In the movie "Stranger Than Fiction", IRS agent Harold Crick (played by Will Farrell, proving once and for all that he can do drama) informs Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) that she has only paid %78 of the taxes that she owes. Ms. Pascal defiantly states that she deliberatly underpaid her taxes because she only wanted to pay for the government programs that she approved of. She approved of using her taxes to build playgrounds and fill potholes, but not corporate bailouts and national defence.
While my readers may disagree on what the military should be used for, I think we can all agree that there should be a national defence. Nevertheless, the concept of only paying for the government programs that you support is an interesting idea. Liberals hate paying for corporate bailouts and oil company subsidies, conservatives hate paying for social programs. Of course, if this idea were implemented then many people would insist that they do not support any government programs, leading to revenue shortfalls every year.
As an alternative, I propose that taxpayers be allowed to dedicate more money towards the causes that they are concerned about, while still paying a portion that goes into the general fund. How about allowing a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations to non-profit organizations that meet certain qualifications? The qualifications would be that the non-profit serves the same function as an existing government organization and that it can demonstrate that it accomplishes the same goal more efficiently.
While some private organization are less efficient and more corrupt than even the Bush administration, most NGO's can and do operate better than government for several reasons. NGO's can distribute help based on where it is needed, not based on who has the most influential congressman or senator. They are more accountable in that they lose funding if they screw up. They do not need to wait for a leap year to replace a leader if he isn't doing his job right.