When looking at the federal budget most self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives focus on money spent on the military, Medicare and Medicare, and Social Security. Those three items can give you an idea about the scale of government spending but it’s the specific items that can give you the juicy details. For example, thanks for Edward Snowden we know what the federal government’s “black budget” of $52.6 billion is being spent on:
The $52.6 billion “black budget” for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny. Although the government has annually released its overall level of intelligence spending since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses those funds or how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress.
The 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program details the successes, failures and objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, which has 107,035 employees.
The Washington Post has censored the information they made available after consulting the government. That, in of itself, tells you a lot about the relationship media outlets have with the state. But the items made available are interesting. For example, a notable amount of money is being spent by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) to break into the computer systems of foreign nations. I’m sure those dollars are generating all kinds of hatred towards this country.
I would advise reading the entire article if you’re interested in either government spending or government spying. Detailed budget items tell a far better story if you’re interested in fiscal matters and knowing how much the government spends on various spying operations gives you some kind of idea of how pervasive the overall operation is.