01
Jul
2017
10:30 AM

Leviathan Always Grows

Anyone who pays even the least bit of attention knows that the U.S. federal government continues to grow, and grow, and grow. This fact cannot be disputed; using the government's own financial data, one can quickly see the magnitude of growth every year. Some may be confused by the unique language spoken near the Potomac, where budget "cuts" are typically not cuts at all, but merely reductions in the rate of growth versus the prior year. In almost all cases, not only does the total budget grow significantly each year, nearly all components of the budget grow as well. Periodically, certain departments or agencies may see a year over year reduction in their budget, although this is the exception to the rule of near continuous growth.

To illustrate this growth and how disproportionate it is to the world you and I live in, I have constructed a budget tracker dashboard in Tableau Public that allows anyone to select individual departments to see just how rapid their growth has been in the 1962-2016 budget period. This is supported by figures showing the growth rate relative to the government's own CPI inflation calculator (admittedly a flawed measure, but a commonly referenced one), as well as budget shares over time, and trend charts displaying annual patterns. It's a fun tool to explore budget growth, and see where things have really gotten out of control.

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