Hallee on the Issues: Government Spending & the Federal Debt/Deficit

Government Spending

I have a fiscally conservative perspective when it comes to things like government spending.  Our government spends WAY too much money.  If you want to see some of the mind-boggling appropriations, a good source is Citizens Against Government Waste.  They break down how much money went to what, and which Representative is responsible for the bill to enact the spending.  Spend some time there and you’ll see what is called “pork” – excessive government use of taxpayer dollars.

It’s my opinion that federal government spending should be kept to a bare minimum: roads, defense, extremely limited others.  Extremely limited.  Everything else should come from the states – as it was originally designed to be.  The Founding Fathers imagined a land of separate states under the umbrella of The United States.  The War Between the States changed that, taking a lot of independence of the states away.  The Great Depression and Roosevelt’s “New Deal” further lessened it.

Prior to the Civil War, in 1854, President Franklin Pierce vetoed an  act to allocate funds to states to help the indigent insane. Pierce said that if:

Congress is to make provision for [paupers], the fountains of charity will be dried up at home, and the several States, instead of bestowing their own means on the social wants of their people … [will] become humble suppliants for the bounty of the Federal Government, reversing their true relation to this Union.

Once the war was over, the states lost considerable independence ground.  That’s pretty much when Federal spending started taking off – beginning with land grants to build the Pacific Railroad and on through to the way that the government spends today.

In my opinion, so much of the “pork” spending shouldn’t happen at all — especially on a Federal level.  But, further, so much of the social spending has no business in the hands of the Federal government, either.

This is where I tend to get controversial – for both sides of the aisle.  I absolutely, one hundred percent believe that the church (as a whole) has totally dropped the ball.  There should be such a huge flowing of help to the needy, elderly, and destitute that the Federal government could step back and say, “We don’t need to do this anymore.”  [Note the “Fountains of Charity” reference in the quote above.]   Housing, food, medical care, clothing — the church (as a whole) should be taking care of the communities where the churches are.  The money is there.  The skills are there.  The people are there.  There just isn’t anyone willing to step up and do it.  People are too comfortable in their “Christianity” to roll their sleeves up and spend their lives doing and helping for those in need.

If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you.  You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.  For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’  Deuteronomy 15:7-11

So, the church dropped the ball, and the government stepped in and created, over a few decades, a welfare class that is raised with no understanding of the discipline of work, oftentimes with no solid parental team, and is taught a sense of entitlement.  What will the government give to me?  While politicians run on the platform of “What can I give to you?”

And you have a church body (as a whole) sitting back and fighting about doctrine and the colors of the carpet in the sanctuary and whether Thelma Sue granddaughter’s skirt was too short in service on Sunday.  And when people come to a church for help, they’re often given the numbers of government agencies.

The problem is, we’re here now.  You can’t just stop spending and expect the people to step up and take over.  It simply won’t happen that way.  There would be a total economic collapse.  So instead this system is created that is just this rut of spending that we’ll never be able to get out of until the country collapses in on itself.  Which it will.  Eventually, they all do.  Alas, Babylon.

The Federal Debt & Deficit

There’s all sorts of hype about the Federal Debt and the Federal Deficit, and the numbers are absolutely staggering when you look at them.

The Federal Debt is the amount of money the Federal Government owes.  Right now, it’s over $14 trillion.  That’s a big number.

There’s spin and talking heads that just rattle off numbers and numbers and people don’t even know what to think anymore, other than to hoard seeds and water purification systems because the zombie apocalypse is just around the corner.

Unfortunately, the debt continues to rise.  Here is a chart about the historical rise of the national debt:

It’s disgusting to see how spending has increased over the last century.

That said, I also found this graph.  What this does is compare the debt to the GDP – which would be like comparing the price of a gallon milk fifty years ago and the price of a gallon of milk today.  To know whether you’re actually paying more for milk per gallon, you’d have to know what the value of the dollar was at the time versus what the value of the dollar is today.  Rather than get that technical, what this chart does is compare the value of the debt to the percentage of the GDP.

You’ll see that in the 1940’s-50’s, our debt was actually comparatively higher than it is today – which is still more than 100% of the GDP; however, I think one thing it might do is keep the fear of the zombies at bay.  (But that doesn’t excuse the numbers.)

The Federal Deficit is spending versus income.  THIS is where I have a serious problem – and you can see that in my spending comments above.

According to USGovernmentSpending.com, “Today’s federal deficit always seems dangerous and unprecedented. In fact, you need a war to really get a big deficit. The peak deficits came during World War I (16% of GDP in 1919) and World War II (24% in 1945), as Chart 4 shows. The deficits of the Great Depression only came to about five percent of GDP, and the big $1.4 trillion deficit for FY 2009 amounted to 13% of GDP. ”

Here is the chart 4 as referenced:

You can see that chart to see how our deficit compares to the GDP.

So, while the talking heads and pajama wearing bloggers (that’s a joke about the criticism from one side of the political spectrum to the other side of the political spectrum during the Bush-Kerry campaign) all tout trillions of dollars and mega numbers, with fear and wailing, we’re good if you look at it historically.

HOWEVER, like I said, the federal government should NOT be spending TRILLIONS of dollars.  It was never the original intent of the government to be what it is – and I would hate to have the Founding Fathers take a tour of the offices of Washington, D.C. today and see what their dreams turned into.



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