And Now For The Truth About The Size Of Our Government…

Capitol Building

[credit provider=”Wikimedia” url=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uscapitolindaylight.jpg”]

One of the most divisive issues in this country right now is the size of the government.And understandably so.

We have a huge budget deficit and $15 trillion of debt to contend with, so the size of the government–and government spending–is obviously important.

Unfortunately, this topic has now been “politicized,” which means that you can’t talk about it without being cheered or jeered by fans of each respective political team.

And that, unfortunately, leads to a lot of facts being ignored or distorted.

But both political teams are responsible for the debt-and-deficit mess we’re in–and so, I am sorry to say, are the rest of us.

And fixing that mess is going to take decades, regardless of who’s in power.

So, let’s put aside politics for a few minutes and look at some facts…

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”everyone-hates-the-government-these-days-all-those-lazy-faceless-bureaucrats-taking-our-money-wasting-it-racking-up-huge-debts-we-cant-afford-to-pay-1″
title=”Everyone hates the government these days. All those lazy, faceless bureaucrats. Taking our money. Wasting it. Racking up huge debts we can’t afford to pay.”
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[slide
permalink=”the-common-wisdom-is-that-the-government-has-gotten-absolutely-massive-that-there-are-just-bazillions-of-those-horrible-lazy-bureaucrats-now-living-off-our-hard-work-and-getting-humongous-pensions-2″
title=”The common wisdom is that the government has gotten absolutely massive. That there are just bazillions of those horrible lazy bureaucrats now living off our hard work (and getting humongous pensions).”
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[slide
permalink=”and-yes-there-are-a-lot-of-government-employees-3″
title=”And, yes, there are a lot of government employees.”
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[slide
permalink=”but-dont-forget-that-our-population-keeps-growing-as-a-percent-of-total-employed-people-in-our-economy-the-number-of-government-workers-is-actually-far-lower-than-it-used-to-be-about-16-of-us-now-work-for-the-government-4″
title=”But don’t forget that our population keeps growing. As a per cent of total employed people in our economy, the number of government workers is actually far lower than it used to be. About 16% of us now work for the government.”
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[slide
permalink=”and-by-the-way-lets-be-more-specific-about-what-we-mean-by-government-is-it-those-state-and-local-governments-that-are-hiring-all-those-bureaucrats-the-cops-teachers-firefighters-and-dmv-personnel-whose-pensions-everyones-always-yelling-about-well-no-state-and-local-governments-have-actually-been-firing-people-in-recent-years-5″
title=”And, by the way, let’s be more specific about what we mean by “government.” Is it those “state and local” governments that are hiring all those bureaucrats? The cops, teachers, firefighters, and DMV personnel whose pensions everyone’s always yelling about? Well, no. State and local governments have actually been firing people in recent years.”
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[slide
permalink=”and-there-are-about-the-same-number-of-state-and-local-employees-as-a-percent-of-total-us-employees-as-there-have-been-for-the-last-40-years-6″
title=”And there are about the same number of state and local employees as a per cent of total US employees as there have been for the last 40 years.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe332886bb3f71d76000017″
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[slide
permalink=”and-state-and-local-governments-have-actually-been-balancing-their-books-red–spending-blue–tax-revenue-so-thats-not-where-the-problem-is-7″
title=”And state and local governments have actually been balancing their books. (Red = spending, Blue = tax revenue). So that’s not where the problem is.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe280bbeab8ea650300001f”
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[slide
permalink=”so-then-is-it-the-hated-federal-government-that-has-hired-all-those-lazy-bureaucrats-8″
title=”So, then, is it the hated FEDERAL government that has hired all those lazy bureaucrats?”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e5bf5046bb3f7950100000e”
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[slide
permalink=”believe-it-or-not-no-the-number-of-federal-government-employees-has-stayed-steady-for-nearly-half-a-century-those-spikes-are-the-temporary-hires-for-the-census-9″
title=”Believe it or not, no! The number of Federal government employees has stayed steady for nearly half a century. (Those spikes are the temporary hires for the “census.”)”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe335346bb3f7677e000009″
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[slide
permalink=”and-as-a-percent-of-total-employed-americans-federal-government-workers-have-actually-been-dropping-steadily-and-are-now-near-an-all-time-low-10″
title=”And as a per cent of total employed Americans, Federal government workers have actually been dropping steadily and are now near an all-time low!”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”so-then-whats-the-problem-why-has-the-federal-government-developed-such-a-huge-budget-deficit-in-recent-years-red–spending-blue–tax-revenue-11″
title=”So, then, what’s the problem? Why has the federal government developed such a huge budget deficit in recent years? (Red = spending, blue = tax revenue)”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe280b96bb3f7ff2f000009″
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[slide
permalink=”well-federal-spending-has-increased-radically-as-a-percent-of-the-economy-and-12″
title=”Well, federal spending has increased radically as a per cent of the economy, and…”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”federal-tax-revenue-has-dropped-sharply-as-a-percent-of-the-economy-13″
title=”Federal tax revenue has dropped sharply as a per cent of the economy.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe280b1eab8ea880300001f”
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[slide
permalink=”no-mystery-then-why-weve-developed-such-a-budget-deficit-in-recent-years-14″
title=”No mystery, then, why we’ve developed such a budget deficit in recent years.”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”the-good-news-is-the-solution-is-obvious-we-have-to-raise-taxes-as-a-percent-of-gdp-blue-andor-cut-spending-as-a-percent-of-gdp-red-and-given-that-there-are-320-million-of-us-who-have-to-agree-we-should-probably-compromise-a-little-of-both-15″
