Poll

I was curious on what everyone thinks regarding how the government spends money.  Do you believe:

The government spends money efficiently but needs more tax revenue to eliminate the deficit and expand current government programs.
9 (3.6%)
The government spends money poorly and can use some mustachian style efficiency to be more productive with its current revenue.
122 (48.6%)
I don't care what the government does I just want taxes lower
5 (2%)
I don't care what government does I just want taxes raised on the rich
3 (1.2%)
The government can be more efficient but we should also increase revenue
112 (44.6%)

Total Members Voted: 251

Author Topic: Poll: Government Expenses  (Read 4365 times)

EnjoyIt

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Poll: Government Expenses
« on: June 24, 2017, 02:12:46 PM »
Corporations and small businesses are malleable.  As times change the business structure must change as well to stay competitive and profitable.  At times efficiencies are introduced cutting cost without affecting the quality of the product sold.  At times management and employment is consolidated to cut costs.  Can our government do the same? Could we cut funding to a government program without affecting benefits by increasing efficiency in delivering those benefits?

I am curious on the opinion of most people on this forum.  Mainly I am curious if we think that government spends money efficiently or there is room for improvement.  Can the money saved through efficiency be used to offset our deficit and maybe increase the benefit for current programs?

I am hoping we can discuss this.

dividendman

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2017, 02:52:13 PM »
I think it will be difficult to find someone who says the government spends money very efficiently. Why can't we find anyone to say that? Because the government is taking our money via taxes, and of course we're the best at spending our own money (not true, but everyone believes it).

protostache

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2017, 03:09:34 PM »
I feel like this is wrong thinking. "The government" isn't one thing. It's a huge collection of people, more than four million of them, pushing and pulling in various directions, with different groups doing different things for different reasons. Some parts are incredibly efficient and some parts aren't and sometimes it's very difficult to tell if the result is intentional or not.

For example, I think the military (again, a huge group of people with lots of competing interests) could spend money far more efficiently, and likely spend quite a bit less to do more. I've ever so briefly been exposed to the private contracting world and the way things work sometimes seems incredibly wasteful for the taxpayer, but it does employ quite a lot of people.

On the other hand, the CDC has a minuscule budget and does so much good for the country, and indeed for the world. They've saved countless lives with pioneering disease research. Do they need more money? If they ask for it, yes.

On the gripping hand, the Department of Agriculture is sort of a grab bag. In the past they brought us back from the brink during the dust bowl, but now they're deeply involved with huge corporate farming interests. Hard to say here, but I don't have much knowledge of what they do. I do know they pioneer a lot of IT things that other large departments piggyback off of. I believe they were one of the first places that embraced CAC smart cards, for example.

I don't think there's a coherent answer to this question, at least not poll-form.

protostache

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2017, 03:13:49 PM »
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you're implicating Medicaid with your question (based solely on the other thread). Medicaid is one of those programs that is actually incredibly efficient, spending only 7% spent on administrative overhead, less than half of what the private sector spends. There isn't any fat to trim.

If Congress was discussing cutting $800 billion over 10 years from the military budget and giving it away as tax cuts I would be a little shocked, but the military can take it. Medicaid can't take that hit and still provide the same services to people, and because of how Medicaid it structured the costs will hit state budgets. Most states can't run a deficit so they either have to raise taxes or cut funding in other parts of their budget to make it work.

I suppose they could just reimburse doctors even less, but that's not a real solution. As you've so amply illustrated in the other thread, doctors would rather quit than get paid less.

GuitarStv

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2017, 03:56:18 PM »
There is a finite amount of money available to be spent by any government.  This quantity is largely controlled by taxes.  The outflow of this money is controlled by the programs a government runs.  Any society needs to make hard choices regarding the balance between spending to provide the services desired and taxation to provide these services.  If a government is running a deficit and wants to lower it, it needs to cut service, raise taxes, or some combination of both.

Government services can be much more efficient than private services (look at how much less Canadians pay for drugs in comparison to Americans . . . due to governmental purchasing power for example).  They can also be much more wasteful.  The key in examining government waste is not attempting blanket cuts, but in good goal selection and monitoring of the correct metrics.  By it's very nature, government service does a lot of things that a free market solution has already attempted addressing and failed at (pollution controls, fire services, military defense, police services, etc.)  It can't really be treated like a business when dealing with efficiency because efficiency in terms of absolute dollars spent isn't always a sensible way to look at things (to take one example, look at public transit . . . many transit systems are run at a loss but the net benefits to society of people being able to move, reduced congestion, reduced pollution, etc makes the loss acceptable).

BuildingFrugalHabits

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2017, 04:21:25 PM »
I think it's complicated. 

On one hand, many agencies are able to attract highly skilled labor such as scientists and engineers at below market rates because people are willing to accept a lower salary in exchange for more stable employment so that seems like an "efficient" use of funds. 

I think many complaints I hear about government spending aren't really about efficiency per se but more so about spending priorities.  i.e.  allocating too much money towards defense and not enough towards infrastructure etc.   



Bicycle_B

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2017, 05:12:13 PM »
Some parts are incredibly efficient and some parts aren't.
+1.  Great examples, too.

IMHO there is a big difference between efficient and effective. 

Much of our spending is ineffective IMHO... I think most of our military spending could be avoided by focusing on defense and taking a pro-peace, we're-not-going-to-take-other-people's-oil-or-bananas policy consistently. If we spent 20% of the military budget on defense-oriented military, 5% on increased state-department-style Dept of Peace activities a la Dennis Kucinich and eliminated the other 75%, we'd be safer and have lower taxes.  Granted this takes long term planning and will not likely happen in my lifetime. 

Similar example would be government expenditure on pharmaceuticals, except that I can imagine the pressures leading to a better solution in 10 years.  Much of our national healthcare cost is spent on inflated drug prices; if the government used its power as the largest buyer - not an unfair advantage as the rule maker, just a fair use of its bulk purchasing power - we could have much lower prices and get a national savings.  Only Big Pharma stockholders would suffer.  I'd argue that my shares in the rest of the stock index would benefit by a larger amount, due to lower costs in the system overall; everyone wins except investors with too high a concentration in Big Pharma.  Same goes if we ruled that pharmaceutical ads are illegal, as occurs in most wealthy countries.  (Rulemaking use would give an even better improvement if we had a national commission to evaluate drugs for utility, paid drug developers for the share of utility they produced, and made the patents available for free to all manufacturers.  Drug development would still occur, but prices would plummet.)

So I think "inefficient" costs in government are dwarfed by "ineffective" ones.  There's not a magic efficiency wand that magically improves things through budget cuts.  There's simply the question of whether we have the will and brains and collaborative ability to make wise decisions that would cost a lot less, but currently are politically unpopular (or are unpopular with Congress' wealthy campaign donors).   That said, if we don't have the guts to make effective choices as a nation, then yes we should pay what is needed to provide care for the poor, rather than finding ways to exclude poor people from the benefits. 
« Last Edit: June 24, 2017, 05:18:59 PM by Bicycle_B »

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2017, 05:16:56 PM »
Protostache,
Lets just ignore Medicaid for this thread because as you say 7% overhead is very efficient and I would agree.  I think that 7% excludes the cost to the healthcare providers that must comply with useless regulations and expensive charting practices.  But that is not here nor there.  Lets just assume Medicaid does a reasonable job.

