Your Tax Dollars at Work


These note explain the derivation of the percentage data in the third column of the table shown under "Mayhem". Figures are in $ billion per year unless otherwise shown.

Item Federal (1) State & Local Total (3)
Generate Poverty 450 360 (4) 810 = 25%
Create Injustice 36 144(5) 180 = 6%
Wage War 324 0 324 = 10%
Warp Young Minds 0 300(6) 300 = 9%
Hurt the elderly 666 0 666 = 21%
Plunge into debt 242 98(7) 340 = 10%
Everything else 82 538(8) 620 = 19%
Total $1,800 $1,440(2) $3,240

Note 1: Federal data is taken from the inside back page of the IRS 1040 Instruction Booklet.

Note 2: State & Local is much less precise. The methodology is to take the total ($1,440B) as being 4/5 of the Federal spend, then allocate it among the seven categories as shown in the Notes below.

Note 3: The total sums the $ figures across, then derives the percentage - which appears on the table under "Mayhem" on the main page.

Note 4:"Welfare" spending varies greatly, from close to zero in rural towns in New Hampshire, to a huge portion of the total spend in major Northern cities. Lacking better data, I took the same percentage (25) of the total spend as applies for the Federal case.

Note 5: "Services" of detecting, prosecuting and incarcerating those convicted of having broken government laws varies widely too; a typical State may spend 7% on this item but small Towns, rather more - since 24 hour police coverage can be expensive pro rata. I took 10%.

Note 6: One sixth of the population is aged between 6 and 18, and the per-student annual cost I took as a conservative $7,000. Hence (1/6 x 260M x 7K =) $300 billion.

Note 7: I made the generous assumption that when States, cities and towns borrow, they are half as fiscally irresponsible as the Feds; hence their total debt load is half, relative to their total spend (four fifths.) Hence (242 x 0.5 x 0.8 =) $98 billion.

Note 8: This is just the difference between $1,440 billion and the sum of the items above. It may be a bit high (ie, those others are too low) but local governments spend huge amounts on roads and other items that would show a genuine demand in a free society. Note that to the extent it is high, this attributes too much of our tax dollars to activities which are in some respects useful; that is, too little is attributed to those which are useless and destructive.

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