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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