We agree that the military has been proven time and time again to be extremely inefficient with our tax dollars.  The classic story of spending $1k dollars for a $10 hammer, $8k for a $500 army jacket, or buying $120 million dollars on Abrams Tanks no one requested or will ever use. I would say our military is absurdly wasteful and can surely use some serious mustachian cost cutting.

What about the EPA?  Can they cut 5% of their overhead budget and provide the same services?  I would bet they could. 
I would also get rid of guaranteed loans to companies that have something to do with the  environment.  We don't need another Solyndra on our hands.
What about The Department of Education or the TSA or the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement?  I'm sure they can all be more efficient in how they operate and provide the same or even better service.
Actually I would dismantle the Department of education and send that money back to the states but that is another story.
What about the Department of Commerce or the Justice Department.

Although we can't always expect the most efficiency from our government agencies, we should strive to minimize waste.  It is idiotic for the military to purchase items at a 400% markup.  It is idiotic for the CIA to blow $800k on a party.  No corporation would stand for such waste and management would be fired. 

It is not uncommon for a CEO to require the company to cut their expenses by 5% but maintain product quality.  Cutting waste in a business is crucial for survival and I think we need that with our bloated government.

obstinate

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2017, 10:11:44 PM »
What about the EPA?  Can they cut 5% of their overhead budget and provide the same services?  I would bet they could. 
I would also get rid of guaranteed loans to companies that have something to do with the  environment.  We don't need another Solyndra on our hands.
What about The Department of Education or the TSA or the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement?  I'm sure they can all be more efficient in how they operate and provide the same or even better service.
Actually I would dismantle the Department of education and send that money back to the states but that is another story.
What about the Department of Commerce or the Justice Department.
All of these put together are but a small fraction of military spending.

Listen, politicians, especially conservative ones, always talk about making the government more efficient. But it never happens. Why? Probably too complicated to get in to, especially since none of us is particularly informed on the subject. But suffice it to say, people have tried, and it's not as simple as snapping your fingers, nor saying the words, "the government should be more efficient."

The only knob you can really turn is, "We're going to do this, or we're not going to do this," and, "We're going to collect revenue, or not." The efficiency knob is not available. If it were, someone would have already cranked it up to the max.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2017, 10:54:48 AM »
What about the EPA?  Can they cut 5% of their overhead budget and provide the same services?  I would bet they could. 
I would also get rid of guaranteed loans to companies that have something to do with the  environment.  We don't need another Solyndra on our hands.
What about The Department of Education or the TSA or the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement?  I'm sure they can all be more efficient in how they operate and provide the same or even better service.
Actually I would dismantle the Department of education and send that money back to the states but that is another story.
What about the Department of Commerce or the Justice Department.
All of these put together are but a small fraction of military spending.

Listen, politicians, especially conservative ones, always talk about making the government more efficient. But it never happens. Why? Probably too complicated to get in to, especially since none of us is particularly informed on the subject. But suffice it to say, people have tried, and it's not as simple as snapping your fingers, nor saying the words, "the government should be more efficient."

The only knob you can really turn is, "We're going to do this, or we're not going to do this," and, "We're going to collect revenue, or not." The efficiency knob is not available. If it were, someone would have already cranked it up to the max.

It's definitely not that easy. Even when efficiency is tried, and a study is done on waste the department hides that waste. See department of defense $125 billion in wasteful spending cover up a few years ago. Departments want maximum revenue with maximum increases every year. Even if they don't need the money this year, they will find a way to spend it to justify increases the following year.

The best way to force efficiency is to demand department heads do the same job with a 1% cut the following year. This forces them to look for efficiency which they otherwise would not be so interest in doing. Corporations do this al the time. The CEO is given a smaller budget to function and is held responsible to make due. This leads to increased efficiency within the organization.

Guide2003

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2017, 11:50:46 AM »
The very existence of year-end spend down with the "use it or lose it" mentality is more than enough evidence that federal budgetary policy needs an overhaul. I mean, can you imagine an individual as insolvent as our federal government getting their tax refund and blowing it on flat screens and manicures just because? That is not the definition of efficient spending.

I think we make some large assumptions that the non-discretionary spending is being used appropriately, and we need to take a harder look at how we can reduce that chunk of the budget to free up funds for getting out of debt. The discretionary spending can't be the thing on the chopping block every year without looking at ways to reduce the non-discretionary spending as well. With the financial shape our country is in right now, we need some creative minds to work out alternatives rather than simply bean-counting number crunchers moving digits around a spreadsheet. I think our current obligations are well beyond what current revenues will be able to support, but I don't see a reason to trust the government with a larger slice of my pay until they do a better job with what they already get. And I'm a federal employee!
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” Mother Teresa

Sailor Sam

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2017, 11:59:50 AM »
The best way to force efficiency is to demand department heads do the same job with a 1% cut the following year.

They do this with our food budgets aboard ship. If you don't use it this year, you don't get it next year. Which means a race to the bottom, where the poor Chief of Food Services gets a positive performance evaluation, bought with our ability to have non-industrial grade ice cream on Sundays. It's a small potatoes example, but since its my ice cream , I take it personal, like.

From what I've seen in my career, the federal government wastes a huge amount of money on producing transparency for small purchases, correcting the mistakes of the lowest bidder, and trying to work within the confines of single year funding with no holdover. If you want to treat department heads like CEO's, then accept the commensurate reduction in purchasing oversight.

Milizard

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2017, 02:48:35 PM »
I feel like this is wrong thinking. "The government" isn't one thing. It's a huge collection of people, more than four million of them, pushing and pulling in various directions, with different groups doing different things for different reasons. Some parts are incredibly efficient and some parts aren't and sometimes it's very difficult to tell if the result is intentional or not.

For example, I think the military (again, a huge group of people with lots of competing interests) could spend money far more efficiently, and likely spend quite a bit less to do more. I've ever so briefly been exposed to the private contracting world and the way things work sometimes seems incredibly wasteful for the taxpayer, but it does employ quite a lot of people.

On the other hand, the CDC has a minuscule budget and does so much good for the country, and indeed for the world. They've saved countless lives with pioneering disease research. Do they need more money? If they ask for it, yes.

On the gripping hand, the Department of Agriculture is sort of a grab bag. In the past they brought us back from the brink during the dust bowl, but now they're deeply involved with huge corporate farming interests. Hard to say here, but I don't have much knowledge of what they do. I do know they pioneer a lot of IT things that other large departments piggyback off of. I believe they were one of the first places that embraced CAC smart cards, for example.

I don't think there's a coherent answer to this question, at least not poll-form.

+2. This--all of it.

mcneally

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2017, 04:27:06 PM »
This isn't really what OP is asking about, but we need to raise taxes, drastically, and phase in universal basic income. As technology progresses, the amount of  income/ wealth will only increase, but fewer and fewer people will be needed to work. Our top tax rate starts on income of $400k. We should have something like a $5mm bracket of 70% like we had in the days before Reagan and get rid of the silly rules that tax investment income at lower rates than income you actually work for. https://taxfoundation.org/us-federal-individual-income-tax-rates-history-1913-2013-nominal-and-inflation-adjusted-brackets

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2017, 08:18:29 PM »
I am frankly amazed that this board is about 50/50 on this poll.  I honestly would have expected more people choosing option that involved more taxation. Goes to show about assumptions.

