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Need a Receipt On Taxes? The Federal Tax Receipt

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-the-debt-service-was-fantastic dept.

Government 642

ndogg writes "The White House has opened up a tool that lets you see where your tax dollars are being spent. I put my numbers in and it showed that a little over a quarter goes towards defense and military spending (I'm not sure I'm getting my money's worth on that one), and a little under a quarter for health care." I'm sure readers (and think tanks of various stripes) will have some alternative narratives, too. For readers elsewhere; it's tax season here in the US.

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I like paying taxes (4, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836682)

...with them I buy civilization.

Re:I like paying taxes (0, Troll)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836700)

Civilization doesn't require taxes. And the USA barely qualifies as civilized. Besides, taxes are voluntary [youtube.com] .

Re:I like paying taxes (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836728)

Realistically it does require taxes. By the time you grow large enough to not be making all decisions jointly you're going to need people dedicated to providing various civil services. At that point you need taxes, it might not be in the form of money, but somebody has to cover the costs of managing a region.

Yard Apez (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836888)

When I was little I had no sense

I took a whiz on the electric fence

It hurt so bad, it shocked my balls!

Then I took a crap in my overalls.

Re:I like paying taxes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837022)

Bullshit. Name a single government service that can't be managed by the private market.

Re:I like paying taxes (2)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836748)

And the USA barely qualifies as civilized.

Many of the world's best institutions of higher education would beg to differ.

The good ol' U.S. of A has some serious issues, to be sure. But to call it "barely civilized" is just stupid.

Re:I like paying taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836762)

any place where you get locked in a cell for growing a plant can hardly be called civilized. and don't even get me started on gay marriage.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836780)

*Your local laws may vary.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836808)

*Your local laws may vary.

Damn straight! [canorml.org]

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836800)

By no means am I claiming that the U.S.A. is perfect, or the most civilized nation. I voted against prop 8 [wikipedia.org] and for prop 19 [wikipedia.org] , and was more than a little upset that neither one went the way I wanted it to. But I can speak out against my government, and I can advocate for a more civilized society. Try doing that in China [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

kmdrtako (1971832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836864)

Generally you can speak out against the government, except when you speak out against the TSA.

Especially don't complain about them while you're in line at the airport waiting to go through security.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836944)

Especially don't complain about them while you're in line at the airport waiting to go through security.

Replace "especially" with "only". Speaking out against the TSA is not going to get you in trouble anywhere except waiting on line to go through security. Let's keep some perspective.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836900)

Uh... dude... you're mixing up California taxes with U.S. taxes. And most people can tell you they are not only not the same, but that they would go to war before they ever will be.

Not that the Feds aren't going broke on their own... they have been. But it's not the same thing.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836958)

True, those propositions were CA-specific, but I was responding to the claim that "any place where you get locked in a cell for growing a plant can hardly be called civilized. and don't even get me started on gay marriage," and not to taxation. And, more to the point, certain parts of the US are addressing those issues -- not yet successfully, but baby steps.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836752)

Civilization requires cooperative effort on a massive scale, but technically you're right -- we don't have to have taxes to fund civilization, we could barter goods and services to get things done, or pool the fruits of our labor directly. But money does come in handy, and most people are more able to give that than time or expertise anyway in the modern world.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837106)

Civilization requires cooperative effort on a massive scale, but technically you're right -- we don't have to have taxes to fund civilization, we could barter goods and services to get things done, or pool the fruits of our labor directly.

Those would still be taxes. Hell, the earliest taxations were certainly NOT in the form of "money" - they took the form of a bunch of the localc chiefs thugs showing up at your place and taking whatever they figured your "share" was in whatever goods you had lying around. Grain, livestock, vegetables, women, whatever - it's all "tax". Even forced labor would be a tax. The only way to run a government without taxes is if people just volunteer to do things out of the goodness of their hearts. How likely do you think that is to happen?

does your daddy know you use his computer? (0)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836886)

or that you haven't been taking your meds again?

