The Story of Broke: An Animated Look at US Federal Spending and Values

Back in 2008, Annie Leonard produced The Story of Stuff (see below), a 20-minute animated film that explores the way our consumerist habits take a toll on the environment and sustainability. The video racked up millions of views on YouTube, and now Leonard returns with the second video in a longer series. It’s called the The Story of Broke (see above) and it takes a shorter, animated look at U.S. government spending — at how we prioritize our spending, and what it says about our core national values.

We have a lot of money floating around. The federal government collected $2.16 trillion in tax revenue in FY 2010 (and we borrowed yet another $1.3 trillion more). Meanwhile, roughly $705 billion went to defense spending, which is seven times (or $589 billion) more than the next biggest defense spender, China. It turns out that operating a bloated empire with troops deployed across 150 countries is a costly national priority. Then, as Leonard points out, we also unthinkingly funnel a lot of money, in the form of subsidies and giveaways, to dinosaur industries. And then we’re told that nothing is left over for Social Security ($707 billion), Medicare/Medicaid ($732 billion), and education. But we shouldn’t take those claims at face value. Where we spend money is a choice. It’s ideally our choice, but all too often it’s really a matter of what’s valued by our leaders and their financial backers….

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  • Nathan Johnson says:

    As long as the government hands out subsidies, special interests will have the greatest incentive to control who gets them. Trying to redirected subsidies to good industries (Solyndra?) is a failed strategy. It’s best to end all subsidies and magically the lobbyists will go away. Then people can spend the money where they want.

  • Neal says:

    Yep, good points. I think that just voting isn’t enough anymore though. I think “lobbying” should be made illegal because it’s corrupt and it gives big corporations and special interest groups an unfair advantage over the common people/voters.

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