Outline: Government Budgeting, A Pictorial Overview

  1. Budgeting
    • Household Budget
    • 2016's Federal Budget Summary
    • Strategies for a Balanced Budget
    • Map of the USA
    • Changing USA Landscape, Part 1 of 2
    • Changing USA Landscape, Part 2 of 2
  2. Revenue
    • 2016's Federal Revenue
  3. Spending
    • 2016's Federal Spending: Mandatory
    • 2016's Federal Spending: Discretionary
  4. The USA Federal Budget
    • 2016's Federal Budget
    • 2016's Federal Budget Snapshot
  5. Annual Deficit or Surplus
    • Deficit Outlook
  6. The Ongoing USA Federal Government Debt
    • Debt Outlook
  7. Operating the USA Government
    • Scope of USA Government
    • Budgetary Operations of USA Government
  8. Size of the USA Economy: The Gross Domestic Product
    • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Real Gross Domestic Product Time Series
    • Federal Spending as a Percentage of GDP
    • Federal Deficits as a Percentage of GDP
    • Federal Debt as a Percentage of GDP
  9. Budgeting Revisited: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Mismanagement
    • Examples of Waste, Fraud, Abuse, and Mismanagement
    • 2016's Federal Budget Summary
    • 115 Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2017 to 2026
    • Deficit Reduction Strategies
  10. Income and Poverty in the USA: Age, Gender, and Race
    • USA's Population Count as of Year
    • USA's 2014 Population Estimate by Race
    • Median Household Income in the USA
    • Household Income and Age
    • Household Income and Gender
    • Household Income and Race
    • Poverty in the USA: An Overview
    • USA's Measurements of Poverty
    • USA Poverty Lines for a Family of Four
    • USA Poverty Rate and Count
    • Poverty and Age
    • Poverty and Gender
    • Poverty and Race
    • Poverty and Region
    • USA Federal Government Anti-Poverty Measures
    • Anti-Poverty Program Participation
    • Lifting the Veil of Ignorance
  11. World Poverty, Upheaval, Turmoil, and Strife
  12. A Billion Galaxies and A Trillion Stars but One Earth, One Atmosphere, and One Race—The Human Race

1. Budgeting

Government budgeting is not too different from household budgeting. In the case of household budgeting, you have income and expenses. The primary source of most household income comes from holding a full-time job. On the one hand, if your household income exceeds your household expenses, then you have a surplus. The surplus typically is invested in some type of financial instrument (such as a savings account or certificate of deposit account). If, on the other hand, your household expenses exceed your income, then you have a shortage.

How does a household cope with a shortage? There are three basic strategies that a household is most likely to pursue:

  1. Increase its income to match its expenses (say, by taking a second job)
  2. Reduce its expenses (say, by cutting back certain types of consumption)
  3. A combination of both, that is, by increasing its income and reducing its expenses

The monthly routine of a household balancing its budget represents one aspect of household finance. The following household budget example depicts the household's budget for the month of January only. In the example below, for January, the household earned $3,500 in income and incurred $3,486 in expenses. Its net surplus for the month of January was $14. All was good. The household's budget was sound.

Personal Household Budget

Personal Household Budget
Photo Credit: Microsoft Office Templates

Moving up the ladder of complexity, besides personal finance, there also is non-profit finance, government finance, and corporate finance. The purpose of this page is to take a cursory and pictorial look at government finance. This page specifically focuses on USA federal government finance. A general perception is that, in many instances, the USA government exercises or wields lackadaisical control over its finances. Allegations are commonplace of USA federal government financial waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of the money it collects from taxpayers and from the money it borrows. This page takes a look at some instances of government financial waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

The next graphic summarizes the USA's budget for fiscal year 2016 (that is, October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016). At a high level, the graphic shows that the USA government planned to spend $3.9 trillion dollars but only planned to collect $3.3 trillion dollars. The deficit therefore was $600 million dollars. The USA government needed to borrow $600 million dollars to cover its budgetary shortfall. All, therefore, was not good with the USA budget.

2016's Federal Budget Summary

2016's Federal Budget Summary
Photo Credit: Government Budgeting: A Pictorial Overview

Strategies for a Balanced Budget

Strategies for a Balanced Budget
Photo Credit: Edward E. Bruessard

Map of the USA

Map of the USA
Photo Credit: Nonbank Mortgage Servicers

Changing USA Landscape, Part 1 of 2

Changing USA Landscape, Part 1 of 2
Photo Credit: Our Changing Landscape

Changing USA Landscape, Part 2 of 2

Changing USA Landscape, Part 2 of 2
Photo Credit: Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060

2. Revenue

In the case of government budgeting, you have revenue and spending. The primary source of government revenue comes from collecting taxes. In turn, the tax money is used to provide citizens with a wide array of public and private goods and services either directly or indirectly (namely, through private contracting). Whenever government revenue exceeds spending, then there is a budgetary surplus.

The next graphic provide a more detailed breakdown of the $3.3 trillion dollars that the USA government planned to collect according to its 2016 budget.

2016's Federal Revenue

2016's Federal Revenue
Photo Credit: Government Budgeting: A Pictorial Overview


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3. Spending

The next graphic provide a more detailed breakdown of the $3.9 trillion dollars that the USA government planned to spend according to its 2016 budget. As shown by the next two graphics, USA spending has a mandatory component and a discretionary component.

2016's Federal Spending: Mandatory

2016's Mandatory Spending
Photo Credit: Mandatory Spending in 2016

2016's Federal Spending: Discretionary

2016's Discretionary Spending
Photo Credit: Discretionary Spending in 2016


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4. The USA Federal Budget

The USA federal budget is based on the fiscal year, which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the year following (as contrasted to the calendar year, which begins on January 1 and ends on December 31 of the same year). The actual year of the fiscal year is named after the year the budget ends. This page, for the most part, focuses on the USA government's budget for the 2016 fiscal year. The budget for fiscal year 2016 was proposed by President Barack Obama to run the government from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016.

The next two graphics provide another view of the USA government's budget for fiscal year 2016:

2016's Federal Budget

2016's Federal Budget
Photo Credit: The Federal Budget in 2016

2016's Federal Budget Snapshot

2016's Federal Budget Snapshot
Photo Credit: Edward E. Bruessard

The USA Budget Process

Budget of the U.S. Government | USAGov
Photo Credit: Budget of the U.S. Government | USAGov


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5. Annual Deficit or Surplus

When government spending exceeds revenue, then there is a budgetary deficit. Whereas household budgets typically are balanced on a monthly basis, government budgets typically are structured for balancing on an annual or yearly basis.

The following table and graphic provide an overview of annual USA government budget surpluses and deficits from 1997 to 2017. The table and graphic show that the USA government experienced annual budgetary surpluses from 1998 through 2001 (under USA President Bill Clinton's leadership). All other years from 1997 to 2017 constituted annual budgetary deficits.

TABLE: Historical USA Budgets

USA Budget's as of Fiscal Year Receipts Outlays Surplus or Deficit ( + / - )
1997 $1,579,232,000,000 $1,601,116,000,000 ($21,884,000,000)
1998 $1,721,728,000,000 $1,652,458,000,000 $69,270,000,000
1999 $1,827,452,000,000 $1,701,842,000,000 $125,610,000,000
2000 $2,025,191,000,000 $1,788,950,000,000 $236,241,000,000
2001 $1,991,082,000,000 $1,862,846,000,000 $128,236,000,000
2002 $1,853,136,000,000 $2,010,894,000,000 ($157,758,000,000)
2003 $1,782,314,000,000 $2,159,899,000,000 ($377,585,000,000)
2004 $1,880,114,000,000 $2,292,841,000,000 ($412,727,000,000)
2005 $2,153,611,000,000 $2,471,957,000,000 ($318,346,000,000)
2006 $2,406,869,000,000 $2,655,050,000,000 ($248,181,000,000)
2007 $2,567,985,000,000 $2,728,686,000,000 ($160,701,000,000)
2008 $2,523,991,000,000 $2,982,544,000,000 ($458,553,000,000)
2009 $2,104,989,000,000 $3,517,677,000,000 ($1,412,688,000,000)
2010 $2,162,706,000,000 $3,457,079,000,000 ($1,294,373,000,000)
2011 $2,303,466,000,000 $3,603,065,000,000 ($1,299,599,000,000)
2012 $2,449,990,000,000 $3,536,945,000,000 ($1,086,955,000,000)
2013 $2,775,105,000,000 $3,454,647,000,000 ($679,542,000,000)
2014 $3,021,491,000,000 $3,506,091,000,000 ($484,600,000,000)
2015 $3,249,887,000,000 $3,688,383,000,000 ($438,496,000,000)
2016 $3,267,961,000,000 $3,852,612,000,000 ($584,651,000,000)
2017 estimate $3,314,894,000,000 $3,980,605,000,000 ($665,711,000,000)
Table Credit: GPO's Federal Digital System

Deficit Outlook

Deficit Outlook
Photo Credit: An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027



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6. The Ongoing USA Federal Government Debt

When annual budgetary deficits are carried over from one year to the next, then the accumulated amount carried over represents the USA debt. The next table depicts cumulative USA debt from the years from 2000 through 2017. As of 2017, the USA debt stood at $20 trillion dollars.

