Taxes

Should We Let Taxpayers Decide Where Their Money Goes?

If Americans still preferred to starve the beast, that would tell us something

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401K 2013

Debates over taxes are usually framed in binary terms: Should we pay more, or should we pay less? What lawmakers and government officials do with that money is put aside for separate discussions. That's a little odd, since at least some of people's objections to having their wallets lightened are closely linked to concerns that the money will be dedicated to purposes they find immoral, useless, or personally threatening. Pacifists recoil at the knowledge that they're helping to fund occupations and bombardments, free marketeers take offense at being forced to pay for agencies that hamper entrepreneurial activity and damage prosperity, civil libertarians don't appreciate being mugged on behalf of intrusive surveillance efforts and militarized law enforcement…

Would Americans find more peace with the taxes they pay if they could choose where their dollars end up? Over at The Washington Post, David Boaz of the Cato Institute suggests just that.

A new final page of the 1040 form would be created, called 1040-D (for democracy). At the top, the taxpayer would write in his total tax as determined by the 1040 form. Following would be a list of government programs, along with the percentage of the federal budget devoted to each (as proposed by Congress and the president). The taxpayer would then multiply that percentage by his total tax to determine the "amount requested" in order to meet the government's total spending request. (Computerization of tax returns has made this step simple.) The taxpayer would then consider that request and enter the amount he was willing to pay for that program in the final column–the amount requested by the government, or more, or less, down to zero.

Boaz allows that there would still be disagreement over just how detailed the options presented to taxpayers should be. Would the 1040-D break it down into broad categories like "national defense" and "education," or could you select for specific expenditures and programs?

My own preference here might be to direct my money to Yucca Mountain—not to build the long-delayed nuclear waste repository, but to entomb the cash amidst lethal radioactivity, and out of the reach of the likes of Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham. Frankly, I think federal officials could turn the National Endowment for the Arts into a homicidal civil rights violation if they put their minds to it.

But Boaz has considered even the likes of yours truly. The real test of whether a say in budget allocation makes Americans more comfortable with the cost of government comes from the next step in Boaz's proposal: "Real budget democracy, of course, means not just that the taxpayers can decide where their money will go but also that they can decide how much of their money the government is entitled to." Taxpayers would have the ability to lower (or raise) the total amount due, in addition to deciding where it goes.

Presumably, a public able to direct tax money to preferred expenditures, and away from disfavored ones, could keep agencies in line by rewarding or punishing them from year to year. Taxpayers then would be happier paying the tab and wouldn't zero out the amount.

Of course, if Americans still chose to starve the beast, that would tell us something, too.

Below, David Boaz gives the lowdown to Reason TV.

NEXT: John Stossel on Freedom of and From Religion

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  1. OT — Former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has been convicted on all counts in the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, including first-degree murder. He has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    http://www.boston.com/news/loc…..story.html

    1. He’s no longer a free agent, signs with the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.

      1. I hear they plan to convert him from a tight end to a wide receiver.

        1. But first he’ll experiment with playing as a full back.

          1. “We are all Michael Sam now….” – Mass Corrections “Guests”

        2. Seriously? He’s a 6’2″ 250 lb pro football player. I don’t see him being much of a victim in prison.

          1. Yeah, I’m sure he’ll be more on the victimizer side of the equation.

      2. Baltimore is working on a trade. Two draft picks and a felon to be named later.

  2. It’s a fun libertarian game but doesn’t mean anything since this has about as much chance of being reality as me getting a drunken bootie call from Kate Upton.

    1. My phone is ringing ? I’ll be right back.

      1. YOU BASTARD!!!!!

        *cries in jealousy*

      2. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! PWND!!!

        *hangs up*

        1. Almanian!

          Well, I suppose I should be thankful it wasn’t someone else who leaves comments around here.
          In truth, I am thankful, and upon very brief reflection there are a few individuals whom I’m glad it wasn’t.

          *feverishly installs caller ID and arranges to change phone number*

          1. If the caller ID says “Warty”, for God’s sake, run!

            1. The call is coming from inside the house.

              1. Forget about my changing phone numbers, I’ll be moving now.

                To a gun-friendly state.

                1. Oh, don’t shoot him. You’ll just make him mad. Also, don’t cut his penis off, it’s like a hydra.

  3. Interesting.

    What about columns of government programs with “Yes” and “No” boxes lined up below them so that taxpayers could direct their stolen/taxed money away from things they do not support?

