Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cut stuff! But not the stuff we spend money on!

This story and chart by Annie Lowery at the Washington Independent is about national trends, but the phenomenon it's tackling applies to Philadelphia to some extent, too. Basically, the public wants a balanced budget, and it wants to make budget cuts to balance the budget, but the things it wants to cut don't constitute a very large portion of government expenditures.

Cut stuff! But not the stuff we spend money on!

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This story and chart by Annie Lowery at the Washington Independent is about national trends, but the phenomenon it's tackling applies to Philadelphia to some extent, too. Basically, the public wants a balanced budget, and it wants to make budget cuts to balance the budget, but the things it wants to cut don't constitute a very large portion of government expenditures.

In the chart to the right, the blue bars represent the areas that respondents to an Economist/YouGov poll say they would like to see the federal government cut. The red bars represent the amount of money the government actually spends in those areas.

To some extent, this illustrates the challenges of elected officials being highly responsive to the public's desires -- the public's desires can be incoherent. Although we tend to think that if the pubic were engaged more often and more thoroughly, people would be better informed and we wouldn't see so many charts like this.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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