USA National Debt Live


Visit USADebtClock.com to learn more!

TABLE: Historical USA Debt

USA Debt's as of Date Dollar Amount of Debt (Trillions)
9/30/2000 $5,674,178,209,887
9/30/2001 $5,807,463,412,200
9/30/2002 $6,228,235,965,597
9/30/2003 $6,783,231,062,744
9/30/2004 $7,379,052,696,330
9/30/2005 $7,932,709,661,724
9/30/2006 $8,506,973,899,215
9/30/2007 $9,007,653,372,262
9/30/2008 $10,024,724,896,912
9/30/2009 $11,909,829,003,512
9/30/2010 $13,561,623,030,892
9/30/2011 $14,790,340,328,557
9/30/2012 $16,066,241,407,386
9/30/2013 $16,738,183,526,697
9/30/2014 $17,824,071,380,734
9/30/2015 $18,150,617,666,484
9/30/2016 $19,573,444,713,937
9/30/2017 $20,244,900,016,054
Table Credit: Historical Debt Outstanding
Watch (I.O.U.S.A.: Byte-Sized - The 30 Minute Version)

Government debt financing per se is not a bad thing if the outcome of temporarily incurring debt obligations eventually will lead to a net benefit for society (for example, increased tax revenues). Two of the better known examples of successful debt financing would be the USA's response to the Great Depression of 1929 and the USA-sponsored Marshall Plan of 1948 for rebuilding Western European in the aftermath of World War II. Government debt also tends to rise during wartime. Government debt financing sometimes is used as a tool to stimulate economic activity when the economy has become stagnant. At the household level, perhaps one of the most well-known examples of successful household debt financing would be to acquire a mortgage to purchase a home.

Debt Outlook

Debt Outlook
Photo Credit: Schedules of Federal Debt
Watch (GAO: What is the Federal Debt?)

The problem with debt financing arises when the national debt continues to mount with no indication whatsoever that it ever will get repaid. Much like a household who has reached the maximum borrowing limit on all of its credit cards, there comes a point where the household hits a financial crisis point. When a household financial crisis occurs, the household simply does not earn enough money to cover all of its debt obligations. What is the household to do? Does it seek the assistance of a professional debt counselor? When a household's exceeds its financial ability to repay the debt, their last recourse would be to file for bankruptcy. However, all kinds of adverse ramifications could result when households file for personal bankruptcy. One of the most severe ramifications could be an inability of the bankrupt household to borrow money or to gain access to credit—and jobs and places to live—in the regular economy. Prospective employers and apartment owners sometime check the applicants' credit history when making a decision to approve or decline the applicant. Households who file for bankruptcy often are viewed negatively by prospective creditors. If a household who has filed for bankruptcy is successful at borrowing money or obtaining credit, households with less than stellar credit histories can expect to pay higher interest rates due to their lower credit ratings and their higher risk of non-payment. Lenders and creditors are in the business to make a profit, not to lose money.

Much like a household who has over-extended itself in debt, it is possible for governments, too, to over-extend themselves in debt. Eventually, the government would reach a point whereby it will not be able to borrow enough money to cover all of its debt obligations. The consequences are even more dire when governments default on re-paying their debts. Their ability to borrow money becomes severely constrained, and the interest rate paid is higher in exchange for the borrowed funds. As a general rule of thumb, lenders are extremely reluctant to loan debt defaulters additional money because lenders do not wish to take a loss. Without money to pay for the basic goods and services provided by the government (for example, Medicare and Social Security to name a couple), citizens are placed in a predicament and a financial bind. Without their social security payments, for instance, some citizens potentially would become homeless. Without Medicare coverage, for instance, some citizens would become ill and die avoidable deaths due to lack of medical care.

How does the government cope with a deficit? Again, there are three basic strategies—raise taxes to increase the amount of revenue collected, reduce expenditures (say, by scaling back and eliminating some governmental activities), or a combination of raising taxes and cutting expenses. The problem with balancing the budget reduces to political choices. While realizing that the budget needs to be balance, nobody seems to want to make the sacrifice to have his or her taxes raised or to have his or her favorite government program(s) cut or eliminated.

7. Operating the USA Government

The administrative costs incurred to operate the three branches of the USA federal government should not be overlooked or exempted when it comes to financial prudence and efficiency. Government operations also should be scrutinized or examined more carefully for cost-reduction opportunities. The next two images provide an outline of how the USA government is structured and financed.

Scope of USA Government

Scope of USA Government
Photo Credit: Fiscal Years 2016 and 2015 Consolidated Financial Statements of the U.S. Government

Budgetary Operations of USA Government

Budgetary Operations of USA Government
Photo Credit: Fiscal Years 2016 and 2015 Consolidated Financial Statements of the U.S. Government



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8. Size of the USA Economy: The Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

In a free-market, capitalistic type of economy such as the USA economy, most economic activity in society is driven by private enterprise within the private sector. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the value of all products produced in an economy. The GDP is most commonly used to gauge whether a nation's economy is expanding or contracting. While a free-market economy generates most economic activities by private-sector businesses, both large and small, there also are public products which involve both direct and indirect government activities. Some view the public-private components of the GDP as a gauge for measuring to what extent the national economy is attributed to government activities. As government activities begin to take up a larger and larger share of overall economic activity in the nation, some view an expanding government role and influence over the economy as an unhealthy trend for the future vitality of a free-market system.

The following GDP table and graphics provide an overview the USA's GDP, in general, and the USA government's share of GDP, in particular.

TABLE: Historical USA GDP

USA GDP's as of Year Nominal GDP in Trillions of Current Dollars Real GDP in Trillions of Chained 2009 Dollars
1997 $8,608,500,000,000 $11,034,900,000,000
1998 $9,089,200,000,000 $11,525,900,000,000
1999 $9,660,600,000,000 $12,065,900,000,000
2000 $10,284,800,000,000 $12,559,700,000,000
2001 $10,621,800,000,000 $12,682,200,000,000
2002 $10,977,500,000,000 $12,908,800,000,000
2003 $11,510,700,000,000 $13,271,100,000,000
2004 $12,274,900,000,000 $13,773,500,000,000
2005 $13,093,700,000,000 $14,234,200,000,000
2006 $13,855,900,000,000 $14,613,800,000,000
2007 $14,477,600,000,000 $14,873,700,000,000
2008 $14,718,600,000,000 $14,830,400,000,000
2009 $14,418,700,000,000 $14,418,700,000,000
2010 $14,964,400,000,000 $14,783,800,000,000
2011 $15,517,900,000,000 $15,020,600,000,000
2012 $16,155,300,000,000 $15,354,600,000,000
2013 $16,691,500,000,000 $15,612,200,000,000
2014 $17,427,600,000,000 $16,013,300,000,000
2015 $18,120,700,000,000 $16,471,500,000,000
2016 $18,624,500,000,000 $16,716,200,000,000
Table Credit: Nominal and Real GDP


Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Real Gross Domestic Product Time Series

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Real Gross Domestic Product Time Series
Photo Credit: Nominal and Real GDP

Federal Spending as a Percentage of GDP

Federal Spending as a Percentage of GDP
Photo Credit: Fiscal Years 2016 and 2015 Consolidated Financial Statements of the U.S. Government

Federal Deficits as a Percentage of GDP

Federal Deficits as a Percentage of GDP
Photo Credit: The Federal Budget in 2016

Federal Debt as a Percentage of GDP

Federal Debt as a Percentage of GDP
Photo Credit: The Federal Budget in 2016



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9. Budgeting Revisited: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Mismanagement

The budget for fiscal year 2017 was proposed by President Barack Obama. It was meant to provide and allocate money to run the government from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017. The 2017 budget marks the end of the Obama Presidential administration and the beginning of the Trump Presidential administration. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 will mark the start of the first full-fiscal-year budget for President Donald Trump, and it will run from October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Before taking effect, all proposed Presidential budgets must be adopted, approved, and funded by the USA Congress as prescribed by the USA Constitution. Sometimes the spending amounts approved and allocated by Congress vary from the President's budget recommendations. A USA President with a bold agenda potentially can accomplish big things if the President enjoys the benefit of a supportive Congress where most of its members are willing to fully finance the President's various policy initiatives—and assuming the President is pursuing sound policy initiatives. Absent the support of a cooperative Congress, a President's policy agenda is pretty much doomed notwithstanding the Presidential tool of Executive Orders.

