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What Do You Think “Government Spending” Is?

There are different interpretations to many expressions that you see in the media. An example of this is government spending. If someone asks you: "Do you agree with cuts in government spending?", how do you respond? This will depend on your interpretation. Some people think of government spending as spending on public welfare, health care and unemployment insurance benefits. Other people think of government spending as wasteful projects, bureaucracy and regulation. Did you know that government spending also means subsidies to corporations and defence spending? (1)(2)(3)(4) (5) (6)(7) It is also money used to pay interest on the national debt. (8)(9) All of these categories are government spending, but this is not discussed in the typical debate on balancing budgets or reducing costs.

This debate has been raging for the last few years as government budgets have become harder and harder to balance. When the word austerity came into being as a common expression, which government spending was being referred to? It appears as if expenditures had to do with pensions, wages, health benefits and public services. What about the other areas where money is being allocated? The government is involved in most industries, sometimes at multiple levels.

Why does this matter? People are being asked to cast an opinion on something without having all of the information. They are also being asked to make tough decisions without exploring all of the options. People are paying for all of this spending through taxes. Should spending be reduced on pensions instead of interest on the national debt or defence? These questions have no doubt been asked in the past, but these topics should be debated so that everyone involved can have the information to make proper decisions.