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836726)

But mostly bombs.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836730)

Yeah I'm not a fan of the defense spending, but looking at the rest of the money I'm pretty content with where it went. I'd like a bit more to STEM and a bit less to corn, but then I am an engineering grad student; were I a corn farmer I might feel differently:)

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836890)

Yeah I'm not a fan of the defense spending, but looking at the rest of the money I'm pretty content with where it went. I'd like a bit more to STEM and a bit less to corn, but then I am an engineering grad student; were I a corn farmer I might feel differently:)

Were you a corn farmer you should recuse yourself from the issue, at least in any official capacity.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836894)

At least you can be a engineering grad student and not have to really worry about the possibly of not having enough food to eat if this year crops fail.

Those Ag subsidies are mainly to introduce some stability into the food supply. They artificially create an abundance of food, much more than supply and demand economics alone would create. The corn farmers would still be around either way, but this is what government is for, and what it should do.

Re:I like paying taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836932)

Yeah I'm not a fan of the defense spending, but looking at the rest of the money I'm pretty content with where it went. I'd like a bit more to STEM and a bit less to corn, but then I am an engineering grad student; were I a corn farmer I might feel differently:)

Same if you were in the military or any group that is supported or subsidized by the government. Everyone says shrink the government but don't take my teat to suckle from.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836942)

I wonder how much of the agricultural budget goes to actual farmers, and how much goes to Monsanto and corporate owned farm factories.

I also find it worrisome that defense related spending are in several of the other categories too, making the total portion of taxes going to the military and defense just unfathomable.
No other country in the world have their citizens spend so much on the military, and I would guesstimate that in most of them, the spending per tax dollar is an order of magnitude lower.

Re:I like paying taxes (2)

poptix_work (79063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836990)

Why does it matter if it went to a large corporation or a small farmer? In my opinion the large scale operations are likely to be more efficient so we're getting more output per subsidy dollar.

Not that I believe farmers need subsidies to begin with, particularly for ethanol.

Re:I like paying taxes (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837038)

Yes, in terms of raw dollars spent, the third largest military in the world (FR) is an order of magnitude lower than the first (US), once you get to number 26 it drops another order of magnitude so 90% of countries spend two orders of magnitude less. More than half of the world spends 3 orders of magnitude less. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures [wikipedia.org]

Re:I like paying taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836878)

If Russia or Britain were the most powerful nation on Earth, their GDP spending would be equally as gross. You can't change the inevitable.

Re:I like paying taxes (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837048)

Defense spending mostly goes to pay for science and research, not bombs.

Re:I like paying taxes (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836818)

Screw that, we'll just put it on the credit card [harvard.edu] .

Re:I like paying taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836946)

Maybe you should pay my taxes. 28% of my AGI went to the federal government. I must be one of those rich assholes that doesn't pay his fair share.

You are welcome to pay more. Here's how (4, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836974)

You, and anyone else who likes paying taxes, are welcome to pay more. Here's the page that tells you how [treas.gov] .

If you want to advocate for higher taxes, start by going to that page, following the instructions, and sending the government a check. Then come back and talk to us about paying higher taxes.

US taxes are designed to punish the responsible (3, Informative)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837020)

I don't like paying taxes, because I don't like paying for everyone else's unearned security. Out of my own pocket, I have saved a six months emergency fund in the bank that could sustain my family for six months should I lose my job. But apparently I'm the only one left who actually saves for a rainy day, because all my medicare taxes go to medicare, and then on top of that an additional 24.3% of my general taxes go to healthcare (again, much of that amount medicare and medicaid), another 21.9% goes to job and family security (unemployment, housing, foodstamps, unearned income credit, etc), and another 5% goes to education and job training. So 100% of my medicare taxes, plus 46.2% of my general taxes go to pay for people who won't provide for themselves and won't save for their own security and/or made poor decisions.

And don't even get me started on social security... I pay through the nose for a system that won't be there when I retire (because it is a ponzi scheme) because a bunch of entitled baby boomers didn't bother to save anything for retirement and are going to bankrupt the whole thing. I actually save for my own retirement (imagine that), but it's pretty hard to get a lot together for that when the government takes almost 13% of my income by force to pay for the retirement of those who didn't bother to prepare for it.

And the worst part of it all? The government has no legal right to fund anything on the list I just mentioned, as none of those things are in the constitution. The military spending is one of the only things on that tax receipt that is actually constitutional (not saying it can't be cut, because it probably should be, but I think we should start with the unconstitutional programs that reward irresponsibility and punish the responsible).

Re:I like paying taxes (1, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837060)

I also pay taxes; with them I buy lobbyists and fear-mongers civilization.