2017's Federal Budget

2017's Federal Budget
Photo Credit: Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2017 Through September 30, 2017

As the USA government's debt continues to rise, there is increased political pressure to eliminate all manner of government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. According to an article titled "'Wasteful Spending' Poll: Few Agree On What Government Waste Is, Most Want To Cut It," by Emily Swanson and Mark Blumenthal appearing in The Huffington Post, government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement broadly could be categorized under the umbrellas of (a) Government Programs, (c) Government Inefficiency, (d) Government Pay, Travel and Perks, and (d) All Other Government Sources.

The following table is illustrative of various kinds of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement alleged to exist throughout the USA federal government. The table is not meant to be exhaustive. It does not contain more recent examples of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement throughout the USA federal government. The table merely represents one snapshot in time of federal government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. The reader should note that I have not personally researched these 201 examples of federal government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement as depicted in the table below. Without knowing all of the details, I personally cannot vouch for the veracity, accuracy, or reasonableness of each example presented in the table.

TABLE: Examples of Alleged USA Federal Government Waste, Fraud, Abuse, and Mismanagement of Resources

Count Amount Wasted Time Period Department or Category of Waste Waste or Policy Suggestion
1 $495,000 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Taxpayer Funded Political Ads on MSNBC
2 $24,000,000 Grant American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Powerful Routers Installed in Tiny Rural Libraries and Schools
3 $35,000 Grant American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) A Novel Idea Taxpayers Will Not Want to Read About
4 $104,500,000 Not Specified American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Over 100 Million for a Harbor and an Airport for Town with no Roads and 75 Full-Time Residents
5 $48,700 2011 Department of Agriculture The 2nd Annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival
6 $100,000,000 Not Specified Department of Agriculture Tighten Controls on Federal Employee Credit Cards and Cut Down on Delinquencies
7 $2,000,000 Not Specified Department of Agriculture The Two Million Dollar Intern
8 $49,990 Grant Department of Agriculture Potato Chip Pork
9 Tens of millions Not specified Department of Agriculture Better Enforce Eligibility Requirements for Food Stamps
10 $16,400,000 Annually Department of Agriculture Dead, Duplicate, and Disqualified Food Stamp Recipients
11 $99,000 2012 Department of Agriculture Vodka, Bourbon, and Brandy Paid for by Taxpayers
12 $1,300,000 Grant Department of Agriculture Corporate Welfare for the World's Largest Snack Food Maker
13 $15,000 2012 Department of Agriculture $15,000 Decorative Arch for Community of 10,000
14 $24,877 Grant Department of Agriculture The Idaho Firearms and Accessories Manufacturers Association (IFAMA) Received Taxpayer Funds to Study the Economic Success of the Idaho Gun Industry
15 Tens of billions FY2012 Department of Agriculture Food Stamps for Taco Bell, Beer, and Condoms
16 $100,000 2011 Department of Agriculture Celebrity Chefs in Indonesia
17 $6,900,000 2012 Department of Agriculture Grants to Billion Dollar Tire Company
18 $49,447 FY2012 Department of Agriculture Smokey Bear Balloons
19 $75,000 2011 Department of Agriculture Tax Dollars to Promote Michigan Christmas Trees
20 $50,400 2011 Department of Agriculture Government "Cheese Trail"
21 $111,413 2011 Department of Agriculture Beer Brewing Lessons in China
22 $9,490,000 2011 Department of Agriculture Duplicative Program to Help Other Countries Manage Their Forests
23 $62,000 2011 Department of Agriculture Promoting South Dakota, Colorado and Ohio Wine
24 $60,000 2011 Department of Agriculture Stimulus Funds for a Tree Census
25 $181,966 2011 Department of Agriculture Creating a Smart Phone App for Picking Tennessee Farmers
26 $93,000 2011 Department of Agriculture Farmers Market Advertising Campaign
27 $11,976,000 Annually Department of Agriculture Energy Program Repeatedly Slated for Termination Continues to get Funding
28 $55,000 2011 Department of Agriculture Federal Grant Pays to Package Grass-fed Cow Butter
29 $14,970,000 2011 Department of Agriculture Program for Repairing Poor Families' Houses Will Mainly Serve Property Developers
30 $742,907 2011 Department of Agriculture Baaaadddd Spending
31 $936,818 2011 Department of Commerce Online Soap Operas
32 $1,000,000 2012 Department of Commerce Federal funding for Cell Phone App Creators
33 $2,000,000 2011 Department of Commerce $2 Million (taxpayer) Dollar Wine Exhibition
34 $100,000 2011 Department of Commerce Growing Massachusetts Video Game Industry
35 $25,000,000 FY2012 Department of Defense Duplicative Defense Language and Cultural Training
36 $100,000 Not Specified Department of Defense The $100,000 coffee break
37 $8,500,000 2009 Department of Defense Biofuel, Only $424 a Gallon
38 $12,000,000 2012 Department of Defense Going green for $27 a gallon
39 $700,000 Not Specified Department of Defense Pentagon Raids Weapons Program to Buy Jerky
40 $24,450 2011 Department of Defense Coast Guard Spends Taxpayer Dollars on Mardi Gras Float
41 $51,474 2011 Department of Defense Air Force Academy Builds "Stonehenge-like Worship Center"
42 Billions of dollars 2012 Department of Education Scale back the U.S. Department of Education Bureaucracy
43 Hundreds of millions FY2012 Department of Education Duplicative STEM Education Programs
44 As much as 1 billion Not Specified Department of Energy One Billion in Energy Tax Credits for Prisoners and Children
45 $15,000,000 Annually Department of Energy Recruiting Scientists for Russian Weapons Institutes
46 $100,000 2012 Department of Energy Contest to Create a Phone App that Already Exists
47 $500,000 Not Specified Department of Energy Missing Green Energy Equipment
48 $2,200,000 Annually Department of Energy Install Energy Efficient Lighting at the Dept. of Energy
49 $100,000,000 Annually Department of Energy Duplicative Diesel Emissions Programs
50 $330,000,000 Annually Department of Health and Human Services Billions in Payments for Tax Cheats
51 $106,000 Grant Department of Health and Human Services Youtube Healthcare Video Contest
52 Billions of dollars 1992 - 2012 Department of Health and Human Services Medicaid Overpayments
53 $765,828 2011 Department of Health and Human Services Taxpayer Funded House of Pancakes
54 $6,279 2011 Department of Homeland Security Taxpayer-Funded Snow Cones for Emergencies
55 $98,000 2012 Department of Homeland Security Nearly $100,000 for Underwater Rescue Robot for Community not Located near Large Bodies of Water
56 $45,000,000 2005 - 2009 Department of Homeland Security A 45 Million Camera Surveillance System Codenamed "Project Shield" Failed Because it wasn't Built to Withstand Chicago's Harsh Weather
57 $285,933 2012 Department of Homeland Security Town of 23,000 Receives Tank to Patrol Annual Pumpkin Festival
58 $255,000 Grant Department of Housing and Urban Development Federal Funds for Cartoon School
59 $21,600,000 2012 Department of Housing and Urban Development Abandoned New Orleans Homes are still on Federal Rolls Seven Years After Katrina
60 $484,000 2011 Department of Housing and Urban Development Taxpayer Funds to Build a "Mellow Mushroom" Pizza Restaurant
61 $206,426 FY2012 Department of Housing and Urban Development California Towns Sell Federal Grants to Neighbors
62 $3,400,000 Loan Department of Housing and Urban Development Funds to Help the Poor Used for Risky Business Loans
63 $750,970 2012 Department of Housing and Urban Development Taxpayer Funds for Smuttynose Brewery
64 $505,000 Grant Department of Housing and Urban Development Pet Shampoo Company Fetches more than Half a Million Dollars
65 $1,000,000,000 2012 Department of Housing and Urban Development Suspend acquisition of federal office space
66 $388,000 Not Specified Department of Housing and Urban Development Building Five Bus Shelters for a Four Stop Bus Route
67 $1,000,000 2011 Department of Housing and Urban Development Los Angeles Redirected $1 Million in Taxpayer Funds Intended to Help the City's Homeless and Low-income Residents to a Wealthy International Architecture Firm Designing a NFL Football Stadium
68 Not Specified 1998 - 2012 Department of Interior Funds for Fish Hatchery that has Never Hatched a Fish
69 Hundreds of millions Not Specified Department of Justice The One Billion Dollar Courthouse
70 $1,300,000 Annually Department of Justice Old-Fashioned X-Rays for Prisoners
71 $500,000 Grant Department of Justice Taxpayers Pay for Courtroom Camera Too Powerful to Use
72 $20,000,000 2009 Department of Labor Millionaires Receiving Millions in Unemployment Benefits
73 $4,600,000 Not Specified Department of Labor Waste, Fraud and Abuse in the Largest Job Corps Contractor
74 $14,000,000,000 Annually Department of Labor Government Overpaid $14 Billion in Unemployment Benefits in 2011
75 Not Specified Not Specified Department of State Duplicative Agencies to Identify Fraudulent Travel Documents
76 $100,000 Not Specified Department of State State Department sends American Comedy Tour to India
77 $770,000,000 Not Specified Department of State Over 700 million to Repair Mosques and other Religious Buildings in Foreign Countries
78 $25,000 Grant Department of State A $25,000 Love Ballad
79 $30,000 2011 Department of State New York Dance Troupe Gets Money for Trip to Indonesia
80 $306,000 2011 Department of State U.S. Taxpayer Money Pays for European Student's Leadership Skills
81 $150,000 Annually Department of Transportation Oklahoma Keeps Unused Airport Open to Collect Federal Checks
82 $142,419 2012 Department of Transportation Free Bus Rides for Super Bowl Attendees
83 $529,689 2011 Department of Transportation Extreme (rock) Home Makeover
84 $1,100,000 Grant Department of Transportation Sidewalks to Nowhere
85 $520,000 FY2012 Department of Transportation Another Bridge to Nowhere
86 $145,000 2012 Department of Transportation Highway Funds for Bronze Sculptures
87 $3,700 Grant Department of Transportation Real Money for Toy Roads
88 $800,000 2011 Department of Transportation Federal Dollars for Horse-Drawn Carriage Exhibits
89 $8,300,000 2011 Department of Transportation Millions Of Federal Transportation Dollars Pay for Covered Bridge Preservation Program
90 $300,000 2011 Department of Transportation Exhibit on the History of Rivers, Trails, Railroads, and Roads
