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If you could choose where your tax dollars went...

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by genuinemommy, Nov 24, 2014.

  1. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    Where would your money go?
    Where would you expect most people to direct their funds?
    Should information on who supports what be publicly available, so people could be held accountable for their choices?
    Do you think this kind of a system could provide a sufficient base for a healthy, functioning, modern society?

    This is an older opinion piece on the topic, but a decent place to start the discussion:
    What if we could choose where our taxes go? - Opinion - The Boston Globe
    I honestly don't see how it could ever work.
    In theory, we already do have some say in where our tax dollars go. We elect the officials that make the decisions that shape our society. But there are times when it really bothers me that there isn't more government funding for certain things - such as infrastructure and education. I think, "man, if I could just check that box to divert a little of my money from military efforts to public education..."

    Where are your priorities?
    What would your choices say about you?
  2. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    Part of the social contract is that I don't get to choose where my tax dollars go.

    However, speaking in theoreticals, I would love to see more money go to education, but without closing the poverty gap, it's more or less pointless. I would like us to have a serious social safety net that endeavors to support people in poverty, so I don't have to worry about whether or not my students got enough to eat.

    I would love to see us have better infrastructure. As someone who lives along the I-5 corridor, I'm so damn grateful that I can avoid using I-5 with some degree of frequency. The traffic is terrible. It's not so much that it's jammed up every day, it's just that the load is far heavier than the road is meant to carry. It makes it dangerous. It's the only major N-S route on the west coast capable of handling major truck traffic, so it's really important for moving goods, but it has some serious chokepoints, like the Columbia River crossing. There are places where I-5 drops down to two lanes, like from Salem, OR to Eugene, OR, and with the amount of truck traffic, it really ought to be three.

    I would love to see us have an actual passenger rail network. As it is, the rail system in this country is bizarre. Freight is first, and Amtrak just leases the lines (with the exception of some dedicated track they own, but that is a very small amount of track relative to the size of the entire network). I want real high-speed rail. What passes for HSR in the United States is a joke compared to the TGV or Shinkansen (150 mph v. 200 mph in much larger HSR networks).

    Defense spending is a complicated issue. We rely too much on the military-industrial complex to drive parts of our economy. A good chunk of my husband's graduate research was funded by the military.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. fflowley

    fflowley Don't just do something, stand there! Donor

    I would have to really think about where I would want it to go but I can tell you very quickly where it wouldn't go: To subsidize industrial farmers who grow the soy and corn that ends up as Pepsi and Doritos.
    And it wouldn't go to support neo-cons never ending wars, nor to the oil companies they live to serve.
    • Like Like x 3
  4. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist Donor

    In my younger years I sent a letter to my congressman suggesting an idea similar to this, only with the caveat that it was to be sent to him so he could vote accordingly.
    He sent me back a letter saying this would take away the reason people voted for him which was to represent him and not just be a puppet to their wishes.
    Since this is the same guy who recently told a school full of kids that the reason one of their classmates committed suicide was that they weren't supportive and called the internet a series of tubes, I think I have the right to think he's full of shit.

    Unfortunately I think @snowy has stolen a good portion of my ideas.
    Proper efforts to deal with poverty (that have nothing to do with farm bills), infrastructure, light rail, and education (especially special education).
    If I could get really specific I'd like to see money go to woman's health and voters rights in the justice department.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. ASU2003

    ASU2003 Very Tilted

    Where ever I roam
    I do think the voters should have a say in funding government programs. Now, maybe 10-20% of the money should be 'up for grabs', so the government can still perform the tasks that aren't 'popular'. It shouldn't take too much effort on the IRS's part to have an extra form to fill out (if you choose, or you can let Congress choose) to direct a portion of your tax dollars towards the government program, project, or agency that you think would help the country the most. It would get the people involved, it would make the agencies advertise their ideas and past successes better, and it might help reduce the influence of lobbyists. Ok, maybe not that far.

    It would be interesting to see where the public would vote to send their tax dollars to, and what projects and ideas the agencies would come up with to try and convince the public to choose to send some funding to them.

  6. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist Donor

    Darn, @ASU2003 your post made me remember the other thing I would really want to fund, NASA.
    Space exploration is really important and doesn't get nearly enough money.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member


    There's no reason the money we throw at "defense" couldn't be used for space exploration.
  8. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    The Windy City
    I would love to have a say in where my tax money goes. But more than that, I'd like for rich people and corporations to start paying their fair share, and the poor and the middle class pay less.

    I'd probably break it down roughly like this:

    Education: 25%
    Social Welfare programs: 25%
    Infrastructure: 15%
    Defense: 5%
    Miscellaneous: 5%
    • Like Like x 1
  9. redux

    redux Very Tilted Donor

    Foggy Bottom
    I agree with most of the above.

    In education, I would include job training/retraining/workforce development.

    Definitely R&D across the board where we once led the world and are falling behind - science, medicine, tech, renewable energy, etc.

    Social welfare, first focused on children and families ( SCHIP for all children not otherwise insured, expanded Medicaid where currently not accessible*, HUD low income programs) and under-served areas, both urban and rural, and homeless programs, particularly homeless veterans
    * or single payer health care system for all.

    Infrastructure - not just roads/bridges, but transit facilities (airports, sea ports, etc), protecting the electric grid, implementing national broadband,

    International trade - fair trade not free trade or we fall behind in a global economy.

