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United States Businesses Government The Almighty Buck Politics

Steve Ballmer's New Project: Find Out How the Government Spends Your Money (theverge.com) 249

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn't satisfied with owning the Los Angeles Clippers and teaching at Stanford and USC. On Tuesday, the billionaire announced USAFacts, his new startup that aims to improve political discourse by making government financial data easier to access. A small "army" of economists, professors and other professionals will be looking into and publishing data structured similarly to the 10-K filings companies issue each year -- expenses, revenues and key metrics pulled from dozens of government data sources and compiled into a single massive collection of tables. From a report on The Verge: The nonpartisan site traces $5.4 trillion in government spending under four categories derived from language in the US Constitution. Defense spending, for example, is categorized under the header "provide for the common defense," while education spending is under "secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity." Spending allocation and revenue sources are each mapped out in blue and pink graphics, with detailed breakdowns along federal, state and local lines. Users can also search for specific datasets, such as airport revenue or crime rates, and the site includes a report of "risk factors" that could inhibit economic growth. The New York Times has the story on how this startup came to be.

Steve Ballmer's New Project: Find Out How the Government Spends Your Money

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  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @10:08AM (#54256207)

    The number $X spent on defense obscures the fact about how each defense dollar is spent.
    It may be that with an increase in efficiency, and reduction in labor force, you could reduce $X in defense by 75%, and still have just as effective a defense program, with no material sacrifice other than removing deadweight, or eliminating financial mismanagements or abuses by bureaucrats.

    What the American people need is drill-down financial transparency down to the Per-Employee, Per-Contract, and Per-Product level.

    We should literally know how much our government is spending on each tool, supply, or service being requisitioned, and what is included with each tool, supply, or service.

    • by Gilgaron ( 575091 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @10:16AM (#54256293)
      I think the cost of running an analysis that fine would eat any savings many fold over. It's like drug testing welfare recipients... it might sound like a good idea but you'll waste more money than you'll save.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I think the cost of running an analysis that fine would eat any savings many fold over. It's like drug testing welfare recipients... it might sound like a good idea but you'll waste more money than you'll save.

        Whereas making welfare recipients show up for volunteering would definitely be a cost savings. Even if it cost money I don't know many working people who wouldn't fork over another $20 just to make everyone else have to get up in the morning too. I'd apply this to disability and unemployment also. The best part is that with unemployment, and to a lesser degree disability, you would have all the workers that you need to run the program. Don't show up, don't get your free money.

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          Aren't people on disability, well, disabled, which is why they get benefits? Because they can't work?

          And in theory, shouldn't unemployed be people spending their time obtaining more optimal jobs vs. makework?

          • Aren't people on disability, well, disabled, which is why they get benefits? Because they can't work?

            And in theory, shouldn't unemployed be people spending their time obtaining more optimal jobs vs. makework?

            Most people on disability have a form of impairment yet few have a total impairment. As long as there are elderly people who need company there is something useful to be done. Have them do it.

            Regarding unemployment, a person can't spend 40 hours a week looking for work for more than a couple of weeks before local options have been exhausted. There is a huge body of evidence that getting people out of the house and staying on a routine are both very important in keeping unemployment short term. This wou

            • Why not let the unemployed stay home and just enjoy life? Why should everyone suffer just cause some of us donkeys have to work to keep the wealthy in ever larger yachts and estates?
              If they've exhausted local work options after a couple of weeks, what is the point of making them beat a dead horse? Would you have them commute ridiculous distances/times for menial/low-paying work? Where is the benefit to the human race there? Presumably there'd be local people who would want those jobs who wouldn't have t

        • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:18PM (#54257445) Homepage

          > Even if it cost money I don't know many working people who wouldn't fork over another $20 just to make everyone else have to get up in the morning too.

          Running an economy on emotions is a stupid thing to do.

        • Even if it cost money I don't know many working people who wouldn't fork over another $20 just to make everyone else have to get up in the morning too.

          Hi! I work. I have no desire to spend extra dollars on this at all.

          Aside from just sounding vindictive, it would be stupidly short-sited. Making single-mothers on welfare work makes it far more likely their kids will go to jail or end up on welfare.

        • by dinfinity ( 2300094 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:23PM (#54257491)

          You're suggesting a mild form of slavery.