91 $5,180,000 2011 Department of Transportation Steamboat Interpretive Center
92 $221,540 2011 Department of Veterans Affairs Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Wasteful VA Conference
93 $141,450 Grant Environment Studying Pig Poop
94 $1,000,000 FY2012 Environmental Protection Agency $1,000,000 for an EPA Geographic Program on Lake Champlain
95 $75,400,000 2008 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) FEMA Replacing Buildings that only need Repairs
96 $4,800,000,000 FY2011 General Government Duplicative Computer Systems
97 $2,000,000 Annually General Government Tax Dollars for Phantom Grants
98 At Least $1 billion Annually General Government Government Wide Missed Saving Opportunity
99 $12,500,000,000 2012 General Government Halve the $25 Billion Spent to Maintain Vacant Federal Properties
100 Millions of dollars 2012 General Government Green Building Programs
101 $180,000 FY2012 General Government Taxpayers are Funding Official Portraits of Cabinet Secretaries and Other Top Appointees
102 Not Specified Not specified General Government Duplicative Housing Assistance
103 Tens of billions 2012 - 2016 General Government Reducing Medicare Payment Errors and Earned Income Tax Credit Errors will Save Tens of Billions of Dollars
104 Not Specified Not Specified General Government Duplicative Financial Literacy Programs
105 $1,900,000.00 Not Specified General Government Hundreds of DC City Workers Took Nearly $2 Million in Fraudulent Unemployment Benefits
106 $8,000,000 Annually Government Printing Office Reduce Excess Printing of the Congressional Record
107 $1,000,000 2008 - 2012 General Services Administration (GSA) Bonuses for Employees Being Investigated for Misconduct
108 $100,000 2010 General Services Administration (GSA) Conference for GSA Interns in Palm Springs
109 $823,000 2010 General Services Administration (GSA) GSA wastes $800,000 on Las Vegas Conference
110 $24,000,000 2012 General Services Administration (GSA) Government Funds to Buy Typewriters and Other Outdated Products
111 $1,500,000,000 Annually Independent Agency Cell Phone Fraud
112 $1,000,000 Grant Independent Agency Book Club Funding Goes to Ghost Tours, Fishing Lessons, and Movie Screenings
113 $2,000,000 Annually Independent Agency Eliminate the Japan-United States Friendship Commission (JUSFC)
114 $113,277 2011 Institute of Museum and Library Services Video game museum
115 $1,000,000,000 Not Specified Internal Revenue Service (IRS) IRS Issues more than $1 Billion in Bogus Refund Payments
116 $4,200,000,000 Annually Internal Revenue Service (IRS) End Illegal Immigrants' Collection of Child Tax Credits
117 $1,030,000,000 FY2009 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Federal Employees with unpaid Federal Income Taxes
118 $3,900,000,000 Annually Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Identity Thieves Bilking the IRS out of Billions
119 $862,000 Not Specified Internal Revenue Service (IRS) IRS Storing Excess Furniture Indefinitely
120 $35,380,000 Quadrennial Miscellaneous Elections Presidential Election Campaign Fund
121 $150,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Compact Power Inc.
122 $70,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Abound Solar
123 $43,000,000 Gov Loan Miscellaneous Energy Beacon Power
124 $118,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Ener1
125 $424,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Mountain Plaza Inc.
126 $10,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Olsen's Crop Service and Olsens Mill Acquisition Co.
127 $156,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Range Fuels
128 $535,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Solyndra
129 $500,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Spectrawatt
130 $6,500,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Thompson River Power LLC
131 $249,100,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy A123 Systems
132 $5,300,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Evergreen Solar Inc.
133 $98,500,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Nevada Geothermal Power Inc
134 $1,200,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy SunPower Corp.
135 $1,460,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy First Solar
136 $5,900,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Amonix Inc.
137 $126,200,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Ecotality
138 $33,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Raser Technologies
139 $13,300,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Energy Conversion Devices
140 $5,400,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Azure Dynamics
141 $500,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy GreenVolts Inc
142 $16,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Nordic Windpower USA Inc.
143 $3,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Satcon Technology Corp.
144 $20,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Konarka Technologies Inc.
145 $100,000,000 Government Loan Miscellaneous Energy Mascoma Corp
146 $10,000 2012 Miscellaneous Law Enforcement Flushing Away Taxpayer Dollars
147 $40,000 Grant National Endowment for the Arts Self-Reflection Video Game Based on Henry David Thoreau's 1845 Writings
148 $498,000 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Funding for Irrelevant and Bizarre Studies
149 $270,000 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Funding to Digitize Periodicals Already Digitally Available
150 $24,995 Grant National Endowment for the Humanities Should We Want to be Happy?
151 $550,000 2011 National Endowment for the Humanities Rockin' the Kremlin
152 $548,731 2012 National Institutes of Health Study Shows Adults in their Thirties who Binge Drink Feel Immature
153 $666,905 Grant National Institutes of Health Do Watching Television Reruns make People Happy?
154 $170,000 2009 - 2012 National Institutes of Health Study of Jordanian Hookah Smokers
155 $356,933 2011 National Institutes of Health Cocaine and Risky Sex Habits of Quail
156 $206,214 2011 National Institutes of Health Organic Gardening Video Game
157 $610,908 2011 National Institutes of Health US Taxpayer Funds Survey of Well-Being in 120 Countries
158 $25,000 Grant National Science Foundation Can Twitter predict the stock market?
159 $516,000 FY2012 National Science Foundation Relive Your High School Prom
160 $315,000 Not Specified National Science Foundation Does playing FarmVille on Facebook help people to make friends and keep them?
161 $1,000,000 Not Specified National Science Foundation How Quickly do American Parents Respond to Trendy Baby Names?
162 $2,000,000 Grant National Science Foundation Are People who Post Pictures on the Internet From the Same Place at the Same Time Often Friends?
163 $604,755 Grant National Science Foundation What are Group Dynamics Like in the Online Video Game EverQuest 2?
164 $755,546 Grant National Science Foundation How do Rumors Get Started?
165 $199,088 Grant National Science Foundation Do Turkish Women Wear Veils Because They are Fashionable?
166 $559,681 Grant National Science Foundation How Long can a Shrimp Run on a Treadmill?
167 $476,000 Grant National Science Foundation How Often Do People Lie in Text Messages and Online Messaging?
168 $150,000 Grant National Science Foundation Can You Trust People in Virtual Worlds?
169 $322,313 Grant National Science Foundation The National Science and Arts Foundation?
170 $325,000 FY2012 National Science Foundation Robotic Squirrel Research
171 $263,281 Grant National Science Foundation What are the Social Impacts of Tourism in Norway?
172 $500,000 Grant National Science Foundation Do Twitter Users "tweet" in Regional Slang?
173 $259,216 Grant National Science Foundation When is the Best Time to Buy Sporting Tickets?
174 $79,998 Grant National Science Foundation Why do the Same Teams Always Dominate March Madness?
175 $1,200,000 2012 National Science Foundation Should Grandparents Play 'World of Warcraft'?
176 $1,700,000,000 FY2012 National Science Foundation Billions in Funds in Expired Grant Accounts
177 $144,152 2009 - 2011 National Science Foundation Two Romantically Involved NSF Employees go on 47 Get-A-Ways on NSF's dime
178 $450,000 Not Specified National Science Foundation Employee Orchestrates $450,000 Kickback Scheme
179 $14,200,000 Not Specified National Science Foundation Colorado Contractor Overcharged NSF $14.2 Million in Indirect Costs
180 $547,430 Grant National Science Foundation Dancing Robot DJ
181 $697,177 Grant National Science Foundation Science Research Dollars go to Musical About Biodiversity and Climate Change
182 $1,300,000 2012 National Science Foundation Government Funding for Cell Phone Technology
183 $350,000 Grant National Science Foundation Government-Funded Study Finds Golfers Need to Envision a Bigger Hole
184 $500,000 Grant National Science Foundation Online Lawyer Training Gets Science Funding
185 $149,990 2011 National Science Foundation Taxpayer Money Pays for "RapidGuppy" Cell Phone Game
186 $764,825 2011 National Science Foundation Taxpayer Money to Study How College Students Use Mobile Devices for Social Networking
187 $300,000 2011 National Science Foundation Understanding the Origin of Matter - Through Dance
188 $500,000 2011 National Science Foundation Analyzing Your Public Image With 'OhMyGov'
189 $425,642 2011 National Science Foundation Study to Tell India how to Improve its Local Government
190 $198,195 2011 National Science Foundation Does Tweeting and Friending Make You Happy? Two
191 $338,998 2011 National Science Foundation Federal Grant to Study Women, Weaving and Wool in Iceland, AD 874 - 1800
192 $300,787 Not Specified National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) The NOAA Party Yacht
193 $2,000,000 2012 Small Business Administration Taxpayer Loans for Cupcakes
194 $120,000,000 Annually Social Security Administration Retirement and Disability Payments for Deceased Workers
195 $600,000,000 2012 Transportation Trim the Federal Vehicle Fleet by 20 Percent
196 $349,317 2008 - 2010 United States Postal Service (USPS) Misuse of Government Travel Cards
197 $27,000,000 Annually United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Moroccan Pottery Classes
198 $1,460,000,000 Annually United States Agency for International Development (USAID) End Foreign Aid to Countries Which Hold More than $10 Billion in U.S. Treasury Securities
199 $20,000,000 2011 - 2014 United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Remake of "Sesame Street" for Pakistan
200 $12,000,000 2011 United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Failed Energy-Saving Project in Pakistan
201 $1,350,000 2011 United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Entrepreneurship Training...in Barbados?
Table Credit: https://posey.house.gov/wasteful-spending/


