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This is a friends-only post, because I don't want to deal with the nut-bars. I've opened it up to the public so that I can use it to illustrate some points to people who aren't LJ users.

  1. The military: 42.2% To further subdivide this category, 28.7% is spent for the current military (all personnel, materiel, supplies, transportation, etc., including the prosecution of current wars); 10% goes to pay interest on military debt; and 3.5% goes to veteran benefits.

    Why are these good things? Well, without a functioning military, we'd be sitting ducks. Now, I personally believe that our current military is more than a little bit overfed, but I'm not one of those radicals who calls for all military spending to stop. We need armed forces. Similarly, paying interest on debt helps keep us financially solvent, and veteran benefits help retired or injured military personnel live full and happy lives. I think not enough is spent on veteran benefits, and that what is spent currently is poorly managed, but they are nevertheless important.

  2. Healthcare: 22.1% This includes Medicare and all of the other government health programs, such as the medical benefits for Federal employees and elected officials and, of course, the ACA. These are all good things, because access to quality medical care is a fundamental human right. The implementation of said programs may not be ideal, but it's a hell of a lot better than nothing at all. Without these programs, millions would die—mostly children and the elderly.

  3. Interest on non-military debt: 10% This, again, keeps the country financially solvent. Not paying this interest would result in default, and whenever a country goes into default, economic disaster usually follows.

  4. Anti-poverty programs: 8.7% This includes food assistance programs, supplemental income for low income families, foster care assistance, and adoption programs. All of these make up our "safety net", as meager as it is. There are those who say that any safety net at all makes people lazy, but the science doesn't support that position. The government can only exist with the support of the people, so it's the government's duty to support the people in turn. I feel that this category could use a significant boost, but what we have—as little and as uncoordinated as it it—is still better than nothing at all.

  5. Education, training, and social services: 4.4% This includes primary, secondary, and higher education, employment training centers, and other such programs. A well-educated population contributes significantly to a nations economic power and stability. A well-educated population is also less likely to fall under the sway of demagogues. Iceland knows this: when they had their economic collapse a few years ago, they cut everything to the bone except education, which they boosted as much as they possibly could. They are now well on the road to recovery. We could learn from them.

  6. Government and law enforcement: 3.9% This includes all costs of keeping the government and Federal law enforcement running, including salaries, overhead costs, facilities, etc. This benefits the court system, the FBI, government agencies, elected officials, and all the people whom these entities serve. Without a functioning government, and without enforcement of the nation's laws, everything falls into anarchy. It may be a popular pastime to criticize the government, and much of that criticism is warranted. But government and law enforcement is necessary, and we all benefit from them.

  7. Housing and community development: 3.3% This goes hand-in-hand with the anti-poverty programs as part of the safety-net. These programs help low-income and homeless people get housing. All of the arguments in favor of the anti-poverty programs also apply to this category.

  8. Environment, energy, and science: 2.6% This includes environmental programs (including the EPA), energy exploration, and programs and facilities that do scientific or technological research and/or development. NASA is included in this category. Without scientific and technical innovation, our economic power dwindles. With significant investment in science and technology, we "future-proof" our economy.

  9. Agriculture, commerce, and transportation: 1.5% Roads! Food! Trade! All good things.

  10. Foreign affairs: 1% This includes international humanitarian aid, the diplomatic corps, and international financial programs. Basically, our interface with the rest of the world. There are a lot of people who say things like "Why should we help other countries when there are starving people here?" But look at the percentage here: 1%. And humanitarian aid is only a part of that. If it were folded into the anti-poverty programs, above, it would likely only make a 10% difference at best. But by providing humanitarian aid abroad, we build positive relationships with the rest of the world. And that's important, because we are not all alone here. We have to work with everyone else, all 6.9 billion of them, in order to survive.

So there you have it. These are the reasons that I don't mind paying taxes. Yeah, it's a pain, and it's always better to have more money, but I feel that the value I receive outweighs the amount I pay for it. You may disagree, and that's okay, but this is how I feel.

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