Although I usually avoid politics like the plague, I felt this was an important issue to address.
Yesterday, one of my fellow personal finance bloggers wrote a piece entitled What Is The War In Iraq Costing You? In it, the author makes the following statement:
According to this report of the National Priorities Project, the median income family in the United States paid $3,736 in federal income taxes in 2006. Out of this, $1,354 is spent on military expenditure and to pay the interest for debt related to military. In other words, around 36% or a little over one-thirds of the total tax paid is used for military purposes. Now, check how much your tax payment was this year and check what one third of it comes up to.
The author also points out this tool, where you can enter the amount of federal income tax you paid in 2006 and see the exact dollar amount that you’re contributing to various branches of the federal government. For example, I entered a rough number into the tool to see what kind of results I would get:
Of the $10800.00 you paid in taxes:
$2937.60 goes to the military
$2019.60 goes to pay the interest on the debt
$2257.20 goes to health care
$648.00 goes to income security
$486.00 goes to education
$367.20 goes to benefits for veterans
$280.80 goes to nutrition spending
$205.20 goes to housing
$162.00 goes to environmental protection
$32.40 goes to job training
$1339.20 goes to all other expenses
To me, the pieces of the pie do not reflect my values. From my eyes, we vastly overspend on the military and vastly underspend on paying off the national debt and erasing many of the mistakes of the last thirty years. If we made a serious commitment to pay off the national debt like the one that was in place at the end of the Clinton administration, we could support every single program that we currently support and also drastically lower taxes. It would put an extra $2,000 or so a year in my pocket, for example, or we could use some of that money to build a better health care program.
I challenge you to look at this information and decide for yourself where you think your money should go. Which of these areas is important to you and should have more money invested? Which of these areas is not as important to you and could have some fat trimmed? Remember, you’re looking at the real dollars that you are spending. This money is the money that Uncle Sam is taking out of your pocket.
Once you’ve really figured that out, support those candidates that match your views, even if they’re not popular. Don’t worry about opinion polls or what everyone else thinks or which candidates the media covers or doesn’t cover: look at all of the candidates, even those not in the Democrat or Republican Party, and find a candidate that feels the same way that you do, and then support that candidate. For me, at least, I often have tons of political buttons and materials for various candidates from parties large and small and from various political races – I don’t worry too much about their party, I worry about what they stand for and whether it matches what I believe – and more importantly, what I’m willing to stand for with my wallet.
Remember, it’s not just politics at stake, it’s your hard-earned money. If you sit back and choose not to worry about it, you’re essentially giving them permission to take thousands of dollars out of your pocket and spend it on things you don’t like. Would you let a stranger on the street do that? Then why would you let the government do that?