The U.S. Government: An insurance conglomerate protected by a large, standing army
American politics is one long argument about what government should or shouldn’t be doing, and how it should or shouldn’t be doing it. It’s rare that we step back, take in the larger picture and ask what it is doing. The release of the president’s proposed 2012 budget is a good time to do that. If you want to know what the federal government is really doing, just look where it’s spending our money.
Two of every five dollars goes to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, all of which provide some form of insurance. A bit more than a buck goes to the military. Then there’s a $1.50 or so for assorted other programs — education, infrastructure, environmental protection, farm subsidies, etc. Some of that, like unemployment checks and food stamps, is also best understood insurance spending. And then there’s another 40 cents of debt repayment. Calvin Coolidge once said that the business of America is business. Well, the business of the American government is insurance. Literally. If you look at how the federal government spends our money, it’s an insurance conglomerate protected by a large, standing army.
But you wouldn’t know it to listen to the debate over the budget. When House Republicans talk about cutting spending and the Obama administration talks about freezing spending, neither group is talking about the vast expanse of the government’s commitments. They’re looking at a small corner of the budget, the 12.3 percent known as non-defense discretionary spending. […]