Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Death and Taxes
January 3, 2005 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Death and Taxes: A Visual Look at Where Your (U.S.) Tax Dollars Go
posted by Space Coyote (37 comments total)

 
Oops, should have said that it's a rather large .jpeg.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:20 PM on January 3, 2005


Tufte would have some tsk-tsking to do at this chart...

The "Discretionary Budget" circle is difficult to interpret - is that the root of all items or is the "United States Congress" circle the root? I'd say the discretionary budget, but it's not exactly clear.

The white lines connecting data labels to data can easily be confused with the white lines connecting sub-expenditures. They should be gray to indicate that they are not as important. The worst offender is the "drug free school grants" triangle.

Multi-year expenditures (was all of the F-22 spending this year?) should be labeled as such.

Some of the miltary items jut from the wrong pieces of the pie. Eg, the "blackhawk helicopter" link appears to be part of "Military Personnel" instead of R&D or Procurement.

Lastly, the 2005 budget has already been passed so the plea in the middle is a bit out-of-date.

I know it's a bit nit-picky ("sharp knees!") but there's still room for improvement...
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:30 PM on January 3, 2005


Higher education? Reading? Disease control? What are they thinking???
posted by LeLiLo at 8:34 PM on January 3, 2005


Eg, the "blackhawk helicopter" link appears to be part of "Military Personnel" instead of R&D or Procurement.

Those blackhawks are like razors. It's not the holder that costs you, it's all the refills.
posted by pompomtom at 8:35 PM on January 3, 2005


Now I've finally got the big picture! Thanks!
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:39 PM on January 3, 2005


The equal housing is almost just a name and nothing else. (Good pun, Wolfdaddy)
posted by Dean Keaton at 9:02 PM on January 3, 2005


I guess the other fundamental point is that different expenditures are repeated across the chart a different number of times.

Eg, the funding for the F-22 raptor appears in (1) its own circle, (2) the air force, (3) the DOD, and (4) discretionary budget. That's four repetitions, making the entire budget appear larger than it is.

In contrast, elements that aren't broken out appear from 1 to 3 times depending on what level the expenditure is hidden in.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:05 PM on January 3, 2005


Most excellent.
posted by orange clock at 9:22 PM on January 3, 2005


The love of money is the love of war. And America is very, very wealthy.
posted by orange clock at 9:25 PM on January 3, 2005


What does the FCC do with almost three (3) billion (B) dollars ($)?

I'm going to repeat that question in a simpler format: who gave Colin's semi-retarded boy Michael three billion of our dollars so he can watch telly?

Who?
posted by jsavimbi at 9:42 PM on January 3, 2005


Probably the same dork that posted such a large jpeg without a thumbnail link...or one of his ilk.
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:53 PM on January 3, 2005


Dufus here, that's um, yeah only 280 Million, $280 Million so that Mike can watch TV.

I'm a non-reading idiot.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:54 PM on January 3, 2005


The love of money is the love of war.

It's not clear to me that Money and War are the same thing, though I appreciate the sentiment and freely acknowledge that very important and telling relationships exist between the two. Nonetheless, I thus cannot equate love of the two without further exegeses and evidence.
posted by freebird at 10:06 PM on January 3, 2005


[This is very cool]

Thanks.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:12 PM on January 3, 2005


It almost makes a good wallpaper. But not quite. It'd be a good visual reminder of how wasteful our government is. More taxcuts, I say!
posted by BradNelson at 11:45 PM on January 3, 2005


I would prefer it if the various circles were more closely to scale.
posted by sindark at 12:14 AM on January 4, 2005


Sindark - I suspect (though don't have time to try) that the circles are correct in area but not radius. Then again, who knows.


posted by thedevildancedlightly at 12:31 AM on January 4, 2005


Wow, just amazing how much is spent on military hardware that will never really have any purpose, or in the case of missile defence, work.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:57 AM on January 4, 2005


On the subject of how the data is presented, I think it is helpful that the data is duplicated, once for the top level departments and then each of those divided up into sub-departments and programs. This may not seem very efficient, but it gives you a quick way to compare spending at different levels.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:48 AM on January 4, 2005


Love deviantart. Lots of great stuff there.