          Note that forcing people to volunteer negates the meaning of 'volunteer'. It also prevents them from finding an actual job and removes all market elements from the labor involved. See the US prison labor system to see what that leads to.

          Even if it cost money I don't know many working people who wouldn't fork over another $20 just to make everyone else have to get up in the morning too

          You need to get to know people who aren't so spiteful that they would want to pay to ruin other people's lives just because they don't like theirs. Because that is what you are suggesting.

          Don't show up, don't get your free money.

          So it is not free money.

          Listen, I get that you want the world to be a fair place. I suggest however you direct your efforts away from the weakest people in society to those who use their affluence to game the entire system to make it as skewed towards them as best they can. While you are devising 'solutions' for 'lazy' welfare recipients, billionaires and lobbyists are laughing all the way to the(ir) bank.

          • You're suggesting a mild form of slavery.

            Note that forcing people to volunteer negates the meaning of 'volunteer'. It also prevents them from finding an actual job and removes all market elements from the labor involved. See the US prison labor system to see what that leads to.

            That's why I advocate volunteering for social good, not working as an unpaid intern

            Listen, I get that you want the world to be a fair place. I suggest however you direct your efforts away from the weakest people in society to those who use their affluence to game the entire system to make it as skewed towards them as best they can. While you are devising 'solutions' for 'lazy' welfare recipients, billionaires and lobbyists are laughing all the way to the(ir) bank.

            The middle class suffers from 2 scams: the non-working poor and the uber rich. One of the biggest scams around is the notion that if you challenge the upper end of the you should focus on the bottom (ie Republicans) and if you challenge the bottom you should instead attack the top (ie Democrats). Both need to be fixed, I'm all for doing both, but delaying one to instead say focus on the other leads to nothing getting done.

            • The middle class suffers from 2 scams: the non-working poor

              The only scam involved there is the right-wing demagoguery that has led you to believe that people like being poor and unemployed.

              Seriously, the majority of the people blabbering about 'welfare queens' and 'moochers' haven't a fucking clue what it is like to be part of the 'non-working poor' (the time you were in college "living off only ramen noodles" does not count). People actually feel like shit due to lack of societal status. Due to the stress involved with not being able to pay bills they have a scien

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          Whereas making welfare recipients show up for volunteering would definitely be a cost savings.

          That would be brilliant; save costs, limit the program to people who really need it, And give people on the program continuously a hazard, to help nudge these folks to try and find another solution..

          e.g. "After an initial one-time offer of 4 weeks of total welfare support. Must show a weighted total of at least 40 hours a month volunteering, actual community service with jobs performed and hours wor

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        I think the cost of running an analysis that fine would eat any savings many fold over. It's like drug testing welfare recipients

        Not really.... Each government department HAS to record all this data anyways; It's not like you need a special IT system for this. Someone has the data; it's just
        not organized without summarizing.

        I can login to my account at Amazon.com, click a button, and I see and can search my entire order history.
        It should work the same way with government. I can login

        • You obviously do not work for a government organization. All I can tell you is that the simple fact of changing a field name in a database or in an UI requires almost a year of meetings, emails and phone calls with tons of people. The term you use in your post, "should", is right. It should be this way. But it is not. The more complicated it is, the more obfuscated it can be kept. And that's how they want it to be.
        • The accounting records have to exist, yes. But to take that in whatever horrible form it is in, and translate it into something you can stuff in an internet facing database with enough hardware to index and serve the whole mess is different than keeping records that are merely adequate to support a government audit. That and you'll have to categorize everything, which would mean anytime anyone charged anything to a government number they'll have yet another form to fill out, raising overhead. Then you'd
    • by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @10:45AM (#54256541)

      There are generals who've stated it bluntly: the military budget needs depend on what you want to do. If you just want to have a defensive capability, then a fraction of the current budget is enough. If you want full scale dominance then the current budget is not enough.

      That the military and intelligence budget is not transparent is true enough. there are a lot of shadowy constructions that have been setup specifically to allow secret funding of projects(typically projects that change names often). Only I wonder if that should be the main focus. The main problem may be in plain sight. If you just look at the current organisation, there is a huge military budget, and part of it is spread around to many states, so that a lot of people benefit. In effect a lot of politicians support military projects because they hope to benefit.
      It leads to an arms race that fuels itself. Politicians are in favor of modernizing nukes because it means jobs. Politicians don't want a less wasteful budget. It would only mean they get less of it.

