysia, (grossly simplifying things here) I don't think it's wrong to provide a public option. Public is cheap, decent, but not fast. Private healthcare options are always available, for a price, but it's faster and covers more.

This is a list, as the OP suggests, of priorities, but not necessarily costs. The costs should be whatever is required, but the federal government should decide on those costs in this order, imo.

This is like the oldest thread necro ever. BTW, I thought you were in China. Are you a U.S. citizen living abroad now or something?

Funkenpants wrote:
This is like the oldest thread necro ever. BTW, I thought you were in China. Are you a U.S. citizen living abroad now or something?
shhh you're blowin' mah cover
Spoiler:
always have been

yeah it's an old, old, old thread, but I was bored one day and going through the vault. This one jumped out at me as one that was seven years ahead of its time.

IMAGE(http://www.mycyberghost.com/images/hoppingghost.gif)

Chairman_Mao wrote:
This seems like a thread that needs to be brought back, with the elections coming up.

FTR, I would go

1. reign in deficit spending to <1% of GDP.
With whatever money that gives us:
2. defense, broadly defined + NASA
3. infrastructure projects that states can't possibly handle alone, prioritized by projected ROI
4. education
5. public healthcare. If they can do this like it's done in Malaysia, (grossly simplifying things here) I don't think it's wrong to provide a public option. Public is cheap, decent, but not fast. Private healthcare options are always available, for a price, but it's faster and covers more.

This is a list, as the OP suggests, of priorities, but not necessarily costs. The costs should be whatever is required, but the federal government should decide on those costs in this order, imo.

How can you do that stuff and reign in budget deficit? The math does not compute.

Budget deficit should be used to do that stuff, not be reigned in to do that stuff.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
This seems like a thread that needs to be brought back, with the elections coming up.

FTR, I would go

1. reign in deficit spending to <1% of GDP.
With whatever money that gives us:
2. defense, broadly defined + NASA
3. infrastructure projects that states can't possibly handle alone, prioritized by projected ROI
4. education
5. public healthcare. If they can do this like it's done in Malaysia, (grossly simplifying things here) I don't think it's wrong to provide a public option. Public is cheap, decent, but not fast. Private healthcare options are always available, for a price, but it's faster and covers more.

This is a list, as the OP suggests, of priorities, but not necessarily costs. The costs should be whatever is required, but the federal government should decide on those costs in this order, imo.

This seems like a fine list but what about stuff like the FTC? Watching and making sure businesses act legally. What about the FDA? Making sure medicine is safe and effective? Do those fit broadly under one of the 5 and I don't see it?

goman wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:
This seems like a thread that needs to be brought back, with the elections coming up.

FTR, I would go

1. reign in deficit spending to <1% of GDP.
With whatever money that gives us:
2. defense, broadly defined + NASA
3. infrastructure projects that states can't possibly handle alone, prioritized by projected ROI
4. education
5. public healthcare. If they can do this like it's done in Malaysia, (grossly simplifying things here) I don't think it's wrong to provide a public option. Public is cheap, decent, but not fast. Private healthcare options are always available, for a price, but it's faster and covers more.

This is a list, as the OP suggests, of priorities, but not necessarily costs. The costs should be whatever is required, but the federal government should decide on those costs in this order, imo.

How can you do that stuff and reign in budget deficit? The math does not compute.

Budget deficit should be used to do that stuff, not be reigned in to do that stuff.

Wait so what's all the non-deficit spending money spent on? Not sure I understand why these things would require deficit spending to fund.

farley3k wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:
This seems like a thread that needs to be brought back, with the elections coming up.

FTR, I would go

1. reign in deficit spending to <1% of GDP.
With whatever money that gives us:
2. defense, broadly defined + NASA
3. infrastructure projects that states can't possibly handle alone, prioritized by projected ROI
4. education
5. public healthcare. If they can do this like it's done in Malaysia, (grossly simplifying things here) I don't think it's wrong to provide a public option. Public is cheap, decent, but not fast. Private healthcare options are always available, for a price, but it's faster and covers more.

This is a list, as the OP suggests, of priorities, but not necessarily costs. The costs should be whatever is required, but the federal government should decide on those costs in this order, imo.

This seems like a fine list but what about stuff like the FTC? Watching and making sure businesses act legally. What about the FDA? Making sure medicine is safe and effective? Do those fit broadly under one of the 5 and I don't see it?

Hmm I guess this is my list of top 5 priorities, and I realize it's simplifying things a lot. Doesn't mean other stuff would automatically get the boot. FDA requested $4 billion for 2011, FTC requested it looks like about $300 million in 2010--not exactly huge chunks of the budget anyway.

was just trying to read the FY2011 budget here http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/defa...
it's not easy. Doesn't seem to be any chart of a simple breakdown of budget by department.

Just google around. Here is a chart from 2008. Basically defense + social security/medicare = 50% of the budget.

IMAGE(http://www.noonewatching.com/archives/2009/06/Fy2008spendingbycategory.png)

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Now if we only look at discretionary spending (i.e. not debt interest or social security) here is another chart:

IMAGE(http://www.world-business-peace-network.com/uploads/pics/Fed-budget-2008_01.jpg)

In other words you can't have a real budget conversation without talking about defense spending because it is such a huge chunk. Pretty much everything else is minor compared to it.