Re:I like paying taxes (2)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837116)

...with them I buy civilization.

Or rather, other people buy it for you. And they're rather impulsive shoppers. (Not very thrifty either.)

At least they kinda sorta vaguely listen to you, though. People in totalitarian regimes pay taxes too, and I'm not sure it buys them very good civilization at all.

Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836694)

Uhm, exactly what were you expecting?

I guess the author must be referring to the program where the Army gives you a BMW M5 just for enlisting.

If anything, I think we are paying way way too much for the government itself (whitehouse + congress). Lots of waste there.

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836738)

I hear that often enough, but I never hear how much it should cost to run a country of 310m people and preside over a spending of ~$13tn. I'm also not aware of any comparable organization in the world. The closest would probably be China or India, but they're in a very different situation than we are.

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836838)

That should've been presiding over a ~$13tn economy.

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836948)

It's not the federal government's job to "run" 310 milion people, or "oversee" the 13 trillion dollar economy. It's job is to protect us from getting our rights infringed upon by other countries, other parties (which may include unscrupulous companies..), or itself. Other than that, it should get out of the way.

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836934)

I dunno. No nation has sent an invasion force or committed an act of war against us. I'd say that we're definitely getting some kind of return on our spending in defense.

Realistically, you cannot drop the military spending down to zero, or you will find that you have become a tempting target for someone else's military, and will end up paying for their army instead of your own... and a nation as geography and economically large as the US currently is, that is no small amount. Worse, many pieces of hardware and infrastructure take years to develop and produce, and you need to have a credible threat of rendering attacks ineffective and projecting force when those attacks occur. There are no "time out's" in war.

Further, The military is just about the only actual spending authorized by the Constitution at the federal level (and the Navy, at that. We're not supposed to have a standing army during peacetime....). So even if you think the military budget should be lower in terms of total dollars or percent gdp, it should be a much higher percentage of the federal budget....

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836938)

First paragraph was supposed to have the qualifier "in the past year" ....

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836956)

The military is just about the only actual spending authorized by the Constitution at the federal level

Congress has broad spending powers under the Constitution, and can spend money for the general welfare of the citizenry.

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836972)

That's insane. Out of Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the US constitution

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

You do realize that Defence isn't any more special than general welfare, right?

Just because you don't agree with something doesn't mean that it's not in the constitution. Considering that the constitution specifically authorizes the Federal Government to tax to pay for the general Welfare of the United States, I think it's pretty clear that the constitution grants the power.

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837028)

With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. – James Madison

Re:Not getting money's worth on defense spending? (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837102)

The terms "general Welfare" were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed or imported in those which Preceded; otherwise numerous exigencies incident to the affairs of a Nation would have been left without a provision. The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used; because it was not fit that the constitutional authority of the Union, to appropriate its revenues shou'd have been restricted within narrower limits than the "General Welfare" and because this necessarily embraces a vast variety of particulars, which are susceptible neither of specification nor of definition. - Alexander Hamilton

$666 (1)

dragonturtle69 (1002892) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836732)

$666.00 in net interest for me, LOL. That is more than the amount of my taxes spent on Science/Tech + ICE + Natural Resources + Agriculture.

I also seem to be buying lots of bullets, or something else that goes BOOM!

Come on pussies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836766)

Don't be scared by these military whiners about the military budget. It is HUGE. MASSIVE. There are so many programs and projects that are not in the national security interest that it isn't funny. Don't think we can balance the budget without trimming defense and social programs. Sorry. It just won't happen.

"Alternative Narratives"? (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836768)

Let me guess, this guy has some sort of political axe to grind and he is looking for way to try to justify tax cuts in areas he doesn't like.

FACTS ARE FACTS, these are numbers where money is going and where they are spent. While he can say that "welfare" should be renamed "money for cadillac queens" or that the "defense department" should be renamed "military industrial complex" it doesn't change where the money is going or what is is actually being spent for.

(Not unless you're Jon Kyl and claim on the senate floor that Planned Parenthood spends 90% of its money on abortion counseling. The real amount is 3%. But why pick on our elected Senators? You could be one of the many Americans who believe that NASA takes up 20% of the federal budget. The real amount is less than 1%).