      • there are a lot of shadowy constructions that have been setup specifically to allow secret funding of projects

        <sarcasm>This is evil because it's such a good idea to tell our enemies what we're doing.</sarcasm>

      • by dave562 ( 969951 )

        You have started to address the reality of the American economy. By and large, our entire economic system is built around military spending. It is almost impossible to have a real discussion about reducing military spending in any meaningful way because there are so many jobs tied up in it.

        This has so many add on effects. When all you have is a military, every challenge looks like a potential conflict.

    • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @11:15AM (#54256817)

      The number $X spent on defense obscures the fact about how each defense dollar is spent.

      It doesn't really matter how each defense dollar is spent. The problem isn't what specifically we are spending it on but the fact that we are spending too much of it on defense in total. We have a $600 billion defense department budget as of 2016. That is more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan [pgpf.org] combined. We could be getting amazing efficiency from our military spending and it would still be a pointless boondoggle. Our military is really just an inefficient jobs program. The money could be put to far better use as research dollars or to fixing our education system, or repairing/building our infrastructure. Instead we have the sort of military that a paranoid banana republic might build at vast cost. Are you aware that we borrowed almost exactly the ENTIRE defense department budget last year? We are like the guy who buys a Ferrari and then wonders why he's having trouble paying the rent.

      We should literally know how much our government is spending on each tool, supply, or service being requisitioned, and what is included with each tool, supply, or service.

      Let's stipulate that that was somehow magically possible. (it isn't) What exactly would you do with that information? Are you going to go argue that a secretary at NASA was being extravagant when she requisitioned a stapler? Beyond a certain point the cost of maintaining that information is greater than the value you get from maintaining it.

      I'm an accountant and one of the principles of accounting is that you don't bother tracking something if the cost of tracking it is greater than the value gained from doing the tracking. Your proposal would waste an unbelievably vast amount of money on the overhead required to keep track of every paper clip. Far more money than you could possibly save by doing so. FAR more. For big ticket items, sure there should be reasonable transparency. But thinking that you can keep track of everything in fine grained detail and get actual positive value out of doing so is just naively unrealistic. It provably cannot be done.

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Yeah, the U.S.'s wealth isn't connected to keeping the shipping lanes open, defending Korea and Japan so they won't decide to develop their own nukes, keeping W. Europe from becoming Putin's pig sty, keeping the oil from the Mid-East greasing the world economy that buys American goods, etc. Screw it all, the U.S. doesn't need all that to be fat and rich, yes?

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        We could be getting amazing efficiency from our military spending and it would still be a pointless boondoggle.

        You are jumping to a conclusion that may be false, however.
        $600 billion sounds like a lot, but we can't tell if it's actually going to the sort of expenses within defense that we think or not.
        Furthermore, it's not straightforward, because some of the US' GDP and the government's own income and state of the US economy
        relates to said defense spending, and it's not strictly that defense w

      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        The military has a dept that reallocates things that can be re-used. Soldiers will send them things that are no longer needed. When we lived on base, we used to see commercials all the time telling people to consider what they are sending for reallocation. Shipping back a mostly used spool of thread is more waste the savings.

        People don't use their brains, especially cheap people.
    • Florida's governor Jeb Bush embarrassed a number of counties into cleaning up road graft by simply requiring each county to report metrics such as cost-per-road-mile which ultimately were aggregated in this table: http://www.fdot.gov/programman... [fdot.gov] . Counties having the same soil conditions had widely different costs before they were forced to publish comparable metrics. Rather than focus directly on numbers, if distributed role costs such as ratio of HR salaries to total salaries were identified for each
    • That degree of accuracy may be more expensive. The historical $900 toilet seat, isn't because the government is buying a toilet seat for $900 retail but the $20.00 seat with overview and sign offs of higher paid people. Who look at the request determines if they get away with the $15.00 seat it will have the same benefit meeting to make sure it is on budget and every dollar is accounted for. If you are going to have a high up director needing to explain to the public why they spent an extra $5.00 then the

      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        wrong. It's because the costs were aggregated into a larger project. Said larger project might have been (and I'm pretty sure it was) a B-52 bomber, which needed special toilet seats. The total project cost was, for example $16 million, the cost was then assigned to each part, with little relevance to actual cost.

        reference: http://www.govexec.com/federal... [govexec.com]
    • Translation:
      Do you want a new stapler in the office? Go fill out this TPS report and get the signature of your supervisor. Then ask the administrator to open up a Purchase Order so they can get a quote from the supplier.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Do you want a new stapler in the office? Go fill out this TPS report and get the signature of your supervisor.