Thedevildancedlightly,

With all the input on improvements perhaps YOU should get an account there and make all the changes this picture needs?
posted by nofundy at 4:33 AM on January 4, 2005


I think that appraising this on its statistical merits may be missing the bigger picture, given that the site it's from is named 'deviantART'(having looked around the site a little there's nothing I'd catagorise as deviant though, but maybe my standards are too high/low).

Interesting link. It's a naive question I know, but why is it that the US government is looking for ways to curb spending in other areas(like, uh, social welfare) but massive defense spending is just a given?
posted by isthisthingon at 4:33 AM on January 4, 2005


It would be nice if you could drill down a bit to get more detail... as it's not so obvious what the moneys always go to, even when you break it down by agency. It would be even better if the gov't themselves tried to provide visualizations like this.

They say they got the data from the Whitehouse... but don't link to the source. It'd be interesting to know if this reflects the latest omnibus spending bill and whatnot...
posted by ph00dz at 4:45 AM on January 4, 2005


In fiscal year 1986-87, local, state, and federal governments spent a combined total of 60.6 million dollars on law enforcement. Federal law enforcement expenditures ranked last in absolute dollars and accounted for only a sixth percent of all federal spending. By way of comparison, the federal government spent 24 million more on space exploration and 43 times more on national defense and internal relations than on law enforcement alone.
—Queensrÿche, Empire
(figures may be specious; but the idea is my aim)

Always interesting to see how much we're spending on defense that we could be spending on education. I'd rather have the "smartest" people in the world than the "safest". I find that defense tends to inspire fear, whereas education tends to breed confidence. Confident people are not easy to control, however.
posted by Eideteker at 4:59 AM on January 4, 2005


True. Eideteker, $15 billion on higher education is not a great deal split between all the universities in the US.
posted by blindsam at 5:33 AM on January 4, 2005


It is so large, I can't get a handle on it-- I guess that is supposed to be symbolic of real life.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:28 AM on January 4, 2005


Thedevildancedlightly:

I'm pretty sure that's just the F-22 expenditure for FY04. They cost ~250 mil per plane, so $5 billion would only be about 20 planes. Total multi-year program cost has several more zeros on the end.
posted by Ptrin at 7:22 AM on January 4, 2005


You know, if they had a version of that without political commentary, I'd want to make a poster from it. It would be a great prop hanging on the wall of a social studies classroom.
posted by parliboy at 7:45 AM on January 4, 2005


You can read more about the expenditures of the F-22 here.

More budget/tax stuff...
Federation of American Scientists has Fast Facts.

For a different slant you can view the War Resisters.
posted by fluffycreature at 7:54 AM on January 4, 2005


Thanks for reminding me of that quote from Empire. I always thought he said "accounted for only six percent" and then wondered how anything could account for 43 times that!
posted by salmacis at 8:30 AM on January 4, 2005


I think one way we could reduce the budget is to cut the NEA and the NEH. That would make a serious dent in this thing, yes sir.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:09 AM on January 4, 2005


The love of money is the love of war.
The tendons of war is infinite money.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:20 PM on January 4, 2005


I don't understand why they have the seal of Congress as the "center" or whatever of all of the non-military spending. Congress approriates money and the Executive Branch spends it, for both defense and non-defense spending. The fact that the DoD is the largest consumer of that money doesn't change how the government is organized.
posted by lackutrol at 2:56 PM on January 4, 2005


I've noticed that U.S.G.S. spending is missing from the D.O.I. section of the image. One wonders what else is missing.
posted by johnj at 5:06 PM on January 4, 2005


Also, can anyone find the National Science Foundation (NSF)? Or, for that matter, the National Security Agency?
posted by johnj at 5:15 PM on January 4, 2005


johnj, The Computer is curious where you may have heard of these organizations. They do not exist, and discussion of non-existing governmental agencies is Treason. If they did exist, they would be Security Clearance Ultraviolet, and it would be your duty as a Citizen to report where you had heard about them.
posted by freebird at 5:53 PM on January 4, 2005


johnj, you'll notice that the sub-circles don't add up to the area of the parent circles much of the time, so their budgets are accounted for in the totals, just not enumerated in specific items.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:15 PM on January 4, 2005


Space: Thanks for the tip. Hadn't noticed . . . My bad.


Freebird: "I see NOTHING! I Hear NOOTHING!"
posted by johnj at 7:21 PM on January 4, 2005


« Older The Figurative. A gallery of sculpture and mixed m...  |  The Lou Reed Guitar Archive... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments