Re: Grading the gov't (was Re: G & J, in cahoots?)

From: Matt Jensen (
Date: Tue Mar 20 2001 - 16:50:04 PST

On Tue, 20 Mar 2001, Jeff Bone wrote:

> Here's a thought: take the income tax form, put a list of departments and
> federal programs on it, and let people allocate percentage-wise their own tax
> dollars across programs as they see fit. I might still not like the idea of an
> income tax in general, but at least that would make it much more palatable.

Yeah, I like that, if it's workable. But is it?

What if people allocate heavier to highway construction, but lighter to
Customs (compared to today's budget)? We end up with waste in the highway
program, and more people slipping by overworked Customs agents.

I'm not satisfied with saying "that's what the people want", because
people don't have the time to assess the federal budget in the required
detail. That's why we have many area-specific subcommittees, that hear
testimony from agency heads, who present budget requests drawn up by
administrators, based on data crunched by agency analysts, all vetted by
OMB, CBO, GAO, and external watchdogs.

It takes a lot of work to understand how best to provide services to 280
million people, and I don't see how average taxpayers could do it in
detail. Maybe instead, we could have an annual budget referendum, and
people could vote for one of n specified budgets. If you can tweak your
proposal somehow, it sounds intriguing.

-Matt Jensen

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