Re:"Alternative Narratives"? (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836828)

I believe the difference is that proving for the national defense is in the Constitution. Welfare and Planned Parenthood are not. At least with NASA, you can say it has military applications. Same with the Interstate system. But the federal government has no Constitutional right to fund Planned Parenthood, ACORN, GE, GM, Chrysler, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or any of the thousands of other programs that get funded because the government is so big that no one will notice.

The government has very few functions. Those need to be funded. The rest needs to be funded by the states... or not.

Re:"Alternative Narratives"? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836930)

You forgot to mention Social Security, Medicare, "Affordable Health Care", and some of the other biggest player in this farce. They are no more Constitutional than the rest.

Re:"Alternative Narratives"? (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836966)

The Constitution allows Congress to spend money to provide for the general welfare of the United States; the health care insurance mandate is arguably unconstitutional, but the other things you mentioned are allowed.

Re:"Alternative Narratives"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837006)

Care to explain that?

Re:"Alternative Narratives"? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837014)

Which part? The general welfare part or the halth care insurance mandate part?

Re:"Alternative Narratives"? (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837062)

The Constitution allows Congress to spend money to provide for the general welfare of the United States; the health care insurance mandate is arguably unconstitutional, but the other things you mentioned are allowed.

Allowed is not the same thing as "mandated in the Constitution". So while I'm very much in favor of cutting the defense budget and reducing the size of the military, we need to start with non-essential things in the budget, and they need to be cut the deepest.

Re:"Alternative Narratives"? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837114)

Fine and that is a legitimate argument, I was responding to the accusation that they're "unconstitutional."

Re:"Alternative Narratives"? (5, Insightful)

Thomas M Hughes (463951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837074)

The preamble of the United States constitution reads: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." (emphasis added)

Article I, section 8 reinforces this general welfare statement by remarking: "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." (more emphasis added).

Insofar as Planned Parenthood encourages the development of families that are planned and not just accidents, ACORN encourages get out the vote projects to enhance American democracy, General Electric, General Motors, and Chrysler provide gainful employment for Americans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide opportunities for home ownership, and the like, I think you reasonably have to say the goal is to provide for the general welfare.

You and I are welcome to disagree over whether those are the best ways to promote the general welfare (and in many cases, though not all, I suspect we would be in agreement, despite this post). However, the constitution is pretty clear that the US government has a general broad right to promote the general welfare in the United States.

I should also like to add, one of the primary advocates of the United States Constitution during the period leading up to its ratification was Alexander Hamilton, who was originally in favor of setting up a fairly powerful monarch. He lost out on the the first draft of the Constitution -- the Articles of Confederation -- which provided for a much more limited government. However, we threw that in the toilet and opted for the Constitution, which was designed to strengthen and centralize the Federal government's power, not really limit it (though it does have its own limitations laid out in the Bill of Rights).

Look, I'm pretty sympathetic to the Jeffersonian minimalist government ideal. But the Constitution isn't a Jeffersonian document. It's a Hamiltonian and Madisonian one, and those guys were more for centralized power than the original founders were. Insofar as that's the government we got, that's the government we got.

Priorities (1, Interesting)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836772)

"NSF and research" = "Railroad retirement and income security"
"Weapon R&D" = 17x"NSF and research"

Something is seriously wrong with our priorities.

Re:Priorities (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836822)

Yeah...grad students need beer, too!

Re:Priorities (0)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836912)

Something is seriously wrong with our priorities.

I agree, although I must point out that of the things you listed, only one, weapons, is actually a power given to the federal government to fund. So it ought to be infinitely larger than those other categories, as they should be at zero (on the federal level, if states or the people want to fund them that is entirely up to them).

That said, it is ridiculous that the federal government is paying for "railroad retirement and income security", and that it is as large as scientific research. I mean, seriously? Can't the railroad people pay for their retirement like the rest of us? Should we have a "flight attendent retirement and income security" category too? I hope we can gore everyone's ox and cut out all these ridiculous special interest categories in the next budget.

"War on Drugs" (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836784)

So which department does the stupid ass "War on Drugs" fall under? You know, spending massive amounts of money(and wasting fuel and polluting the environment) flying around in helicopters burning naturally occurring plants, throwing people in jail(which costs about $50k/year/head and prevents them from contributing to society) etc etc etc.

As a tax payer, I'm pissed at this stupid ass "war". You want to reduce spending and increase revenues? Legalize and tax marijuana.