        That doesn't sound very productive. I said the expense needs to be ACCOUNTED for at an individual item level for recordkeeping,
        meaning someone has to make sure the description of what item is purchased is entered into an online automated system that tracks the
        accounts, not "Sent through a formal approval process involving generating paperwork and signatures". Those are two very differe

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @10:09AM (#54256209)

    "...The nonpartisan site traces $5.4 trillion in government spending under four categories derived from language in the US Constitution...

    Well, that's certainly one way to upgrade the status of the Constitution from ignored to illegal.

    Can't imagine this kind of prodding into the spending habits of our not-so-transparent government will go over well...

    • As someone who has done purchasing for the government, part of the training emphasizes accountability to the public. The whole reason there's so many signatures for approval for every penny spent with a GPC [osd.mil] is to be able to report this sort of thing when presented with a FOIA. Not to mention being able to tell Congress (through command chain) just how much money was spent and on what. There's more transparency than many realize. With that transparency comes more paperwork validating and approving every step

    • Not to mention how clueless it is to put "education" spending under "secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity [sic]". It's silly enough to use the preamble for something like this (should use Article I, Section 8) but worse yet that so much of federal spending - such as education - isn't Constitutional.

      For those who missed civics class or didn't have it - education is one of those things the states are supposed to handle, not the federal government. That's why there are no federal un

  • Is startup really the right term? Its hard to see how this is a business.
  • DEFENSE! DEFENSE! DEFENSE! WELFARE! WELFARE! WELFARE! (throws chair)

    Something like that, but now I have to compensate for all those caps (why yes, it is exactly like YELLING, how did you guess?) to make the lameness filter happy.

  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @10:26AM (#54256385)

    This is a really dangerous oversimplification. What they should be looking at is the overhead costs associated with government spending. Supposedly, Social Security is a "third rail" of politics. Usually, if a politician talks about reforming it or fixing it, they're toast because the voters have been lead to believe that every dollar that goes into Social Security comes back out. It simply can't work that way. There are too many people employed by the Social Security Administration. Every single one of them gets a salary and a pension. They all need a physical place to work. Ergo, that all costs money. A LOT of money. Same thing for Medicare. Both of these entitlement programs represent the bulk of government spending.
    Also, whenever some pundit screams bloody murder about "cuts" to either of these programs, the are flat out lying to you. Nothing ever gets cut. That's how baseline budgeting works. What they're really talking about is reductions to proposed INCREASES in spending over and above previous baselines.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Nice to see you have little understanding of SS. It is a pay as you go system. Lately, it has been paying a bit more than what's going in. And in the near term future, it will be paying a lot more than what's going in. This has nothing to do with overhead, and if you checked, overhead on government programs is generally minimal. SS will go bankrupt because the Blue Haired are demanding more than they ever could possibly have paid in, and there isn't enough youngins to make up the difference. And now with el

      • The SSA employs over 60,000 people. They aren't cheap. https://www.glassdoor.com/Sala... [glassdoor.com]
        That means that it's costing somewhere around $3 billion a year (probably more) to run the program not including pensions for retired employees. And they don't produce anything. They merely add an expense to moving money around. These days, the entire system could be automated.

        Medicare doesn't employ nearly as many people directly but the number of people needed by doctors and hospitals to deal with the paperwork is

        • Automate the SSA? Their target clientèle is the biggest bunch of techno-incompetents in the country - old people!

          And, incidentally, those people are all paying into the Social Security system themselves, so it's not all lost money. If we laid them all off, would the savings on an automated system be enough to compensate for their lost income?

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @10:52AM (#54256623)

    The only government spending that really matters is Medicare/Medicaid, Defense, and Social Security. Those together account for about 3/4 of the federal budget. Any discussion of federal spending that doesn't involve those four programs is pointless and/or grandstanding. Stuff like NASA and education are almost rounding errors in comparison to those four programs.

