Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How much we spend to keep us safe

The U.S. spends a lot of money keeping us safe from threats foreign and domestic. 100s of billions are spent by our government on national defense activities to protect us from foreign threats.  Tens of billions are spent on law enforcement activities protecting us from foreign and domestic threats.  Putting it all together, I count 820$ billion spent in 2009 to keep us safe.  That's over 27% of all federal on-budget spending.
Here's the pie chart of all the things we do to keep us safe. To be clear, this isn't just what we spend on national defense, this is all the money the federal government spends to keep us "safe".
Money Spent Keeping us Safe
(Click chart for Larger Image. Click here for numbers the chart is based on)
Here's the various functions, subfunctions and accounts that deal with keeping us safe.
  1. 661$ billion for National defense.  This is the entire National Defense (function "050").  By far the largest expense coming in at a staggering 661 billion dollars.  It is the total of all accounts that OMB labels as "National Defense"
  2. 95$ billion for VA benefits. The second biggest expense is the VA benefits and expenses(function "700").  It is the total cost of all accounts that OMB labels as "VA benefits".  It's not really the cost of immediate security, but the cost of security provided in the past.
  3. 27.5$ billion for Law Enforcement. The third biggest cost is law enforcement activities at 27.5$ billion(subfunction 751) This is the police, FBI, DEA, etc...  This doesn't count court costs.
  4. 15$ billion for Dept. of Homeland Security. This covers all the accounts of the Department of Homeland Security minus the accounts categorized as "National Defense" and "Law Enforcement" so as not to double-count.  I also subtracted the accounts having to do with natural disaster recovery.  What's left is things like TSA, Customs & Border Control, and much of the U.S. Coast Guard.
  5. 7.3$ billion for Prisons. The cost of Federal Correctional activities(subfunction 753) is recorded as a separate subfunction from Law Enforcement.
  6. 6.3$ billion for International Security Assistance. This is Helping our allies, nonproliferation work, and ongoing Peacekeeping operations.
  7. 4.6$ billion for criminal justice assistance. Criminal Justice assistance (subfunction 754) represents several special projects of the Dept of Justice.  It can be things like increased community patrol to sepcial narcotics control programs.
  8. 1.3$ billion for Foreign information. This is, among other things, broadcasting pro-American messages to other countries as well as joint operations between countries.
  9. 470$ million for Andean Counterdrug Programs. I think the purpose of this account that was hiding under the "Humanitarian assistance" subfunction is self-evident.
  10. 392$ million for Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund. I think the purpose of this account that was hiding under the "Humanitarian assistance" subfunction is also self-evident.
If you think that spending only 27% of our tax dollars keeping us safe is too little, don't worry.  I totaled up the numbers from previous years and found out that's actually a pretty low percentage.  In 2008 it was 30%, and, according to the current budget estimates, it is set to go back up to 29% in the next fiscal year.
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