Me personally I would like to see the government become more efficient before it tries to tax further.  Lets see a commitment to fiscal responsibility and I would gladly pay a little extra to help curb our debt.  I would not be surprised if we can't do an almost across the board cut of 1-2% this year in most departments followed by no inflation adjustments over the next few years and get some of our debt under control. The other thing I find amazing is that the US has 153 million people employed with 23.5 million of them employed by the government. 15% of the working class works for the government.  I hope most of them aren't voting for more government spending in their departments, but that would be self defeatist. I would bet a staggering majority of government employees would vote for increased funding to their departments, but I may be wrong.

Sailor Sam,
Please elaborate on your "treating department heads like CEOs" comment.  i don't think I understood what you are trying to say and would really like to since you have actual experience in this subject.

dividendman

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2017, 08:51:34 AM »
This isn't really what OP is asking about, but we need to raise taxes, drastically, and phase in universal basic income. As technology progresses, the amount of  income/ wealth will only increase, but fewer and fewer people will be needed to work. Our top tax rate starts on income of $400k. We should have something like a $5mm bracket of 70% like we had in the days before Reagan and get rid of the silly rules that tax investment income at lower rates than income you actually work for. https://taxfoundation.org/us-federal-individual-income-tax-rates-history-1913-2013-nominal-and-inflation-adjusted-brackets

+1, not only this, but UBI is the "silver bullet" to government efficiency. The problem with all of the social programs is that they require so much administration and people to check the rules and ensure people aren't cheating the system.

The way to eliminate all of this overhead and increase efficiency is to just give people money. Study after study,
 (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/) has shown that if you just give poor people money it helps much more than the social programs do, and it's more efficient. It also results in market efficiency. The government can, quite efficiency, take money from some and give it to others.

TL;DR - Eliminate all of the social programs and give the people money directly, this is very efficient, immune to fraud, and helps those in need the most.

wenchsenior

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2017, 10:33:14 AM »
Well, considering my husband's department has been operating with a nearly flat budget since 2000 when he was hired (with little blips up and down never amounting to more than ~10% of total), and a lot of their physical equipment is out of date or worn out, and hiring has been frozen or flat nearly the entire period of time...resulting in an ever increasing workload with fewer employees and with less money to support operations...

DH's department heads have been famous since W took office for their variants on the "tighten our belts" statements.  During the W years it was: "well, our funding is keeping up with inflation, but not allowing us to staff up to meet work demands, or do more than basic equipment upkeep and replacement, so please be as efficient as you can, and try to do more with less for a few more years". 

Then during the first Obama term, there were 2 years of small increases to try to catch up on the emergency staffing and equipment needs, it was "well, as we all know, the nation is in a recession, and budgets are tight, so this is probably the only funding increase we can expect...let's all buckle down and try to do more with less".

Then during the second Obama term, it FINALLY became, "you know what, it's been more than a decade of us asking you to do more work with fewer people, less resources, less money...at this point our budget is so crunched that we no longer expect you to meet the productivity levels that were a given a few years ago...I guess we're going to have to resign ourselves to doing less with less"

The fact is, discretionary spending on non military and non entitlement programs is a very small amount of the Federal Budget.  Theoretically, it is possible that every OTHER discretionary-spending civilian department in the government has been getting dramatic increases in funding the past 17 years, and my husband's has somehow been screwed, but I doubt it. What I suspect is happening is that the creation of the huge new Dept of Homeland Security, war funding, and ever increasing entitlement spending is sucking up all the money and more.

Are there efficiencies still to be found? Hell, yes! DH complains constantly about the incredible amount of valuable time (which = money) sucked up by 'transparency' tracking (mentioned by SailorSam) and mandatory training exercises (safety, sexual harassment in the workplace, etc etc) and various other redundancies, etc. 

But I'm skeptical that inefficiency is the real driver of cost of government.

It's also worth keeping in mind that personnel cost is the largest element of discretionary gov't spending (again, keeping in mind that discretionary programs are a relatively small part of the overall budget); but while number of government employees has certainly grown over time, it has shrunk relative to the U.S. population size.  So there are fewer and fewer Federal employees/U.S. citizen being served.

One would expect some flattening of that ratio, as efficiency per employee has tended to rise over time in the United States generally, but I doubt it accounts for all of it.  As a function of per capita population, the Federal workforce has been gradually shrinking, not growing.

At the same time, Federal taxation is historically low during these same years.

Also, I want to point out that inefficiencies of scale are NOT limited to government. My sister used to work for a huge international hotel chain, and the level of inefficiency, poor performance, and waste she saw on a daily basis provided endless entertaining stories at family gatherings.  Large organizations have inefficiencies because people are often inefficient, and large organizations have more people. 

Personally, I think the challenge is less 'rooting out inefficiencies' and 'raising revenue' (though I support both), than having the really hard conversations about what Americans expect/want government to do.  Because currently, most people appear to want to have a ginormous number of services without paying for them.  Or they erroneously think the majority of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid or some such bullshit, rather than their Medicare/Medicaid.  And further, people disagree about what the crucial services actually are.

As usual, it's hard to have any meaningful conversation about anything if most of the citizenry is starting from a point of ignorance.

Bobberth

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2017, 01:18:05 PM »
You're going to have to define the term "efficient". The Army says tanks are of limited use on the battlefield of the future. Congressperson in the district that makes tanks puts tank spending in the budget. Bill passes.  Army is forced to build more tanks. Money gets spent. Money was spent exactly as it was meant to be. 100% efficient.Could make and argument that this type of spending is Mustachian-it's very purposeful spending.

At the same time, it is 0% efficient as the spending wasn't required, needed, wanted or the Army may have actually preferred to spend the money on something else. It's very un-Mustachian to spend money on stuff you don't need.

Lots of examples of this type of spending (bridge to nowhere).

After listening to 40 years of politicians talking about "cutting wasteful spending", I figure all of the wasteful spending has been cut at this point. The low hanging fruit is gone. The "wasteful spending" that does remain is supposed to be there because it is purposely put there. That is a completely different situation than "wasteful spending".

Or it's politics-my stuff is important while your stuff is wasteful.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2017, 03:57:59 PM »

Personally, I think the challenge is less 'rooting out inefficiencies' and 'raising revenue' (though I support both), than having the really hard conversations about what Americans expect/want government to do.  Because currently, most people appear to want to have a ginormous number of services without paying for them.  Or they erroneously think the majority of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid or some such bullshit, rather than their Medicare/Medicaid.  And further, people disagree about what the crucial services actually are.

As usual, it's hard to have any meaningful conversation about anything if most of the citizenry is starting from a point of ignorance.

I like this comment a lot.  There is a group of people that want a ginormous government with all its programs and services who don't care what it costs. Then there are people who want as much money as possible spent on the services they agree with.  And then there is a whole lot of ignorance. I would like to think I know a little, but the reality is I have no idea and will never have any idea how all $3.9 trillion dollars are spent.  I do see countless waste just like those Abrams Tanks.  That $120 Billion is not a drop in the bucket.  It is debt that will be serviced for decades to come.