    Oh, and please correct this: “Boaz allows that their….”

    There.

  4. Yeah, this fantasy from my undergrad days. It’s superficially tempting, but it’d be chaos. E.g. who wants to pay interest on the debt? But someone has to. This is why we have representative democracy and not direct democracy.

    1. Why does anyone have to? Smash the state, dude.

      1. Anything that cripples the nanny state is good in my opinion.

      2. If you don’t pay interest on the debt you’d destroy the American economy when the government defaulted.

        The interest is actually something you have to pay (probably the only thing you have to pay) since to do otherwise would be catastrophic.

        1. Yeah, radicalism is fine to advocate and all, but it doesn’t get many people on your side when their standard of living depends on the status quo. If there is anything that has kept communism from being viable in the United States, it’s the fact that things have never been so bad that it looked like the better alternative. Once you start with “smash the state”, you are headed towards an indeterminate outcome subject to the whims of whoever wins the ensuing power struggle.

        2. If you don’t pay interest on the debt you’d destroy the American economy when the government defaulted.

          How would this destroy the economy? People who loaned their money to the largest criminal gang on earth would lose their money. Everyone else would be fine.

          1. You don’t think that if all of the countries and all of the organizations holding US debt lost all that money it would have a major impact not only on the US economy but globally?

            Also, what do you think would happen to the US dollar?

          2. How would this destroy the economy? People who loaned their money to the largest criminal gang on earth would lose their money. Everyone else would be fine.

            The dollar is an IOU from said criminal gang. What happens to the value of an IOU that won’t be honored?

    2. E.g. who wants to pay interest on the debt? But someone has to.

      I’m not sure how a system wherein each person votes to fund (or not) a program with money directly from his own pocket would result in any debt. Of course, such a system would likely inherit the debt from our current system, but inasmuch as any of this is feasible, it could be established that debt service is not optional.

      1. If investing in “public goods” today benefits people living tomorrow, then yes, there should be interest payments and debt.

        1. If it is beneficial, then people will do it of their own volition. There are plenty of actors that can create debt; there is no need for the government to do it.

          1. Lest this seem contradictory:

            Not making interest payments on debt already accrued has direct impacts on everyone holding US dollars. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t want to accrue the debt in the first place; by virtue of a government currency, we are all held hostage to the government as monetary authority. Making interest payments mandatory may not have the anarchist seal of approval but it is justified.

            However, not accruing new debt has, at most, intangible “lack of future benefits”. Inasmuch as these benefits can be argued to exist, then they can be argued before banks and other lending institutions who will incur the risk. There is no need for the government to use its leverage as monetary authority to place all of us at greater financial risk. Forbidding the accumulation of further debt does not cause harm to anyone, unless you think not giving is the same as taking.

            1. Not making interest payments on debt already accrued has direct impacts on everyone holding US dollars.

              How? U.S. dollars are assets, not debt. People holding T-bills and savings bonds and whatnot are the ones who would get hosed.

              1. But the value of the dollar would be wrecked by its controlling entity defaulting.

              2. How? U.S. dollars are assets, not debt. People holding T-bills and savings bonds and whatnot are the ones who would get hosed.

                If I owed you $100 and decided not to pay you, how trusting would you be of me in the future? Currency is trust writ large; money is a fundamentally social good. From the perspective of an individual or business, a dollar is a piece of paper or a number in a computer. From the perspective of trade, a dollar is whatever you can buy with it. Just because you didn’t hold any T-bills or savings bonds doesn’t mean that people who did will be as accepting of dollars as they were before. When debt accounts for a sizeable portion of the money supply, creditors have a lot of pull in setting the value of that money.

        2. If investing in “public goods” today benefits people living tomorrow, then yes, there should be interest payments and debt

          OK, Jerry. Let’s say I come to your house at night and wash your car without your knowledge or consent. I do a really good job of it too. The thing looks brand new. Are you then obligated to pay me for my work the next day? After all, my work benefits the you of tomorrow.

          Now, what if I screw up and make your car dirtier? Do you still have to pay me? My intentions were pure.

