Have you ever wondered where the US tax revenue exactly comes from and where it goes? To most US citizens the thought of traversing a mountain of US government financial data could seem like a nightmare. But this nightmare is no more, thanks to our friendly neighborhood (former) Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer. With the help of economists, writers, researchers from the academic communities, Ballmer was able to compile government financial data into a user-friendly format. USAFacts is this “portrait” of the US tax system.
USAFacts is described by Ballmer a “nonpartisan, data-driven” website that provides reports on the US population and government finances. The idea of this website was spurred by a dinner conversation between Ballmer and his wife. Since then, he tasked this website as his “retirement project.” Personally, I would choose a different retirement hobby to pick up, but to each his own. The mission statement of USAFacts is to be as nonpartisan as possible while providing financial reports on government finances, public companies, and population statistics. In an interview with Marketplace, Ballmer stated that he wants the website to serve as a tool to combat against misguided factual observations and misleading “adjectives” used in political debate. USAFacts puts repeated emphasis on the nonpartisan aspect of the website as they look to create more numbers based dialogue within the US.
But will Ballmer’s website be able to influence the dialogue surrounding political debate? As Ballmer has expressed, data and data-driven evidence is naturally nonpartisan. Today, political conversation is filled with opinions that are disguised as factual evidence. Ballmer is optimistic that USAFacts can provide clarity to the debate of government financial decisions. But as Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace phrases it, Ballmer is attempting to inject “fact into a post-fact world.”