Where does your tax money go? (5×8 – 3/23/11)

Calculating how your money is spent, the martyr of citizen journalism, the case of the Muslim teacher, they don’t call it Superior for nothing, and South Fargo’s bad idea gone worse. Also: Mysteries of the Wiffle Ball.


We like it here. We like it here. We like it here. I’ll get to the 5×8 in just a moment. We like it here. We like it here. We like it here. We like it here.

Let’s start with the hands-down Tweet of the day:

westover_tweet_mar_23.jpg

Now, then…

1) HOW MUCH?

Where does your tax money go? Few people actually know. “An electorate unschooled in basic budget facts is a major obstacle to controlling the nation’s deficit, not to mention addressing a host of economic and social problems,” the group Third Way says.

It’s created a “receipt” for the taxes you paid in 2010. Grab your 1040, fill in the data and find out where your money went. If you paid, for example, $11,000 in federal income tax, about $8 went to arts and culture, $81 went to the space program, $2,218.86 went to the defense department, and $2,249.43 went to Social Security. The group’s goal is to convince you that the budget and deficit problems are going to be solved by dealing with the things that cost $2,249 before the things that cost $8.

Find your receipt here. (h/t: Julia Schrenkler)

Thanks to the U.S. entry into another war or “not war“), one of those numbers could go up fast, Marketplace calculates. A month of Libya could cost the U.S. $1 billion.

2) WAR AND THE CITIZEN JOURNALIST

This is Mo Nabbous, who made this video on Saturday. He was one of the people who used social media and the tools available to him to get information out about what was going on in Libya.

A few hours later, he was dead. It’s thought he was shot by a sniper as he covered the deteriorating scene.

3) YOU ARE: THE CASE OF THE MUSLIM TEACHER

You’re a teacher in a Chicago suburb and you’ve only been on the job for nine months. You get your summers off but you want to make a pilgrimage to Mecca so you ask for three weeks off. It’s the end of the semester and you’re the only math lab teacher so your boss says “no.”

Are you the victim of discrimination based on your religion?

It’s a case making its way through federal court. The Justice Department is on the teacher’s side.

Should it? Details here.

4) THEY DON’T CALL IT ‘SUPERIOR’ FOR NOTHING

This video, taken yesterday, prompts a reminder. Lake Superior is a lake. Sure, a really big lake, but still a lake.

And this qualifies as the picture of the day:

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.... #dlh on Twitpic

5) A BAD IDEA GONE WORSE

The kid in Fargo who blew the whistle on some other kids for inviting the dastardly Westboro Baptist Church to town to protest their play about Matthew Shepard, hasn’t been able to go back to school.

The play is based on the 1998 killing of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was gay. The church protests at funerals of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying their deaths is God’s retribution for America’s tolerance of gays.

The kids thought it would be a great way to generate publicity for their production. South Fargo High senior Sara Siquieros has been harassed since she ratted her classmates out, her mother says. The Fargo Forum reports:


Siquieros, a bisexual, required a police escort all three days of the production, Gomez said.

Also, she claims a teacher told Siquieros not to talk about the flap in class, and she says South High Principal Todd Bertsch asked if they wanted the two students to be whipped and subjected to a “lynch mob.”

Because she feels officials didn’t address those issues, Gomez said Siquieros does not feel safe enough to return to South High.

“My daughter was left out in the cold here,” said Gomez, who gave members of the board a packet of documents last month outlining her complaints.

Buresh said all information from Gomez has been investigated. While no staff members were placed on a disciplinary leave, issues raised in the investigation may be addressed in annual reviews, he said.

Bonus: Mechanical engineer reveals the secrets of Wiffle Ball.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Critics from both parties question President Obama’s use of U.S. forces in Libya without seeking congressional approval. They point out that the Constitution gives Congress authority to declare war. Should presidents have to seek congressional approval before sending forces into conflict?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A bill that would make human cloning a crime in Minnesota is back at the state Legislature. Proponents of stem cell research say the bill could hamper research on the roots of disease and potential therapies.

Second hour: A new book delves into the current scientific quest for the secret of eternal life and traces the historic fascination with longevity. But if we could really live forever, would we want to?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Meteorologists answer your questions about the flooding.

Second hour: Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst, speaking at the City Club of Cleveland.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Political talk with NPR editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: Carol Burnett.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A couple of Minneapolis residents and law firms are involved initiating a class-action lawsuit against Chicago-based Groupon, a fast-growing company that emails consumers local deal-of-the-day coupons. The suit alleges the coupons are actually gift cards because they come with expiration dates, and that consumers are being deceived. The implications of this lawsuit go far beyond Minnesota, as Groupon’s rapid success and business model has inspired a big following and industry replication. Other lawsuits in other states are underway. Jess Mador has a look.

NPR will look at why charter schools are hitting roadblocks in the suburbs.