          1. Surely I don’t have to pay you, there was no implicit contract. But if government invests in a new aircraft carrier, I don’t want it to be paid solely out of taxes, because that aircraft carrier will provide “defense services” for years to come, so benefits accrue in future years.

            1. That’s like describing the local mafia buying baseball bats to break the knees of anyone not paying for their protection services, as the mafia providing defense services that will provide benefits for years to come.

              You have this really distorted view of a predator-prey relationship.

            2. His point is – why should those *future* people be on the hook for *your* decisions today?

              After all – they didn’t have an implicit contract authorizing you to buy a CV on their behalf.

              Plus, there’s no guarantee that anything (even an aircraft carrier) is actually providing value to anyone other than the guy who ordered its construction.

              1. No point in taxing people when “public goods” don’t exist. Don’t need a government either.

                1. You’re a little slow, but you come around eventually.

          2. A more accurate analogy would be, what if you come to my house in broad daylight and fuck around under the hood to make “improvements” that make it run worse, then point a gun at me and demand I pay — for the children, of course, because you mean well — or else.

    3. Well my first choice would be to direct my entire tax expenditure to a refund to myself. But seeing how that would never be allow, yes I would probably direct 100% to the debt.

      1. It’s your mugger’s debt. It’s the debt of some asshole who took out a credit card in your unborn child’s name. If we’re lucky, the debt will be the cudgel that breaks the US apart into as many sovereign territories as possible so this sort of mass expropriation cannot again occur on this scale.

    4. At the moment, the only thing I’d vote to pay for is the debt.

      1. *provided we can say “75% to principal, 25% to interest”

      2. Look, this is easy. Keep debt service mandatory, make everything else optional, and forbid deficits. If you and 999,999 other people contribute $20 to an agency, then it has a budget of $20 million and not a penny more.

        1. You’d also have to change federal employment rules so that agencies can quickly fire and hire. Otherwise they’d have no way to respond to potentially massive changes in funding.

          1. Well, not necessarily. Government workers would be able to stay on at 1/1000th of their previous salary. No need to fire them at all. 😉

          2. Oh, this all is such a fucking pipe dream anyway. By “this is easy” I mean “it is easy to resolve the trivial complications”. In reality, before such a proposal ever made it out of Congress, it would not do the opposite of what was originally intended, it would do so in the most convoluted way possible.

            1. “… it would not only do the opposite …”

    5. Hmm, the IRS got zero dollars allocated to it… Now what?

      1. Um…..”Profit”?

    6. This is why we have representative democracy and not direct democracy.

      Any conceivable democracy with an electorate of more than a few hundred people is necessarily a “representative democracy”. Not that it changes the moral illegitimacy of democratic majorities to expropriate the property and liberty of democratic minorities.

  5. Is there a porn subsidy program. I might be able to get behind that. Or on top of, or below, etc

    1. I heard that program went tits up.

      1. *Garrows naze*

  6. I would check the box to let the secret service blow all the money I pay on hookers, coke, and booze, and that’s about it.

  7. Elizabeth Stoker Breunig says you should stop calling them taxpayers.

    “Consider Megan McArdle’s recent meditation on prison reform in Bloomberg View, in which she points out that “prison is ? very expensive,” and therefore, “while we’re punishing the criminal, we’re also heavily punishing the taxpayer.” Imagining tax payment as a kind of punishment is the upshot to the general use of the term, however innocuously the majority of its speakers may intend it. If money owed in taxes is imagined, as in the budget plan and McArdle’s usage, to belong to the taxpayer, then programs operating off of public revenue do seem to have some obligation to correspond to their funders’ consent, and serving the interests of others does seem unfair. But these are all obfuscations brought on by the term.”

    Got that? Once the government takes your money, you don’t get any say in what that money does. Breunig doesn’t appear to understand she’s arguing against Democracy.

    She really is the gift that keeps on giving. No matter what the subject, there is an ESB article.

    1. no, this is good. I propose “victims of State sponsored theft” as the new nomenclature.

      1. Have you noticed how frequently Breunig criticizes conservative and libertarian arguments in favor of prison reform because they’re not crazily socialist enough? This is like the third time.

        Apparently people should rot in prison for victimless crimes until Communism is implemented.

