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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/i-will-look-into-some-specifics-but-as-a-30687251.aspx

Subject:  Re: smaller government, DrB? Date:  5/16/2013  1:13 PM
Author:  Goofyhoofy Number:  423075 of 439173

I will look into some specifics, but as a starting framework we could compare 1990 and today. There has been a 20% increase in population (250 to 300 million) but federal government spending has swollen from $1.3 to $3.7 trillion, a 185% increase.

But "population" is the wrong yardstick. Population barely budged between 1938 and 1942, but government spending increased wildly. OK, that's an obvious, if silly example since December 7, 1941 happened in between, but the yardstick should be "What do we ask government to do, and can we afford it?"

Population has tripled since 1920, but nobody I know thinks we ought to have three times as many cops with billy clubs standing on streetcorners. Nowadays they need cars and SWAT teams and helicopters and computers and lots more. A tripling of the 1920 budget wouldn't get you close. Nor would it give you an FBI or other security forces that didn't even exist back then.

No, a better yardstick would be "percent of GDP", although that is not perfect either, obviously. But when we make a collective decision that airplane security should not be left to the cheapest screeners an airline can find, but to people trained in security (and security theater, admittedly), then that's a cost we must absorb somewhere. (We did before, invisibly, in ticket prices, but as 9/11 demonstrated it isn't only airline passengers who pay the price of poor security.)

And back to your original data: since 1990 federal government spending has "swollen" from $1.3T to $3.7T, (I make that a 285% increase.) In that same time, GDP has "swollen" from $5.75T to $15T, a 260% increase. IOW, Federal Spending has increased slightly more than GDP - and during that time we have instituted a large security force in the TSA and fought two wars with pallets-full of $100 bills, Haliburton contractors at 10x the cost of soldiers, and, oh yes, suffered more hurricane and tornado damage than at any previous time in our history, not to mention a housing collapse and the propping up of the banking sector and several private sector manufacturers employing millions of people.

What if we just put the size of government back to where it was then and make trims and adjustments?

We have. We can do more. Some of those costs in today's $15T will go away, some already have. A few will get worse.

GDP. Not "population." Big difference.

Planned Parenthood and Sesame Street. I'm a fan of both abortion and Big Bird, but neither should be on the Federal dole.

Planned Parenthood does no abortions using government money. Full stop.
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