Some also would argue that some aspects of the costs associated with USA long-term involvement in the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria wars, too, represent a form of USA government waste. Conservative estimates put the cost of the USA government's War on Terror at $2 trillion dollars (and counting). Some more liberal estimates put the cost of the War on Terror at about $6 trillion dollars (and counting). In some instances, the money spent to prosecute the War on Terror was tantamount to little more than taking over a trillion dollars and tossing that trillion dollars into Middle Eastern sands not to mention the resultant loss of life (fatalities), injuries (casualties) , and displaced families (homelessness). Broadly assume, for instance, that the sum of $6 trillion dollars spent to prosecute the War on Terrorism is a more accurate calculation of military spending and also assume that an arbitrary 10% of it got wasted, then the sum wasted would come to $600 billion dollars since the 09-11-2001 terrorist airplane attacks inside the USA through 2018. This $600 million wasted translates into about $33,333,333 million wasted in military spending per year from 2001 through 2018. In the USA, there is a great hue and cry about public assistance, social spending, welfare fraud, welfare queens, and so forth. There is hardly a whisper about the billions of dollars attributable to wasteful military spending.

The reader should keep in mind that the above illustration of wasteful military spending only applies to prosecuting the War on Terror. The USA military is legendary for awarding contracts to private industry for the production of military hardware only to witness the contract undergoing significant delays, cost overruns, and exorbitant pricing. Say, for instance, the USA military accepted a private contractor's $1 billion bid for the production of a state-of-art fighter jet airplane. By the time production of the fighter jet airplane is completed, the final contractor's bill ends up costing, say, $5 billion. This type of military contracting cost-overrun scenario happens all of the time.

By way of comparison, according to the GAO's report titled "FEDERAL LOW-INCOME PROGRAMS: Multiple Programs Target Diverse Populations and Needs," there are 82 specific federal government programs designed to relieve the burden of USA poverty for its less fortunate or low-income members. The report goes on to point out that, for the year 2013 alone, these combined 82 programs cost about $756 billion dollars. If arbitrarily 10% of this $756 billion could be attributable to fraud, then the sum wasted comes to $75,600,000 million dollars per year. This $75,600,000 million dollars wasted per year translates into a cumulative total wasted of $1,360,800,000 trillion dollars from 2001 to 2018.

The point here is not to pit the resource needs of the military against the resource needs of the poor nor is it an attempt to drive a wedge between the poor and the military. Rather, the point here is to illustrate that there are opportunities to cut costs across the full spectrum of government. Whether military, anti-poverty, or any other type of government spending, when political leaders decide to go into deficit reduction mode, their first order of business should be to identify and eliminate instances of spending waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. Instead of first focusing on eliminating the existence of all manners of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, all too often the traditional approach has been to cut certain government programs to the barebones regardless of harm done to the beneficiaries of these programs. In a perfect world, of course, no poverty would exist, and no military would be needed in society.

LIST: 82 USA Federal Government Low-Income Programs

List Credit: FEDERAL LOW-INCOME PROGRAMS: Multiple Programs Target Diverse Populations and Needs

All kinds of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement are involved in running the USA government. Some of the waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement emanate within the day-to-day operations of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government. If a consensus is reached that government spending must be reduced to eliminate the federal debt, then all instances of federal spending should be scrutinized and impacted equitably. The poor should not be made to bear a disproportionate burden of the spending cuts. By the same token, if a consensus is reached that federal taxes must be increased to eliminate the federal debt, then all citizens should be impacted equitably.

The Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) report titled Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2017 to 2026 offers 115 equitable recommendations to help reduce and eliminate the national debt. The report outlines 115 options either to decrease federal spending or increase federal revenues over a ten-year period. The objective of the 115 options is to put the "federal debt on a sustainable path." The following table was derived from this CBO report."