        1. Eh. Its like the woman last night who claimed healthcare.gov was implemeNted by Republicans and therefore not a “real” government program. Aside from being completely detached from the consensus reality everyone else is experiencing, it signals to me that such a person is a grasping statist who cannot be reasoned with. I made my point — which was both true and irrefutable — and then moved on, ignoring the “yes, but” where she tried to Progsplain how I was missing the point.

          1. God damn, partisan idiocy is getting bad. Seems like for a lot of people the only reality worth considering is if someone is on their team or not. All conclusions flow from there.

            This next election is going to suck hard.

            1. “This next election is going to suck hard.”

              Dammit, no spoilers!! What am I going to now for the next 18 months?

            2. Two nights ago on Democracy Now one prog argued that Rand Paul would make a better President than Hillary. Fireworks ensued. Much of the left looks at Hillary the same way libertarian-ish and conservative Republicans looked at Romney.

              1. progressives DO have more in common with Rand than Hillary. She isnt a progressive … she is a fascist. progressives interested in civil rights issies should vote for Rand.

      2. I’ve been thinking about the idea of taxation as theft. I think most taxation might more accurately be described as a protection racket.

        Nice property/income/business you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.

        1. When most people think of theft, they think of someone taking something from them without their permission AND without giving them anything in return.

          In the eyes of most people, taxes don’t meet that criteria because
          1) Voting
          2) We do get some benefit from what taxes fund

          The idea that voting = consent is easy to debunk. 2) is correct for some government programs and absolutely false for others. And there are opportunity costs, so even beneficial things that government supplies might be better supplied by a market (I don’t think that is true for everything provided by government, hence I’m not an anarchist).

          A better analogy for taxation is where someone takes your money and uses it to buy a you new TV but also buys a new TV for your neighbors. And it may or may not be the TV you would have bought for yourself. And it may or may not be functional. And they may or may not decide to give the TV to someone else in the end.

          1. That’s probably a more complete analogy.

            I still like the protection racket one a lot. Organized crime has and still does in some places, play a government-like role. Sometimes even to the benefit of many people.

            1. Just do it. Every time someone says “government”, mentally substitute “mafia”. Every time they say “taxes”, substitute “theft”.

              And then enjoy watching people making insane arguments based on delusional ideas about what the mafia is and does.

              1. This is why no one in my family will talk about politics with me anymore, except for one brother who also reads Reason.

            2. The tax side of the government is certainly run oh the Goodfellas model: “Fuck you, pay me.”

        2. I think most taxation might more accurately be described as a protection racket.

          It’s still theft. A mugger that takes your money by force and then gives you a foot rub by force, is still stealing from you and probably sexually assaulting you while he’s at it. But the important part is that it’s still theft.

    2. If money owed in taxes is imagined, as in the budget plan and McArdle’s usage, to belong to the taxpayer

      Just holy fuck.

      1. Yeah, she actually believes money taken from taxpayers doesn’t really belong to the taxpayers anyway.

    3. Yeah, referring to people who pay taxes as “taxpayers” is really confusing. What the fuck is wrong with that person?

      1. She also doesn’t understand the concept of subsets. She claims we should use the word ‘people’ instead of taxpayers, but taxpayers are a subset of people and therefore warrant their own term.

        It would be like saying ‘instead of Catholics, we should call them people.’ Okay – but then how would we know they’re Catholics?

        1. Even if you assume that everyone pays taxes, which probably is true if you consider all taxes and not just federal income based ones, it still makes sense to use “taxpayers” to refer to people qua taxpayers when the fact that people are forced to pay for things through taxation.

    4. In other words, Americans’ taxes are parallel with taxpayers’ consent, suggesting that expenditures that do not correspond to an individual’s will are some kind of affront.

      What happened to consent is sexy?

    5. This idiot is actually saying that the money confiscated from taxpayers isn’t actually the taxpayers money anyway. What a fucking collectivist asshole.

      1. Well, it isn’t once it’s confiscated, which is her point.

    6. This also reeks of a pathetic “second-class-citizen” argument. I can just see it now: “By referring to those who pay tribute to the collective good works of government for the benefit of as “taxpayers,” we impute special status. That “others” those currently not paying into the system but who are the most endangered in society and most in need of the community largesse.”

      *vomits*

  8. Also, you first have to be a net income tax payer, so bureaucrats and people who only pay social security taxes are disqualified.

    1. No representation without taxation!

      1. Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad idea (if it also went the other way). Let the people actually paying for it make the decisions.

