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We can fit our demands on a bumpersticker: "Majority Rule" or "People Over Profits" or "Love Not Greed." But we don't want to. Our government is doing everything wrong, and we should be allowed to present the full list of grievances. We can, however, give the world a thousand words' worth in an image, a pie chart to be exact. Our federal budget funds the wrong things. We want it to fund the right things.
Here are pie charts produced by some of us members of the 99%: gallery.
Here's where you can make your own: start.
You'll have to register and log in, which prevents spam. Then you'll have a chance to fill in the percentage of the federal budget that you'd like devoted to various areas. This budget tool -- the programming for which was done by Karl Anliot -- will let you know if your total adds up to 100%. You can do this in 60 seconds, but I recommend giving it some thought and really making this into your vision for future activism.
After you create your own ideal budget pie chart, you can compare it with the actual government budget and with the ideal budgets created by the rest of us. I suspect the biggest gap is going to be between the government and everybody else. You can also go back in and edit your budget. You can link to it. You can facebook it and tweet it.
Below is an image of my ideal federal budget. I might still change it, but I'm pretty certain of the basics here. This is discretionary spending, so Social Security and other mandatory spending are not included. A trust fund into which we pay, trusting that we will be paid back, should never be placed on the chopping block. Discretionary spending, as the name suggests, is spending over which Congress has discretion each year.
The inner pie chart is broad categories, and the outer layer subcategories for spending. The yellow-orange area in the lower right is sustainable policies, including job training, mass transit, pollution control, green energy research, etc. The blue areas include education and research. The green slices are elements of friendly foreign relations. The purple is hostile foreign relations, including the military and wars. The raspberry colored sections cover basic governance, and the little black slice on the right goes to big agriculture and transportation.
Now here's an actual government budget, specifically a budget proposed by the Obama White House for 2015. The first thing you'll notice is that the military and wars have swallowed everything else. The rest of the funding areas are all crammed together in teeny little slices over on the right.
The National Priorities Project has produced a very similar pie chart using 2012 numbers, but the numbers used here come from the White House's proposed 2015 budget, also used in this survey which inspired this budget tool.
As much as I sympathize with cries of "jobs not cuts" I wonder if awareness of the state of our budget would lead us to demand that money be moved, that money be cut in one place and added to all the other sectors. Of course it could also be added to by taxing billionaires and corporations. But whatever size the pot, our public funds ought to be distributed fairly, humanely, and sustainably. Perhaps this online tool can help us develop the vision we need moving forward.
Make your own budget here: start.
Remarks at Take Back the Dream conference, October 3, 2011.
For videos of this speech and of remarks by Derrick Crowe and Jo Comerford click here: http://warisacrime.org/content/rebuild-dream-streets
Back around May or June a bunch of us announced plans for this coming Thursday, October 6th, to occupy Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., not for a march or a rally, and not for a day or a weekend, but to create a central space for an ongoing occupation from which we would engage in nonviolent resistance.
Did you know that redirecting a fraction of our military spending to education, green energy, healthcare, and tax cuts would create a job for every unemployed or underemployed person in the country (including those losing war industry jobs during this conversion)? It's true.
Did you know we're fighting drone wars that create enemies by killing innocents, in large part because the CIA created a bureaucracy for drone wars and wants to use it? Now you do.
We've got a choice to make between the military industrial complex and our future. Experts from around the country will help us make it at this conference: http://MIC50.org
Why Register Now:
1. Only if you register ahead of time can you get food at the conference.
2. Only if you register ahead can you pay a discounted rate.
Everyone should pay only what they can afford, even if it's nothing! But you need to register!
3. Only if you register ahead can we best plan the conference and let you know how to get involved.
No, not 29 million job offers. I'm no better at applying for jobs than you are, and my town offers nothing but dead-end McJobs or positions in the military industrial complex, just like yours. I mean I just spotted an easy way to create 29 million jobs, one for every unemployed or underemployed U.S. worker.
"Shrinking government" in American political discourse has, for decades now, meant the following. We enlarge the government's budget through taxation and penalties on working people and through borrowing and printing money. We not only tax the wealthy and corporations less, but we massively subsidize them with public funds. We move away from taxes and fees meant to limit the damage greed can do to the world, and we defund regulation of and law enforcement against the oligarchy. We transfer an ever greater share of the budget to the military. We expand the domestic and international surveillance-police states while merging the two. This, again, we call "shrinking government."
If Snoopy had ever pointed out to Charlie Brown that Lucy was just going to yank the football away again at the last second, Charlie would have only heard barking.
I hope all the good people chattering away about how cutting Social Security would be political suicide, and therefore won't happen, can hear more than barking in the following.
In the best case scenario, and least likely outcome, the Super Congress will fail to produce a plan or to pass one through the actual Congress. In that case, the backup disaster plan will kick in and deem itself passed automatically. Those who had voted against setting up this deal will claim innocence. The others will claim that their only other choice had been Armageddon.
"The Democratic Party is running away from its traditional role of protecting the poor, the elderly, and the working class," writes Congressman Dennis Kucinich. "To whom do these groups now turn?"
We turn to ourselves, Congressman. You know that. And you know I love you. But we've got to stop turning to people, much less parties. It's killing us. We can work with you and all of our friends, but we're going to have to do this ourselves. There's nobody so poor, so elderly, so working class, so sick, so weak, or so wounded that they can't help this country a hell of a lot more themselves than can your colleagues, Congressman, the vast majority of whom, politically speaking, aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.
Time to take out the good ol' fashioned paper and pen and create your budget. As George Lakoff once wrote, a budget is a value document. So enter numbers based on your values. When you're done, scroll down to compare your budget with the one governing United States federal spending.
Directions: Enter a percentage of the budget that you would spend on each of these six broad categories. (If you're feeling industrious, fill in each little line item.) Make sure the total equals 100%.
FRIENDLY FOREIGN RELATIONS____%
Economic development aid to select foreign countries, medical aid to poor nations, and development aid to poor nations, the Peace Corps, and disaster relief abroad: ____%
State Department: ____%
United Nations, peacekeeping, weapons nonproliferation: ____%
HOSTILE FOREIGN RELATIONS____%
Military and Homeland Security Department and military "aid" to other nations: ____%
Current wars: ____%
Veterans' benefits: ____%
Job training, mass transit, and a jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure and mass transit: ____%
Management of public lands: ____%
Pollution control and Renewable energy research: ____%
Subsidies to small farmers: ____%
EDUCATION AND RESEARCH____%
Elementary and secondary education, and higher education, and special education for students with disabilities: ____%
Medical research: ____%
Scientific research: ____%
Law enforcement and federal prisons: ____%
Housing for the poor and elderly: ____%
Paying off national debt: ____%
BIG AGRICULTURE AND BIG TRANSPORTATION____%
Airports and railroads and highways: ____%
Subsidies to big agriculture: ____%______