Decide where your taxes go!

Here’s a thought I had. Seeing as the good ol’ US of A is supposed to be a democracy, would it be a good idea to have citizens specify on their tax forms where their money went? For example, suppose I wanted to give half my money to NASA, 20% to public education, and 30% to public health care.

I think it would be a good idea.

I also think a certain percentage would have to be set aside for some things that might be unpopular, like supporting the Army and intelligence agancies, and of course the IRS :smiley:

Of course, then everyone would fight over what goes in the “mandatory” section, but that’s life.

It seems to me like this is sort of a neat compromise between Libertarianism and…err…what we have now.

Nah, that would be too much like a direct popular vote. And we can’t have that, now, can we? :rolleyes:

I think it’s a neat idea, but I wonder what the results would be. Has anything like it been tried anywhere?

Our current budget process certainly needs improvement.

I actually came up with this some time ago. See, you could “check off” where each 1k of your PIT went. But, those who did not bother, nor corps, etc, could do this. So the bulk would still be available for the “upopular projects”. it could be done, easily, with a checkbox on an attached 1040 form.

My hero, Jello Biafra, put this on his platform when he was drafted by the Greens to be a nominee for President (he came in second to Nader at the convention).

I thought it was a pretty good idea, except that (most) people are too stupid. But Danielinthewolvesden, about three minutes ago, changed my opinion, with having corporation money go to wherever has been neglected (roads, for instance).

But of course, the old maxim still holds stay: “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

I like this idea. You’re right in that it lends an element of Libertarianism to the current situation,however, it is still taking my money at the point of a gun. It presents a dilemma to me because it is a compromise of my beliefs, yet seems like a more achievable situation. I guess I would support this option, with the hope that the idea of freedom would catch on.

Out of curiousity, why would someone looking for a more Libertarian government contribute to NASA, or a public anything? And call supporting the army unpopular?

Does this make sense? What does it mean, DITWD? My brain hurts.

Well I was just using it as an example. I would actually like to see space exploration privatized. I’m a pretty Libertarian fellow, but I don’t think true Libertarianism is possible, or desirable. For example, I would not feel comfortable with privatized police or army.

Anyway, I think this would be a good compromise to get some Libertarian ideas in operation (namely, spend your money on the serviced you want.)


I think most people would put their money towards things that seem in their immediate best interest: social programs and so on, since most people (especially Liberals) fail to understand the necessity of things like the army.

I think he’s saying that if corporations did NOT have the choice, the bulk of money would be available for the government to spend as it sees fit.

As for private citizens, the IRS could even draft several proposed spending plans that people could pick so they don’t have to think too hard. Or they could decide for themselves if they wanted.

There would have to be something in the new law to stop the politicians from getting around the will of the people. Here are some made up numbers to illustrate my point.

Let’s say the current budget calls for 20 bil to NASA and 20 bil to the CIA. Under the new law people give enough so NASA still gets their 20 bil but the CIA gets nothing.

So the politicians take the corporate money and give 20 bil to the CIA but nothing to NASA, leaving us with what we already have.

Except they wouldn’t really be able to do that without getting rid of $20bil somewhere else. The point is, since citizens are choosing where at least SOME of the money goes, the government is going to HAVE to get rid of some stuff that nobody wants in order to keep the essential things going.

freido: Exactly. While the Gov’t would still be able to fund, oh, say the IRS, with no problems, they would have to allocate more of the same pie to programs that were popular, thus SOME unpopular programs would be cut.

here is my guesses:porkbarrels: out
defence:about the same
aid for seniors:more or the same
aid for indigent: cut
aid for disabled:more
medical research;more
roads, etc: about the same
NEA; would have to stop stuff like “crosses in a jar of pee”
as art, but would then prosper.

The BIG saving, in my book, would be the huge reduction in “porkbarrels”, which are very popular to very few folks, and very unpopular to most others

Corp taxes are only about 25%, so that is Congresses “reserve”, added to that are those who would not “vote”, but i bet as soon as folks thought that their money would go where they did NOT want it to go, they would start 'voting". And this would also increase public participation in the political process.

Nice thing is that those who pay a lot, get a lot of say-so.

Bad idea for several reasons.

Looking at it strictly in terms of practicality, it would be a nightmare to implement. We already have insanity at the IRS and are trying to reform that beast and make it less evil and cumbersome. How is something like this supposed to be efficiently taken care of? I don’t see how, even if we did the Libertarian thing and privatized.

Constitutionally, this country cannot and should not be a tyranny of the majority. The moment that a minority’s rights are infringed upon in favor of a majority, we are not America anymore. And in a system where you are voting with your dollars, distinct minorities will be even more distinct, and it would be enevitable that eventually a group will be shit upon because they are in the minority.