TABLE: 115 Options for Reducing the Deficit

Count Category Subcategory Deficit Reduction Options
1 Mandatory Spending Energy and Natural Resources Option 1 Change the Terms and Conditions for Oil and Gas Leasing on Federal Lands
2 Mandatory Spending Energy and Natural Resources Option 2 Limit Enrollment in the Department of Agriculture's Conservation Programs
3 Mandatory Spending Agriculture Option 3 Eliminate Title I Agriculture Programs
4 Mandatory Spending Agriculture Option 4 Reduce Subsidies in the Crop Insurance Program
5 Mandatory Spending Agriculture Option 5 Eliminate ARC and PLC Payments on Generic Base Acres
6 Mandatory Spending Agriculture Option 6 Limit ARC and PLC Payment Acres to 50 Percent of Base Acres
7 Mandatory Spending Housing Option 7 Raise Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's Guarantee Fees and Decrease Their Eligible Loan Limits
8 Mandatory Spending Education Option 8 Eliminate the Add-On to Pell Grants, Which Is Funded With Mandatory Spending
9 Mandatory Spending Education Option 9 Limit Forgiveness of Graduate Student Loans
10 Mandatory Spending Education Option 10 Reduce or Eliminate Subsidized Loans for Undergraduate Students
11 Mandatory Spending Retirement Option 11 Eliminate Concurrent Receipt of Retirement Pay and Disability Compensation for Disabled Veterans
12 Mandatory Spending Retirement Option 12 Reduce Pensions in the Federal Employees Retirement System
13 Mandatory Spending Income Security Option 13 Convert Multiple Assistance Programs for Lower-Income People Into Smaller Block Grants to States
14 Mandatory Spending Income Security Option 14 Eliminate Subsidies for Certain Meals in the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Child and Adult Care Food Programs
15 Mandatory Spending Income Security Option 15 Tighten Eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
16 Mandatory Spending Income Security Option 16 Reduce TANF's State Family Assistance Grant by 10 Percent
17 Mandatory Spending Income Security Option 17 Eliminate Supplemental Security Income Benefits for Disabled Children
18 Mandatory Spending Social Security Option 18 Link Initial Social Security Benefits to Average Prices Instead of Average Earnings
19 Mandatory Spending Social Security Option 19 Make Social Security's Benefit Structure More Progressive
20 Mandatory Spending Social Security Option 20 Raise the Full Retirement Age for Social Security
21 Mandatory Spending Social Security Option 21 Reduce Social Security Benefits for New Beneficiaries
22 Mandatory Spending Social Security Option 22 Require Social Security Disability Insurance Applicants to Have Worked More in Recent Years
23 Mandatory Spending Social Security Option 23 Eliminate Eligibility for Starting Social Security Disability Benefits at Age 62 or Later
24 Mandatory Spending Veterans Option 24 Narrow Eligibility for Veterans' Disability Compensation by Excluding Certain Disabilities Unrelated to Military Duties
25 Mandatory Spending Veterans Option 25 Restrict VA's Individual Unemployability Benefits to Disabled Veterans Who Are Younger Than the Full Retirement Age for Social Security
26 Mandatory Spending Multiple Programs or Activities Option 26 Use an Alternative Measure of Inflation to Index Social Security and Other Mandatory Programs
27 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 1 Reduce the Size of the Military to Satisfy Caps Under the Budget Control Act
28 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 2 Reduce DoD's Operation and Maintenance Appropriation, Excluding Funding for the Defense Health Program
29 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 3 Cap Increases in Basic Pay for Military Service Members
30 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 4 Replace Some Military Personnel With Civilian Employees
31 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 5 Cancel Plans to Purchase Additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and Instead Purchase F-16s and F/A-18s
32 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 6 Stop Building Ford Class Aircraft Carriers
33 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 7 Reduce Funding for Naval Ship Construction to Historical Levels
34 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 8 Reduce the Size of the Nuclear Triad
35 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 9 Build Only One Type of Nuclear Weapon for Bombers
36 Discretionary Spending Defense Option 10 Defer Development of the B-21 Bomber
37 Discretionary Spending International Affairs Option 11 Reduce Funding for International Affairs Programs
38 Discretionary Spending Energy, Science, and Space Option 12 Eliminate Human Space Exploration Programs
39 Discretionary Spending Energy, Science, and Space Option 13 Reduce Department of Energy Funding for Energy Technology Development
40 Discretionary Spending Natural Resources and Environment Option 14 Eliminate Certain Forest Service Programs
41 Discretionary Spending Commerce Option 15 Convert the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program From a Guarantee Program to a Direct Loan Program
42 Discretionary Spending Commerce Option 16 Eliminate the International Trade Administration's Trade Promotion Activities
43 Discretionary Spending Transportation Option 17 Eliminate Funding for Amtrak and the Essential Air Service Program
44 Discretionary Spending Transportation Option 18 Limit Highway Funding to Expected Highway Revenues
45 Discretionary Spending Education and Social Services Option 19 Eliminate Federal Funding for National Community Service
46 Discretionary Spending Education and Social Services Option 20 Eliminate Head Start
47 Discretionary Spending Education and Social Services Option 21 Restrict Pell Grants to the Neediest Students
48 Discretionary Spending Income Security Option 22 Increase Payments by Tenants in Federally Assisted Housing
49 Discretionary Spending Income Security Option 23 Reduce the Number of Housing Choice Vouchers or Eliminate the Program
50 Discretionary Spending Federal Civilian Employment Option 24 Reduce the Annual Across-the-Board Adjustment for Federal Civilian Employees' Pay
51 Discretionary Spending Federal Civilian Employment Option 25 Reduce the Size of the Federal Workforce Through Attrition
52 Discretionary Spending Multiple Programs or Activities Option 26 Impose Fees to Cover the Cost of Government Regulations and Charge for Services Provided to the Private Sector
53 Discretionary Spending Multiple Programs or Activities Option 27 Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act
54 Discretionary Spending Multiple Programs or Activities Option 28 Eliminate or Reduce Funding for Certain Grants to State and Local Governments
55 Revenues Individual Income Tax Rates Option 1 Increase Individual Income Tax Rates
56 Revenues Individual Income Tax Rates Option 2 Implement a New Minimum Tax on Adjusted Gross Income
57 Revenues Individual Income Tax Rates Option 3 Raise the Tax Rates on Long-Term Capital Gains and Qualified Dividends by 2 Percentage Points
58 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 4 Use an Alternative Measure of Inflation to Index Some Parameters of the Tax Code
59 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 5 Convert the Mortgage Interest Deduction to a 15 Percent Tax Credit
60 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 6 Curtail the Deduction for Charitable Giving
61 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 7 Limit the Deduction for State and Local Taxes
62 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 8 Limit the Value of Itemized Deductions
63 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 9 Change the Tax Treatment of Capital Gains From Sales of Inherited Assets
64 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 10 Eliminate the Tax Exemption for New Qualified Private Activity Bonds
65 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 11 Expand the Base of the Net Investment Income Tax to Include the Income of Active Participants in S Corporations and Limited Partnerships
66 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 12 Tax Carried Interest as Ordinary Income
67 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 13 Include Disability Payments From the Department of Veterans Affairs in Taxable Income
68 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 14 Include Employer-Paid Premiums for Income Replacement Insurance in Employees' Taxable Income
69 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 15 Further Limit Annual Contributions to Retirement Plans
70 Revenues Individual Income Tax Base Option 16 Tax Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefits in the Same Way That Distributions From Defined Benefit Pensions Are Taxed
71 Revenues Individual Income Tax Credits Option 17 Eliminate Certain Tax Preferences for Education Expenses
72 Revenues Individual Income Tax Credits Option 18 Lower the Investment Income Limit for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Extend That Limit to the Refundable Portion of the Child Tax Credit
73 Revenues Individual Income Tax Credits Option 19 Require Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit Claimants to Have a Social Security Number That Is Valid for Employment
74 Revenues Payroll Taxes Option 20 Increase the Maximum Taxable Earnings for the Social Security Payroll Tax
75 Revenues Payroll Taxes Option 21 Expand Social Security Coverage to Include Newly Hired State and Local Government Employees
76 Revenues Payroll Taxes Option 22 Increase the Payroll Tax Rate for Medicare Hospital Insurance by 1 Percentage Point
77 Revenues Payroll Taxes Option 23 Tax All Pass-Through Business Owners Under SECA and Impose a Material Participation Standard
78 Revenues Payroll Taxes Option 24 Increase Taxes That Finance the Federal Share of the Unemployment Insurance System
79 Revenues Taxation of Income From Businesses and Other Entities Option 25 Increase Corporate Income Tax Rates by 1 Percentage Point
80 Revenues Taxation of Income From Businesses and Other Entities Option 26 Capitalize Research and Experimentation Costs and Amortize Them Over Five Years
81 Revenues Taxation of Income From Businesses and Other Entities Option 27 Extend the Period for Depreciating the Cost of Certain Investments
82 Revenues Taxation of Income From Businesses and Other Entities Option 28 Repeal Certain Tax Preferences for Energy and Natural Resource-Based Industries
83 Revenues Taxation of Income From Businesses and Other Entities Option 29 Repeal the Deduction for Domestic Production Activities
84 Revenues Taxation of Income From Businesses and Other Entities Option 30 Repeal the "LIFO" and "Lower of Cost or Market" Inventory Accounting Methods
85 Revenues Taxation of Income From Businesses and Other Entities Option 31 Subject All Publicly Traded Partnerships to the Corporate Income Tax
86 Revenues Taxation of Income From Businesses and Other Entities Option 32 Repeal the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit
87 Revenues Taxation of Income From Worldwide Business Activity Option 33 Determine Foreign Tax Credits on a Pooling Basis
88 Revenues Taxation of Income From Worldwide Business Activity Option 34 Require a Minimum Level of Taxation of Foreign Income as It Is Earned
89 Revenues Taxation of Income From Worldwide Business Activity Option 35 Further Limit the Deduction of Interest Expense for Multinational Corporations
90 Revenues Excise Taxes Option 36 Increase Excise Taxes on Motor Fuels by 35 Cents and Index for Inflation
91 Revenues Excise Taxes Option 37 Impose an Excise Tax on Overland Freight Transport
92 Revenues Excise Taxes Option 38 Increase All Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages to $16 per Proof Gallon
93 Revenues Other Taxes and Fees Option 39 Impose a 5 Percent Value-Added Tax
94 Revenues Other Taxes and Fees Option 40 Impose a Fee on Large Financial Institutions
95 Revenues Other Taxes and Fees Option 41 Impose a Tax on Financial Transactions
96 Revenues Other Taxes and Fees Option 42 Impose a Tax on Emissions of Greenhouse Gases
97 Revenues Other Taxes and Fees Option 43 Increase Federal Civilian Employees' Contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System
98 Health Mandatory Spending Option 1 Adopt a Voucher Plan and Slow the Growth of Federal Contributions for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
99 Health Mandatory Spending Option 2 Impose Caps on Federal Spending for Medicaid
100 Health Mandatory Spending Option 3 Limit States' Taxes on Health Care Providers
101 Health Mandatory Spending Option 4 Repeal All Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act
102 Health Mandatory Spending Option 5 Repeal the Individual Health Insurance Mandate
103 Health Mandatory Spending Option 6 Introduce Minimum Out-of-Pocket Requirements Under TRICARE for Life
104 Health Mandatory Spending Option 7 Change the Cost-Sharing Rules for Medicare and Restrict Medigap Insurance
105 Health Mandatory Spending Option 8 Increase Premiums for Parts B and D of Medicare
106 Health Mandatory Spending Option 9 Raise the Age of Eligibility for Medicare to 67
107 Health Mandatory Spending Option 10 Reduce Medicare's Coverage of Bad Debt
108 Health Mandatory Spending Option 11 Require Manufacturers to Pay a Minimum Rebate on Drugs Covered Under Part D of Medicare for Low-Income Beneficiaries
109 Health Mandatory Spending Option 12 Consolidate and Reduce Federal Payments for Graduate Medical Education at Teaching Hospitals
110 Health Mandatory Spending Option 13 Limit Medical Malpractice Claims
111 Health Discretionary Spending Option 14 End Congressional Direction of Medical Research in the Department of Defense
112 Health Discretionary Spending Option 15 Modify TRICARE Enrollment Fees and Cost Sharing for Working-Age Military Retirees
113 Health Discretionary Spending Option 16 End Enrollment in VA Medical Care for Veterans in Priority Groups 7 and 8
114 Health Revenues Option 17 Increase the Excise Tax on Cigarettes by 50 Cents per Pack
115 Health Revenues Option 18 Reduce Tax Preferences for Employment-Based Health Insurance
Table Credit: Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2017 to 2026

