Saturday, December 29, 2018

USAFacts—a new way to gather government statistics

This non-profit has been launched by Steve Ballmer and wife Connie.  Although most non-profits established by wealthy capitalists claim to be non-partisan and unbiased, we’ll have to see about that.  When Ballmer gives interviews we’ll see the clues. But since I frequently use government statistics myself in making my points about medical costs, education, immigration, sex/gender, religion, animals, housing, etc., I welcome any source which can make sense of it all, particularly the blending of federal, state and local.  Federal dollars, for instance, are only 3% of total spending on education.

“USAFacts is a new data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future.

We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources. We don’t make judgments or prescribe specific policies. Whether government money is spent wisely or not, whether our quality of life is improving or getting worse – that’s for you to decide. We hope to spur serious, reasoned, and informed debate on the purpose and functions of government. Such debate is vital to our democracy. We hope that USAFacts will make a modest contribution toward building consensus and finding solutions.”


The plan is to divide all government statistics by the four items in the Preamble’s mission statement.

“Revenue And Spending

Government revenue and expenditures are based on data from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Each is published annually, although due to collection times, state and local government data are not as current as federal data. Thus, when combining federal, state, and local revenues and expenditures, the most recent year shown is 2014, the most recent year for which all three sets of data are available. We show government spending through two different lenses:

Spending by segment: We recategorized several programs and functions to align them with four constitutional missions based on the preamble to the constitution:

  • Establish Justice and Ensure Domestic Tranquility
  • Provide for the Common Defense
  • Promote the General Welfare
  • Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity

This approach is modeled after what businesses do for their own management accountability and shareholder reporting. Public companies present their businesses in segments – a logical framework for discussing the areas in which the they operate. We do the same for government. In using this constitutional framework, we have made judgements in how we group programs. . .

Spending by function: We also show spending by functional categories such as compensation for current and past employees, capital expenditures, transfer payments to individuals, interest on the debt, and payments for goods and services. “

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