Of Course There’s No Wasteful Government Spending! [Satire]
With a federal debt now exceeding $23 trillion, it’s good for citizens to learn how our tax dollars are used. In the public interest of understanding the wisdom of our congressional representatives, here are a few examples to consider.
And, of course, some ideas for additional spending.
Bob Dylan statue. I’ve long been a fan of Bob Dylan, who in 2016 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. So I was understandably thrilled when I learned that the State Department spent $84,375 to buy a statue of him for the US embassy in Maputo, Mozambique.
But why not erect statues of famous American musicians in every US embassy? Of course, we could give ambassadors who don’t appreciate Dylan another choice. For instance, they could erect statues of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, or even Aaron Copland. After all, music is the universal language.
Frog mating call study. Another source of pride was a $466,991 federal expenditure studying the mating calls of Panama’s túngara frog. This is obviously an urgent priority, compared to, say, repairing or replacing the more than 47,000 bridges in the US that have significant structural deficiencies.
Egyptian educational funding. I was also delighted to discover that in 2018, Uncle Sam committed $16.5 million to improve the quality of education in Egypt and help the country’s farmers access global markets. Egypt is led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has presided over killings of protesters by security forces, mass detentions, military trials of civilians, and hundreds of death sentences meted out to political opponents. I’m proud my tax dollars are being spent to support a country with such a stellar record of protecting human rights.
Transportation Safety Administration. Next, I’ll turn to one of my favorite government agencies, the TSA, which spends around $8 billion annually keeping us safe from terrorists and other security threats. Indeed, the TSA is so effective that in a 2017 study at the Minneapolis airport, its screeners were able to detect about 5% of the explosives and weapons smuggled through security checkpoints by undercover agents. That outstanding achievement definitely makes me sleep better at night.
Raisin Administrative Committee. My heart swells with pride when I consider the achievements of the Raisin Administrative Committee, which has received more than $38 million in taxpayer dollars over the last 20 years. It performs the indispensable task of administering a “price stabilization” program ensuring that raisin prices don’t fall too low. After all, we wouldn’t want to risk letting the free market decide how much raisins should sell for, would we?
Back in 2002, after consulting crystal balls, goat entrails, and other economic forecasting tools, the RAC decreed that raisin farmers would be required to divert 47% of their crop into a raisin “reserve.” Most raisin farmers went along, but one farmer named Marvin Horne didn’t. He actually thought that in America, he should be able to sell all the raisins he wanted at whatever price he chose.
Naturally, the RAC didn’t agree. A free market in raisins was such a grave threat to the US economy that the RAC fined Horne $650,000 for not permitting it to confiscate nearly half his raisin crop. But in 2015, the Supreme Court inexplicably ruled in Horne’s favor, reasoning that, “any physical taking of them for public use must be accompanied by just compensation.”
Department of Defense. But I’m proudest of the Department of Defense, which in 2015, managed to lose $6.5 trillion in what the department’s inspector general referred to as “unsupported journal voucher adjustments.” And no, we’re not talking about $435 hammers or $640 toilet seats.
Indeed, further analysis revealed that a total of $21 trillion in unsupported adjustments – a polite way of saying the money was lost, hidden or stolen – were reported between 1998 and 2015, primarily in defense-related funds.
My all-time favorite defense-related expenditure is for the Lockheed F-35 combat jet. US taxpayers are slated to shell out more than $1.5 trillion over the plane’s anticipated lifespan. And there are only a few performance issues, such as the fact that the F-35 can’t take off from the Navy’s newest aircraft carriers or their nasty habit of crashing. Oh, and they can’t dogfight or even eject pilots in an emergency without killing or seriously injuring them.
In fact, the F-35 is such an effective weapon that last March, the Air Force announced it would purchase 80 F-15Xs over the next five years. The F-15 is a 35-year-old design that’s functionally obsolete, but according to the Air Force, it costs only 50% as much to operate as the F-35 and lasts twice as long.
Sadly, there have been a few efforts by killjoys to cut government spending. For instance, last year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul proposed cutting 2% from the federal budget for the next five years. Thankfully only 22 senators voted in favor of a cloture motion that would have brought this outrageous proposal to a vote.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if current trends, continue, Uncle Sam will spend more than $57 trillion over the next decade. It also estimates the federal deficit will increase $11.6 trillion, ballooning to $35 trillion or so.
But why worry? After all, the federal government’s debt level is less than half that of Japan – 106% versus 238%.
That’s why I’m ecstatic that our politicians are proposing enormous spending increases, paid for by even more borrowing. New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has proposed an initiative she calls a Green New Deal. One estimate for the initiative’s 10-year cost that includes “Medicare for All,” guaranteed federal jobs, and food security for all comes to $93 trillion.
Of course, if a recession hits, of course, those numbers could increase substantially.
Or if there’s a war. The ultimate costs of America’s wars in the Middle East so far will be close to $5 trillion, perhaps more. The war de jour is with Iran, and Uncle Sam would need to commit around 1.6 million troops to subdue it in an invasion. The total costs of conquering Iran could make the Green New Deal look like a bargain.
But why worry? We can afford it! After all, ever since President Nixon abandoned all semblance of the gold standard in 1971, our government can create as much money as it wants out of thin air. And any government that issues its own currency can always pay its bills with the cash it creates.
Just ask Maximilian Bern (if we only could).
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