Tax Day Penny Polls Reveal Desire for Lower Military Budget

by Michael Carrigan


Peace Activists gathered at the Eugene downtown Post Office on Tax Day, April 15th, to call for the re-ordering of federal spending priorities from supporting war to meeting human and environmental needs.  One hundred sixteen people took the opportunity of voicing how they would spend their tax dollars when they participated in Eugene’s “Penny Poll.”

Participants were handed 10 pennies, which they deposited in jars representing a 6-category breakdown of the federal budget.  The categories and how people voted were as follows:

Year:                                           2009         2010
Human resources                           45%         50%
Physical resources                          31%      25.5%
General government                       12%         12%
Military                                         3.5%           2%
Iraq and Afghan wars                       3%        1.5%
Interest on National Debt               5.5%           9%

Fifty-eight percent of the budget appropriated by Congress for this fiscal year will go to fund the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and other military programs ( The penny poll results clearly indicate that if Eugene residents ran the federal government, things would be significantly different. Their tax dollars would be funding social and environmental programs and not war.  Φ

Former OPW Executive Director Michael Carrigan now works for Community Action of Lane County (CALC). You can reach him at 541-844-4677.


by June Hemmingson

The day before Tax Day, 214 Linn Benton Community College students took part in a penny poll to determine how they want federal taxes spent. The breakdown was as follows:

General Government: 8%
Military:  13.5%
Physical Resources: 22.5%
Human Resources: 36%
Interest on the National Debt (obligatory): 20%

The U.S. government started combining trust funds and federal funds during the Vietnam War, thus making the human needs portion of the budget seem larger and the military portion smaller. The 2009 U.S. discretionary budget (which does not include trust funds – such as Social Security – which are raised and spent separately from income taxes) showed:
General Government: 11%
Physical Resources: 5%
Human Resources:  30%
Military: 45-54%*
*depending on how much of the debt is considered to have been created by military spending

These figures are from the “Analytical Perspectives” book of the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009 as reported by War Resisters League.

For further info, go to:   Φ

June Hemmingson is a member of the Albany PeaceSeekers and Oregon PeaceWorks.

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