Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Welfare, Grants & Boondoggles

In my series of thoughts and perspectives on how to actually save the country, I would now like to address spending.

We all know we've got our share of welfare bums. We all know there are millions of disability hustlers out there. We know food stamps (now credit cards) are used by it seems half the population. And we also know there are jobs out there for some of these people, if they wanted to work. As I pass fast food joints I often see signs in the windows: "Help Wanted, All Shifts Available". So we know we've got a problem (and let's not forget middle-class welfare; lot's of Pell Grants etc. for the suburban crowd) and we know it's costing the hell out of us and we know it needs to be addressed.

But that's the obvious waste, let's talk about the not so obvious. I want to talk about grants and corporate welfare and the myriad and multitudinous ways politicians and agencies spend our money to advance their own agendas and careers. Senator Tom Coburn puts out a report on wasteful spending every year. Last years greatest hits were...

• $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees & poinsettias.
• $15.3 million for one of the infamous Bridges to Nowhere in Alaska.
• $113,227 for video game preservation center in New York.
• $550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
• $48,700 for 2nd annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival, to promote Hawaii’s chocolate industry.
• $350,000 to support an International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy.
• $10 million for a remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan.
• $35 million allocated for political party conventions in 2012.
• $765,828 to subsidize “pancakes for yuppies” in the nation’s capital.
• $764,825 to study how college students use mobile devices for social networking.
Now I don't think these are particularly egregious in the grand scheme of things. I've seen a lot worse. But on a daily basis, the federal government in this country spends more money on more needless, wasteful, counterproductive bullshit than you can shake a stick at. Everyday there are long lines of people outside Congressional offices waiting for their chance to make a pitch for our money. We are borrowing about $100 billion a month. How long can it go on? How much debt can we sustain? 

I am not opposed to government funding of basic/specific research. I am not opposed to a social safety net. A am not opposed to government helping the disabled, the handicapped and the infirm. But this avalanche of money going to community organizers, corporations, unions and every hustle and boondoggle one can imagine is out of control. It is wrong regardless of our financial footing. But in these trying times, the Chicago way of passing out goodies to build coalitions and constituencies is the road to disaster. We have real obligations to our citizens, legitimate expenses and expenditures that must be paid for. We cannot afford to throw money at private endeavours that are not legitimate functions of government regardless of their merit, and especially not at some ridiculous crap like mentioned above.

Our next President must take a fine toothed comb to the federal budget. Zero-based budgeting where every expense is looked at, justified and approved is the only way. If the individual states want to fund Planned Parenthood or a Tea Pot Museum then off they go, but the Federal government and the taxpayer is out of the getting ripped-off business. 

I am well aware that some of these giveaways have large and vocal supporters, and doing away with them will be a political nightmare in some cases. But the effort must be made. The issue of overspending must be addressed. The case must be made for federalism and that the individual state is the appropriate place for this kind of spending (if there is an appropriate place). It will not be easy to "re-educate" the populace but it has to be done. Then the next time we get a Democrat President he/she might actually say something like "The era of big government is over".  


Tom de Plume said...

Liberals will comment how what you posted represents only about $70 million in spending and the tax increases they propose represent a yearly take of an extra $85 billion, which we all agree is a drop in the bucket against our $1.4 trillion deficit. So why is that sepnding such a big deal?

I always reply that we are just more honest than they are. We admit that cutting spending like that is just the start. They never admit that their tax increases on "the rich" is just a start for them.

"The Hammer" said...

Newer Post Older Post Home