What I do see is that the US revenue is 3.3 trillion.  We spend 3.9 trillion with 1.2 trillion as part of discretionary spending half of which is spent on national defense.  There are 3 pays to alter this spiral of increasing debt
1) Decrease spending
2) Increase revenue through higher taxes
3) Increase revenue though increased productive in the country.

Any combinations of the 3.  Bill Clinton era had some success.  Thanks to the dot com bubble salaries skyrocketed and tons of capital gains tax was collected.  Add in the 39.6% tax increase on the rich and we finally had a surplus in our budget which was immediately eliminated by the dot com crash.

Personally, I have a hard time willingly paying increasing my taxes when I keep seeing stories of waste by our own government.  Spending for the sake of spending. I look at the VA for example.  I use medicine because I understand it best.  Everything goes at a snails pace at the VA. Some hospitals are better than others, but the majority are as slow as shit rolling uphill. Rightfully those employed by the VA also make less money as compared to the private sector. But paying those employed more and demanding increased productivity would be more cost affective. Also, much of the equipment tends to be older and outdated. What I find astounding is that the VA is willing to use very expensive drugs when a perfectly good lower cost alternative exists.  Almost like someone convinced the lead pharmacist to make sure there is plenty of availability of that drug so that it is used more often. 

I would honestly be thrilled to pay a bit more in taxes if it went to decreasing waste and managing our debt.  It is complete bullshit that we allow our politicians to spend outside of their means.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2017, 04:25:01 PM »

The way to eliminate all of this overhead and increase efficiency is to just give people money. Study after study,
 (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/) has shown that if you just give poor people money it helps much more than the social programs do, and it's more efficient. It also results in market efficiency. The government can, quite efficiency, take money from some and give it to others.


Just giving money for nothing breads dependence and sloth.  There must still be incentive to do better and to be better. Provide the basic necessities when one can not attain them for themselves but incentivize work beyond those basic necessities.  The question then is, what are basic necessities?
1) Food, water, shelter are the most basic.
2) electricity, heat are next
3) Healthcare in the modern world is now a necessity
4) Education so that people can attain more for themselves than just those basic necessities.
5) I would even add low cost entertainment such as free television and internet.

 

protostache

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2017, 04:36:56 PM »

The way to eliminate all of this overhead and increase efficiency is to just give people money. Study after study,
 (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/) has shown that if you just give poor people money it helps much more than the social programs do, and it's more efficient. It also results in market efficiency. The government can, quite efficiency, take money from some and give it to others.


Just giving money for nothing breads dependence and sloth.  There must still be incentive to do better and to be better. Provide the basic necessities when one can not attain them for themselves but incentivize work beyond those basic necessities.  The question then is, what are basic necessities?
1) Food, water, shelter are the most basic.
2) electricity, heat are next
3) Healthcare in the modern world is now a necessity
4) Education so that people can attain more for themselves than just those basic necessities.
5) I would even add low cost entertainment such as free television and internet.

 

Do the studies show that giving people money makes them lazy and slothful? Or is that a moral judgement unsupported by facts?

Psychstache

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2017, 04:49:25 PM »

The way to eliminate all of this overhead and increase efficiency is to just give people money. Study after study,
 (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/) has shown that if you just give poor people money it helps much more than the social programs do, and it's more efficient. It also results in market efficiency. The government can, quite efficiency, take money from some and give it to others.


Just giving money for nothing breads dependence and sloth.  There must still be incentive to do better and to be better. Provide the basic necessities when one can not attain them for themselves but incentivize work beyond those basic necessities.  The question then is, what are basic necessities?
1) Food, water, shelter are the most basic.
2) electricity, heat are next
3) Healthcare in the modern world is now a necessity
4) Education so that people can attain more for themselves than just those basic necessities.
5) I would even add low cost entertainment such as free television and internet.

 
So your last 2 comments in this thread are starting that you can only support efforts that make the government more efficient, and then arguing against an efficient, research backed option for government services using only your opinion and proposing a less efficient and more expensive alternative. How do you square those responses?

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk


EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2017, 05:12:23 PM »
Protostache,
We know studies that show outpatient economic care stifles productivity and leads to poor outcomes.  It should make no difference who gives the money.  Please read millionaire next door for those references if you so desire.

Psychstache,
I would agree with you that we can maybe just give a fixed sum and hope they will spend it on the basic necessities.  It would likely be the most efficient way of disbursing that money. If for example the government has 90% efficiency then maybe giving people 95% bypassing government would save money and allow people some room for error with their judgement. Do you think it will work though or will that money be squandered inappropriately? Do you think people will choose to spend the appropriate share on healthcare or would they choose to buy a big screen TV and then not be able to afford healthcare when the time arrises?


sokoloff

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2017, 06:38:08 PM »
Much of our spending is ineffective IMHO... I think most of our military spending could be avoided by focusing on defense and taking a pro-peace, we're-not-going-to-take-other-people's-oil-or-bananas policy consistently. If we spent 20% of the military budget on defense-oriented military, 5% on increased state-department-style Dept of Peace activities a la Dennis Kucinich and eliminated the other 75%, we'd be safer and have lower taxes.  Granted this takes long term planning and will not likely happen in my lifetime.
Those policy decisions are overwhelmingly not made by the military, but by civilians. The military has an intelligence and advisory role to those civilians but the sticking our noses into other countries' business is a civilian decision implemented by the military.

Telecaster

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #24 on: June 26, 2017, 07:26:05 PM »
I know immediately when a politician is a charlatan when she promises to make government more efficient by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.   It plays well, because everyone is against waste, fraud, and abuse.  Solving those problems is vastly harder than talking about them. 


obstinate

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2017, 09:28:31 PM »
I know immediately when a politician is a charlatan when she promises to make government more efficient by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.   It plays well, because everyone is against waste, fraud, and abuse.  Solving those problems is vastly harder than talking about them.
And often requires more spending than the amount that would purportedly be saved. See for example the cost of drug testing welfare recipients.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #26 on: June 26, 2017, 10:30:56 PM »
Much of our spending is ineffective IMHO... I think most of our military spending could be avoided by focusing on defense and taking a pro-peace, we're-not-going-to-take-other-people's-oil-or-bananas policy consistently. If we spent 20% of the military budget on defense-oriented military, 5% on increased state-department-style Dept of Peace activities a la Dennis Kucinich and eliminated the other 75%, we'd be safer and have lower taxes.  Granted this takes long term planning and will not likely happen in my lifetime.

Those policy decisions are overwhelmingly not made by the military, but by civilians. The military has an intelligence and advisory role to those civilians but the sticking our noses into other countries' business is a civilian decision implemented by the military.

Agreed.  Sorry if that wasn't clear.

dividendman

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #27 on: June 26, 2017, 11:02:08 PM »

The way to eliminate all of this overhead and increase efficiency is to just give people money. Study after study,
 (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/) has shown that if you just give poor people money it helps much more than the social programs do, and it's more efficient. It also results in market efficiency. The government can, quite efficiency, take money from some and give it to others.


