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Need a Receipt On Taxes? The Federal Tax Receipt 642

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-debt-service-was-fantastic dept.
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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Need a Receipt On Taxes? The Federal Tax Receipt

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  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Friday April 15, 2011 @11:36PM (#35836682)

    ...with them I buy civilization.

  • "War on Drugs" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday April 15, 2011 @11:55PM (#35836784) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by ArcherB (796902) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:02AM (#35836828) Journal

    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.

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:04AM (#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

  • by Kohath (38547) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:17AM (#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.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:30AM (#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.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:36AM (#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:"War on Drugs" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:47AM (#35837054)

    Why the hell haven't they done anything?

    ... They're hippies.

  • by Thomas M Hughes (463951) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:52AM (#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.

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:07AM (#35837140)

    Let's imagine a world where you don't pay for the "unearned security" of others. The kid next door, through no fault of his own, has irresponsible parents. Maybe he gets knocked around. He certainly can't afford college. He tries to get a job, but the antics of the super-rich (in their efforts to become double-ultra-super-rich) have sent a lot of them overseas. He has no access to food or medicine or shelter, because you're too greedy to toss some money his way.

    So he breaks into your home, robs, and murders you.

    Taxes are what the rich people pay in exchange for the poor letting them continue to be rich. Doesn't seem fair? Tough shit. Life isn't fair. Just ask that starving kid next door.

  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:17AM (#35837196) Homepage
    You're not putting it in historical context. Your assertion is unsupported by your purported proof. James Madison was ONE of the framers of the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, another framer, had the opposite belief. They both signed the Constitution; why should Madison's interpretation be the operative one, when the plain language of the document itself does not limit the spending power only to the otherwise enumerated powers?
  • by Xyrus (755017) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:27AM (#35837250) Journal

    Insightful? Really?

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

    You know I find irritating? Idiots who claim that our government produces nothing. Go live in a third world country for a year, without all those comfortable amenities you have that you don't even think about. If you manage to survive without getting killed or debilitatingly sick, then come on back and tell us about how our government produces nothing. It either produces or facilitates everything you take for granted in your happy, comfortable, privileged little life.

    "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."

    That is just plain bullshit. If governments were woefully inefficient at everything they did then major empires lasting centuries would not have been possible. Nor would we have major countries today that have been around for 500 years or more. Governments exist because the majority of the population view them as beneficial. Those that aren't beneficial get to experience uprising, and being replaced by something that is.

    "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."

    Yes, he can say that. Do you have any idea what a real warlord is? A real warlord will come up to you and cut your fucking head off just because he feels like it. Then he'll rape your wife/daughters and then order his men to lock them in their house and burn it to the ground. Your sons will either be put in a camp to become future members of his army or killed right along with them. A warlord will use a jeep mounted machine gun and run down dozens of fleeing people for not paying him a tribute. A warlord will slaughter thousands and dump them into mass graves to keep or solidify his grip on power. THAT'S what a warlord is.

    Get some fucking perspective. Your privileged, pampered ass has NO CLUE about just how good you have it. If you truly and honestly believe government and taxes are useless and provide nothing, there are plenty of places you can go where you can enjoy a tax free existence and a remarkably short life span.

  • by dcollins (135727) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:28AM (#35837256) Homepage

    Also, all you Amish farmers can STFU about barn-raising until I see Amos over there hoist one up by himself.

  • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:40AM (#35837312)
    I can name two - The Fire Service, The Police Dept (and other related state and federal police depts).

    It, sometimes, surprises me, how unimaginative people can be.
  • by waimate (147056) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:52AM (#35837368) Homepage

    The US government spends more than it earns, so for every dollar of tax you pay, the government spends something substantially more than one dollar, with the difference being borrowed and compounded until some future generation pays it back, or the debt (and everyone's savings) are eroded by printing more money and then paid back. To be accurate, the calculator should add to substantially more than 100%.

  • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:58AM (#35837410)
    You are basically akin to a religious fundamentalist. I.e., there is no arguing with you because you cannot be convinced to civilly debate with any ounce of logic and/or evidence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:03AM (#35837432)

    No income tax. No government.

    It's a total shithole but what do you expect from a Libertarian paradise.

    By the way, you aren't 70 and don't have cancer YET...

    So you really don't know how much the rest of us are going to have to pay to support you in your dying years.

    but don't let that stop you from ranting like a self important douche.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:17AM (#35837490)

    Ha! As if you "earned" anything you have. Plenty of people throughout history would have done just as well as you in your position, perhaps better, but were born in Britain to lowly parents in 1150 and lived and died as serfs. You're not a serf based on pure luck, but you want to pretend that you have control in this universe so you invent this fiction where you earned everything, which necessarily means that people who don't have it therefore did not earn it; it's logically consistent, but it's based on a self-serving lie. Of you ever realize that hard work combined with a lot of luck and other people's hard work is why you are where you are, maybe you won't be so pissed off that some of it goes to other people, who mostly didn't do anything wrong to "earn" their lot in life, either.

