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Why can't we democratically vote on how our tax money is spent?

In the U.S. we vote every four years for new representatives, more taxes, propositions, and bond funding for various projects. This current process leaves a lot to be desired. We should have the ability to democratically vote on how excess tax funds are spent for local, state, and national issues. This could help us solve major problems like improvement for education, infrastructure, energy, prisons, and etc. We vote for representatives that should be our voice and our extension, but have alternative lobby agendas. We need more accountability and transparency for tax funds. We should petition the government to restructure our foreign aid and defense spending and improve our domestic problems. Democracy needs a refresh. Selfish capitalist are too powerful and too greedy. We need to rise to expand our voters rights.

  • Feb 26 2014: While I agree with your analysis of the Problem, Direct Democracy is not the answer.

    1. Local, State and Federal taxes all have their own agendas. They do not coincide. For example, legalization of Marijuana is Federally illegal, 2-State totally legal, 27-state partially legal and even within the 2 legal states each local county can decide to allow it or not.
    2. While you point out items that you feel are not properly addressed, you must realize that some people believe that they *are* properly addressed. For example you mentioned 'restructuring foreign aid.' That implies that you do not believe that we should give money to other countries or that you want the aid spent differently. While voting may change that in your favor it also may not.
    3. The real issue is Money. Our government is bought and paid for by lobbyists. Take the money out of reelection campaigns and our Representatives might actually listen to us. At present we are shouted down by the Greenbacks.
    4. The US is not a Democracy.
    5. We don't need to expand our voter rights - we just need to USE them. People don't vote because they are relatively happy with the status quo. When you see voter participation rising to the 75% range, THEN you're seeing a system that is broke and need changing.

    Please look at my response on this topic on another talk: http://www.ted.com/conversations/22525/why_isn_t_there_a_forum_for_vo_1.html?c=820079

    To distill that talk: How would you like to go sleep during SuperBowl Halftime only to wake up to find that nipple rings and pop music were banned because of Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe mishap'?
  • Feb 23 2014: II think one of the reasons it isn't this way is because money itself, which doesn't need to be implemented the way it is now that we have the technology to change it.

    Direct democracy would work if you treat it as not providing the SOLUTION to problems, just state what is needed, and that is used to provide input/incentive to get those things done.
    I have an idea open on one such implementation that the readers of this idea may like:
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/23062/direct_democracy_implementatio.html
  • Feb 21 2014: I see the problem as a cach-22. The only way is to educate the masses on the hidden clockwork of their government. However the only way to expose said clockwork is to abolish said government.
  • Feb 21 2014: The idea is completely and utterly impractical.
    Do you have any idea how the budget of a modern nation looks like? Its a great convulsed mess containing thousands of separate items, some of which you also can't display to the public due to national security. Professional economists have a hard time making heads and tails out of the lot of it. You can't expect the uninformed public to start making decisions at those levels.

    Direct democracy is a disaster waiting to happen, not a solution to anything. The current representative system is already slow, fickle, inefficient and populist (still better then a dictatorship, mind), a direct democracy is even worse in all those regards.
    There are better ways of solving wealth inequality.
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    Feb 20 2014: The United States is a democratic republic, meaning you elect legislators to represent you. Few of us have the time or resources to educate ourselves on every item that comes up for a vote. That's why we elect representatives to do it for us.

    If you're not happy with how your money is being spent, vote on new legislators. That's how our system is set up in the US.
    • Feb 21 2014: Its incredibly naive to think that voting for legislators/a political party is democracy. Not only do parties and legislators change their mind and back track on their original manifestos after you have voted, but once they are in power they don't care two hoots whether they represent the electorate. Real democracy would come in the form of a political system that involves the public as much as possible not just once every 5 years at a ballot box. There are many ways to do this, but governments just don't like the idea of giving us choice. They pretend we are not informed nor intelligent enough to make decisions, but this is a complete lie. They are afraid of true democracy.
      As for the tax system, If each of our tax codes where tied into a processing system that automatically directed funds to what we as individuals seen as important, then this could work. Doubt governments will implement such a system though. I personally would direct some of my tax to whistleblower organisations such as wikileaks. Wikileaks does the public a great service and it should be funded by the tax payer.
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      Feb 24 2014: Lawren - Voting is extremely important but it's the last step. Putting our elected officials on notice is critical as well. I think there is a tendency for elected officials to forget where they came from. Maybe this is because they are so surrounded by special interests.

      As citizens and tax payers we should demand and end to lobbies. We need to know that our vote counts as much as anyone else's.