        I don’t know about on a national level, but I think that such an arrangement would be good for local governments that are funded by property taxes.

    2. Why aren’t people who only pay SocSec disqualified?

      Its a tax. All the money it raises is spent that year. If they don’t get more than they pay back that year, why wouldn’t they be net taxpayers?

      1. In theory, there should be no net benefits for anyone using social security. You pay in what you get out, adjusted for the “social insurance” component. But of course killing the program would be even better.

  9. Let’s get spending down to levels where taxes cover the bills, then fight about which programs aren’t worth my taxes.

    1. No! Fuck you! Cut sp….

      Uhhhhh….yeah!! What Brett said!

  10. The only meaningful determinant of the success of a government program is the size if its budget.

    1. As I say about work, “The company shows what it cares about by what we spend money on…..”

  11. It’s a classic free rider problem. Everyone benefits from programs like tossing flashbangs into cribs, paying billions of dollars for a new generation of jet fighter, and funding VA scandals, but nobody would pay for these beneficial programs if given the choice.

    1. Just thinking about this – I’d like to throw flashbangs into a bunch of Congresscritters’ cribs.

      I’d start with Reid, Boner, Pelosi, Tippy the Turtle, Schumer, Waxman, Waxman again – because, that nose, Fienstein, Feinstein again – because “I believe I’ve earned it”….

      Levin and Stabenow cause they’re “my” senators….

      We can start there. I’m sure I can think of more who need a good flashbanging.

    2. I say Dweebston wins the thread here.

  12. I’ve thought about schemes like this at times; even have a buzz term for it: “Fiscal Democracy.”

    But all this would result in is complete stupidity and Newspeak-ing of budget process far beyond current shenanigans. Stuff with labels like ‘saving whales’ on proverbial form 1040-D would actually be a navy wet dream project to raise battleship IJN Yamato and launch it into orbit. Thousands of pages of that shit the budget would soon become – even more so than it already is.

    1. a navy wet dream project to raise battleship IJN Yamato and launch it into orbit

      Aw, hells yeah. I would totally direct some of my tax money to that. Really, I would.

      1. Ditto. I’m in for a couple thousand on this. Take it from my Obamacare tab…

    2. “… raise battleship IJN Yamato and launch it into orbit.”

      You criticize that idea now, TZ, but it’s very likely that you’ll be all aboard once the Comet Empire is detected on its way to Earth.

  13. 10:49 AM EDT
    A check-off at the top of the 1040 form invites every taxpayer to direct $3 of their federal tax — Even at my paltry tax rate this amount is insignificant. It detracts from your point, but you knew that. Just like anarchists, Libertarians want to bring down the system, but they just don’t have b*lls to pick up a bomb. Man up. Let’s see you out in the streets.

    KenAmbrose
    10:37 AM EDT
    We do have a way for taxpayers to designate how their tax dollars are spent – it’s called the House and Senate. We vote for them and talk with them to help decide how the nation spends its money.

    9:51 AM EDT
    Dear Washington Post editors,

    Please remove $0.15 off my my monthly subscription. In return, I would like you to remove any op-eds that amount to demagoguery, supported by half baked arguments. I’m sure you’ll know which ones I’m referring to.

    Sincerely,
    Broprah Winfrey

    I love WaPo readers. Not so much for their ignorance, though I do love that, but for their blissful lack of awareness of it.

    1. the nation spends its money

      The nation has spoken. So sayeth the nation.

    2. Quality derp. Do these people not understand the difference between pushing a cart through a store vs. buying tickets to win a basket somebody else gets?

    3. Yeah, the election fund thingy is a real strong counterargument. Good grief.

      Libertarians want to bring down the system, but they just don’t have b*lls to pick up a bomb.

      We’ve also got this weird aversion to killing innocent people. No wonder no one takes libertarians seriously. If you want to be a real political force, you need to rack up a better body count.

      1. We’ve also got this weird aversion to killing innocent people. No wonder no one takes libertarians seriously.

        We just don’t have the balls that socialists and Islamists like to see.

      2. If you want to be a real political force, you need to rack up a better body count.

        The new mantra. From the Cult of the Paulistas,

  14. We should adopt a voluntary, ad hoc lottery system to replace the current tax scheme.

    Each budget item would be associated with a weekly lottery. Half the money collected would fund the agency/project and the other half would be paid out in winnings.

