Steve Ballmer Drops Massive Data Dump on How Tax Dollars Are Spent

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by Megalith, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    It turns out that Steve Ballmer has been doing more than sitting around and watching Clippers games—for the last three years, he has spent $10M building an open database of government spending. His site, USAFacts, is described as a 10-K that provides numbers on everything from the amount of people in government (24 million) to how much revenue is brought in from parking tickets. I wonder if Ballmer was jumping around and chanting “taxes, taxes, taxes” while this was being developed.

    …Mr. Ballmer plans to make public a database and a report that he and a small army of economists, professors and other professionals have been assembling as part of a stealth start-up over the last three years called USAFacts. The database is perhaps the first nonpartisan effort to create a fully integrated look at revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments. Want to know how many police officers are employed in various parts of the country and compare that against crime rates? Want to know how much revenue is brought in from parking tickets and the cost to collect? Want to know what percentage of Americans suffer from diagnosed depression and how much the government spends on it? That’s in there. You can slice the numbers in all sorts of ways.
     
  2. KazeoHin

    KazeoHin [H]ardness Supreme

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    can of worms = opened.
     
  3. Nukester

    Nukester Gawd

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    Now maybe just a few lemmings will break free and realize that the word free doesn't actually mean free. It's being paid for somewhere.
     
  4. Retronym

    Retronym Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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  5. Endgame

    Endgame Limp Gawd

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    Website sooo slow... must be using IIS and asp.net
     
  6. RaxusCraxurFace

    RaxusCraxurFace [H]Lite

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    But Muh 1%
     
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  7. jardows

    jardows Limp Gawd

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    Data, data, data. What to do with all that data? I'm sure if the data proves to be solid, there will be all sorts of people trying to spin it one way or the other, but since it is open data, anyone who wants to cut through the spin can look at the data themselves and come to their own conclusion. And to top it all off, Ballmer is making this site free to access!

    The site right now is really slow, as should be expected when the news has just broken and everyone is checking it out.
     
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  8. HeadRusch

    HeadRusch Limp Gawd

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    But it's Steve...so you know the database will ultimately be fucked-up and sunset within four years................. ;)
     
  9. macksomerville

    macksomerville [H]ard|Gawd

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  10. vegeta535

    vegeta535 Gawd

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    You actually think they care? They don't care where it is coming from. They still demand their entitlements.
     
  11. Pusher of Buttons

    Pusher of Buttons [H]ard|Gawd

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    Be very curious how much money is spent outside the USA. That's the spending I have a beef with....taxes that go to pay other Americans to do jobs that theoretically help other Americans, or are used to buy American-made goods and services for government work are all reinvested back in the economy. Taxes that go to foreign entities are lost.
     
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  12. rezerekted

    rezerekted 2[H]4U

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    Isn't all this on wikipedia anyway? wikipedia claimed they have the complete knowledge of mankind.
     
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  13. Nukester

    Nukester Gawd

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    Yeah, this is true. The Snowflakes might melt if they have to think or work for themselves. All countries have this block of people though.

    I support my taxes being used for:
    1. Those that truly need the safety net due to illness (mental or physical)
    2. The Elderly
    3. Misfortune, for a limited time
    4. Healthcare for everyone, this should be a right of humanity

    I don't support:
    1. Benefits for having babies
    2. Lazy and just won't work
    3. Abuse and we all know there is a shitload of it
     
  14. Poseur

    Poseur Limp Gawd

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    So, no link to the actual website, but a link to a NYT story about the launch of a new website? Does the NYT give money to you? Why would you not link to the actual website? Makes no sense to me. Seems like you're trying to promote NYT over the subject of the NYT story, when they're both equally available. I'll add the disclaimer that I hate NYC and the NYT, by association. :oldman:

    I think I found it on my own and it's not loading. By the time the website recovers I'll have forgotten all about it. The site not loading does feed my conspiracy fears though.
     
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  15. Aireoth

    Aireoth Limp Gawd

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    That is not accurate in the least, basic macroeconomics shows that ill informed opinion to be wrong.

    Yes, misspent funds can be lost, but thats a broader problem than just buy American.

    Generally speaking, increased trade has increased the spending power of the dollar. Issues like income inequality, the failure of trickledown economics, and regional disparities prevent everyone from benifiting leading to the global rise in isolationist policies.

    Just because the dollar being spent on the foriegn entity is from the public purse does not change the increase purchasing power, or mean that the money is somehow forever lost.

