With the economy in a mess, and a war going on over bailouts left and right, it got me to thinking: What's the best way to determine what the general public thinks our tax money should be spent on?
Every day, we hear arguments from all corners of the world on what taxpayers want to see money spent towards: defense, health care, education, etc etc. But no one has put forth a democratic idea yet to solve the problem.
I propose that each tax form contain one survey question, at the end. It would consist of a small box with various labels, such as Defense, Education, Energy, etc etc. You would prioritize how you would like your taxes to be spent by placing a 1 in the box you felt was most important, 2 in the 2nd most important box, and so on and so forth. Additionally, there would be space for one or two 'write-in' options.
What would be the benefits of such a system? First, everyone in America who pays taxes would be able to have a direct say on their priorities. It could also be used to track public opinion of issues, and a useful gauge to our representatives to see where funding should be directed. Then we could hold these politicians accountable if they go against the grain without explaining their positions.
What are the negatives? Besides the cost of people to collect and collate the data, the downsides are slim. (Apart from H&R Block convincing customers to write them in, of course.)
I think a proposal of this nature would not only make our country more democratic, but be a quick, efficient, and easy way for people to share their voice on where their money should be going. What do you think of the idea?
(Cross posted at DailyKos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/12/12/163418/02/863/672409)