  15. For an example of too much direct democracy, see California.

    For all the faults of the current system, and they are legion, I think I’ll stick with it (at least over this plan)

  16. Don’t mention the taxpayers
    .
    Imagining tax payment as a kind of punishment is the upshot to the general use of the term, however innocuously the majority of its speakers may intend it. If money owed in taxes is imagined, as in the budget plan and McArdle’s usage, to belong to the taxpayer, then programs operating off of public revenue do seem to have some obligation to correspond to their funders’ consent, and serving the interests of others does seem unfair. But these are all obfuscations brought on by the term.

    The same laws that determine that money deposited into a person’s bank account belongs to that person also determine that taxes owed on that deposit do not. Public revenue is just that: a pool of public money to be used for the good of the public, not 300 million pools of private money each to be used to serve private individuals’ interests.
    .
    All your moneys are belong to us.
    .I’m not sure Elizabeth Stoker Breunig is smart enough to be mendacious. I think she actually believes this.

    1. Of course it does. It says so on all the bills: THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Plus, the Treasury prints ’em. So they belong to the government.

      I’m not even being facetious. I heard this argument made. I was astonished.

      1. They also take all your assets at gunpoint and throw you in a cage if you try to use anything else in its place.

      2. For funsies, tell them that currency is actually promissory notes, debt instruments, issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. Not the Treasury. It says so right on all the bills. And, the Federal Reserve can be fairly described as a government-sponsored banking cartel. If you’re looking for the 1%, its good place to start/

        1. But the Treasury does print them. So they are technically correct.

        2. Hush up, you kooky conspiracy theorist! The next thing you’ll be telling us is that the Federal Reserve caused the Great Depression or some other such anti-government craziness!

          Ooga booga! Black helicopters are comin’ to get ya!

  17. Should We Let Taxpayers Decide Where Their Money Goes?

    If an allowable answer is “back into my pocket, because it doesn’t belong to you bastards”, then sure.

    If not, then the chances politicians will let me decide how they spend their stolen loot seems miniscule.

  18. “The Constitution dollar is just a fucking piece of paper!”

  19. “Real budget democracy, of course, means not just that the taxpayers can decide where their money will go but also that they can decide how much of their money the government is entitled to.”

    An organization that can’t steal any money from anyone is not a government.

  20. I’m sure I can think of more who need a good flashbanging.

    List the ones who don’t, and save yourself from writer’s cramp.

  21. Ummm, the idea is 40 years old, tracing to libertarian Lowell Ponte. We had no think tanks back then, just thinkers. And Ponte’s version made more sense.I reviewed it for publicaition in the 90s.

    http://libertyissues.com/taxdemoc.htm

    1. Welp guys, pack it in. All our ideas were had by someone else decades ago so libertarianism is both irrelevant *and* not original.

      1. Welp guys, pack it in. All our ideas were had by someone else decades ago so libertarianism is both irrelevant *and* not original

        What a dumbfuck. Where do you get “irrelevant” from? Or not original?
        But you got to say something!

        Have you become a stalker, like RC Dean?

        1. No answer! Just more personal aggressions. The shame of Tribal Loyalty

    2. Damn, you’re a tiresome bore.

      1. We have to comment with the trolls we have, rather than the trolls we wish we had.

        1. These are the trolls we *need*, but not the ones we *deserve*.

    3. Michael Hihn:
      “Ummm, the idea is 40 years old, tracing to libertarian Lowell Ponte.”

      That makes it about 200 years newer than the current, prevailing idea.

      1. That makes it about 200 years newer than the current, prevailing idea.

        (lol) The libertarianism we once had. Before the extreme socons infiltrated..

        The thugs are screaming in revolt because I said Ponte’s made more sense. Not a single one deals with that issue (because they can’t, lol) Instead, shoot the messenger. The new mob rule.

        Ponte’s makes more sense. Ignore all the rage and screeching. See the link for why Ponte’s is better. Think for yourself. Supported arguments vs. bullying (gasp)

  22. Budgeting by plebiscite? Why not? It’s not like they could do worse than the D.C. mandarins or the buffoon in the White House.

