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Government by the Numbers
Spending by federal, state, and local governments accounts for about one-third of U.S. GDP and governments employ more than one-in-seven workers in the U.S. For most U.S. residents, the government is represented by a complicated web of federal, state, and local policies. There is an increasingly contentious debate about the proper role of government and regarding the impact of specific government policies. This debate is rarely grounded in a common set of facts. In this IntroSem, we will explore how each level of government interacts with U.S. residents through government services, public programs, taxes, and regulations. We will examine financial inflow and outflow for different levels of government while considering the net effects of government intervention on the health and economic well-being of individuals and families. Particular attention will be paid to certain sectors (e.g., education, health care, criminal justice, etc.) and to how the effects differ by race and ethnicity. Along the way, we will accumulate a set of metrics to assess the performance of each level of government while highlighting the formidable challenges of such an exercise.