This would also serve to further divide us as a people, something which would be bad for society.

Finally (and this one may come off as snobbery, but that it not intended), people are stupid. We can’t get people to vote as it is, so we are going to let them write the checks directly where it “needs” to go? Sorry… I wouldn’t lend most people a pen, let alone the ability to directly decide what areas of our government get funded or not.

In fact, I wouldn’t even want that responsibility, thanks. Why do I think I can make the decision between a social program that may be beneficial even though I never would need it and funding a military which on the surface seems yucky (I’m a pacifist) but if someone was detonating a nuclear weapon or even trying to invade us here, I would want the military to be able to defend us.

Bad idea all the way around. We are not a true democracy, never were one, and trying to become one creates more problems than it solves.

Yer pal,

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"Satan is not an unattractive person."-Drain Bead
[sub]Thanks for the ringing endorsement, honey!*[/sub]

What is so nice about equal representation - you know, one of the things that our country was founded upon and made us different way back when - being tossed out the window?

Yer pal,

Four months, 5 hours, 8 minutes and 57 seconds.
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"Satan is not an unattractive person."-Drain Bead
[sub]Thanks for the ringing endorsement, honey!*[/sub]

I dunno, it’s got a good beat; I can dance to it. I give the idea a 7.5.

Like it or not, though, Satan, we’ve got a problem in this country. As I mentioned in the ill-fated IMHO poll thread, military expenditures aren’t part of the discretionary budget in this country. Neither is Social Security. Education, on the other hand, is almost entirely discretionary. This means that funding for schools and such isn’t guaranteed from year to year, and is largely left up to individual states and communities to decide through bond measures and initiatives. That, in turn, renders public schooling susceptible to the vagaries of each district; and if there’s a significant enough population of (usually elderly) voters who value the three dollars they’d save in property taxes more than new teachers for the middle school and computers for the high school, then the schools can easily be denied funding. The Army’s $4,000 coffee machines, on the other hand, are untouchable–my taxes will go towards the military whether I want them to or not, even if I think it’s more important to better the quality of urban school districts than to buy a B-1 bomber.

You’re right that the idea in the OP is impractical for a host of reasons, Brian, but I like the thought behind it; it could be argued that our budget process already implements a tyranny of the minority, simply by shitting on the groups–education, infrastructure, the environment–who haven’t gathered the political cachet or presented the pork-barrel opprotunities to get their budgetary needs institutionalized and guaranteed.

Don’t we vote in order to determine how our government is run (includeing what money gets spent on)?

Re the IRS: you DO know the GAO looked into those accustations of "evilness’ in the IRS, and found that they were baseless, right? Or you probably DON’T know as: “IRS = jackbooted thugs!!!” makes headlines, and “IRS is a bunch of underpaid bureaucrats who don’t CARE enuf to be evil” does not sell Papers. I’ve worked with IRS agents, they actually have a sense of humor, and are OK guys. The IRS can do this easy, it would just be a few more #s that the GS 4s & 5s at the sevice centers mindnumbingly punch in.

And here is the beauty thing: the minoritys get as much $$ for their projects as they pay in. See, then they can’t be “trampled” by the majority, even if the majority wants to, as they will have their own $$. That is why it can work. If gays want a bunch of money for AIDs research, and the rest of America does not, well, the gays can make sure they “vote” heavily for AIDS research, and they will get as much $$, if not more. If the “right-to lifers” don’t want THEIR $$ spent on abortions, it won’t be.

Satan, the great thing about the majority-rules principle is that it always evolves depending on the people within it, and usually for the better. You and I may be freaks now, but I suspect we won’t be in ten years. So, if libertarianism is in fact a good idea, it’ll have it’s day in the sun sooner or later.

I think Satan hit the nail on the head; I don’t think the majority really know where the money is needed, or what income is needed to sustain current services.

Besides, I think the practicality issue is central. Are all of the monies collected and distributed at once or throughout the year? Long-term planning would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, if taxpayers are allowed to pick and choose what to pay for.

Gadarene – you’re right, there is a problem, but I’m not convinced that the “minority” spending areas (environment, arts and the like) would do much better under this proposed system. The cynical part of me sees people spending heavily on defence, possibly education (and if possible tax-cuts), and forgetting or ignoring areas like the environment.

even sven: *Don’t we vote in order to determine how our government is run (includeing what money gets spent on)? *

You said it, sven! It is a sign of a very big problem with our current level of citizen engagement (and with the effectiveness of our political representation) that people view themselves as more closely connected to government via their tax forms than via the voting booth.
(Eensy-weensy unresearched post that does not count toward my daily post quota. :))