Where do your hard-earned taxes go?
Now that the Federal government is deadlocked on the budget again, it's time to take a closer look at how we got here… again.
A number of free digital tools can help you understand exactly how many of those hard-earned dollars were spent on the military, or on Medicare, or Social Security.
One of the best apps out there, in terms of visual appeal and simplicity, is called Wheredidmytaxdollarsgo. The app was the winner of a Google-sponsored competition in 2011. All you need do is input your income and filing status. The app takes you to an easily readable pie chart, containing the slices of your tax dollars that were disbursed to government programs.
The program still uses data from 2010, so if you want an updated budget, navigate to the White House interactive budget map. Highlight any segment to discover exactly what percentage of Federal dollars the segment represents. The map does not tell you exactly how many of your tax dollars were spent on any given item, but you can see the exact percentage, which is the real point, isn't it?
If you like those, then check out Visualizing Economics, a blog with only one purpose. The link will take you to a map of federal tax contributions from each state, as well as Federal funding that is disbursed to each state. The difference between these figures might surprise you.
The blogger, Catherine Mulbrandon specializes in rendering complex issues in simplified form, which can help spawn worthwhile debate. The more people who are paying attention to our government, the better. You might want to take a moment now and send a quick Tweet to your Congressional representatives and tell them you are sorely disappointed in their inability to move forward on budget talks.
The best thing about the data is: it does not lie. On the other hand, it does not explain itself either.
So if you have questions after taking a look, or if you are indescribably angry when you see where all the tax cash is going, then I would suggest looking into the matter a bit further. Google it and see what the Republicans say, and what the Democrats say.
At the end of the day, you might or might not agree with the government's discriminatory spending habits, which has led to a government shutdown. But at least you will understand some of the largest budget concerns and what the problem is.