Activist Group Gauges Opinion; Holds Tax Day Poll on Spending
As the "Ides of April" descended on the country, Princetonians scampering to file their taxes in person at the downtown post office in Palmer Square on Thursday afternoon were treated to symbolic, albeit minute, donations from a Princeton-based activist group.
The annual "Penny Poll," conducted by the Coalition for Peace Action, offered participants 10 pennies and asked them to place the pennies toward areas of government that they would like to see improved. Those areas included education, health care, environment, housing, and military.
Participants were then given a flyer indicating how New Jersey residents' tax dollars were used during fiscal year 2004.
"It's an educational process and we wanted to engage people," CPA President, the Rev. Robert Moore said. The 65 people who participated in the poll, which took place between noon and 1 p.m. were given the opportunity to express their opinions, Mr. Moore said. "Most Americans like the idea of being able to say 'here's my opinion'."
To some, the dichotomy between how people voted and how tax dollars are actually used was alarming, according to Mr. Moore. "The real clincher was when [we] handed them the fact sheet and we tell them how their tax money is actually being spent," he said.
Out of the 65 people polled, or 650 pennies, Education was the top priority with 27 percent; followed by Health Care with 25 percent; Environment with 24 percent; Housing with 13.6 percent; and finishing with 10 percent for Military services.
The fact sheet, which presented tax appropriation facts from the National Priorities Project, showed that nearly 30 percent of tax dollars go to funding the military, followed by 20 percent used to pay off interest on the national debt.
Mr. Moore said that while the poll was not scientific, it gave some people a platform to express their opinions.
"We're a fairly opinionated country, so we invited people to speak out," he said.