Just giving money for nothing breads dependence and sloth.  There must still be incentive to do better and to be better. Provide the basic necessities when one can not attain them for themselves but incentivize work beyond those basic necessities.  The question then is, what are basic necessities?
1) Food, water, shelter are the most basic.
2) electricity, heat are next
3) Healthcare in the modern world is now a necessity
4) Education so that people can attain more for themselves than just those basic necessities.
5) I would even add low cost entertainment such as free television and internet.

 

I'm not questioning what is or isn't a necessity, or what breeds sloth, or whatever. You asked how to make the government more efficient and you have your answer.

To tie in the two mini-threads in this thread: it is much more efficient to, instead of building tanks as a social program (which is what it is since the tanks will never be used by the military), where most of the money goes to the military administrators and the companies building the tanks instead of the workers, just give the money to the workers "for free".

Why is it better to have a make-work project? To make people like you feel better that these people are getting money for useless work instead of "money for nothing"?

It seems, based on your replies above, that you aren't interested in government efficiency at all, but making a "good society" with less lazy people, I guess.

If you're interested in government efficiency, you should move as many services as possible to the private sector, and then provide people with money that they could use to pay for these services. This will leverage the market system and thereby utilize the public money in the most efficient way possible (both by people spending on what they need instead of some agency or program telling them what they need and by companies competing for those dollars with the public at large, instead of with some government bureaucrat in some faux competition). The article linked above actually goes in depth into many studies on all of this.

Finally, yes, some people might blow the money on drugs and booze (just as the people making the government tanks may blow their salaries). There are solutions to this as well, like mandating (eek, I said it!) that everyone buys health insurance just like mandating car insurance.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #28 on: June 26, 2017, 11:53:15 PM »

The way to eliminate all of this overhead and increase efficiency is to just give people money. Study after study,
 (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/) has shown that if you just give poor people money it helps much more than the social programs do, and it's more efficient. It also results in market efficiency. The government can, quite efficiency, take money from some and give it to others.


Just giving money for nothing breads dependence and sloth.  There must still be incentive to do better and to be better. Provide the basic necessities when one can not attain them for themselves but incentivize work beyond those basic necessities.  The question then is, what are basic necessities?
1) Food, water, shelter are the most basic.
2) electricity, heat are next
3) Healthcare in the modern world is now a necessity
4) Education so that people can attain more for themselves than just those basic necessities.
5) I would even add low cost entertainment such as free television and internet.

 

I'm not questioning what is or isn't a necessity, or what breeds sloth, or whatever. You asked how to make the government more efficient and you have your answer.

To tie in the two mini-threads in this thread: it is much more efficient to, instead of building tanks as a social program (which is what it is since the tanks will never be used by the military), where most of the money goes to the military administrators and the companies building the tanks instead of the workers, just give the money to the workers "for free".

Why is it better to have a make-work project? To make people like you feel better that these people are getting money for useless work instead of "money for nothing"?

It seems, based on your replies above, that you aren't interested in government efficiency at all, but making a "good society" with less lazy people, I guess.

If you're interested in government efficiency, you should move as many services as possible to the private sector, and then provide people with money that they could use to pay for these services. This will leverage the market system and thereby utilize the public money in the most efficient way possible (both by people spending on what they need instead of some agency or program telling them what they need and by companies competing for those dollars with the public at large, instead of with some government bureaucrat in some faux competition). The article linked above actually goes in depth into many studies on all of this.

Finally, yes, some people might blow the money on drugs and booze (just as the people making the government tanks may blow their salaries). There are solutions to this as well, like mandating (eek, I said it!) that everyone buys health insurance just like mandating car insurance.

Well, you got me to read the article.  Very interesting indeed. My understanding then is to give X dollars in cash to a person who is poor which ideally would be enough to sustain their own basic necessities and remove SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 housing and any other forms of assistance letting them purchase it on their own. 

I suspect that the difference between this and outpatient economic care is this provides basic necessities where outpatient economic care provides excess.   

Telecaster

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #29 on: June 27, 2017, 12:16:31 AM »
I know immediately when a politician is a charlatan when she promises to make government more efficient by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.   It plays well, because everyone is against waste, fraud, and abuse.  Solving those problems is vastly harder than talking about them.
And often requires more spending than the amount that would purportedly be saved. See for example the cost of drug testing welfare recipients.

I was starting to type out some background to my post, but deleted it.  But it was pretty much what you said.  In the early part of my career, I worked mostly as a government contractor, primarily for the military.  I still do, just not as much.   The military, like all government agencies, has lots of rules designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and provide transparency to the taxpayer.

By the time you comply with all those rules, the project cost as escalated far, far beyond what would be tolerated in the private sector.  Every bit of common sense or professional judgement has been eliminated and replaced with a rule, and most of the time it is simply easier to comply than try to buck the system even if the rule doesn't make a lick of sense.

I chortle when politicians or shoot, even civilians say they are going to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.  How?  Create a bunch of rules to follow?  That's the first thing everyone tries...

Don't get me wrong.  I hate waste, fraud, and abuse more than anyone.  But people think it is this low hanging fruit, a simple fix.  It isn't.  It is a tough nut to crack.  And you crack it by working around the edges.  The obvious stuff has been eliminated long ago (for the most part).  The non-obvious stuff is hard work.  It is a worthwhile problem to work on, but it isn't the simple fix people hope and politicians campaign on. 


dividendman

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #30 on: June 27, 2017, 08:54:16 AM »

The way to eliminate all of this overhead and increase efficiency is to just give people money. Study after study,
 (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/) has shown that if you just give poor people money it helps much more than the social programs do, and it's more efficient. It also results in market efficiency. The government can, quite efficiency, take money from some and give it to others.


Just giving money for nothing breads dependence and sloth.  There must still be incentive to do better and to be better. Provide the basic necessities when one can not attain them for themselves but incentivize work beyond those basic necessities.  The question then is, what are basic necessities?
1) Food, water, shelter are the most basic.
2) electricity, heat are next
3) Healthcare in the modern world is now a necessity
4) Education so that people can attain more for themselves than just those basic necessities.
5) I would even add low cost entertainment such as free television and internet.

 

I'm not questioning what is or isn't a necessity, or what breeds sloth, or whatever. You asked how to make the government more efficient and you have your answer.

To tie in the two mini-threads in this thread: it is much more efficient to, instead of building tanks as a social program (which is what it is since the tanks will never be used by the military), where most of the money goes to the military administrators and the companies building the tanks instead of the workers, just give the money to the workers "for free".

Why is it better to have a make-work project? To make people like you feel better that these people are getting money for useless work instead of "money for nothing"?

It seems, based on your replies above, that you aren't interested in government efficiency at all, but making a "good society" with less lazy people, I guess.

If you're interested in government efficiency, you should move as many services as possible to the private sector, and then provide people with money that they could use to pay for these services. This will leverage the market system and thereby utilize the public money in the most efficient way possible (both by people spending on what they need instead of some agency or program telling them what they need and by companies competing for those dollars with the public at large, instead of with some government bureaucrat in some faux competition). The article linked above actually goes in depth into many studies on all of this.

Finally, yes, some people might blow the money on drugs and booze (just as the people making the government tanks may blow their salaries). There are solutions to this as well, like mandating (eek, I said it!) that everyone buys health insurance just like mandating car insurance.

