Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Insane defense spending-related stat of the day

According to Paul Lockhart's so-far excellent book The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army, in Frederick the Great's (early mid-18th c.) Prussia "[n]early 80 percent of the state budget was earmarked for the use of the army."

For reference, the U.S. is spending something like 20 percent of total outlays on defense. According to the CBO's Montly Budget Review [pdf] for May 2010, defense totaled $396B of just under $2T in USG outlays through April of this year.

Don't forget, we have a navy, air force, and Marine Corps, and are the "underwriters of global security." (In case you did forget, you can remind yourself with the 2010 NSS. Or not.) Prussia was the tenth-largest state in Europe in territorial size, and had the 13th-largest population on the continent.

9 comments:

  1. "The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army."

    That title makes me smile for some reason.

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  2. The Heritage Foundation in Berlin urged Fredrick to adopt a baseline of defense spending at 50 percent of GDP.

    It made sense at the time.

    SNLII

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  3. The Heritage Foundation in Berlin urged Fredrick to adopt a baseline of defense spending at 50 percent of GDP.

    It made sense at the time.


    The funny thing about this comment, SNLII, is that the original post contained a Maczenzie-Eaglen-4%-GDP-spending-floor-themed joke. I deleted it.

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  4. Why did you delete it? Obviously, that joke is money.

    SNLII

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  5. "in Frederick the Great's (early mid-18th c.) Prussia "[n]early 80 percent of the state budget was earmarked for the use of the army."

    Well, they were
    - rather poor at the time
    - surrounded by enemies and
    - fighting on three fronts at the same time (France, Austria and Russia) during the 7-years war ...

    If you look at this document
    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy09/pdf/hist.pdf
    at page 119 you will see that in the US in 1944 , military expenditures rose to 37,8% of GDP and to 86,7% of the federal budget (1945:89,5%). And the US had a stronger economy than its enemies ...

    P.S. I think that Prussian provinces at the time had their own budgets, just like US states, but I'm not sure ...

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  6. "The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army."

    "That title makes me smile for some reason."

    As a German it makes me wonder if Baron VON Steuben was talking French with his American counterparts (then the lingua franca of the world) ... Quel horreur ... ;-)

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  7. As a German it makes me wonder if Baron VON Steuben was talking French with his American counterparts (then the lingua franca of the world) ... Quel horreur ... ;-)

    Steuben did in fact use French with the Continentals. He came to America from France, under the sponsorship of French nobles. He also didn't speak English when he got here, and none of the Americans spoke German, so he was at the mercy of French officers that he'd brought along to translate.

    He also consistently referred to himself as the "Baron DE" Steuben in America, rather than the authentically German "Freiherr VON" Steuben. ("Baron von Steuben," Lockhart argues, doesn't make any sense as it mixes the two languages, and Baron and Freiherr are roughly equivalent honorifics.)

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  8. Interesting. After reading up on the topic it seems that historically many German Freiherrn wanted to be adressed by the latinized version, "Baron" in conversations (in German), while their official title continued to be Freiherr ... (while the English barons were adressed as "Lord" - which is the equivalent of "Herr" - very confusing ... :-)
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron

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  9. "Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which, of course, in German means a whale's vagina."

    SNLII de Steuben

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