I had some time at the airport today so I put together these charts of how we think our tax dollars are spent, compared to how they actually are, with Kenya thrown in for a bit of real perspective.
Now, before I reveal what these taxes really buy, here are two contrasting perceptions on where people think taxes go:
Liberals and progressives think…
What conservatives believe…
Where our taxes actually go (as best as I can tell):
Compare this with the liberal ideal budget:
And the libertarian “small government” ideal budget:
I have to say that the libertarian ideal budget looks elegant, symmetrical, balanced in terms of services. However, you can’t really get a feel for what’s missing from this picture until you look at a real libertarian government – which would describe most African governments, but I’ll use Kenya as an example:
Kenya, 2010 per capita income and taxes:
Kenya’s taxes are better visualized using pennies (yellow) instead of dollars (green). For one day’s median pay in Kenya ($2.18), a citizen gives $0.57 to government, mostly through sales taxes and import duties:
So what do these taxes buy a Kenyan?
Not a whole lot. And I have a suspicion that Kenya’s minimal (libertarian style) government is related to all that red – government waste in the form of corruption. Also note that the US provides a huge subsidy to Kenya’s healthcare system, but this doesn’t even register as a blip on the USA budget. Foreign aid is less than 0.1% of the budget.
We’re missing the point: National Debt ballooning!
I wanted to add in the US national debt to these pictures, but it would require drawing another 92 boxes, and I got tied. But coloring in a box one color or the other in our annual budget is thinking very small when we will owe as much as 20% of the whole budget in interest by 2020.