Sunday, July 15, 2007

News Hounds: We watch FOX so you don't have to

Note: this post was originally made to Politics Schmolitics, another blog to which I contribute.

Pretty cool news aggregator blog: They also have a nice YouTube videos page.

I found it through YouTube while watching the two Wolf Blitzer interviews with Michael Moore:

Oh shit, there's more:

Sanjay Gupta says a lot of good stuff here, but the thing I like the most is his point about how we need to spend more on preventative care so we will not have to spend so much on care after people get sick, which is harder and thus, more expensive.

On to Larry King Live (which I just misspelled as "Larry Kink Live", much to my amusement):

Gupta points out that "free health care" is not "free", says France is "drowning in taxes" and running a 15 billion dollar deficit. From a US Department of the Treasury press release, entitled "U.S. Fiscal Outlook Improves Significantly in December Fiscal Year to Date Deficit Down; Monthly Surplus Up More than 300 Percent":
The Fiscal Year to Date deficit ($80 billion) is down 33 percent ($39 billion) compared to the same period last year. The President's tax relief has stimulated strong economic growth. This strong growth has contributed to record-level receipts and the creation of more than 7.2 million jobs since August 2003. October to December receipts for FY 07 are at $574 billion, running 8 percent ($43 billion) higher compared to the same period for FY 06.

So even though we are not "drowning in taxes", we are running an 80 billion dollar deficit (five times that of France, which is pretty much the same per capita; France's population of 63,713,926[1] is 21.16% of our own population of 301,139,947[2]), and that is a "significant improvement". Hrm... what would be one way to pay for universal healthcare without raising taxes to the "drowning" point? Maybe reducing the 4.06%[3] of GDP we spend on the military (and that was in 2005, estimated, let's see what the GAO thinks about this year... this just in: the GAO's search functionality fucking sucks! To wit: my search for keywords "military spending" for this year returns a bunch of hits, all of which are to PDFs with almost worthless abstracts. Let's see if Google can do better: my search for keyword "military spending" on turns up this (Warning: PDF; click here for Google's HTML version) as the ninth result. Ugh. In the 21st century, transparency means findability, and while PDFs are great for reading and printing, they are not ideal for searching, quoting, and sourcing. Note to the GAO: please provide HTML versions of all of your documents!)...

Where was I? Oh yes, military spending. The CIA World Factbook says that we spent 4.06%[3] of GDP--or 536.33 billion dollars (based on a GDP (official exchange rate) of $13.21 trillion[6]), or $1786.40 per person per year (based on a GDP - per capita (PPP) of $44,000[6]). The 2007 military budget (Warning: PDF; click here for Google's HTML version) says $439.3 billion, but that is just what is budgeted, not what is being spent. I had hoped that the GAO would give me a good number on what is being spent, but I could not find it in finite time. :(

Anyway, even if we take the DoD's numbers at face value, that would still be 3.3%[6] of GDP, or $1463.22 per capita. I don't know about you, but that is a sizeable chunk of my total tax bill. Assuming the mean US tax rate of 17.5%[7] and the mean household income of $58,208[8] (as of the 2001 census), the average household pays $10,186.40 in taxes per annum. Assuming the average household contains 2.0 people (I could only find census data for Hispanic households, which was 2.58[9], so I'm fudging the number, but in a way that actually weakens my case), that is $5093.20 per capita, making our military spending an astounding 35% of each person in America's tax dollars!

As an aside, if you want to read something amusing, try the rosy picture painted by the CIA World Factbook of the US economy on for size.

And now, the exciting conclusion of the Michael Moore vs. Sanjay Gupta fight, refereed by the disgusting hack excellent journalist, Harry Thing Larry King.

[1] SOURCE: CIA World Factbook
[2] SOURCE: CIA World Factbook
[3] SOURCE: CIA World Factbook
[4] DIRECT SOURCE: Wikipedia
[5] INDIRECT SOURCE: FY 2007 Department of Defense Budget, page 19. I verified that Wikipedia was, as of 2007/07/15 01:20 GMT, correctly representing this data
[6] SOURCE: CIA World Factbook
[7] SOURCE: WWW.WORLDWIDE-TAX.COM (please do not view me using this source as claiming it is reputable; I used it only because I could not find hard numbers from the US government--I tried both the IRS and the CIA World Factbook--and it came up quickly in a Google search)
[8] SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau
[9] SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau (not a very good source, but the best I could find; see the above points about the relationship between transparency and findability)

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