    For example, America spends its tax dollars upgrading a port in a foreign nation because that port is partially or wholly american owed and services american trade. It can often be much cheaper (and thus economical) to hire local trades and buy local goods to build the port. Those locals then turn around and buy goods with their money, most are not buying local made goods but purchasing from a global economy. As many of the global companies are american this money often finds a way back into your economy.

    Buying american and using american trades can be very expensive depending on location, increasing government costs which then means either increasing taxes, debt, or decreasing other services.

    This is a very simplistic example of a complex system.

    TLDR: economics is more complex than just buy local, even for governments.

    Edit: spelling/grammer
     
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  16. RogueTadhg

    RogueTadhg Limp Gawd

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    The abuse part is where I'm interested in... This should get interesting considering the current political climate.

    Bet the site doesn't stay open for long. 'Technical Issues'
     
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  17. wootius

    wootius n00bie

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    Give this man a medal or ten.
     
  18. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics I don't get it

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    What about supporting billionaires and their industries? Favorite quote from the movie "Dave" , "You spending <xxx> on making people feel better about a car they already bought?" <sic> now while they exact example is more done tongue in cheek it does represent a scary truth.

    That said, what you support for your tax dollars is irrelevant, other than electing the people who get to spend the money (which will never do so in a fashion that exactly reflects your views) the tax payer doesn't get a say in how their money is spent. Which is probably for the better, otherwise this country would be so fucked with a level of red tape that makes what the government currently does look streamlined.
     
  19. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    That's pretty awesome!

    We also need a database of all politicians and how they are funded as part of law, perhaps under freedom of information act expansion. I never understand how people like Nancy Pelosi have a salary of around $200K a year, and has a net worth of $26 million despite a super lavish lifestyle throwing money around like its nothing... maybe its legit income, maybe its lobbyists and Hillary style bribes of $400K "speaking fees" for a 5-minute speech in exchange for future favors.
     
  20. tetris42

    tetris42 2[H]4U

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    It's an entire system. They have many, many ways of getting around actual bribery to keep it legal. Like if your company donates a bunch to my campaign, after I've served my term, I go and work for you as a "consultant" to the tune of 7 figures with light duties involved. It's an entire network of back scratching for the ruling class and it's on both the democrats and the republicans.
     
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  21. Comixbooks

    Comixbooks Ignore Me

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    There is nothing to back up what the Govt. Spends nothing at all it's like saying there is still Gold in Fort Knoxx cause there isn't.
     
  22. ruffbytes

    ruffbytes Limp Gawd

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    The site is getting blasted! It will be fun to go through the data once it comes back up!
     
  23. Draax

    Draax [H]ardness Supreme

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  24. Lizard Testes

    Lizard Testes [H]Lite

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    Like how Mitt Romney feels entitled to pay 10% income tax while I'm paying 20%.
     
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  25. DigitalGriffin

    DigitalGriffin 2[H]4U

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    Easy: Find all the tax shelters, and use them to your advantage.

    Donate clothes / books / tvs to good will
    Use a HSA
    Use a ROTH (okay that doesn't help with taxes now, but it will in the future)
    Use a 401K
    Contribute to a 529 (if you have kids)
    Get a mortgage.
    Re insulate your house
    Get solar panels
    Get a battery powered car and charging station
    Write off bad business investments as a loss.

    Because I take advantage of a lot of these legal tax shelters, I pay only about 14%. And I make good income.

    The entire system is set up so that it encourages you to invest and save rather than consume. Dumping money back into business is income you can't use. So it doesn't count against you. That's how rich people get richer.
     
  26. oROEchimaru

    oROEchimaru [H]ardness Supreme

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    Let me google that for you
     
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  27. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Prolly a bad example, as I doubt you pay anywhere close as much in taxes as he does. It'd be like if we went out to eat and split the tab, percent of hourly wage is less important than the total amount paid.

    That said, the big problem IMO is how much they are paid and their sources of income in the first place. We have so many politicians that should be comfortable only, and yet are rich. Now, if you're Trump and you were rich before you took office, and actually have become a lot poorer since assuming office, I'm totally fine with that. But if you come in poor and you come out super rich, you can't convince me you weren't doing deals on the side.
     
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  28. Uvaman2

    Uvaman2 Gawd

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    This a billion times this.
     
  29. Uvaman2

    Uvaman2 Gawd

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    On topic, thank Ballmer regardless of leanings important information indeed.
     
