Uk Government Spending By Function, US Federal Government Spending Breakdown

Since it's almost time for the submission of tax returns in the UK, I thought it would be good to put up two graphs that purport to show where your taxes go if you are Britain or the US. They come courtesy of Glenn Greenwald's blog at and of Her Britannic Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

I might point out that both countries, as well as raising a great deal in taxes, are also allowing money supply growth (effectively printing money) and borrowing heavily on international markets. This means that the figures for debt interest are bound to grow and whatever item you personally object to could be slashed without cutting taxes at all.

There are also a couple of other caveats. Firstly, the US graph is for federal expenditure and not that of the States, which may be why spending on social programmes, education and healthcare seems so low. The truth is though, even if these items were included, spending would still be low compared to the European norm. The second is that Britain is not of course a federal state, so the figures may seem comprehensive at first glance. But they do not take into account the ongoing effect of the so called 'Private Finance Initiative' whereby Britain funds public activity by extensively underwriting and protecting private companies with taxpayers' money. So the British debt interest, estimated in the graph, is actually higher and the picture of extensive spending even greater.

Make of these what you will. Remember, in most countries, governments can do things like this only because they can legally take your property away and throw you in jail for not allowing them to with 'your' money. In Britain and America, your money is probably advanced as part of a credit, welfare benefit or mortgage agreement anyway, so it isn't yours even if you spent a bit of your precious life making it.


Anonymous said…
What a massive amount the US spends on defence. I did not realise that it was so great. Does anyone know what portion of taxpayers money is spent by the state governments and what by federal government.
Martin Meenagh said…
Hi Anonymous. Thank you for your comment. Actually, part of the US problem is that, proportionately, the half a trillion or so it spends on defence is not so much of its budget. The latest tables can be found at the following link and can be viewed in pie chart form.

I'll be posting on this fiscal year later in the month. I have an awful feeling the US is on the edge of a monetary precipice, and it wouldn't take that much to go over the edge.