A very common and very KEY argument I came across when debating the left is the true and underlying causes of the national deficit, and by consequence, national debt. Those of us on the right claim it is excessive social spending, those on the left insist it is military spending. After studying the budget and public finances tangentially, I intuitively knew it had to be social spending. BUT, I did not know for a fact. And so I decided to spend my coffee session pulling data from the White House's federal budget data and FRED database to find out, once and for all, what are the true causes of our national deficit/debt.
The issue is not as straight forward as one might thing. For example, how far back do we go? 1790? Post WWII? What percentage of today's debt is caused by which years of deficit the government has run. In the best efforts of intellectual honesty I looked at the historical "deficits as a percentage of GDP" aiming to find when we started running chronic and serious budget deficits. I also went post WWII because of the obvious warping effects a global war has on budgets. And I also chose post WWII because adjusting for inflation and population growth (ie - the majority of today's debt was caused by more recent society, not the 10 million people that lived here 200 years ago).
This resulted in a starting point of 1971. If you look at deficits as a percentage of GDP it was 1971 that start not only chronic, but significant deficits (and it is here, no doubt, leftists will focus their arguments because the math henceforth is unassailable).
However, before we move forward it is imperative that I issue a trigger warning for any socialists, leftists or democrats reading this. The following information is factual, math based, and real. I know these things cause great stress, emotional harm, and psychological damage to leftsits, not to mention are insulting to the leftist community. If you could have your government-paid therapist or counselor on speed dial, that may help before continuing reading through this article.
So here is the basic data. The sum of all government spending, by general department from 1971 to 2014, along with their corresponding percentages.
You'll note standard battle lines to be drawn as libertarians and conservatives cite Social Security as being larger than Military spending. You'll also note the left immediately (and predictably) pointing out "Veterans Affairs" is not included in military spending. However, the above data needs to be simplified as there are multiple accounts across the general two categories that are being debated as to the cause of our chronic deficits and debt - Military spending and Social spending. I simplified this chart into four categories.
1. Social spending
2. Military spend
3. Governance (which is appallingly low) and
4. "Other" (where it wasn't governance, social spending, or military. Namely space agency)
The results confirm what nearly 2 decades of research and common sense would tell you - social spending is by far to blame for the deficits and debt we have today.
But before leftists now scramble to find an excuse (or call their therapist) to explain this reality away, let's us hold on before taking that step and address a tangential issue to this debate that may solve it for both sides - psychology.
You see, in the early days of this blog (and my career) I naively spend hours, if not months, crunching numbers, calculating statistics, and doing so in an intellectually honest manner because I truthfully was concerned about what was truth. I did not want to have an ideology or a political position and then "force" data to fit my preferences. I wanted the facts and data to form my political ideology. However, when presenting data, such as the above, to those on the left, no matter how right it was, no matter how solid and unbiased my ideology, and no matter how apolitical the data was, people on the left simply refused to believe it.
It soon dawned on me the true debate between right and left is not one of facts, data, statistics or reality, but one of psychology. The left is delusional and puts their religion above all else, including reality.
Therefore, let us cut to the chase. I know I just wasted the past hour crunching numbers, making charts, and uploading them here. I know this is going to be as effective as DayQuil on cancer. So my question to the left is NOT "will you please finally admit you were wrong." It's going to be;
"Please humor me and entertain me with the mentally ill and cognitive dissonance acrobatics your going to use to explain away this one. I always get a kick out of watching mentally damaged people ignore reality."
Enjoy that freaking decline.