Homelanders are quick to cite the expense of maintaining U.S. embassies overseas as a “great service” provided to all us disloyal traitors living the high life abroad, and the primary reason why all of us tax evaders should shut up and quit whining about paying penalties of $13,000 in response to tax deficiencies of $21 per year.
Well, the State Department put up their 2014 budget a couple of weeks ago. As they emphasise in its introduction:
No investment matches the returns we collect on the down payment we make in our foreign policy. In fact, for just over one percent of our national budget – a single penny on the dollar – we fund our civilian foreign affairs efforts: every embassy, every consulate, and the programs and people that carry out our missions
How much of the $2.8 billion consular services portion of that budget is planned to be spent on “American Citizens Services”? Answer: $8.6 million.
At page 68, we get the detailed breakdown. I’ve selected the most amusing ones:
|FY 2012 Estimate
|FY 2013 CR (1)
|FY 2014 Submission
|Increase/Decrease from FY 2012
|Overseas Building Operations (OBO)
|American Citizens Services
|Repatriation Loans (Repat)
|Total Consular Spending
Even after a huge cut in spending on consulate construction, U.S. spending on services to citizens abroad (even including repatriation loans, which are likely far more often made to clueless Homelanders who have got themselves in trouble in a country where they don’t speak the language than to actual emigrants, who do speak the languages of the place where they live and can rely on local government support) is outstripped more than seventeen times by expenditures on building imperial fortresses in places like Iraq and Afghanistan where there are almost no U.S. civilians. This should make it obvious: the purpose of the State Department is not to help the diaspora, but to advance the military and commercial interests of the Homeland.
You might think that the amount spent on passports is a big example of a service to Americans abroad. But as the State Department’s own figures make clear, 13 million passports are issued each year. There’s perhaps 6 million Americans residing abroad, passport validity is ten years (meaning that you’d expect only around six hundred thousand Americans abroad to be renewing U.S. passports in any given year), and many citizens abroad are dual citizens and far prefer to use their other, lower-profile passport. (As the joke goes, no terrorist has ever hijacked an airplane and threatened to shoot all the Uruguayans.) So out of the $250 million spent on passport services, perhaps $10 million actually benefits Americans abroad — but of course, we pay for that through the nose with fees for passports and even more fees for adding pages.
To put that ACS spending number in further perspective, it’s one-four-hundred-thousandths of the projected $3.77 trillion 2014 Federal budget. Thanks for all the services!