Re:"War on Drugs" (2)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836836)

As a tax payer, I'm pissed at this stupid ass "war". You want to reduce spending and increase revenues? Legalize and tax marijuana.

Yeah, but then the hippies will have won!

Re:"War on Drugs" (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836980)

The hippies are in office right now and have been since the 90s. They've already won. Why the hell haven't they done anything?

Re:"War on Drugs" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837054)

Why the hell haven't they done anything?

... They're hippies.

Re:"War on Drugs" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836968)

An awful lot of it is done by the states. Stupid states, anyway. This is one thing California is starting to get right. Less than an ounce is a $100 infraction now. In other words, it's a parking ticket where you just send a check off in the mail and don't get any kind of criminal record AFAIK. It's still probably a bit dicey when you come to the "other than traffic violation" question on a job application. Not sure what happens there.

Anyway, the dominoes are tumbling just like they did with legalized gambling. When other states start to see the revenues we are getting from cannabiz, they'll want in on it. Then the Feds will have to give up at some point.

Re:"War on Drugs" (3, Interesting)

gambino21 (809810) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837018)

The death and taxes site [wallstats.com] has a much better breakdown of how the money is spent, IMO. You can find the Drug Enforcement Agent (under the department of Justice) spends about 2 billion per year.

Minimizes Defense Spending (1)

cciechad (602504) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836794)

The defense numbers seem suspiciously low even after I factor for the fact that they don't include veterans benefits or the interest on defense spending in the defense category.

Re:Minimizes Defense Spending (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837030)

Um, you don't pay interest on spending. You pay interest on debt. And the debt that you've been left from prior deficit spending is a sunk cost, so while it's all well and good to blame it on prior military expenditure (or entitlements, if you prefer) it's hardly economically sound to account for that in the present budget.

(And by "economically sound" I mean "introductory economics class lecture number one" where you learn about how rational maximizers make decisions... not any of that controversial macroeconomics junk.)

Re:Minimizes Defense Spending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837098)

So in other words, anything that was spent on anything in the past that we have to pay interest on now doesn't count? Sure, you may not be able to blame that on the current administration, but it does still count for anyone who pays taxes.

Now if we could just change the distribution... (1)

jammer170 (895458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836802)

The next step is to take the power of tax distribution away from Congress and put it in the hands of the people. Let the public decide what they want to fund, and we'll eliminate a rather large amount of pork. (Don't read too much into this - this is a high level idea and the devil is in the details, as always).

Re: The Public? Ha! (1)

2bfree (113445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836976)

Have you been paying attention? 'The Public' seems to be getting dumber every year. I think it's officially known as the Homer Simpson Syndrome.

Re:Now if we could just change the distribution... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836988)

You mean like the fact that few people, if any, would actually pay taxes and the nations infrastructure would finally collapse when nobody felt like working on it for free? This isn't a particularly nitpicky complaint, the GOP regularly runs successfully under the premise that they can provide all the functions of government without actually taxing anybody.

The problem is that the only way it ever gets fixed is when somebody raise taxes as the GOP tends to suck at cutting spending on things that aren't unpopular. And if they're that unpopular the Democrats would've cut it themselves.

Re:Now if we could just change the distribution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836998)

Really? You expect the average voter to be competent in judging priorities from their background knowledge? Our founding fathers recognized this lack of judgement and opted to have us pick people we trusted to represent our interests. Besides, think what will happen if you give Madison, WI, State College, PA, college town X, the chance to decide how their taxes are spent and you will see a large number of giant slip'n'slides along interstates.

Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35836842)

So what is this...I am suppose to feel better about my income being stolen by people with guns?

Taxes are a bargain (4, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836848)

This will be a supremely unpopular stance among a large section here - but taxes are one of the best bargains in any marketplace.

Taxes buy infrastructure. The kind of infrastructure that allows us all to live as kings used to, and more. The kind of infrastructure without which the work of countless geniuses of all stripes would be impossible. The kind of tools and infrastructure that raises the average lifespan across the world to many times what it was before taxes were common.

Taxes buy culture. Education systems may not be ideal - but they advance the average human state in ways that it is hard to quantify in everyday terms. Simply being able to have conversations and do business across large nations like the US is one small bit. A limited but important bit of shared history, and the seeds of knowledge that sprout in countless little ways. They can certainly always be better - but the return is enormous on what we have so far, just by allowing what we have.