LeapingGnome wrote:
In other words you can't have a real budget conversation without talking about defense spending because it is such a huge chunk. Pretty much everything else is minor compared to it.

Although I would agree that defense is much too high (could probably be cut by 80% or so), I wouldn't say everything else is minor. I look at the first chart and see forced redistribution of wealth as a much larger chunk. Combine SS, Medicare/caid, and Welfare, that's 52.7% of the budget.

And if we're going to go full necro...Although Elysium pretty clearly defined this as a hypothetical debate, if we're bringing concrete spending of America in, I think we have to view our Priorites through the lens of constitutional restraints, which is a pretty drastic game-changer.

And if we're going to go full necro...Although Elysium pretty clearly defined this as a hypothetical debate, if we're bringing concrete spending of America in, I think we have to view our Priorites through the lens of constitutional restraints, which is a pretty drastic game-changer.

Do we really need to take the OP into account? I mean, this guy hasn't posted in P&C in YEARS now!

I also think we should stop being Orwellian about the titles we use for spending categories. We should go back to the 19th century description of military spending. It was a whole lot more honest back then.

It has been decades since any of our military spending has truly been about "National Defense". If anything, our spending has been more about national interest or even narrow political interest. If we changed the name back to the War Department, we might actually have a better perspective on how the money affects our policies and our priorities.

Minarchist wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:
In other words you can't have a real budget conversation without talking about defense spending because it is such a huge chunk. Pretty much everything else is minor compared to it.

Although I would agree that defense is much too high (could probably be cut by 80% or so), I wouldn't say everything else is minor. I look at the first chart and see forced redistribution of wealth as a much larger chunk. Combine SS, Medicare/caid, and Welfare, that's 52.7% of the budget.

It's also the justification for 33% of the taxes collected by the Federal government ;- D

+++++

#1 infrastructure;
#2 overhaul of the administrative 'branch' of government;
#3 creating a coherent and consistent foreign policy other countries--especially other countries in the western hemisphere--can both respect and trust;
#4 battery technology;
#5 moar med schools.

I've always shaken my head at the idea that helping people during tough situations (poverty, job loss, sudden illness) is "redistribution of wealth". But I feel comforted knowing that people who object to that will not use public hospital emergency rooms, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, accept their Social Security payments or otherwise take advantage of the rest of our largesse. At least they've got the balls to maintain their positions when life handles them roughly...

Maybe I missed it, but shouldn't one of the priorities of a *Federal* government be to hold the states together? It should also be able to regulate interstate commerce, ensure that all citizens have the same basic rights and obligations regardless of state citizenship, maintain a Federal judiciary, provide for a Federal defense force (in part to prevent warfare between the states), and other similar things that apply to all states equally.

Regardless of individual roles, if you can't do the above as a Federal government, why bother?

Robear wrote:
I've always shaken my head at the idea that helping people during tough situations (poverty, job loss, sudden illness) is "redistribution of wealth".

Survival of the fittest. Is it an accident that Spencer's theory became fashionable in America just as vast fortunes were being acquired? Wherever there's a big pile of money, there's generally someone with a economic theory explaining why morality and practicality demand that it should be all his and his alone.

Funkenpants wrote:
Robear wrote:
I've always shaken my head at the idea that helping people during tough situations (poverty, job loss, sudden illness) is "redistribution of wealth".

Survival of the fittest. Is it an accident that Spencer's theory became fashionable in America just as vast fortunes were being acquired? Wherever there's a big pile of money, there's generally someone with a economic theory explaining why morality and practicality demand that it should be all his and his alone.

Well, god did give to them all that money as a reward for being so awesome. Who are you to question god's will?

Robear wrote:
I've always shaken my head at the idea that helping people during tough situations (poverty, job loss, sudden illness) is "redistribution of wealth". But I feel comforted knowing that people who object to that will not use public hospital emergency rooms, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, accept their Social Security payments or otherwise take advantage of the rest of our largesse. At least they've got the balls to maintain their positions when life handles them roughly...

You lack a crucial distinction here. When individuals do it, it isn't. It's charity. And despite being taxed out the ass, Americans still are able to give hundreds of billions of dollars to private charities every year. When the government does it -- when you are forced to give against your will under the threat of jail or the g-men repossessing everything you own -- that's redistribution of wealth. Or just "distribution", I suppose, since it wasn't distributed the first time; it was earned. It's also a gross inefficiency. There is an account I can give to at my church in which 100% of the money goes directly to people in need. The government doesn't publish figures (that I am aware of), but what do you think their efficiency is...50%? 25%? Pretty damn low, I'd guess.

As to your second point, I can't speak for everyone but I have had the opportunity both to go on unemployment and medicaid in my life, and I have declined both. There are those of us out there who really do live it. And if I only had to pay, say, 25% of the taxes on my paycheck that I do now, I'd have a lot more money to be able to save up for a rainy day. Not to mention the additional wealth that would be created by investments of all those tax dollars not going to taxes anymore.

Oops, wrong post.