    That's also why anyone who talks about cutting taxes without also talking about cutting either Medicare or Defense is completely full of shit because we don't pay enough in taxes to cover those programs today. We certainly can't afford to cut taxes when last year we borrowed $600 billion to cover the $600 billion defense department budget. Cutting taxes without cutting Medicare or Defense is simply handing the bill to your children which makes the people doing it assholes. Believing that cutting taxes will magically increase government revenues through growth makes the people saying either idiots or charlatans or both.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gtall ( 79522 )

      "Believing that cutting taxes will magically increase government revenues through growth makes the people saying either idiots or charlatans or both."

      Example: Brownback-is-stan, a.k.a. Kansas. It was to be the Conservative Experiment to show the other states how it's done. Now it is the Conservative BasketCase to show the other states how not to do it.

      • ...And believing that you can just raise rates and that will magically result in more government revenues is equally as silly. Like it or not, tax rates and regulations do effect people's behavior and the economy's growth. Government has to find a good balance between taxes that are too low and taxes that are too high. When you raise them too high, people will either stop putting in the same effort to earn it, or they will waste resources trying to get around them. If they are too low, you don't have enough
    • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

      You're forgetting the other other big one: interest payments on national debt.

      But even all of the "small beans" items are larger than they look... for example, the federal spending on education contributes only about 7% of the actual operating costs for a K-12 school, the majority of which is typically paid by State, County, City, and local taxes. But the feds make schools really work and jump through lots of hoops and administer tests to tick off the boxes that allows them to tap into that 7% of funding.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:12PM (#54257373)
      Also of note is that 1/4 of the portion of the budget that isn't in that 3/4 is interest on debt (about 6% of the budget). And that will rise as interest rates rise unless we start reducing the debt.

      Believing that cutting taxes will magically increase government revenues through growth makes the people saying either idiots or charlatans or both.

      No, that's based on a fundamental theorem of calculus [wikipedia.org]. We know that:

      • At 0% taxation you get zero tax revenue.
      • At 100% taxation (Communism) we get a certain amount of tax revenue.
      • At an arbitrary % of taxation between those two points, we get an amount of tax revenue higher than at 100% taxation.

      If tax revenue is a continuous function of tax rate, then according to the mean value theorem there is a certain percentage between 0% and 100% at which tax revenue is maximized. Call it m%.

      • If the current tax rate is below m%, then decreasing tax rate will decrease tax revenue.
      • If the current tax rate is above m%, then decreasing tax rate will increase tax revenue.

      You can argue that we're below m% so cutting taxes won't work. But automatically classifying people as idiots or charlatans for believing decreasing tax rate can increase tax revenue just shows your lack of understanding of mathematics.

      • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:59PM (#54257891)

        You and Laffer both have an unstated and hidden assumption, that maximizing tax revenue is a good goal. It's not; the long-term maximization of the income of Americans is a good goal.

        Since much of the money that the government takes in is used to inhibit production and remove incentives to work, it's fairly safe to claim that the tax level that maximizes long-term American income is below the rate that maximizes tax revenue.

        In addition, a tax rate below the maximum revenue rate increases freedom.

        I included the phrase "long-term" for a specific reason. While a zero tax rate would maximize the income of Americans for the short term, the lack of a military that would come from a zero tax rate would eventually result in the end of the USA, and hence no income for Americans.

        • by g01d4 ( 888748 )

          You and Laffer both have an unstated and hidden assumption, that maximizing tax revenue is a good goal. It's not; the long-term maximization of the income of Americans is a good goal.

          It's not clear that the goals contradict. If government isn't productive (i.e. generating benefits to society) then the optimal (maximized tax) would theoretically be less than if the government were giving good value for the taxes received. Of course you'd have to know how to measure civil service productivity and unfortunatel

    • We pay 12.5% of our income to SS and Medicare. If those are pulling funds from income tax to pay for them then that's an issue.

      What people what reduced is income tax.

      You can't conflate SS, Medicare taxes with income tax.