From tools, to access to shared resources, to even the ability to shape the system you live in - taxes buy a lot more than a simple minarchy would allow.

Taxes are the resources of the people paying for the shared needs of the people. They are in effect, allowing everyone to take advantage of economies of scale when used correctly (see: most sane nations' use of healthcare money), and often stand as an irreplaceable method of getting shared needs met.

What's surprising is how often people will directly vote to have the rich pay less taxes, and the poor pay more - that part never made sense to me, given how much shared sacrifice already goes into providing people with the tools to become rich - it just doesn't seem like they need more protection all the time.

But that's part of taxes also - they will be spent as the people's representatives allow them to be spent. Keep electing people and allowing them to be bribed constantly with no checks in place to stop the rising corruption on all sides, and you will keep getting taxes wasted - wasted by the system you allow to grow more stagnant.

Taxes aren't perfect - but they are still a bargain compared to warlords and tycoons ruling everything in the vacuum of a world without any collective funding system.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Taxes are a bargain (4, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836910)

A small fraction goes to "infrastructure". Some of that actually is "a bargain".

Most of the rest is directly or indirectly transferred to people who have more political power than you.

Re:Taxes are a bargain (2)

Radres (776901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836920)

You forgot - taxes buy death for brown people so we can steal the black goo beneath their feet.

Re:Taxes are a bargain (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836996)

Obviously. That's why gasoline only costs 80 cents a gallon.

Re:Taxes are a bargain (1)

maxdread (1769548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837072)

Think about it, if we didn't steal all of Iraq's oil (and soon Libya!) we would be paying like $4 a gallon for gas right now! Oh wait.

Dangerous fallacy (1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836954)

Taxes buy culture. Education systems may not be ideal - but they advance the average human state in ways that it is hard to quantify in everyday terms.

Whoa there. Taxes do *NOT* buy "culture". Or education. At least not at the federal level.

There are plenty of museums and theaters that would all do just fine without federal taxes. At the federal level spending on education is worse than a waste of money, because you are giving almost nothing to the actual process of education, just bureaucracy that mandates how education has to be done - and as we have seen plainly now, adding money into that system simply produces dumber kids out the other side.

Local taxes for those things make a lot of sense, because they are collected close to where they will be used and therefore there is a great deal of oversight that can be done. Sending any money to washing leads you with very uncertain results out the other side, except you know a lot of money goes in with worse results year on year out the other end.

Infrastructure is great. That's not what our taxes are doing; therefore currently much of our taxes are a waste of money.

You totally misunderstand the feeling on taxes among fiscal conservatives, they want to see money collected spent wisely and that simply almost never happens at a federal level.

Re:Taxes are a bargain (1)

Jstlook (1193309) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837002)

I agree with you wholeheartedly, but until this website popped up I always felt more or less like I'm just getting robbed come April. Transparency and Accountability contribute to a lot of buy-in where taxes are concerned. Lets be honest - it's remarkably easy to become disenfranchised when you have no idea where your money actually goes.

Rationally, I'm also completely aware that the budget is public information and that I can look at it should I choose to, but this format seems to make things quite a bit clearer.

The real drawback I see though is that everyone seems to accept the notoriously dubious concept that governments scale effectively. I liked the idea of the government we started with: by the people, for the people. It essentially meant that the average person was able to comprehend what the government was doing at almost every bureaucratic level, and be assured that it was supporting their community and their freedoms.

I challenge anyone today to wrap their head around the behemoth we have today. For instance, pick a branch at random, and start looking at job titles from the top, and see how far down you can get before you have no idea what responsibilities a particular job has.

Re:Taxes are a bargain (1, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837004)

I don't know what brand of Kool-Aid you've been drinking, but I do know it's not one of those listed in the history books as "successful".

Government is a bureaucracy. By definition, government produces exactly nothing. It takes from others in order to perform its functions.

And the sad fact is, government, historically, has been woefully inefficient at ANY of the functions it has undertaken. There may have been a few exceptions, in a few places, a few times, but in the vast majority of cases that is the simple truth.

You cannot even say -- today -- that taxes are a "bargain compared to warlords and tycoons ruling everything" because, today, you have those anyway and you are still paying outrageous taxes.

