"We become what we think about." ~ Earl Nightingale

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Giraffe Journal

and/or website ... Labyrinth Journal
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rather than under a
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I've not had much time for posting or blog visits, but if you're interested I hope you'll find time to check out my new blog, Giraffe Journal or my Labyrinth Journal website ... both self hosted at WordPress.

Thanks for your visit and have a delightful day ;--)
Hugs and blessings,


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Continuing to Consider Costs & Possibilities


NaBloPoMo-Day13

Yesterday, in Considering Costs & Possibilities- Part One, I wrote about my challenges with putting large numbers in meaningful terms and how a friend helped me clarify things. Then I mused about the topics of spending & debt.

Because the post grew so lengthy, I decided to wait and share today what I learned about how our government
allocates the funds raised through taxes ... so here goes. This one is long too ... but hopefully you'll bear with me and do some exploring on your own. I'm interested in your thoughts on any or all of this. I'll be at my PSE6 class this morning so I won't be visiting until later this afternoon when I return.

National Priorities Project
(NPP) states that it:
"... is a 501(c)(3) research organization that analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent. Located in Northampton, MA, since 1983, NPP focuses on the impact of federal spending and other policies at the national, state, congressional district and local levels."

Exploring this site, I clicked on a link entitled Federal Budget 101 and found a wealth of comparative financial information dating back to the 1940s through 2009 and organized into categories. After examining many of the links, I encountered these charts:
(Click to embiggen for better viewing)

I note that 3% is spent on 'Veteran's Services' ... 3% on 'education, training, employment & social services' (despite many 'Federal mandates' left unfunded for implementation) ... 2% on the 'administration of justice' ... 1% on 'natural resources & environment' and 1% on 'international affairs' ...

Of the 20% allocated for 'national defense' ...

I noticed a 'widget' showing the costs of the war in Iraq and watched the numbers speed by ... remembering my 3 recent 'Peace Posts' and all the others shared last week ... thinking how many have lost their lives in what was supposed to be quickly accomplished through 'shock & awe' (not to mention paid for by 'oil money' from the area). I decided to embed the widget in my sidebar as a reminder to myself and others ... just because.

My thoughts went to things like ...

1. all the cutbacks in educational spending (something I watched over the 34 years of my career as a teacher) & the state of our schools today ...

2. the inattention to public works & maintenance on our roads and services ...

3. the health care mess, financial crisis ...

4. I was angered once again about how the Social Security Fund was literally robbed to 'balance budgets' (seriously ... if there was MONEY instead of IOUs that will NEVER be paid in that fund, the compound interest over the years would alleviate the so called Social Security crisis
)

... so I looked further and found a page that allows one to enter the area in which they live to find State, Congressional District, County, and City information.

There I learned:

Taxpayers in California will pay $83.1 billion for total Iraq war spending approved to date. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
34,208,306 People with Health Care for One Year OR
148,087,070 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
1,484,827 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
1,174,122 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
12,490,710 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
248,783 Affordable Housing Units OR
31,068,375 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
9,941,768 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
1,193,726 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
1,049,740 Port Container Inspectors for One year

Taxpayers in Congressional District 46 (Rohrabacher) will pay $2 billion for total Iraq war spending approved to date. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
819,713 People with Health Care for One Year OR
3,548,522 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
35,580 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
28,135 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
299,307 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
5,961 Affordable Housing Units OR
744,473 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
238,229 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
28,605 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
25,154 Port Container Inspectors for One year

Taxpayers in Orange County, California will pay $8.6 billion for total Iraq war spending approved to date. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
3,560,161 People with Health Care for One Year OR
15,411,866 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
154,530 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
122,194 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
1,299,946 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
25,892 Affordable Housing Units OR
3,233,379 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
1,034,670 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
124,235 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
109,250 Port Container Inspectors for One year

Notes and Sources
Go to Cost of War Counter
Copyright 2007 National Priorities Project
info@nationalpriorities.org

Many of the alternatives mentioned above appeal to my sense of priorities. None of this is conclusive for me ... it's all data rolling around in my head at the moment, but I felt others might find this information & the links interesting enough to explore on their own ... and perhaps comment below and/or blog about it too as a way to raise awareness and promote personal education & generate on-going dialogues with friends & family. Knowledge is power and we just can't afford to bury our heads in the sand indefinitely.