Deficit Reduction Strategies

Deficit Reduction Strategies
Photo Credit: The 2017 Long-Term Budget Outlook


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10. Income and Poverty in the USA: Age, Gender, and Race

As the political pressure increases on political leaders to take steps to tackle and arrest the USA debt, there is always a temptation go after the so-called low-hanging fruit, that is to say, the poor, the politically inactive, immigrants, minorities, and those who generally do not make large monetary contributions to political campaigns. One debt reduction strategy often proposed is to make deep cuts to social-welfare programs, for example, food stamps, welfare payments, housing subsidies, and so forth. Beneficiaries of social spending often are depicted and stigmatized as "takers" who contribute little to nothing to the overall growth and vitality of the national economy.

The FRONTLINE video below offers a window into the good, bad, and ugly aspects of government spending as it pertains to housing assistance programs aimed chiefly at benefitting the poor but also meant to benefit private businesses. The video illustrates how government spending meant to accomplish a beneficial public good sometimes includes an element of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

The traditional measure of poverty in the USA is based on income. For instance, as shown in the table below, in 2016, a family of 4 persons who earned a yearly income of $24,563 or less was deemed to be living in poverty. Similarly, a family of 8 persons who earned a yearly income of $41,781 or less was deemed to be living in poverty. These income thresholds are used as indicators of poverty by family size, and they reflect the USA's minimum living standard. As of 2016, some 40 (12.7%) million residents of the USA were deemed to be living in poverty, that is, from a total population of over 300 million residents.

The aim of various USA governmental anti-poverty programs is to raise all family units' living standards to this minimum standard if a family's yearly income falls below these poverty thresholds. All of the USA government's anti-poverty programs and measures, collectively, are known as the social safety net. The alternative to public assistance is private charity. The need for assistance almost always exceeds the ability of private charities to respond a long-term, full-time, and consistent basis, hence, the reason for government for provision of social welfare support.

Not only do these governmental anti-poverty efforts represent the genuine generosity and compassion of the American individual and corporate taxpayers to assist their less fortunate brethrens in times of need but also these anti-poverty measures help to deter and prevent those who are desperately seeking to survive from resorting to crime and other kinds of illicit activities to obtain money. People are not stupid. If they can help it, people are not going to sit around and allow themselves to starve to death. If necessary, the less fortunate members of society will turn to the underground economy to obtain the money needed to purchase the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter—albeit the underground economy can be fraught with danger and peril.

TABLE: Historical USA Population

USA's Population Count as of Year Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (as of July 1, 2017)
2010 309,338,421
2011 311,644,280
2012 313,993,272
2013 316,234,505
2014 318,622,525
2015 321,039,839
2016 323,405,935
2017 325,719,178
Table Credit: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (as of July 1, 2017)


TABLE: USA Population by Race for Year 2014 Only

Race USA's 2014 Population Estimate Percent by Race
White 191,530,000 60.1%
Hispanic 55,410,000 17.4%
Black or African American 42,039,000 13.2%
American Indian and Alaska Native 3,957,000 1.2%
Asian 17,083,000 5.4%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 734,000 0.2%
Two or More Races 7,995,000 2.5%
Total Population 318,748,000 100.0%
Table Credit: Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060


TABLE: Historical USA Median Income

USA's Median Income as of Date Real Median Yearly Household Income in the USA
2000-01-01 $58,544
2001-01-01 $57,246
2002-01-01 $56,599
2003-01-01 $56,528
2004-01-01 $56,332
2005-01-01 $56,935
2006-01-01 $57,379
2007-01-01 $58,149
2008-01-01 $56,076
2009-01-01 $55,683
2010-01-01 $54,245
2011-01-01 $53,401
2012-01-01 $53,331
2013-01-01 $55,214
2014-01-01 $54,398
2015-01-01 $57,230
2016-01-01 $59,039
Table Credit: Real Median Personal Income in the United States

Median Household Income in the USA

Median Household Income in the USA
Photo Credit: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2015

Household Income and Age

Household Income and Age
Photo Credit: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2015

Household Income and Gender

Household Income and Gender
Photo Credit: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2015

Household Income and Race

Household Income and Race
Photo Credit: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2015

Poverty in the USA: An Overview

Poverty in the USA: An Overview
Photo Credit: How the U.S. Census Bureau Measures Poverty


TABLE: Historical USA Poverty Count and Rate

USA Poverty's As of Year Number Below "Official" Poverty Level Percent Below "Official" Poverty Level
2000 31,581,090 11.3%
2001 32,906,510 11.7%
2002 34,569,950 12.1%
2003 35,861,170 12.5%
2004 37,039,800 12.7%
2005 36,949,570 12.6%
2006 36,459,670 12.3%
2007 37,275,580 12.5%
2008 39,828,860 13.2%
2009 43,568,970 14.3%
2010 46,343,170 15.1%
2011 46,247,100 15.0%
2012 46,496,000 15.0%
2013 45,318,000 14.5%
2013 redesigned 46,269,000 14.8%
2014 46,657,000 14.8%
2015 43,123,000 13.5%
2016 40,616,000 12.7%
Table Credit: Historical USA Poverty Counts and Rates

USA's Measurements of Poverty

USA's Measurements of Poverty
Photo Credit: FEDERAL LOW-INCOME PROGRAMS: Multiple Programs Target Diverse Populations and Needs

USA Poverty Lines for a Family of Four

USA Poverty Lines for a Family of Four
Photo Credit: Edward E. Bruessard


TABLE: 2016's Poverty Threshold by Family Size and Income

Family Unit Weighted Average Definition of Poverty: 2016's Poverty Lines by Yearly Family Income Amount
Family Size of One Person $12,228
Family Size of Two Persons $15,569
Family Size of Three Persons $19,105
Family Size of Four Persons $24,563
Family Size of Five Persons $29,111
Family Size of Six Persons $32,928
Family Size of Seven Persons $37,458
Family Size of Eight Persons $41,781
Table Credit: Poverty Thresholds for 2016 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years

USA Poverty Rate and Count

USA Poverty Rate and Count
Photo Credit: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2015

Poverty and Age

Poverty and Age
Photo Credit: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2015

Poverty and Gender

Poverty and Gender
Photo Credit: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2015

Poverty and Race

Poverty and Race
Photo Credit: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage: 2015

Poverty and Region

Poverty and Region
Photo Credit: Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates

USA Government Anti-Poverty Measures

Anti-Poverty Federal Government Measures
Photo Credit: FEDERAL LOW-INCOME PROGRAMS: Multiple Programs Target Diverse Populations and Needs

Anti-Poverty Program Participation

Anti-Poverty Program Participation
Photo Credit: FEDERAL LOW-INCOME PROGRAMS: Multiple Programs Target Diverse Populations and Needs
Watch (FRONTLINE: Poverty, Politics, and Profit)

Because the FRONTLINE video primarily focused on less fortunate black American citizens, it is only fitting at this juncture to segue into a discussion of black American poverty. There exists a general perception that the black American problem in social discipline is the primary factor impeding or holding back their economic advancement. The lack of social discipline also brings with it an attendant host of social problems. A deeply felt sentiment by some is that the socially undisciplined blacks are less deserving of governmental anti-poverty assistance—and are less prepared for integration into the mainstream of USA society for that matter. As a result, black American citizens do tend to face obstacles and barriers of resistance typically not felt by other minorities in the USA. These negative perceptions and stereotypes make opportunities for social and economic advancement that much more difficult for black Americans, that is, a continuation and perpetuation of the last hired, first fired syndrome allegedly of the lesser qualified black Americans. This lack of economic opportunities does cause more blacks to seek public (government) assistance.