Please go get a clue, then come on back. We will be waiting.

Re:Taxes are a bargain (0)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837036)

Government is a bureaucracy. By definition, government produces exactly nothing. It takes from others in order to perform its functions.

Absolute nonsense. Government does not "by definition" produce nothing. "Lack of production" does not figure into any sane definition of government. Easy to come up with an example disproving your assertion; look at the Army Corps of Engineers. They produce plenty, and they're part of the government.

Re:Taxes are a bargain (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837084)

Nomadic, you are in serious need of picking up a history book or two, which (if properly understood) will prove you wrong.

The Army Corps of Engineers is actually a great example. Sure, they produce. But they produce quite a bit less than private enterprise does with the same amount of money and resources. Compared to private industry, the biggest thing they produce is a huge sucking noise.

And let's not forget the active role they played in F-ING UP the whole levy system around New Orleans. No, they weren't the sole people responsible... but they WERE the sole group that was supposed to be responsible. As it was, they were completely irresponsible. To the tune of BILLIONS of dollars.

And that's just one example...

Re:Taxes are a bargain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837122)

Where in the U.S. are their warlords rampaging across the countryside or business tycoons declaring an 80 hour work week to be mandatory?

Re:Taxes are a bargain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837076)

What's surprising is how often people will directly vote to have the rich pay less taxes, and the poor pay more - that part never made sense to me, given how much shared sacrifice already goes into providing people with the tools to become rich - it just doesn't seem like they need more protection all the time.

The poor pay more? Then who are the 47% of americans that pay no taxes at all?

I'm not against paying my fair share of taxes, I'm just against most of the things my tax dollars are spent on.

All defense and health care (2)

rritterson (588983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836874)

The vast majority for me is defense and health care. Even though I am exempt from medicare taxes, 25% goes to that category. Anyone who thinks we don't need health care reform is crazy!

Second, if we stop funding health care people die. If we stop funding defense, what happens? Seriously. If the defense budget is cut in half, in what ways is my life or way of life threatened? I can intellectually measure the value ofnthe rest of my tax dollars in the other categories, but, for defense, it's hard to imagine what I get after spending as much per capita as, say, Japan, on defense.

Re:All defense and health care (3)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836914)

If we stop funding defense, what happens?

I agree that defense spending should be cut, but I also wonder if we (the US) need to restructure what we call "defense." For example, I think a lot of defense-related research is a Good Thing (ARPANET [wikipedia.org] comes to mind). My guess is the research would be the first to go, which could royally screw us down the road.

It does seem to me that cutting the military operations budget could be a good thing, but I'm really not qualified to speak on that I guess...

Re:All defense and health care (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837008)

I think you've got a good point there. The research related to defense really ought to be recategorized as just research and broadened out so that things like ARPANET which have other uses outside of military can be allowed to meander across the boundaries back and forth between civilian and military application.

Re:All defense and health care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837042)

Militarily, we have a uni-polar world - the USA is way beyond everyone else in terms of military power. While at first glance, this seems excessive, it does have the nice property of deterring arms races in the rest of the world - why try to double your neighbor's power when you will be swatted like a fly if the USA intervenes? Yes there is an element of "Fear will keep the local systems in line" to that reasoning, but if the alternative to overkill is an arms race between the EU, Russia, China, with maybe India and Pakistan thrown in, overkill might be the better option. Frankly, I'm not sure, but I for one want no part of the era of the Washington Naval Treaty keeping an uneasy peace between expansionist equals.

4.8% on education, 1.2% science, 30% on military (5, Informative)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836892)

If we cut that back to 1/6th of our spending on military, we'd still be the top spender in the world [wikipedia.org] .

If we cut 90%, we'd be the world's second-highest spender.

If we cut back 95%, we'd be 10th.

Contributions on Billionaires' $1-a-Year Salaries (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836918)

That's funny - the White House tool indicates that those much-praised $1-a-Year Salary Billionaire CEO's [slashdot.org] - Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, etc. - aren't contributing to any of the programs and services!

Re:Contributions on Billionaires' $1-a-Year Salari (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837012)

If they're genuinely only making $1 a year then there's nothing wrong with that. The reality though is that they aren't making only $1 a year, they're drawing that as a salary typically. Even if they weren't being paid in shares, they've all got huge investment portfolios which do end up getting taxed.