    More enforcement funding for SEC, EEO, and other agencies that protect consumer/worker interests.

    Cut DoD significantly; no reason to spend more than the next 5-6 countries combined.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    The Windy City
    You said it. A single-payer health care system would be much more cost effective, as well as more just, equitable, and humane. We also need a massive rebuilding of quality public inpatient facilities for the mentally ill. Too many of the poor and the homeless are mentally ill and require care, which currently they cannot get, or in the rare cases a bed opens up at one of the few public institutions left, they are drastically understaffed, heinously under-maintained, and dismally without quality resources.

    Social welfare programs should be reworked not only to more effectively get poor people into decently paying jobs and living situations (for example, not completely cutting someone's welfare payments or dropping them from food stamps once they get a job, unless that job actually brings their total earnings above the living wage line in their area), but also to offer preventative aid, so that if you're right on the edge, and something happens, the government will help you stay on your feet rather than become impoverished and homeless. Plus, we need vastly increased Medicare subsidization plans to help people pay for assisted living and/or long-term care facilities for our elderly-- a segment of the populace only growing, at this point.

    Education, IMO, should be free through undergrad (though one should still have to get into college with grades/testing) with the option of attending a tech school or trade school instead of a four-year university; and there should be more grants for grad school, and interest-free loans for both grad school tuition, for undergrad at private universities, and for non-tuition expenses in both undergrad and grad school. Job re/training for those out of work should be free, with more extensive re/training being partially subsidized and partially covered by interest-free loans.

    R&D in the public science sector is key-- too much is now private, and also needs to include space exploration.

    Infrastructure should include roads/bridges, lighting of public streets and highways, transit facilities, protecting and upgrading the power grid, implementing more public power generation-- specifically green power, implementing and maintaining national broadband, subsidizing or partially subsidizing installation of solar and wind power for private homes, and installation of many public outlets for the charging of electric vehicles-- the purchase of which should come with a massive tax credit (just as the purchase of a gas guzzler should come with a tax penalty).

    Cut funding to law enforcement by legalizing or decriminalizing most drugs and taxing the legalized ones, and by legalizing prostitution and gambling everywhere and taxing those. Instead of funding vice law enforcement, fund the enforcement squads dealing with finance and banking, with fair labor practices, and most importantly the EPA. Wall Street hucksters, oppressive management practices, and gross polluters should be aggressively investigated, prosecuted, fined, and/or shut down. This nonsense of, for example, throwing an oil company that spills into the ocean or a river a fine of a few million, or even a hundred million, is ridiculous: these companies make billions of dollars per year. Fine them a few billion, and they'll get clean in a hurry, or ideally, switch to producing clean energy instead; and the fines can help pay for all of this.
    • Like Like x 2
  11. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    one word - infrastructure

    It's a bipartisan topic...great for jobs, great for states, great for safety, etc...

    I'd think it would be an easy thing to pass...but they seem to have challenges with it.

    Otherwise, NASA and R&D as an irrational bias being an amateur scientist...and pro geek.
    That and most of what @Redux said.

    Just need to reduce DoD by 20% at least and make the medical industry get its act together (affecting Medicare/Medicaid entitlements) ...that should free up enough money doing that.
  12. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize. Donor

    Large City, TX
    We live in a state that doesn't put much emphasis on public education, and those are our tax dollars that aren't being spent on it. That bugs me.
    I'd like see more money spent on alternative fuel sources R&D, but no politician is going to push for this. Much like they won't push for NASA funding.

    Apparantly anything that doesn't show tangible immediate results is not worth spending money on :eek: . Do something to help our future? Hell no, let the future leaders worry about it when the time comes.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. fflowley

    fflowley Don't just do something, stand there! Donor

    As a member of the medical industry let me assure you that we are making zero progress on getting our act together, and actually seem to be getting more FUBAR with each passing year.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. redux

    redux Very Tilted Donor

    Foggy Bottom
    • Like Like x 3
  15. fflowley

    fflowley Don't just do something, stand there! Donor

    Try this on for size: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/28/business/drug-maker-gave-large-payments-to-doctors-with-troubled-track-records.html?ref=health

    My favorite part: The aggressive marketing of Subsys, the company’s only brand-name product, is especially remarkable, given that its use is highly restricted; it is approved only for cancer patients who are already taking opioid painkillers around the clock. Previous analyses have shown that only 1 percent of prescriptions for the product are written by cancer specialists.

    • Like Like x 1
  16. redux

    redux Very Tilted Donor

    Foggy Bottom

    I agree that Medicare fraud has cost taxpayers $billions.

    And the ACA has provisions that give the DoJ more tools to identify and prosecute Medicare fraud.

    Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services announce record-breaking recoveries resulting from joint efforts to combat health care fraud
    I would also agree we need more Medicare reform to keep the program solvent given that it is the second largest social insurance program.
  17. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    I'd make college free.

    Our country is being quietly crippled by student debt. My generation would have so much more free cash to spend in our economy if it weren't for student debt. Plus, having that debt around our necks makes us less willing to take risks and be entrepreneurial.
    • Like Like x 4
  18. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    Even without student debt there are too many barriers to entrepreneurs. The amount of available cash needed to start a solvent business is astronomical.
  19. fflowley

    fflowley Don't just do something, stand there! Donor

    I believe that the biggest obstruction to being an entrepreneur in this country is having health insurance tied to one's job or employer.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, that is huge.