Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: January 17, 2012

How out of control is government spending?

This out of control. 

Obviously what I’m about to list isn’t going to make or break us as a nation in terms of monetary outlay.  Each taken individually is but a drop in the sea of $16 trillion dollar debt we now float in.  But the fact remains that each is an indicator of why we’re in that deep of a hole.  Each points to another area where government has no business, especially spending taxpayer, or more likely borrowed money.  Or it points to an expenditure not made on its reasoned merits, but on bureaucratic inertia, lack of control or monitoring or any of a great number of reasons the payment shouldn’t have been made.  Doug Bandow provides us with the list.

Now, on with the show:

~The U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. AID) spent $30 million to spur mango production and sales in Pakistan—and failed utterly.

Yup, mango production … in Pakistan.

~The Air Force spent $14 million to switch three radar stations to wind power; poor planning forced cancellation of one turbine and consideration of the same for the other two.

Because we all know windpower is proven and reliable.

~The Federal Aviation Administration devoted $6 million to subsidize air service at small, underused airports.

Market smarket … we’ll just create one.  Until the money runs out, of course.

~A federal grant for $765,828 went to—I am not making this up, to quote Dave Barry—bring an International House of Pancakes franchise to Washington, D.C.

Because bringing IHOPs to DC is a primary function of the United States government and worthy of every dollar spent.

~The Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided a $484,000 grant to build a “Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers” restaurant in Texas.

Because it is not the market’s job to decide what restaurants should exist in a certain area, it’s the job of government.

~Another HUD grant, this one for $1 million, went to a foreign architectural firm to move its headquarters from Santa Monica to Los Angeles.

Because we knew you’d want us to do it.  You need to move?  Tough cookies.

~NIH gave the University of Kentucky $175,587 to study the impact of cocaine on the sex drive of Japanese quail.

Because we’re sure Japanese quail are the next target of drug dealers.  Or something.  But this is important … important enough to up the debt over and don’t you forget it.

~The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) gave $916,567 to underwrite horse-drawn carriage exhibits and survey shipwrecks in Wisconsin.

Because, well, we couldn’t think of anything else to do with the money.

~The Oregon Cheese Guild received $50,400 to promote cheese.

Because obviously the Oregon Cheese Guild wouldn’t be able to promote cheese without this.

~Uncle Sam spent $111,000 to send brewery experts to conduct classes in China.

Because the folks making Tsing Tao obviously couldn’t handle that.

~The ever busy NSF devoted $300,000 to developing a dance program to illustrate the origins of matter.

Because without it … oh nevermind.

And my personal favorite:

~Washington helpfully gave almost $18 million in foreign aid to China—money effectively borrowed from China.

The circle is complete.  Borrowing money to give money back to the entity from which we borrowed it while still owing the balance.

Brilliant.

Your government at work.  Be sure to read the rest of the top 100 wastes of money that Sen. Tom Coburn has helpfully put together.  And remember.  They’re the top 100.  There are plenty more than just didn’t make the cut.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Who won last night’s debate? Who cares?

Who cares as in “will it matter”?  

Seems to me that while it was clear that Romney didn’t do as well as he has in the past, Gingrich ruled and the others, beside Ron Paul, had at least OK nights, it really doesn’t matter as I believe the South Carolina primary vote will show.

If the debate mattered, Gingrich will surge dramatically in the polls and, one would think, in the final vote to at least close to a close second to Romney.  I simply don’t think that will happen.  Huntsman dropped out and that brought absolutely no reaction from the crowd last night when announced.  I think precisely the same would be true for any of the non-Romneys at this point, including Gingrich.

That is not to say I am at all pleased that Romney seems to be the inevitable nominee.  I haven’t been pleased with a GOP nominee since Reagan.  I mostly see Romney as another Dole or McCain.   That said, I see the man in the White House as far more dangerous than Romney.   But again, it seems this election season will distill itself down to the usual choice – the lesser of two evils.

There were some good lines last night from the non-Romneys and I was glad to see them back off the attack on capitalism and Bain.

That said, and considering this was a debate moderated by the GOP friendly Fox network, where in the world were the questions about the economy and the European crisis?  Where were the queries about jobs and how to go about creating them? 

Instead we got silly race baiting questions from Juan Williams (which, thankfully, were turned on him to the point that the crowd gave Newt Gingrich a standing O for his answer to one of them), questions about tax returns and other ancillary topics that really didn’t address the main problem of our time.

Certainly, if you watched Twitter during the debate, people had fun scoring the punches and the hits, the “dodges” and the answers, but in the big primary scheme of things, does any of that matter?   If polls are to be believed, Romney is comfortably ahead in both South Carolina and Florida.

I’m personally tired of the debates.  For the most part they’ve delivered more entertainment than information. They’ve devolved into scorekeeping about who got the best shot in on Romney.  This is something like the 15th Republican debate and we’re no more enlightened about the serious topics we should be addressing than we were after the 1st. 

If we have to go through more of this debate nonsense, can we have one solely focused on jobs, the economy and the proposed policies each of the candidates would try to have implemented to turn this mess around?   Can we hear an intelligent discussion of what the European mess portends and how it will effect us?  Can we toss a question out there addressing the President’s new defense strategy and its implications and effect on future American foreign policy?

And can we give them more than 90 seconds to answer?   I’m tired of hearing the same old stump speech for the umpteenth time, the usual fall back when there are time limits on answers.   If the debate is 2 hours and that means only 2 to 3 questions get asked, but each candidate gets, say 5 to 7 minutes to answer, I’m fine with that. 

Because that will actually require them to say more than the canned generalizations they tend to throw out there now in response to questions.  That will allow probing for more detail and follow up.  It will actually shed some light on positions and better inform Americans.

Instead we seem to be stuck with the equivalent of Twitter debates, with about enough time for a candidate to attempt to summarize his answer into 140 characters or less.

Is there something wrong with demanding substance in these things and the time necessary to produce it?

Or is that just simply not good for ratings?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO