If you paid U.S. taxes, here's where your money went

Originally published at: If you paid U.S. taxes, here's where your money went | Boing Boing


Making “Veterans’ Benefits” a separate line item from “Pentagon and Military” is a sneaky way of making the cost of the military seem smaller. The veterans to which we refer are military veterans. And I’m curious to know whether the Department of Energy, which is heavily involved in the development and maintenance of nuclear weapons, is all buried under “Energy and Environment”.

The debt-service line item is service on debt that likewise included military costs (in their various guises).


Now now, the empire doesn’t like the boy who points out that the empire has no clothes.


I miss Jess Bachman’s awesome and extremely comprehensive Death and Taxes Poster series. He made them up until 2009 then handed the effort over to Timeplots. They last produced one in 2016. (Obama’s budget)


The proportions really haven’t changed all that much over time. Well, the defense budgets do get bigger.


I get your point but from a budgetary point of view veterans’ benefits are an entitlement (money that the government is legally obligated to spend every year, like Medicare and Social Security) rather than part of the discretionary budget (money that congress has to vote on every year) so they are distinct expenditures in that respect.


“So I threw the Senate at him. The whole Senate! True story!”


So we could double scientific research funding in the country by cutting the military by 4%?
That would be really useful


Of course, we know that would never happen - or rather, it might, but that money would only end up in profitable sectors of the science economy… computer science, mainly…

And of course, we’re never getting more money for the humanities, because as a society, we’ve collectively seemed to have decided that the humanities are not necessary, but are only for the wealthy and elite…

Doctor Who Reaction GIF


Humanities investment isn’t in the infographic, but no doubt it would take less than 1% of the pentagon’s budget to double the current level.

I still hold out some hope that we will see a US government in our lifetime with enough sense to understand the point of public investment isn’t to generate private profit. :crossed_fingers:


Then how do you explain all the humanities majors struggling to get by in the gig economy? Check and mate. /s

I’m going to grab my social sciences degree and go have a cry now.


Me too… we gotta keep voting and pushing for just that…

Sad Schitts Creek GIF by CBC


One way to handle this is to include benefits for the veterans who are currently active personnel. i.e. In financial year 2023-24 the USA became responsible for N person-centuries of veteran benefits by having Y active military personnel.

You’d want to do something similar with social security, but I’m not sure whether that, and related programs, have a 1:1 relationship with the taxes an individual pays.

There’s not an elegant way to do all of this in one infographic. There’s a myriad of decisions that end up highlighting different messages. Though there’s no way to hide “the USA spends a fuckton on its military”.


Not that I disagree with the general thrust of it, but the way this is stated this seems a little misleading. The website looks like it only concerns itself with federal spending, but K-12 is mainly funded state and locally with some assistance from feds?


I’m not sure if you are criticizing national priorities for presenting the data this way or the US government being organized this way, but the VA is it’s own cabinet level department funded independently of military spending, and that is a good thing becuase it means that military leadership can’t cut veterans health benefits to buy more bombs.

In terms of the national priorities organization they have a lot of other information and analysis on their website that makes it clear that the US priority is military spending with about 50% of discretionary spending going to the military, and that they strongly advocate for less military spending and more “stuff that helps people” spending.

The particular infographic shown here is a bit odd to me. It doesn’t include social security (which is funded by payroll tax not income tax) but does include “medicare and health”. Medicare is also funded by payroll taxes, but other health spending is not. So I’m not sure what is included in that chunk of the bar. I guess there just isn’t one consistent and informative way to present something as complex as US taxation and spending, hence they have multiple ways to slice it.


the government also has a printing machine right off screen that’s dumping money into that basket. the debt is a legal fiction ( that’s good for … bond holders? i don’t know, i don’t understand macro economics )

here’s to the very strange moment when the treasury mints a trillion dollar coin to work around the debt the gop has incurred and the debt ceiling theyre attempting to cudgel us all with

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You really want that spending on nuclear weapons. The vast majority of that is maintenance to prevent accidents and keep the whole thing stable. Nuclear stockpiles need constant updating.

The nuclear disassembly tech jobs out there are terrifying and interesting. “Here’s an old mid 60’s payload with an undocumented series of mechanisms that we need to disassemble and replace. Figure it out and keep it from contaminating anything”


Well, you could say the same of all currency. Money only has value because we collectively agree it has value.

it’s a fiction similar to… say… language or law. it’s a made-up thing that has real world meaning and affects. we don’t really ever “opt in”, we are born into a world shaped by it. we can choose not to “believe” in it, but the rest of the world isn’t going to care what we ( individually) think

my point was more, within our shared reality, the cartoon of a person tossing money into the fire isn’t the same as the government tossing money to debt.

debt service is wealth redistribution. it’s more like shoveling money to bankers maybe than into the fire

If we accept MMT then money has value because the government threatens you with violence if you don’t pay your taxes in their currency.

This does reduce to “we collectively agree it has value”, but it frames debt/deficits differently and highlights how states (currency issuers) are different to companies (currency users).

If that’s the whole basis for the collective belief system then why do so many people believe gold or even cryptocurrency have value? You can’t pay your taxes in gold bricks or dogecoin.