Government Spending

Government Spending In Your Own Words

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The latest Reason-Rupe poll asked respondents to use their own words to identify what the government spends the most money on. The following graphic depicts their responses with word size corresponding to frequency. The bigger the word, the more people who mentioned that particular kind of spending.

Please name a few of the things that you think the federal government spends the most money on. 

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9-18 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79 percent. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Click here for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll's fieldwork. View full methodology.

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  1. I expected “muffins” to be bigger.

  2. Apparently, a lot of people think the government spends money on money.

    1. It does. See, also, “interest”.

      1. I want to know if the government really spends money on “like”.

  3. Word clouds suck.

  4. Huh. People apparently don’t know how much we spend on stuff. There’s a shock.

  5. I anxiously await word clouds going the way of Cabbage Patch Kids and the Macarena.

  6. Good Gaia. We spend more on entitlements and education more than anything else, correct?

    Isn’t defense, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as the kinetic military action in Liyba), only 7% of the overall budget?

    But then again most of the readers of this digital rag think that Libertarianism and Liberty will just grow and prosper regardless of any defense of it. So can’t expect these same persons to actually, you know, read a graph or a chart.

    Or even a simple paragraph from the benign and non-partisan About.com:

    FY 2011 Mandatory Spending:
    Mandatory Spending was budgeted at $2.2 trillion, or 56% of the U.S. Federal Budget. It included Social Security ($730 billion), and Medicare and Medicaid ($788 billion combined). Proposals enacted under the Economic Stimulus Act added $44 billion.

    Anyway, I’ll hold my final thoughts until I see what words such Libertarian bulwarks like John Scalzi and Justin Raimondo choose to make big, SCARY SCARY BIG!

    1. But then again most of the readers of this digital rag think that Libertarianism and Liberty will just grow and prosper regardless of any defense of it. So can’t expect these same persons to actually, you know, read a graph or a chart.

      Contrast with:

      a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews

      Somebody has reading comprehension issues, don’t they?

    2. You shouldn’t really be throwing stones when it comes to reading charts. From the President’s proposed budget* for 2012:
      defense: 19.27%
      health care: 22.62%
      Social Security: 20.04%

      As for “entitlements and education”, that obviously depends on how you define “entitlements”, but I’ll note that education is under 3% of the proposed budget.

      * The whole idea of the President proposing a budget annoys me. What happened to “all bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives”? (Oh, that’s right, we threw it out along with 99% of the rest of the Constitution.) I wish Congress would just once look at the President when he “proposes a budget” and say, “Shut the fuck up, Chief Executive, and do your job with what we decide to give you.”

    3. American liberty must be defended from external threats. It also must be defended from the military-industrial complex.

      Want to make a specific argument? “The war in Iraq is justified as a defense of American liberty.”, for example. Or do you just want to make vague criticisms?

  7. I have it on good authority (Mangu-Ward) that every word cloud has the word marijuana on it.

    Leave it to Reason to ruin that.

    I’m canceling my subscription to your word cloud service. This would have never happened under Postrel.

    1. Is that two drinks or three? Can I get a ruling from the judges?

      1. Four drinks.

        1. This should be a fun afternoon.

  8. What household income would you use to define
    someone who is wealthy and thus should pay higher taxes? (For the typical
    household)

    1% Percentile 50000
    25% Percentile 200000
    50% Percentile (Median) 250000
    75% Percentile 500000
    99 % Percentile $10 Billion

    Uh…

    1. Means 1% of us refuse “thus should pay higher taxes” at effectively any rate?

      1. That question was only asked if someone said they supported higher taxes on the wealthy.

  9. My take: People want to deal with entitlements, but on the other hand, they don’t.

    1. Americans have consistently shown they favor reducing entitlement spending. They just don’t want the government to cut Social Security or Medicare.

      I’m fairly certain most of the people are just responding to emotions and expectations created by particular words. “Entitlement spending”? Bad, I don’t act all entitled! “Cutting Social Security”? Bad, I’ve paid my fair share! “Tea Party”? Boo!

      A great example of wanting to give the “right” answer is when the poll asked whether the respondent is registered to vote, and 91% said yes. The figure for the US is closer to 67%.

  10. I guess the only positive thing that can be said is that if this shit was done a few years back SS and medicare wouldn’t really have even registered.

    I don’t see “jackbooted agencies” or anything similar. Thats pretty fail.

  11. I am hard to believe that the number one answer isn’t “bullshit”

  12. When is a Reason-Rupe poll going to ask how many commenters want alt-text?

  13. Its depressing that people have been that snookered by liberals to put “The military” and defense over things like social programs and entitlements. . .

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