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  30. Lizard Testes

    Lizard Testes [H]Lite

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    Or, you know, we could just change the tax code so it doesn't fuck the middle class. I already do half that shit and the other half wouldn't make enough of a difference that it'd be a net gain.
     
  31. Lizard Testes

    Lizard Testes [H]Lite

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    No, it's a perfectly fine example because there's no reason taxes should be progressive up to the middle class and then become massively regressive for the rich. There's no reason people like Mitt should be paying 10% while people in the middle class are paying 20%, regardless of the total amount of taxes paid.
     
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  32. Pusher of Buttons

    Pusher of Buttons [H]ard|Gawd

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    It's way easier to do those things when you're well off. How the person making $20k a year is supposed to use their income toward anything that isn't food, shelter, or transportation is beyond me. I'm all for people needing to better themselves to improve their station in life, but the game is rigged in a lot of ways.
     
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  33. tetris42

    tetris42 2[H]4U

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    You may have to explain it to me some more why a rich person should pay a lower PERCENTAGE of their income than someone middle or lower class. Giving breaks to the people who need them the least never added up to me. On the contrary, when your consider most of tax welfare is CORPORATE, it's "reverse Robin Hood" economics.

    And yes, you're right about the politicians. Our congress literally consists of mostly millionaires now. We have a government by millionaires, for millionaires.
     
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  34. BloodyIron

    BloodyIron [H]ard|Gawd

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    Wow, something Steve Ballmer did that I can get behind. What an age we live in! (y)
     
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  35. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    If you and I decide to split a pizza together, and the pizza is $10, does the person paying $2 (because he has less money) get to complain that the other guy who paid $8 didn't pay enough (because he has more money)? Seems dumb, and the bigger problem IMO is just why there is such huge income disparity, rather than having one guy pay very little in tax dollars while another guy pays fortunes, as a form of income redistribution.
     
  36. MrCaffeineX

    MrCaffeineX [H]ard|Gawd

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    While that is arguably true, the person making $20k a year is also probably not paying a significant portion of that income to taxes. We have a progressive tax system that does alleviate the tax burden at the lower end of the scale. At the upper end of the scale, you start dealing in various forms of income other than earned income (i.e. hourly wages/salary) that are taxed at different rates and that's how many wealthy people pay a lower percentage of income in taxes. The middle class comprises mostly wage earners that earn income, therefore they pay tax on it at the rates for earned income. It is a much more complicated system than most people care to sort out, which leads to all kinds of confusion.

    That being said, I support a flat rate income tax, regardless of where that income comes from. I also realize that it will never be implemented because there are too many benefits to certain groups as a result of the complexity of the current system.

    The other side of the equation is seeing where the money is being spent. I am glad to see someone putting forth this kind of data compilation effort. There will still be people spinning the numbers to fit their argument, but at least now you can see the raw data to perform your own independent analysis instead of trusting that they are spinning the real numbers.
     
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  37. Lizard Testes

    Lizard Testes [H]Lite

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    This is a completely nonsensical analogy. It bears absolutely no resemblance to the situation being discussed. Try again. Maybe choose something non food related.
     
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  38. DigitalGriffin

    DigitalGriffin 2[H]4U

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    If you are making <$45K, you aren't paying income taxes (Social security yes, income taxes no)
     
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  39. DigitalGriffin

    DigitalGriffin 2[H]4U

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    Truth being told the top 1% of earners in the USA pay half of all tax collected by the IRS. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/13/top-1-pay-nearly-half-of-federal-income-taxes.html


    Stocks and bonds aren't a true liquid assets. The second you cash them out you get taxed for short term capital gains (40%) or long term capital gains. This does not count as income tax. So in essence the rich do pay a lot more than you realize.

    But there is a side benefit, when you invest in businesses through stocks that gives businesses more working capital from which more people can be hired. This is a win-win. You save on taxes by tying it up in businesses, and in return, more jobs are created. You also get to watch your money grow, which gets taxed at a decent clip when you retire. This is also a win-win.

    It's a win for the state when you invest in a 529. That means they can invest more grant money in someone else who is poor to help them out with a college education. You get the tax break up front and in the long term. That is a win-win.

    Owning a home has multiple economic and social impacts. So to encourage you to get a home, the government gives you tax breaks on mortgage interest. This is a win-win.

    Like I said, the system is designed to give you breaks on things that benefit society.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  40. DigitalGriffin

    DigitalGriffin 2[H]4U

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    Then you are doing it wrong. My standard deduction was $12,000. Itemized, I had $30,000 in deductions. This doesn't include my pre-tax items like health insurance or 401k.