title=”The good news is… the solution is obvious. We have to raise taxes as a per cent of GDP (blue) and/or cut spending as a per cent of GDP (red). And given that there are 320 million of us who have to agree, we should probably compromise: A little of both.”
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[slide
permalink=”but-before-we-go-jacking-up-taxes-and-cutting-spending-willy-nilly-we-need-to-understand-that-there-are-two-kinds-of-government-spending-16″
title=”But, before we go jacking up taxes and cutting spending willy-nilly, we need to understand that there are two kinds of government spending…”
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[slide
permalink=”the-first-kind-is-what-we-normally-think-of-as-government-spending-defense-highways-bridges-nasa-government-employee-salaries-etc-17″
title=”The first kind is what we normally think of as government spending: defence, highways, bridges, NASA, government employee salaries, etc.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe33da46bb3f7120f00000d”
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[slide
permalink=”the-second-kind-of-government-spending-is-what-is-euphemistically-called-personal-transfers-checks-handed-out-to-citizens-for-a-variety-of-social-programs-including-social-security-medicaremedicaid-and-unemployment-insurance-18″
title=”The second kind of government spending is what is euphemistically called “personal transfers” — checks handed out to citizens for a variety of social programs, including Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Unemployment Insurance.”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”which-kind-of-government-spending-do-you-think-is-bigger-19″
title=”Which kind of government spending do you think is bigger?”
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[slide
permalink=”right-social-programs-blue-by-a-lot-importantly-though-this-has-only-happened-in-the-past-20-years-20″
title=”Right–social programs (blue). By a lot. Importantly, though, this has only happened in the past 20 years.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe33debeab8eaf719000016″
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[slide
permalink=”over-the-past-50-years-social-program-spending-has-exploded-as-a-percentage-of-the-economy-21″
title=”Over the past 50 years, social-program spending has exploded as a percentage of the economy.”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”social-program-spending-red-has-grown-so-much-in-fact-that-it-now-consumes-almost-all-federal-tax-revenue-blue-22″
title=”Social program spending (red) has grown so much, in fact, that it now consumes almost all federal tax revenue (blue).”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe280d46bb3f70b32000011″
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[slide
permalink=”meanwhile-the-other-kind-of-government-spending-highways-military-federal-salaries-etc-has-actually-been-shrinking-as-a-percent-of-the-economy-23″
title=”Meanwhile, the OTHER kind of government spending–highways, military, federal salaries, etc.–has actually been shrinking as a per cent of the economy.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe280d769bedd665e000004″
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[slide
permalink=”even-military-spending-the-other-big-federal-expenditure-behind-social-security-and-medicaremedicaid-has-been-shrinking-as-a-percent-of-the-economy-24″
title=”Even Military spending–the other big federal expenditure behind Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid–has been shrinking as a per cent of the economy.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4fe34250eab8ea5a24000016″
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[slide
permalink=”and-dont-forget-what-were-really-talking-about-when-we-talk-about-social-programs-its-not-unemployment-insurance-food-stamps-and-other-handouts-that-some-anti-government-people-sometimes-go-insane-about-theyre-small-potatoes-below-is-unemployment-insurance-red-versus-defense-blue-25″
title=”And don’t forget what we’re really talking about when we talk about “social programs.” It’s not unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other handouts that some anti-government people sometimes go insane about. They’re small potatoes (Below is Unemployment Insurance–red–versus defence–blue).”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”the-real-government-budget-busters-are-social-security-medicare-and-medicaid-26″
title=”The real government budget busters are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”so-do-we-have-to-get-healthcare-and-social-security-spending-under-control-youd-better-believe-we-do-if-we-dont-were-toast-27″
title=”So, do we have to get Healthcare and Social Security spending under control? You’d better believe we do. If we don’t, we’re toast.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4d4af11449e2ae0725040000″
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[slide
permalink=”but-before-you-go-vote-for-candidates-who-are-just-going-to-whack-social-security-and-medicaremedicaid-spending-remember-this-28″
title=”But! Before you go vote for candidates who are just going to whack Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid spending, remember this…”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e5fb858ecad040a3800001d”
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[slide
permalink=”our-economy-has-become-highly-dependent-on-those-transfer-payments-they-now-amount-to-a-record-16-of-gdp-if-we-suddenly-slashed-them-especially-while-raising-taxes-we-would-give-the-economy-a-heart-attack-29″
title=”Our economy has become highly dependent on those “transfer payments.” They now amount to a record 16% of GDP. If we suddenly slashed them, especially while raising taxes, we would give the economy a heart attack.”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”so-we-need-to-fix-our-social-programs-gradually-calmly-not-in-a-fit-of-panic-that-will-throw-us-into-a-depression-30″
title=”So we need to fix our social programs gradually, calmly–not in a fit of panic that will throw us into a Depression.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4e33181469bedd9e6d000036″
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[slide
permalink=”it-took-us-30-years-to-get-into-this-mess-debt–red-gdp–blue-it-will-probably-take-us-30-years-to-get-out-31″
title=”It took us 30 years to get into this mess. (Debt = red, GDP = blue). It will probably take us 30 years to get out.”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”so-now-you-know-the-truth-about-our-government-but-there-are-other-things-you-should-read-about-too-32″
title=”So now you know the truth about our government. But there are other things you should read about, too…”
content=”DEAR AMERICA: You Should Be Mad As Hell About This…
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