According to the US National Debt Clock, the outstanding public debt as of Nov. 12, 1008 at 3:35:38pm is:

The estimated population of the United States is 305,081,042
so each citizen's share of this debt is $34,879.22.
The National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$3.98 billion per day since September 28, 2007!

The US National Debt Clock FAQ by Ed Hall (last modified February 6, 2008) ... provides this pie chart showing the make up or ownership of the National Debt as of December of 1998.


(Click on image to embiggen)


This is already way too long with an overwhelming amount of information, so I'm going to stop here and close with the following thoughts.

Hearing yesterday that our government gave even more 'rescue' funds to AIG ... they had yet another 'expensive junket' at a posh hotel. When asked about this someone reportedly replied that 'these events would be paid for with other funds eventually' ... but I want to know when & by whom ... and if 'other funds' will be available, why won't they be used to pay the taxpayers back instead???

What are these people thinking??? When friends have being laid off ... have no health benefits ... can't meet their mortgage payment or buy gas & other necessities ... how can taxpayers be expected to foot this kind of bill ... seriously?


Thoughts for Today
"Buy what thou hast no Need of and ere long thou shalt sell thy Necessaries." Benjamin Franklin

7 comments:

Joyce said...

There is so much I don't understand about our nation's financial policies. Our oldest son recommended this podcast to help me understand the 'bailouts': http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=355

Hope you find it helpful as well. :)

Karen said...

Mostly I stick my head in the sand because when I really stop to think about it all, I feel scared, confused and overwhelmed--and most of all, powerless.

I see the insanity, and I know where I think the priorities should lay--but what to do about it all?

I feel resentment, too. I have my financial house in order--is it too much to ask the government to get their (meaning our) financial act in order? And are they not paying attention to the AIG expenditure nonsense?

I don't know storyteller--I vote with my conscience, I stand ready to pay more taxes, I pray, I hope. I don't know what else to do...

Mama Zen said...

Isn't it infuriating?

lisaschaos said...

The numbers make me nauseous! And the AIG thing is so stupid! They were building a huge new building here, just 1/2 a mile from my house, it started a little over a month ago, then about the same time the 'help' was approved the AIG sign was changed to another name but hubs and I think it's still AIG. They are hurting yet continuing to build this monstrosity, right here!

Yertle said...

Thanks so much for sharing this information. It is scary to think about it all like this, but hopefully we are on the path to change and to having better priorities.

Debbie said...

Oh my - how sad/scary is all that. I so agree with your thoughts (#4) about social security.

Kara said...

Hi Storyteller. I'm just now looking at these costs and possibilities posts. Intriguing subject to raise on a blog called sacred ruminations. I hate to be a total downer but I believe we are really headed for some difficult times. Not that I think the world is coming to an end, but I think Americans these days are very naive. We are short sighted and historically illiterate and we think oh, that will never happen here. My parent's were children and teenagers during the years of the Great Depression. I can report that they carried the scars of it to their graves. They taught me to live within my means and that is what I've always done. My only advice is to pay down debt and purchase based on value.
Am I afraid? Yes, sometimes I am. But I think I'll be okay and most of us will be okay. I look back and think, well, my parent's did survive. I will too. From that early struggle they learned to be strong which helped them fight a war and build bridges and roads and prosperity afterward. They were not looking for anyone to come and save them because they learned at a very early age there was no one coming to save them - so they better take care of themselves. I'm not saying we shouldn't help each other but this idea that has taken over our country that the government will fix it and prevent pain or discomfort is really frustrating to me.
I read a story told by Cheryl Richardson about a therapist she knew. This therapist would give talks and she walk out on stage and say to the audience "No one is coming to save you." There would be this puzzled discomfort in the audience and she would wait for it to really sink in and then give her therapy talk.

We all are about to find out how truly great America really is as a country. Though I think our standard of living is about to be substantially reduced. In the next few years we are going to find out what true faith is all about and how strong and capable we all are so it is an interesting topic for sacred rumination.
I hope I haven't been too much of a downer but you asked for my thoughts.....love....there is always love and kindness no matter what the 401K says.........