The Motley Fool served readers some eyebrow-raising news and analysis this week: a look at where our tax dollars go, a possible stumble at one of the biggest retailers, and a look at how what seems to make sense could really be just the wrong thing to do in pursuit of your fortune.

How the Government Spends Your Money:
"Government spending is obnoxiously huge." Everyone's on board with that statement from Fool writer Morgan Housel, right? But give people sharpened pencils, and the chunks they remove from the multitrillion-dollar beast likely won't be enough to matter. Morgan tells us why: "Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense spending, income security, and interest make up more than 80% of federal spending. Every other individual segment is virtually irrelevant to the big picture."

People just aren't willing to cut the areas that use up the big money.

"Slashing entitlement spending is a PR no-no because no politician (from either party) dares to run on the 'I'll force Grandma to live on cat food' platform," writes Morgan. Meanwhile, he notes, trying to cut defense spending can rile the lobbying arms of big companies like Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), and prompt charges that you're soft on terrorism.

Click through to the story and join the lively debate in the comments section.

Has Wal-Mart Hit the Wall?:
What's the world coming to when discount king Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) turns in lackluster numbers for a holiday quarter during which penny-pinching was supposedly the new national sport?

Fool writer Alyce Lomax thinks outside the big box, wondering: "Are its traditional core customers currently suffering so much they can't buy as much as they used to? And if some budget-conscious consumers traded down to Wal-Mart last year, are many feeling better now, and moving back up to higher-end retailers?"

In every industry, investors need to understand how companies make money. Then they have to stay on top of how changing economic circumstances affect customer demand, whether it's for Blue Nile's (Nasdaq: NILE) high-end sparklers or the gas and oil that ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) deals in.

Click to the story to see Alyce's further thoughts on Wal-Mart's future.

Your Best Shot at a 10-Bagger:
Fool editor and writer Anand Chokkavelu has some bad news -- and then some better news -- for those of us who dream of making a lot of money quickly. Lottery tickets and bank robberies are just not Foolish, so Anand talks about what he really likes: the stock market.

"My visions of huge, unrealistic profits led to hasty decision-making, which led to losses," Anand writes. "In other words, almost every time I've tried to swing out of my shoes to hit a home run, I've struck out."

Even if you're conservative in your investing, you might be going in the wrong direction. For instance, large-cap stocks like Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) just don't have the room to grow that is necessary for really big returns.

Here's the good news from Anand: "To maximize your chances of achieving a 10-bagger in 10 years without throwing Hail Marys, focus on smaller companies that have strong balance sheets, strong cash flows, and strong growth prospects."

Click to the story to read more about the best way to bag a 10-bagger.

Wal-Mart and Pfizer are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Blue Nile is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our investing newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool online editor Kris Eddy owns no shares of any stocks mentioned in this article. The Fool's disclosure policy will never marry in haste.