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Bikenomics: I spend more money on the military than on my bicycle

I have a terrible, dirty little secret. Even though I depend on my bicycle as my primary means of transportation and spend my days writing about bicycles on this blog, I spend more money on war than on my bike. A lot more.

In Elly Blue’s latest “bikenomics” column for Grist, she linked to this site, which graphically shows where your federal tax dollars go. Turns out, I spend about twice the initial cost of my bicycle on the US military (meaning I either make a lot of money or my bike was very cheap … I’ll leave the truth up to your imagination).

Considering that I have to pay these taxes every year, for years where I don’t buy a new bike, I spend as much as 4 or 5 times more on war than on my bicycle repair costs every year. This points out two obvious things:

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  1. War is expensive.
  2. Bicycles are incredibly economical.

According to the 2000 census, the median income for a Seattle household was about $45,000 per year. That means the average Seattle household spends almost $1,600 on the military every year. That’s an awfully nice bicycle (or two) every year turned to dust. That’s also 20 percent of the annual out-of-pocket annual cost to own a car.

Imagine what could happen if our government invested in healthy living instead of destruction.

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5 responses to “Bikenomics: I spend more money on the military than on my bicycle”

  1. “Imagine what could happen if our government invested in healthy living instead of destruction.”

    Imagine what could happen if our government (which really doesn’t produce ANYTHING) simply stayed out of our pocketbooks!

    1. Jeremy

      Government spending produces nothing? Nope, don’t need no National Science Foundation, nor research, nor any other sorts of Federally funded grants, like maybe for geologists to find this oil thing I hear some folks like to consume, or engineers figure out improved drill bits to better extract it. Or how about infrastructure? T-shirts and bake sales should cover road maintenance costs, right?

  2. Reading Jeremy’s comment, and noting that NONE of the items he cites are produced by government. I’ll simply stand by my statement other than to note they DO need those guns to get that tax money they spend on those grants and on contracting for those roads I’m not allowed to ride.

  3. Daily Bike Commuter

    I realize that politics is necessary to get funding from any government. Having said that, I like to keep most politics seperate from cycling. I’d rather form links and build bridges with people to support cycling. The more we get into non-cycling related political issues, the fewer friends we create. Right now cycling is on the ascendency, but that won’t always be true. We need friends, and this kind of editorial on a cycling blog doesn’t do that. I suspect there are a number of other places where we can talk this kind of politics, and I’d like to suggest they are a more appropriate place for this discussion.

    1. I agree. The successful bike advocacy groups have managed to keep biking separate from politics, a big-tent approach. As soon as biking goes back to being a ‘white dude in lycra’ thing, or a ‘hippie liberal’ thing is when we lose the ability to create improvements.

      Streetsblog has a couple of posts that point out just how ridiculously cheap biking and bike infrastructure is, without delving into things that could divide people on their politics.

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