Well, you got me to read the article.  Very interesting indeed. My understanding then is to give X dollars in cash to a person who is poor which ideally would be enough to sustain their own basic necessities and remove SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 housing and any other forms of assistance letting them purchase it on their own. 

I suspect that the difference between this and outpatient economic care is this provides basic necessities where outpatient economic care provides excess.

I'm glad you read it :) Yes. That is my take away as well. Screw all the programs and give the people money.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #31 on: June 27, 2017, 09:58:44 AM »
I agree that sending money to Africa is better than sending food to Africa. I assume that's what the article is talking about:
Quote
A 2010 study in Zimbabwe by Cormac Staunton of Concern Worldwide and Micheal Collins of Trinity College Dublin compared food transfers to cash transfers
Quote
A 2013 survey by Sarah Bailey for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank—involving Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Malawi, and Yemen, among other countries
Quote
and for the same or even a lesser impact. Jesse Cunha of the Naval Postgraduate School conducted a randomized trial of cash versus in-kind transfers in rural Mexico
Quote
The Indian government, for instance, has estimated that two-fifths of the kerosene involved in its subsidy scheme goes missing before it is distributed and only half of what is left flows to the poorest families.
Quote
Consider the charity GiveDirectly, which transfers cash from rich people in the West directly to poor people in Africa using mobile-phone payments.


It's also a YUUUGGGGEEE amount of money (relatively speaking):
Quote
Four hundred dollars was more than twice the average local monthly household expenditure


Regarding the US:
Quote
The United States, for its part, tried an unconditional cash-transfer program 40 years ago and found it worked, too. The “negative income tax” provided cash to low-income recipients across five states in four different experiments between 1968 and 1980. As in the developing world, the payments were associated with reduced child malnutrition, improved school attendance, and growth in household assets. The transfers also had significant effects on children’s test scores. Unlike outcomes in Kenya and India, the results in the U.S. indicated a small decline in household working hours among beneficiaries
This quote says nothing. It had some positive impacts. Okay. What's the control? Too lazy to click through to the paper.

Also, since someone above asked if there was any evidence giving people money makes them work less, I highlighted the relevant quote from the article.


I am highly skeptical that just giving people money instead of in-kind benefits is a solution to the growing underclasses in Western nations.

dividendman

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #32 on: June 27, 2017, 10:30:16 AM »
I am highly skeptical that just giving people money instead of in-kind benefits is a solution to the growing underclasses in Western nations.

You can be as skeptical as you'd like about it solving that problem, but it is more efficient than in-kind benefits (the purpose of this thread).

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2017, 10:31:31 AM »

The way to eliminate all of this overhead and increase efficiency is to just give people money. Study after study,
 (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/) has shown that if you just give poor people money it helps much more than the social programs do, and it's more efficient. It also results in market efficiency. The government can, quite efficiency, take money from some and give it to others.


Just giving money for nothing breads dependence and sloth.  There must still be incentive to do better and to be better. Provide the basic necessities when one can not attain them for themselves but incentivize work beyond those basic necessities.  The question then is, what are basic necessities?
1) Food, water, shelter are the most basic.
2) electricity, heat are next
3) Healthcare in the modern world is now a necessity
4) Education so that people can attain more for themselves than just those basic necessities.
5) I would even add low cost entertainment such as free television and internet.

 

I'm not questioning what is or isn't a necessity, or what breeds sloth, or whatever. You asked how to make the government more efficient and you have your answer.

To tie in the two mini-threads in this thread: it is much more efficient to, instead of building tanks as a social program (which is what it is since the tanks will never be used by the military), where most of the money goes to the military administrators and the companies building the tanks instead of the workers, just give the money to the workers "for free".

Why is it better to have a make-work project? To make people like you feel better that these people are getting money for useless work instead of "money for nothing"?

It seems, based on your replies above, that you aren't interested in government efficiency at all, but making a "good society" with less lazy people, I guess.

If you're interested in government efficiency, you should move as many services as possible to the private sector, and then provide people with money that they could use to pay for these services. This will leverage the market system and thereby utilize the public money in the most efficient way possible (both by people spending on what they need instead of some agency or program telling them what they need and by companies competing for those dollars with the public at large, instead of with some government bureaucrat in some faux competition). The article linked above actually goes in depth into many studies on all of this.

Finally, yes, some people might blow the money on drugs and booze (just as the people making the government tanks may blow their salaries). There are solutions to this as well, like mandating (eek, I said it!) that everyone buys health insurance just like mandating car insurance.

Well, you got me to read the article.  Very interesting indeed. My understanding then is to give X dollars in cash to a person who is poor which ideally would be enough to sustain their own basic necessities and remove SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 housing and any other forms of assistance letting them purchase it on their own. 

I suspect that the difference between this and outpatient economic care is this provides basic necessities where outpatient economic care provides excess.

I'm glad you read it :) Yes. That is my take away as well. Screw all the programs and give the people money.

So we close down medicare/medicaid and eliminate public schools.  Stop collecting school tax and medicare tax.  Have everyone pay for their own health insurance and healthcare cost and pay for there own private education.  Is that correct?  No more section 8 housing and cost control housing.  Just give people enough every month and let them look for their own cost effective residence, correct?

dividendman

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #34 on: June 27, 2017, 10:52:32 AM »
So we close down medicare/medicaid and eliminate public schools.  Stop collecting school tax and medicare tax.  Have everyone pay for their own health insurance and healthcare cost and pay for there own private education.  Is that correct?  No more section 8 housing and cost control housing.  Just give people enough every month and let them look for their own cost effective residence, correct?

That's my stance but there are going to be varying degrees on where you draw the line.

Long ago I wrote a post on how I think all education should be funded by the individual themselves, where they would get guaranteed loans for the cost of the education, and then those loans would be paid off after they exit academia. Then there could be things like some loan forgiveness (like scholarships) if grades are high etc.

I know I'm way out of the mainstream on this, but i believe it promotes individual responsibility as well as allowing everyone the opportunity to succeed.

Here are my ramblings on the subject: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/which-is-better-subsidized-college-or-unsubsidized-college/msg528958/#msg528958
« Last Edit: June 27, 2017, 10:54:26 AM by dividendman »

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #35 on: June 27, 2017, 10:55:46 AM »
So we close down medicare/medicaid and eliminate public schools.  Stop collecting school tax and medicare tax.  Have everyone pay for their own health insurance and healthcare cost and pay for there own private education.  Is that correct?  No more section 8 housing and cost control housing.  Just give people enough every month and let them look for their own cost effective residence, correct?

That's my stance but there are going to be varying degrees on where you draw the line.

Long ago I wrote a post on how I think all education should be funded by the individual themselves, where they would get guaranteed loans for the cost of the education, and then those loans would be paid off after they exit academia. Then there could be things like some loan forgiveness (like scholarships) if grades are high (like scholarships) etc.

I know I'm way out of the mainstream on this, but i believe it promotes individual responsibility as well as allowing everyone the opportunity to succeed.