Blacks do share some of the blame for their present-day plight by contributing to these negative perceptions held of them by others, for instance, by too many blacks calling one another the "n" word. (The "n" word has been around for over a century. Its most recent incarnation and popularization has been its use by "gangsta" rap musicians. Before the "gangsta" rappers, it was the comedians who contributed to a perpetuation of its use in popular culture.) In reality, usage of the "n" word by black American citizens signifies an ignorance of or a lack of appreciation for their slavery history. Its usage by black American citizens also signifies a form of self-hatred to some degree in addition to its use by some younger blacks (and non-blacks) to signify a form of slang.

Less fortunate black Americans do have to endeavor to more aggressively take the self-betterment initiative in a quest to surmount or rise above a slum mentality (for instance, by overcoming the crime, robbing and stealing from others, deteriorating structures, littered streets, gangs, gunplay, nasty dispositions, violence, looting, substance abuse, and so forth, plaguing their neighborhoods). In this respect, it remains for blacks alone to "Do Yourself A Favor" (Stevie Wonder) by "Climbin' Up The Ladder" (Isley Brothers) in "The Changing Times" (Earth, Wind & Fire) of 21st-century living. One way for black Americans to climb up the ladder is for them to become more enterprising as Booker T. Washington encouraged them to do (that is to say, by becoming producers in addition to being consumers).

Another way for black Americans to climb up the ladder is for them to use their purchasing power to consume more of those products that build wealth (such as stocks, bonds, annuities, IRAs, mortgages, real estate, and so forth, as opposed to consuming a lot of expensive clothing, fancy cars, assorted electronic gadgets, designer sneakers, flashy jewelry, and so forth). Life today is about all peoples of the Earth preparing for the future, which means letting go of the all of the bad things in life and starting to prepare to live constructively, productively, and positively in the 22nd century and beyond. The journey begins by making wise life choices. The journey for all peoples of the Earth begins by getting good educations and acquiring the skills that will allow them to prosper in civil society. Those who take education for granted possibly are setting themselves up for a formidable challenge in life in terms of prospering and thriving in modern society.

A common stereotype is that black Americans are the primary beneficiaries of various anti-poverty programs. This stereotypical perception heightens oppositions by some members of USA society to social welfare programs. In reality, as the above table and graphic illustrate, members from all of the USA's racial/ethnics groups are impacted by poverty. Similarly, members from all of the USA's racial/ethnic groups utilize various anti-poverty programs to some degree or another. It is true, however, that a larger percentage of black Americans (relative to all Americans) tend to utilize anti-poverty programs.

For instance, the total USA population stood at an estimated 318,748,000 residents as of 2014 according to a Census Bureau population projection in its report titled "Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060." Black Americans comprised an estimated 13.2% (42,039,000) of the USA population as of 2014, and 24.1% of black Americans lived below the poverty line in 2015. In contrast, white Americans comprised 60.1% (191,530,000) of the USA population as of 2014, and 9.1% of white Americans lived below the poverty line in 2015. One of the reasons so much anti-poverty attention tends to focus on black Americans is precisely because black Americans tend to experience the highest incidence of poverty relative to their total count. Why is that? A multitude of reasons exists to explain, say, why black Americans, generally speaking, tend to trail white Americans on most socioeconomic measures. These explanations run the gamut and include traits such as the following ones:

  • racial discrimination going back to the slavery legacy
  • racial stratification, ghettoization, and isolation
  • employment stratification by race (gender and age)
  • differences in employment opportunities and proximity to jobs
  • lack of social discipline by black Americans contributing to them performing less reliably on the job
  • lack of seriousness or too much playfulness by black Americans
  • differences in drive, motivation, ambition, focus, resolve, or determination to be successful in life
  • inadequate or insufficient preparation by black Americans lending to a lower placement on the meritocracy scale
  • differences in educational levels
  • differences in skill attainment particularly as acquisition of these skills relates to the burgeoning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) professions
  • genetical differences, and so on.

Perhaps all of these explanations—or some combination thereof—contain some element of the truth to one degree or another in explaining the present-day black-white socioeconomic dichotomy in the USA. At the same time, it is important for the reader to keep in mind the following often overlooked fact about black residents in the USA: Whereas, as of 2015, roughly 24% (or 10,131,399 million) of America's estimated 42,039,000 total black residents lived in poverty, the remaining 76% (or 31,907,601 million) of black Americans did not live in poverty. A common misperception is that practically all black Americans are poor and reliant on government assistance except an elite few athletes and entertainers.

Lifting the Veil of Ignorance

Statue of Booker T. Washington 'Lifting the Veil of Ignorance,' by Charles Keck located at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama
Photo Credit: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Watch (Slick Rick, Children's Story)


Watch (Too $hort, The Ghetto)


Watch (The Philadelphia International All-Star, Let's Clean Up the Ghetto)


Watch (Stevie Wonder, My Love Is With You)


Watch (Barry White, Change)


Watch (Stevie Wonder, Tomorrow Robins Will Sing)


Watch (The Staple Singers, Respect Yourself)

The true goal of anti-poverty programs should be not only to raise the living standards of the poor to some minimum level as defined by the poverty line but also to help able-bodied, anti-poverty program recipients become self-sufficient to the point that they can earn enough money to remain above the poverty line without further or future governmental assistance. Admittedly, this self-sufficiency approach to ending poverty is easier said than done. It potentially would require a Herculean effort for an unskilled or semi-skilled, female-headed household with young children to support to independently enter the job market and earn enough money to stay above the poverty line on her own without any type of governmental assistance. It takes a lot of money in a sophisticated and technologically advanced society such as the USA to cover monthly childcare expenses, transportation expenses, school expenses, work expenses, etc. not to mention the expenses for the basics of food, clothing, and shelter (for the children). This self-sufficiency challenge places a lot of weight and a heavy burden on the shoulders of a single female head of household for her to have to bear. Many single women, however, do successfully manage to carry on with the burden of raising children alone or without the father present in the household and yet remain above the poverty line without utilizing public assistance.

For those female-headed households who do receive public assistance, they have calculated that they would be better off economically by receiving public assistance and not working than by working at a minimum wage (sometimes on a part-time and temporary basis far away from home) while receiving little to no public assistance. For female-headed households who receive public assistance, sometimes the government reporting requirements can become so stringent and cumbersome until the resultant upheaval, hassle, disruption, turmoil, and instability of income continuity caused by working in a low-paying job is not worth the trouble of holding the job. It becomes a delicate balancing act whereby public assistance should not be too generous to the point that it dissuades recipients from seeking work, but it also must be generous enough to provide a dignified minimum standard of living. Using a web analogy, you might think of those living on public assistance in the USA as experiencing the xx-small version of the American Dream. Those who rely on public assistance are right, smack in the midst of it all in the USA. There is little denying, however, that dependence on public assistance can become habit forming and generational.



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11. World Poverty, Upheaval, Turmoil, and Strife

Poverty, of course, is relative. Poverty obviously is not a phenomenon unique to the USA. For instance, the economically less fortunate members of society in the USA would be considered as living the good life when compared to the living standards of some of the economically less fortunate members of society in other parts of the world. The current world poverty line is set at $1.90 per human each day, which comes to almost $695 USA dollars (USD) per human each year or $2,780 USA dollars each year for a family of four. According to the United Nations, as of 2010, over 700 million humans across the globe were living on an income of less than $1.90 USD a day. The next three videos are included here to provide an overview of some causes and consequences of world poverty—and consequences of wars.

Watch (Compel Media, The Causes of Poverty)


Watch (NW Medical Teams "Why Should We Care")


Watch (UNHCR Global Trends Data 2015)

The next music video below is included here to symbolize hope for a better tomorrow for all peoples of the Earth despite all of the upheaval, turmoil, and strife occurring on a daily basis across Earth. The music video's purpose also is to inspire and comfort the economically less fortunate members of the human race. Obviously, a song alone is not going to put food on their table, clothing on their backs, and a roof over their heads. The following music video, however, encapsulates and personifies the human spirit at its best.

Watch (Mariah Carey, Hero)


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12. A Billion Galaxies and A Trillion Stars but One Earth, One Atmosphere, and One Race—The Human Race

Humans must never forget one important fact of life, and it is this: planet Earth remains the only known habitable home for humans. Also, the whole of life on Earth is tenuous, fragile, and also resilient. Humans are the Earth's principal caretaker. Caution: Handle Earth with care. The issuers of life on Earth are its water, air, and land. It really is a crying shame that some humans seem to have nothing to better to do with their time other than to sit around and plot ways to blow up the world and kill other humans. Given the realities of (a) population growth and spread, (b) the struggle for survival and longevity, and (c) human scientific and technological advancements, astute land-use planning will become critically important and vital as humans move into the future. Granted, there is a lot of havoc and suffering in the world, but the human condition is a far cry from being hopeless because the human spirit ultimately prevails.

Climate Resilience - NASA


Watch (HUMANITY FROM SPACE | The Population Clock | PBS)


Watch (The Known Universe by the American Museum of Natural History)


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