By the end of the fair, 302 fairgoers had participated. Their ideas of how the government should spend our tax dollars were very different from how the National Priorities Project (NPP), a nonpartisan think tank, says the government in fact now allocates its discretionary monies. Fairgoers voted to spend 18.4% of the money the IRS collects on health care, and 17% on education. Environmental protection came in third at 15.1% (we now spend only 3% on natural resources and the environment.)
In one respect Bucks voters are very interested in military expenditures. The fourth big winner—at 14.2%-- was veterans’ benefits (whereas vets’ benefits and services only get 4% of discretionary spending now). But these voters would only spend 8.4% on the current military. According to the NPP, the government now spends 59% of discretionary funding (a number that doesn’t include trust funds like Social Security) on current and past military expenditures—a large portion of interest on the national debt is used to pay interest on past military expenditures. It was by voting to de-fund or reduce funding on many military expenses that the fairgoers found money to bolster spending on their priority items.
It was quite apparent that the fairgoer-voters want to increase what the government now spends on other categories as well raising job training funding to 5.5% and housing to 5.7% (whereas education, training, employment, and all social services now only total 6% of discretionary spending.)
In one area these Bucks citizens reduced what the government now spends on social services: in their allocation, income security (which includes what we call welfare) declined from the current 5% to only 3.7%.
“It was really interesting seeing the debates going on within families about how to apportion the money,” comments one Coalition for Peace Action staffer. “The teenagers really pressed their parents to up their allocation for environmental protection.”
The Coalition for Peace Action (www.peacecoalition.org) , which has chapters in Lower, Central, and Upper Bucks, is part of the 50-year-old national organization Peace Action.