The National Priorities Project

This morning on the radio I heard about a group called the National Priorities Project. This group gives people an easy way to visualize how the government spends money. This is an important thing to know.

Many times when people have money, they want to keep it. If they spend it, they want to know what they are spending it on, to make sure that it’s being put towards things that are important to them. We generally hold ourselves to pretty stringent standards on how we spend money. Why not do the same of the government, who gets about 40% of your paycheck anyway?

The National Priorities Project does a good job of showing what your taxes are really used for. For example, if you go to their Income Tax Chart page and enter in an amount of money paid in income taxes, it shows you how that total gets spent. Did you know that 4.1% of your taxes goes to education? Did you know that 18.7% of your taxes go to paying interest on the national debt? How about that the biggest chunk, 28.5%, is spent on the military? This tools helps you answer these questions and more.

The second interesting part of the site is the Federal Budget Trade-Offs page, which gives you an idea about what money being spent in one area means for other areas. For example, according to this tool, Detroit taxpayers paid “$555.4 million for the cost of the Iraq war through 2007.” This money could 4,477 “Affordable Housing Units” in the city.

I encourage everyone to find out what exactly their money is being spent on. Let’s hold the people that spend our tax dollars accountable. If there’s one thing that upsets most people more than anything, it’s have someone mess with their money.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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