    Social Security isn't a ponzi scheme and it isn't going broke (at least, not because of its structure - it's true that politicians are regularly stealing money from the program, and that might kill it.) You'll also be happier when you're less ignorant.

  • by sayfawa (1099071) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:20AM (#35837502)
    Taxes are what the rich people pay in exchange for the poor letting them continue to be rich. Doesn't seem fair? Tough shit. Life isn't fair. Just ask that starving kid next door.

    Exactly. Funny how the anti-tax people only state that life isn't fair when they're asked to feel sympathy for the kid born to poor parents, through no fault of their own. But ask them to pay taxes and all of a sudden they feel like we should be in some fairy-tale flat-tax (or no tax) world.

    What I like to ask the wealthy whiners is; if you're getting treated so unfairly while these freeloading, poor, sub-human, cradle-to-grave ghetto-dwellers are living the high-life off of your tax dollars, you should be happy to trade places, right? Right?
  • by IICV (652597) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:48AM (#35837598)

    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.

    I'm not sure how much you budgeted for those six months, but one major medical emergency while not covered by health insurance would probably wipe out the majority of those savings.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @03:12AM (#35837706) Homepage Journal

    Taxes buy infrastructure.

    - taxes kill infrastructure.

    FDR taxed the airlines in order to build the unprofitable and inefficient system of roads while taking apart the existing system of privately owned profitable and efficient rail. This was a massive subsidy to the auto-industry, it caused massive sub-urban sprawl, which is unmaintainable without huge subsidies. It cause much more pollution that rail ever could. It caused much more traffic and waste of peoples' lives than if cities were much less spread around and instead had more population density in smaller area. It killed the industry for profitable public transport (well, it was part of the kill, there are many other parts, all have government hands in it).

    Of-course today Obama wants to build rail. Of-course USA has no money for it, but they figure they'll print it/borrow from Chinese. It will be massively expensive and inefficient, because the plan is to use all USA parts, which don't actually exist, so it can't be profitable without huge subsidies because nobody would be able to buy the tickets without huge subsidies. I don't think Obama actually will do this, USA is literally out of investment capital and credit, but that was the plan anyway.

    Taxes buy culture.

    - so without taxes there is no culture? You are talking about education for some reason there, but education is a function of the market, which requires education if it is a productive market. USA used to be a productive market in 19 century, beginning of the 20 century and past WWII, when it had a monopoly on production. It was the industrialization and manufacturing that pushed for more education, not gov't in any way. Education was efficient and it made sense as an investment. It was also quite cheap. All until government money poured in, made the system very expensive and inefficient and destroyed quality in the process. Now the market in USA does not require anywhere near as much education as there are dollars allocated for all the government subsidized schools and programs and loans, there is a huge bubble in education prices, there is a huge drop in quality, and all this is bought with more money than any other country spends per capita (same as with gov't ran health care in USA, same problems - huge costs and low quality, all thanks to government money in it.)

    As to 'culture', the only 'culture' that taxes buy is culture of people who are unwilling to do anything and instead expect to be taken care of by the government - this is bread and circuses culture.

    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.

    - all of this assumes that there is a need for any of those things and that by taxing income the government does not displace other types of investment that people would have made with their money, that wouldn't have given them more of what they actually needed, rather than something, government believes they need. This point has no value at all.

    Taxes are the resources of the people paying for the shared needs of the people.

    - yet when the USA was agreed upon by the separate States, the agreement was on a very very very tiny federal government that would do very very very little, would only take care of minimum military for protection and a justice system. What are the "shared needs" of people in New York and in Alaska exactly? How is a government bureaucratic system deciding these?

    Also gov't is terrible at owning 'shared resources'. It really should not own any assets. It's terrible at being an 'owner', because as a collective, it has no sense of ownership.

    That's why it's so terrible at actually protecting the 'shared resources'. The Guelph of Mexico is a good example - oil is spilled constantly, yet the gov't is a system that allowed 10 million dollar cap on the liability of the companies on d

  • by kvezach (1199717) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @04:48AM (#35838096)
    That would have serious incentive incompatibility. You think for-profit prison lobbyists pushing for harder terms is bad now? If the police were to be for-profit, it would benefit from catching "criminals" - and from redefining what a criminal is, and squeezing as much labor out of them as they could manage, and if possible, encouraging criminals to commit greater offenses. Every arrested person would mysteriously resist arrest so that could be added to the charge sheets. The prisons would be harsh and have no rehabilitation - if they turn into academies of crime, all the better, because it increases the revenue stream of recidivists.

    In short: if it's profitable to catch criminals, the private police would farm them. Like any other company, if they get paid for X, then well, you'll get plenty of X.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:42PM (#35841654)

    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.

    That's a completely illogical argument because individual actions cannot solve collective problems. Installing a catalytic converter on your own car won't improve the air you breathe in the slightest, whereas requiring everybody to do so (including yourself) causes a huge improvement. The two are not the same, so equating them doesn't work.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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