Some people think government spending is too much, some think it's too little; almost no one thinks it's 'just right'. The core question becomes: Should we decrease spending/services or increase taxes/revenues? Fake Social Science hopes to address this question in a three-part poll on the federal budget.
Our Fake Social Science theme this week (or longer?) is gummint spending.
Yes, the First Aid kits have been re-stocked at the Institute, thanks to we here getting in on some of the First Aid Kit money the Federal government has available ($27,800,829 since 2004 excluding the Dept. of Defense), which allows Fake Social Science to proceed with it's valuable research now that critically needed First Aid funding has been secured. We ordered Eeyore-only band-aids, but ended up with a bunch of Tiggers anyway. Federal gummint can't do anything right.
Fake Social Science started off by diving head first with our eyes closed into the deep end of the Federal money pool by way of three public databases, USASpending.gov, Data.gov and Medicare.gov. Two things that we found annoying is that detailed datasets of exactly what Medicare spends money on, and exactly what the Pentagon spends money on, are both limited. Being a citizen of the United States isn't enough to get you into the Defense Logistics Agency database and the only dataset with actual, you know, money, that Medicare publishes is the one focused only on hospitals and only on heart disease. The only direct and specific Defense spending I could find is their vehicle-acquisition standard pricesheet. It's possible to get a sense for related spending by backing in via USASpending.gov, but that's extremely difficult. As you see if you clicked the link in the paragraph above, there are about 2,500 "First Aid Kit" items over the last eight years of non-military Federal spending, from everything to what appears to be the large multi-million-dollar contract to provide them to Federal locations nationwide, to what appears to be a petty-cash expenditure for a V.A. office in California that needed a First Aid kit, so they ran to Home Depot right quick. Bleeding, probably. Been there, done that.
After being swallowed whole by the databases for days, three things leapt out at me, and Yes, I'm fully aware there's a large degree of confirmation bias here. My collaborator will have her own insights. First, the Department of Defense is so big it must be impossible to manage. Second, Medicare and Medicaid cost a lot of money. Third, the Blue State to Red State flow of money through the Federal treasury is no myth. Time after time I would re-set a search query and wind up with a map like the one on the right (privatized lawn maintenance spending by the Dept. of Interior and the Smithsonian).
One fish two fish red fish blue fish
From there to here,
from here to there,
funny things are everywhere.
~ Dr. Suess
The Red/Blue Paradox: Why do liberal states give while conservative states take?
So. Some of the questions below, and in the days ahead, will reflect those biases. Some of them won't. Please take our gummint spending poll.
Thanks, and enjoy! (Well, thanks at least--because you might not enoy it too much. You see, Fake Social Science has gone to a whole new level with our tendency to torment our subjects with limited or restricted choices, but then, that's the point of Budgeting, right?)