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June 16, 2011

Bread and Circuses

A government big enough to give you everything you want, as it turns out, is also so massively inefficient and convoluted that it gives you a whole bunch of crap you don't want. Two or three times over, even:

A review of the [Economic Development Administration]'s grants makes clear that, just like the stimulus, this program too often has used federal dollars to fund pet projects that have little relation to the national interest. In April, the bureau reported that it gave a $2 million grant to build a "culinary amphitheater," wine tasting room, and gift shop at the Port of Benton and the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Richland, Wash. The same month, it gave $1.5 million to promote tourism in the Northern Mariana Islands. In January, it spent $1 million on an "innovation conference center" in Arkansas to promote "cultural enrichment."

Ok, so that was probably old spending already in the system, but the message of fiscal responsibility we sent last November surely will fix this going forward, right? Well meet the new boss. Same as the old boss:

... the Senate is currently seeking to increase EDA funding to $500 million a year from $300 million. Worse, this bill passed out of a Senate authorization committee with unanimous, bipartisan support.

Continuing this kind of bullshit in the first place is one thing, but a 67% increase? Really?

Ben Franklin once said, "beware of little expenses; even a small leak will sink a great ship." It's hard to think of half a billion dollars as a little expense, but in the context of debt and deficit measured in trillions, I guess it is. And against Franklin's sage warning, we have a budget filled with thousands upon thousands of such little expenses, and the U.S.S. United States is leaking like a sieve.

The left continues to call for increased taxes as some sort of balance to budget cuts. Until frivolous make-work programs like the EDA are not merely suspended but completely eliminated, we shouldn't even entertain the discussion.

The biggest budget problem we have isn't debt service, unfunded pension obligations or entitlements. It's that we continue to be represented by (save for a handful) fundamentally unserious legislators who are not up to the task of addressing the fiscal problems we face.


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posted by Andy at 11:00 AM

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