      There are very distinct things. And as such you have to talk about the programs they fund separately.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      Does anyone look at their W2s? I guess not, maybe many do jobs that don't have W2s. This shows gross salary, money withheld for taxes, money withheld for Social Security, money withheld for Medicare. This clearly shows that SS and Medicare are ***not*** the same as taxes. Taxes are collected and spent, the other is put into separate accounts and you are entitled to get this back when you get old. But damn everyone lumps it all in same bucket. Other mischief is when they borrow money out of SS accounts to ma
    • by smugfunt ( 8972 )

      we don't pay enough in taxes to cover those programs today. We certainly can't afford to cut taxes when last year we borrowed $600 billion

      Government programs are not paid for by taxes or borrowing. They are paid for by spending new money.

      The purposes of tax are:
      1) Create demand for the government's money.
      2) Withdraw excess money from the economy.
      3) Discourage undesirable economic activity (vices).

      The purposes of borrowing are:
      1) Control interest rates.
      2) Provide banks and other wealthy entities with welfare

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The preamble states, "secure the blessings of the liberty to ourselves and our posterity." Meaning our children.

    The website has it correct. The summary does not, and apparently isn't thinking of the children.

  • I wonder if it will be any easier for Ballmer to figure out what the government spends, than it is for each of us to figure out what we actually owe in taxes? After weeks of filling out forms and finding receipts (and I use an accountant), I had to sign the form saying I agreed that the information was correct and complete. I am a programmer, but I honestly have no idea whatsoever if the check I wrote was the right amount. The only thing I am sure of is that the amount was much more than I thought it should
  • These spending reports are needed to properly implement the peoples voice in their (the peoples) business of government. See http://3seas.org/pmwiki-gov/ [3seas.org]

    • by 3seas ( 184403 )

      There is also this https://globalchallenges.org/e... [globalchallenges.org] of which Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are supporters of.
      A yellow flag went up for me on this as "The way to become wealthy is to make people need you" - Bill Gates
      But I'm registered for the competition and getting the peoples voice in the peoples business of government is the plan, and ultimately scale it to the world. But starting with the US is a big influential step.

  • Okay, so Balmer's wife explains to him what we all should have picked up on as we read "A Christmas Carol". Particularly Scrooge says to the ghost of Christmas Present and says "I'm taxed for them, isn't that enough?". It's kind of shameful that it takes being "bored" to actually get around being involved in our own government outside of lobbying. We all get busy, but if we aren't involved in our governments, well perhaps that is why the government spends part of its time (and our money) finding ways to neg
  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:43PM (#54257731) Homepage

    It's all nice and stuff that Steve Ballmer wants to do this. However, the government really should be doing this itself. Government accounting should meet the same standards as business accounting. Why? Because it is just as important, if not more so. Furthermore, all accounts should be fully public. Why? Because it's our money the government is spending.

    For the poster who said that this is too much work: This is what every business in the country has to do. If it's too complicated, the government could consider simplifying things. But the government wants clarity in business accounts, for tax purposes. And we - the citizens - want clarity in seeing how the government spends our taxes. Sauce. Goose. Gander.

    Won't happen, of course, because it would become much more difficult to hide pork. Ballmer's idea isn't going to work, because he will be unable to get the information that really counts.

  • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @01:04PM (#54257915)
    The political bias is evident in the structure shown in Ballmer's chart. Problems include categories NOT specified by the Constitution, and the claims that certain goals fall under certain categories. People who think that federal funding (and thus control) of education promotes liberty, are sadly mistaken.
    • We're sort of stuck, I don't know how we go back. What should happen is about 25% of the Federal government should be cut, and our Federal income tax load cut commensurately, then state and local governments should increase taxes to bring that burden back up to where it is, + or -.

      Then we have more control as voters. I have 1/(state population) of a vote over spending, vs 1/(US population) as it is now for most spending (yes, this is simplified but close enough)..

      But we're so programmed as Americans to th

  • The first thing I tried to find on Ballmer's usafacts.org was numbers on the H-1B visa program. Couldn't find a damn thing. I know the government tracks those numbers and I've seen some of them in news articles, so why aren't they within usafacts dataset?
  • I am also curious about the money the government never sees: Ballmer was tax dodger in chief Microsoft as it kept $120 billion off shore. http://www.seattletimes.com/bu... [seattletimes.com] and https://crosscut.com/2014/08/w... [crosscut.com] I posted this story with more context about his tax dodging and Slashdot declined it.

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