Here are my ramblings on the subject: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/which-is-better-subsidized-college-or-unsubsidized-college/msg528958/#msg528958

May I ask you to please give a reasonable cash allowance that will be provided to pay for all those things you just alluded to.  I am very curious to see what you think it will cost.  I agree that ideally avoiding government bureaucracy should be more efficient.

dividendman

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #36 on: June 27, 2017, 11:15:16 AM »
So we close down medicare/medicaid and eliminate public schools.  Stop collecting school tax and medicare tax.  Have everyone pay for their own health insurance and healthcare cost and pay for there own private education.  Is that correct?  No more section 8 housing and cost control housing.  Just give people enough every month and let them look for their own cost effective residence, correct?

That's my stance but there are going to be varying degrees on where you draw the line.

Long ago I wrote a post on how I think all education should be funded by the individual themselves, where they would get guaranteed loans for the cost of the education, and then those loans would be paid off after they exit academia. Then there could be things like some loan forgiveness (like scholarships) if grades are high (like scholarships) etc.

I know I'm way out of the mainstream on this, but i believe it promotes individual responsibility as well as allowing everyone the opportunity to succeed.

Here are my ramblings on the subject: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/which-is-better-subsidized-college-or-unsubsidized-college/msg528958/#msg528958

May I ask you to please give a reasonable cash allowance that will be provided to pay for all those things you just alluded to.  I am very curious to see what you think it will cost.  I agree that ideally avoiding government bureaucracy should be more efficient.

I could imagine something like $15k per adult that gets clawed back and eventually is zero for those earning, over, say $100k. This is based on my gut feel, which is the worst way to do anything. Flooding the economy with this much fast moving money will likely cause inflation (it would definitely stimulate the economy), but also efficiency which would lead to lower costs.

I picked 15k because, if everyone bought health insurance, I think premiums would be lower since all the healthy people are there too. So average for the population could be maybe $500/mo heath insurance, $500/mo rent (yeah, share with people, it's supposed to be basic), $200/mo food, $600/yr transport/misc.

Obviously much more research has to be done on this and I'll spend some time on it after I FIRE in august because I'm a nerd and like this kinda crap :)

Note that in 2015 all government spending divided by the US population was about 12k/person. So there would still need to be a significant tax increase to support this model. On the flipside, a bunch of folks (making < 100k) would see less of that increase since they get some of this income.

EDIT: i just saw a link that says that was only federal government spending, total spending per capita (federal, state, local) is ~26k: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/US_per_capita_spending.html, so, maybe 15k is not so crazy.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2017, 11:22:12 AM by dividendman »

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #37 on: June 29, 2017, 10:37:28 AM »
So we close down medicare/medicaid and eliminate public schools.  Stop collecting school tax and medicare tax.  Have everyone pay for their own health insurance and healthcare cost and pay for there own private education.  Is that correct?  No more section 8 housing and cost control housing.  Just give people enough every month and let them look for their own cost effective residence, correct?

That's my stance but there are going to be varying degrees on where you draw the line.

Long ago I wrote a post on how I think all education should be funded by the individual themselves, where they would get guaranteed loans for the cost of the education, and then those loans would be paid off after they exit academia. Then there could be things like some loan forgiveness (like scholarships) if grades are high (like scholarships) etc.

I know I'm way out of the mainstream on this, but i believe it promotes individual responsibility as well as allowing everyone the opportunity to succeed.

Here are my ramblings on the subject: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/which-is-better-subsidized-college-or-unsubsidized-college/msg528958/#msg528958

May I ask you to please give a reasonable cash allowance that will be provided to pay for all those things you just alluded to.  I am very curious to see what you think it will cost.  I agree that ideally avoiding government bureaucracy should be more efficient.

I could imagine something like $15k per adult that gets clawed back and eventually is zero for those earning, over, say $100k. This is based on my gut feel, which is the worst way to do anything. Flooding the economy with this much fast moving money will likely cause inflation (it would definitely stimulate the economy), but also efficiency which would lead to lower costs.

I picked 15k because, if everyone bought health insurance, I think premiums would be lower since all the healthy people are there too. So average for the population could be maybe $500/mo heath insurance, $500/mo rent (yeah, share with people, it's supposed to be basic), $200/mo food, $600/yr transport/misc.

Obviously much more research has to be done on this and I'll spend some time on it after I FIRE in august because I'm a nerd and like this kinda crap :)

Note that in 2015 all government spending divided by the US population was about 12k/person. So there would still need to be a significant tax increase to support this model. On the flipside, a bunch of folks (making < 100k) would see less of that increase since they get some of this income.

EDIT: i just saw a link that says that was only federal government spending, total spending per capita (federal, state, local) is ~26k: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/US_per_capita_spending.html, so, maybe 15k is not so crazy.

So $15K/person or $30K/ family is what you are taking about. That is more than MMM spends each year. Why even bother ever working if the government gives you all this?

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #38 on: June 29, 2017, 10:42:31 AM »
Here is what I think about this forum. About 1/2 the people here are liberal and half conservative at least fiscally. The conservatives tend to stay quit when it comes to politics while the liberals have the most to share. It definitely explains why I thought this forum was mostly liberal. Turns out it that the liberals are most vocal.

dividendman

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #39 on: June 29, 2017, 11:06:23 AM »
May I ask you to please give a reasonable cash allowance that will be provided to pay for all those things you just alluded to.  I am very curious to see what you think it will cost.  I agree that ideally avoiding government bureaucracy should be more efficient.

I could imagine something like $15k per adult that gets clawed back and eventually is zero for those earning, over, say $100k. This is based on my gut feel, which is the worst way to do anything. Flooding the economy with this much fast moving money will likely cause inflation (it would definitely stimulate the economy), but also efficiency which would lead to lower costs.

I picked 15k because, if everyone bought health insurance, I think premiums would be lower since all the healthy people are there too. So average for the population could be maybe $500/mo heath insurance, $500/mo rent (yeah, share with people, it's supposed to be basic), $200/mo food, $600/yr transport/misc.

Obviously much more research has to be done on this and I'll spend some time on it after I FIRE in august because I'm a nerd and like this kinda crap :)

Note that in 2015 all government spending divided by the US population was about 12k/person. So there would still need to be a significant tax increase to support this model. On the flipside, a bunch of folks (making < 100k) would see less of that increase since they get some of this income.

EDIT: i just saw a link that says that was only federal government spending, total spending per capita (federal, state, local) is ~26k: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/US_per_capita_spending.html, so, maybe 15k is not so crazy.

So $15K/person or $30K/ family is what you are taking about. That is more than MMM spends each year. Why even bother ever working if the government gives you all this?

Right, but with this logic, why does anyone work more than minimum wage (minimum wage = $15080/yr full time)? It's because people want more than the minimum. I'm not married to $15k either, it could be $10k or $12k or something. It's also additive for lower incomes (I said < $100k) so if you work minimum wage, you likely would still want to since you still get ANOTHER 15k to spend on things.

Then you have people that earn well over the minimum wage. I earn ~$200/hr, I'm not going to quit my job because the government is going to give me $7.25/hr (15k/yr).

Anyway, we were talking about efficiency in government programs, not what would or would not cause people to work. I still believe that less government bureaucracy (i.e. giving people money straight up instead of having all these programs) is much more efficient.

To your liberal/conservative comment, I agree this forum is pretty far left socially and fiscally (at least the talkers are). That being said, Universal Basic Income (or a guaranteed refundable tax credit or a negative income tax, if you prefer) was originally a conservative idea precisely because it increases government efficiency.

