Thursday, April 30, 2009


I'm a firm believer that pages and pages of text information can get tedious and down right boring (as someone who regularly read mass quantities of said info) and so is Jess Bachman and her info-design company Wallstats. In her recurring piece, "Death and Taxes" (in big detail here) she uses effective, stylish graphics to illustrate where our tax dollars go (view 08' poster here in detail). Not surprisingly, the vast majority (about 68%) goes to military/defense spending at the expense of our schools, health care and science/technology development (I'm not alone). I'm not saying I don't support national defense, but the United States spends more on our military than all other developed nations COMBINED. Since this is the largest part of the budget, it also accounts for the most wasted government spending, yet you never hear conservatives call for better efficiency from the military or its development. This is especially relevant during this recession as I'm quite sure that the budget cuts we will need in coming years could come from this area without any difference in our national security or safety of our military personnel. Just saying.

Anyway, The site does a great job explaining the work as well as displaying and selling it:

Death and Taxes" is a large representational graph and poster of the federal budget. It contains over 500 programs and departments and almost every program that receives over 200 million dollars annually. The data is straight from the president's 2009 budget request and will be debated, amended, and approved by Congress to begin the fiscal year. All of the item circles are proportional in size to their spending totals and the percentage change from 2008 is included to spot trends and disproportion.

Death and Taxes" is more than just numbers. It is a uniquely revealing look at our national priorities, that fluctuate yearly, according to the wishes of the President, the power of Congress, and the will of the people. Thousands of pages of raw data have been boiled down to one poster that provides the most open and accessible record of our nations' spending than ever before. If you pay taxes, then you have paid for a small part of everything in the poster. "Death and Taxes" is an essential poster for any responsible citizen or information junkie.

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