  23. Hmm, let’s see – HUD and Education aren’t getting anything this year (like always), ditto the Architect of the Capitol, the United States Botanic garden, United States Capitol Guide Service, Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, National security Council (they can’t actually seem to *maintain* security, let alone increase it), ONDCP, OSTP, Office of the First Lady, Trade Representative, USDA, Department of Commerce, Defense Clandestine Service (how many HunIntel agencies do we really need?), The Pentagon Force Protection Agency and the Pentagon Police must battle it out to see who gets funding this year, health and Human Services (except for teh Public health services – you guys are cool. . . for now), Homeland Security (except for Coast guard – lay off the drugs and I may even increase your allotment next year), Department of the Interior, DEA, Antitrust Division, Asset Forfeiture Program, NDIC, Department of Labor . . .

    Christ – and that’s not even getting into Independent agencies and government-owned corporations.

    1. It’d be a fucking book just to list the agencies and their major departments.

  24. The budget would actually grow. Can you imagine the advertising budget for all the departments when they run commercials and ads and try to show us why they deserve the money, but the other departments don’t?

    1. Apparently part of this group. NSFW.

      http://www.spiegel.de/fotostre…..363-6.html

      1. Sorry, wrong placement!!! This goes to my ECB post below!

  25. You mean I have to ask clients now how they want me to fill out their 1040-D?

    No thanks, fuck you cut spending, make tax accountants useless, I’ll find something else to do.

  26. You can have Kate Upton. Have you seen the girl who protested the ECB??? A lotta boys will be in their bunks early tonight.

    http://www.businessinsider.com…..ghi-2015-4

    Why can’t more American radicals look like this?

    1. She’s not bad to look at. Doesn’t seem that remarkable, though. There are plenty of American SJW types who are at least that attractive. The question really is why more of them don’t do topless protests.

  27. Citizens are flesh tubes for dollars; input, digest enough to survive, then shit out the remainder smack into the toilet of government squander.

    1. Uh-huh. Except the government digests the wealth created by the flesh tubes’ several times over only after which the flesh tubes’ are “graciously” allowed to pick through the government’s feces to salvage any wealth still remaining for themselves.

  28. Well, if you wanted to actually be libertarian, you could just use a kickstarter model.
    .
    Congress puts forth a slate of projects and functions for various agencies, with attached budgets.
    .
    Backers pledge whatever money they feel is appropriate to these projects. The total raised is visible to all. Once the necessary amount is raised, the pledges are collected. If pledges don’t hit the needed amount within a certain timeframe, the project fails and everyone keeps their money.
    .
    It would certainly put the notion that the wealthy should pay more in taxes because they receive more benefits to the test. It would also introduce a currently-nonexistent social incentive to fund government functions, since you can show off to your friends just how much you care about the poor by funding food stamps, or about the environment by funding the EPA, or whatever.

    1. “It would also introduce a currently-nonexistent social incentive to fund government functions, since you can show off to your friends just how much you care about the poor by funding food stamps, or about the environment by funding the EPA, or whatever.”

      That defeats the point. The whole point is to make the other people who are supposed to care about the poor take care of the poor. You’re not supposed to actually care about the poor.

  29. I came up with a similar idea when I was filling out my 1040ez as a new taxpayer when I got my first job as a teenager. I reasoned that if I was going to be required to pay money to the government I wanted to at least be able to direct the funds (as little as they were) in a direction I agreed with. I wanted to say that I paid for the sparkler that lit the Space Shuttle.

  30. Leave it to J.D. Tuccille to take all the fun out of democracy.

  31. Whilst waiting for our Congressional overlords to confirm Boaz’ plan-I have a better idea. Why not learn what the heck the income tax is : a classical liberal tax on public offices. An excise tax. An excise tax is a tax on a privilege. HMMM. What government privilege did I engage in last year that was taxable by Congress for revenue purposes? Gee, can’t think of any, just me out in the private sector, no privilege here. Then, if you understand the tax as it is written in the law and regulations, and how it arrived historically, you can decide your next course of action. Do I want to feed the beast, or not? Ethically, you then have 4 choices: file and pay but at least demand real change, do not file, file an alternate 1040 for a full refund, or file a statement for a full refund. They are all explained on my blog-www.nontaxpayersforronpaul.blogspot.com. Happy tax day!