Note that the current health care bill (at least the house version) is a Basic Income aka refundable tax credit (it's just not universal -  you can only get it if you buy insurance off of the open market).
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 11:16:20 AM by dividendman »

shenlong55

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #40 on: June 29, 2017, 11:20:26 AM »
Why even bother ever working if the government gives you all this?

Just curious, do you have an opinion on what employment rate we should be aiming for?

Gondolin

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #41 on: June 29, 2017, 11:59:40 AM »
Quote
And further, people disagree about what the crucial services actually are

This and what GuitarStv said earlier is the key. Without consensus on the definition of efficiency and the true purposes of government, there can be no meaningful discussion of efficiency.

Obviously, no such consensus exists since even within this small sample size it's taken only 20 odd posts to be derailed in arguments on the merits of UBI, Medicare, military spending, and non-military discretionary spending with no doubt more to come.
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Inaya

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #42 on: June 29, 2017, 12:44:22 PM »
Here is what I think about this forum. About 1/2 the people here are liberal and half conservative at least fiscally. The conservatives tend to stay quit when it comes to politics while the liberals have the most to share. It definitely explains why I thought this forum was mostly liberal. Turns out it that the liberals are most vocal.
You can be socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
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EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #43 on: June 29, 2017, 08:46:22 PM »
Here is what I think about this forum. About 1/2 the people here are liberal and half conservative at least fiscally. The conservatives tend to stay quit when it comes to politics while the liberals have the most to share. It definitely explains why I thought this forum was mostly liberal. Turns out it that the liberals are most vocal.
You can be socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #44 on: June 29, 2017, 09:13:17 PM »
Why even bother ever working if the government gives you all this?

Just curious, do you have an opinion on what employment rate we should be aiming for?

I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you asking what percent of the US population should be employed or are you asking how much minimum wage should be?

I don't have a specific number for either as I have not done the research. But economic cycles will have rates rise and fall based on demand.  So I doubt there is any one number to answer that question.

I can tell you that in many parts of the US a family can sustain a happy lifestyle making $7.50/hr full time x 2 people or $30k/yr. It is what we talk about on this forum, no?  This is baring any major health condition or this is with healthcare subsidies. So, currently with the ACA $30k/yr is plenty outside of major metropolitan areas. If people learned how to be happy without fancy cars and newest cell phones maybe we wouldn't be having this conversation. Unfortunately most of the people in the US are consumerist suckas as we like to put it. So, why do tax payers have to pay for those poor lifestyle decisions?

BTW, currently Walmart is paying an average of $13.38/hr
http://news.walmart.com/news-archive/2016/01/20/more-than-one-million-walmart-associates-receive-pay-increase-in-2016.  A family of 2 working full time will be making almost $55k/yr.  Wow, compared to mustachian standards they are rolling it. They might even be able to save some money for retirement. If they started working there at 18, they have the potential to retire before 45.

DoubleDown

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #45 on: June 30, 2017, 02:09:29 PM »
I worked for the federal government for almost 20 years and saw a lot of the budget sausage-making. There was really not a lot of waste or inefficiency happening, certainly not within the ridiculous confines of 1-year budgets we had to operate in (the "use it or lose it" mentality). I'm only speaking from the perspective of my agency, which was a large intelligence agency with a very healthy budget, particularly post-9/11. I worked in private industry too -- there was no more efficiency there than in government.

THE FAULT IS WITH CONGRESS. Congress sets spending levels, determines priorities, appropriates funds, etc. If you want to blame someone, that's where to go. There are BILLIONS unaccounted for at the Pentagon, especially related to the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. And there's an absolutely obscene amount of money thrown at federal contractors. The dirty secret is that Congress will often freeze or cut an agency's budget, then authorize millions of "non-appropriated" funds outside that budget to be paid to contractors to do the job. In many agencies there are many or more contractors than employees, and they cost much more than government workers (like double or triple). You'd be shocked at the vast sums of money being paid to the largest federal contractors (again, we're talking hundreds of billions of dollars). But of course, for-profit contractors getting rich off the federal payroll can do everything so much more efficiently (eye-roll/sarcasm). Never mind that their for-profit nature automatically provides incentive to increase spending.

A lot of those studies that show government remaining flat (adjusted for inflation) over the years do not account for the explosion in federal contracting $$$. When that is considered, government spending and size is 2-3 times what it was a few decades ago according to several reputable studies/sources, especially when aggregated across federal/state/municipal government.
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wenchsenior

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #46 on: June 30, 2017, 03:26:33 PM »
I worked for the federal government for almost 20 years and saw a lot of the budget sausage-making. There was really not a lot of waste or inefficiency happening, certainly not within the ridiculous confines of 1-year budgets we had to operate in (the "use it or lose it" mentality). I'm only speaking from the perspective of my agency, which was a large intelligence agency with a very healthy budget, particularly post-9/11. I worked in private industry too -- there was no more efficiency there than in government.

THE FAULT IS WITH CONGRESS. Congress sets spending levels, determines priorities, appropriates funds, etc. If you want to blame someone, that's where to go. There are BILLIONS unaccounted for at the Pentagon, especially related to the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. And there's an absolutely obscene amount of money thrown at federal contractors. The dirty secret is that Congress will often freeze or cut an agency's budget, then authorize millions of "non-appropriated" funds outside that budget to be paid to contractors to do the job. In many agencies there are many or more contractors than employees, and they cost much more than government workers (like double or triple). You'd be shocked at the vast sums of money being paid to the largest federal contractors (again, we're talking hundreds of billions of dollars). But of course, for-profit contractors getting rich off the federal payroll can do everything so much more efficiently (eye-roll/sarcasm). Never mind that their for-profit nature automatically provides incentive to increase spending.

A lot of those studies that show government remaining flat (adjusted for inflation) over the years do not account for the explosion in federal contracting $$$. When that is considered, government spending and size is 2-3 times what it was a few decades ago according to several reputable studies/sources, especially when aggregated across federal/state/municipal government.

Great post. You re-iterated several points I made earlier (DH has had several different stints as a fed, doing WILDLY different jobs in different agencies).  You also have helped partly answer some of my confusion over 1) the fact that 'waste and inefficiency' cannot possibly account for most government spending; and 2) how can a lot of agency budgets stay more or less flat for decades, and how can the size of the government workforce have been dropping per capita for decades while more money keeps being spent.  I do know that contractors, on the rare occasions they are used for big projects in my husband's department, cost a FUCK TON. 

katsiki

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #47 on: June 30, 2017, 03:31:18 PM »
Where is sol?

wenchsenior

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #48 on: June 30, 2017, 05:13:28 PM »
Where is sol?

Does he do field work? It is field season right now and I'm having immense trouble contacting researchers for scientific publications, the emails keep bouncing with "out of office" variants. 

katsiki

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Re: Poll: Government Expenses
« Reply #49 on: June 30, 2017, 05:15:51 PM »
Where is sol?

Does he do field work? It is field season right now and I'm having immense trouble contacting researchers for scientific publications, the emails keep bouncing with "out of office" variants.

I don't know exactly what he does...  I just usually find he jumps into a topic like this with good info.