Re:Contributions on Billionaires' $1-a-Year Salari (1)

maxdread (1769548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837066)

Remember that we live in a society where nothing is ever good enough. If those same CEO's made millions a year in salary, everyone would complain that they make too much, if they make $1, they aren't being taxed enough. It would appear we need to make CEO's of the some of most successful companies in the world work for free.

Deceptive page and many here fooled by it. (2)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35836928)

If you're not careful, like ndogg, you'll end up focusing on the percentages listed for each group paid for by the income tax (and not payroll taxes) and conclude (incorrectly) that 25% of taxes paid go to defense. Of course that's not true, but it's easy to be fooled by the page. Look again at the page. They only show percentages for those items paid for by income tax as a percentage of income tax. If one includes social security spending and medicare spending, then military as a percentage of total taxes is much smaller. You're not supposed to pay attention to social security spending and medicare spending.

That page is meant to fool you.

Want's worse -- it's your own government trying to fool you.

Re:Deceptive page and many here fooled by it. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837052)

That's because those other things are not included under what is often called "discretionary spending", while military (correctly) is.

The fact is that all the budget is discretionary. Congress just divides it up between those things they can get away with fiddling with and go home at night, from those things they think they'd get lynched for, if they cut.

The hell of it is that without exception, the latter are things that Congress never had any legal right or authority to spend money on, anyway.

As has been usual over the last 100 years or so, even the categories of spending that Congress deals with have been named what they are due to utter cowardice. As is true for so many of their other dealings.

Tax Break-up (0)

aiobst (2042702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837000)

Looking at it 70%+ of the budget is defense, medicare, and SSI. A lot of people are saying cut defense it does nothing for us, I like to play devil's advocate to that. Most of our biggest technological advances have been from military research and the medical advances made during times of war are undeniable and have saved countless lives now. Not only is there a lot of research done in defense, the US pretty much keeps the whole world sane, which is a big and expensive responsibility. Look at how helpless NATO is without the US running the show at helping the oppressed Libyans for instance. Say what you want, but lack of strong American military presence has lead to two world wars. Personally I'm a fan of getting rid of handouts, spend it all on infrastructure, research, and defense.

Re:Tax Break-up (1)

kdsible (2019794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837110)

hummmm...sane or one-sided....you have to also ask WHO funds a war. lets also not forget to ask the question WHY......its not that cut and dry. I suppose if you are going to have a mighty military machine you need to use it to recoup the costs. As for Libya would it not have been cheaper to just let them have their civil war? I see a cost savings there. Selling them arms could be profitable as well.

Capitalism is just not economy friendly its about best interests. That's my line and i am sticking to it.

Re:Tax Break-up (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837112)

"Most of our biggest technological advances have been from military research..."

You mean funded by dollars allocated for military research. The actual research was done by private corporations and universities.

If the military disappeared tomorrow, those dollars would not. They'd still go somewhere.

Re:Tax Break-up (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837118)

And if we're keeping the world sane, then we should be getting money from those who are being threatened by the insane. What rule -- legal, moral, or ethical -- says you and I are obligated to pay for it?

If we're going to be the world police, then we can damned well get paid for it.

Numbers don't add up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35837044)

Maybe my math is wrong, but the percentages don't add up to 100%. You do the math...

National Defense
26.30%
Health Care
24.30%
Job and Family Security
21.90%
Education and Job Training
4.80%
Veterans Benefits
4.10%
Natural Resources, Energy and Environment
2.10%
International Affairs
1.70%
Science, Space, and Technology Programs
1.20%
Immigration, Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice
2.00%
Agriculture
8.00%
Community, Area, and Regional Development
0.50%
Response to Natural Disasters
0.40%
Additional Government Programs
2.40%

Money Well Spent (2)

virb67 (1771270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837070)

One quarter goes to the Military-Industrial Complex. Another quarter goes to the Medical-Industrial Complex. Countless other lesser special interests getting their little cuts of the action as well.

"Health Care" (2)

mauthbaux (652274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35837104)

Personally, I'm still rather irritated that a significant portion of my taxes went towards 'health care', and yet I still have zero coverage. I realize that this particular discussion has been beaten to death around here, so don't feel like you have to reply. I just want to complain about it somewhere.
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