Transparency and government have never gone hand in hand. California residents pay huge sums into its coffers - so where's it all going? Well, some folks over at California Common Sense are asking the same question and have the math chops to sort through the data. Check it out.
It's even worse at the city level. Why doesn't San Francisco publish it's budget and expenditures for all taxpayers to see? I can't wait to see that data visualization.
In my own data company pursuits I've been continually frustrated by what seem like two different camps - the data visualizers and the infographic designers. I consider them the data design Crips and Bloods (I'm from Los Angeles). What I'd like to see is a compromise - a peace that produces actual answers to problems that everyone can understand. The space needs an info visualizer or a graphic data-izer. Someone who understands that while cool charts are well...cool, the end goal is to educate and illuminate not obfuscate.
I found at least a similarly frustrated comrade in Bret Victor (full disclosure: I do not know him - just stumbled upon the blog). You have to scroll down a bit to get to the good stuff, but worth a look.