  32. I’ve been advocating this for years. I termed it “line item taxation” back when I was a teenager. I think it could be done on the local level. Simply say, ok, you’ve got $XX that’s owed, it costs a minimum of $X to operate (existing debt service, etc.) Please allocate your remaining $X by percentage to the following departments: Police, Fire, Public Works, Parks, Libraries, Recreation, etc.

    1. We are fortunate that our fire department is volunteer. We make a $1,000 donation each year because they show they are responsible with the donations they are given. The year they start doing stupid with the money is the year the ink doesn’t make it onto the check. Incidentally, they do a firearm raffle each year to raise money as well.

      1. I ‘donate’ about $75 a year to our local EMS organization, and in return, they don’t bill us if we need an ambulance ride to the ER. Works for me and apparently many others near me.
        Amazing, eh?

  33. “Should We Let Taxpayers Decide Where Their Money Goes?”

    Is my own pocket an option?

    1. You’re always welcome to buddy up with a politician and create a fake “business” where the stolen taxpayer money will be “invested.” Be sure to label your fake business “Green.” It used to be fake defense contracting businesses that stole the big bucks. These days it’s fake environmental ones that make the really big hauls. There used to be a small element of risk with the defense scam; potential prison time and such. The present day “Green” scamming carries about zero risk of even undergoing so much as a sham investigation. Pure 100% risk free.

  34. J.D., my argument has always been it’s one thing to force me to pay taxes and entirely another very much far worse thing to force me to fund government programs I absolutely detest. Of course, you don’t know me or you would’ve known that.

  35. There are a lot of government agencies that would likely find themselves “defunded”. Especially those that duplicate what the states are already doing. Do we really need the Department of Education? The Agriculture Department. The Drug Enforcement Agency? What about the ATF? Do we really need both the CIA and the NSA? The Department of Energy?

    The Post Office is a part of the Constitution, as most likely would be the Defense Agency. Although the latter could be cut back to actual “national defense” which is likely to be far less costly.

  36. No, no, no, no, no, no and no. (IMHO)

  37. Silly; for anything that the taxpayers didn’t agree to pay for, the government would simply borrow to pay for.

  38. No. We should let P. J. O’Rourke decide.

  39. ? None of the above

  40. Although I find the concept quite appealing, we could achieve similar results simply by repealing the 16th and 17th amendments along with eliminating the Federal Reserve and allow the Federal government to acquire the revenues needed to fund the budgets our representatives in both Houses of Congress and the President agree to, as the Founders intended and described in Article I, Section 9 of our Constitution. Both the States and the people would then regain much of the control over their representatives that was removed by passage of two amendments and the Federal Reserve act. Need I say, the IRS could be eliminated as well since the Federal budget would require little more than dividing it by the total population and billing each State by that amount times the States population. One person, one computer, and a very simple spreadsheet would suffice, although it would probably be a committee made up of several Congress persons to assure it was done fairly.

  41. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.netjob80.com

  42. I grew up in a suburban municipality that had relatively high property tax rates, but the residents of the municipality didn’t really mind because City Hall was run competently and transparently, so taxpayers could see where their dollars were actually going, and were satisfied that they were getting value for money.

    The municipality was later annexed by it’s more urban, and less well run, neighbour. That transparency and competency disappeared, and the people became much more anti-tax because they could see their money was being wasted.

  43. Kinda like the executioner – rope or lethal injection?

  44. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.netjob80.com

  45. Yeah, and I came up with a similar ‘plan’ a decade or two ago… old news..

    I imagined a 1040-Q (for Questionnaire) form… probably coming after a Flat Tax initiative.

    Here’s what you owe… $xxxxx.xx
    Where to you want it spent?
    1) ___________
    2) ___________

    and so on.

    Or suggested lists of things to ‘invest’ your tax dollars in… yeah, Defense, infrastructure, sugar subsidies, farm support… and so on.

    If you don’t want to do the math, just put in percentages instead of dollars. Any difference between 100% or your Total Due and what you allocate the taxes to will be allocated to debt service.

    Any category or list item that does not get some minimal number (%-age or ‘dollar’ votes) drops off the list for some period of time (2-3 years?) and must be petitioned back on by popular demand and vote.

    VERY ‘democratic’ and FAR beyond the capabilities of most voters or taxpayers.
    But a fun idea. I just wish I could find my file where I first described that… 🙂

    And, Of Course, it’ll never happen.

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