Wednesday, December 21, 2011
As always, you can click the cartoon for larger size
It's that time of year when many Americans are wrapping up their desperate Christmas bargain-hunting, wondering if they'll be able to cover the bills when they arrive, and putting a little extra rum in the egg nog to help cope with their worries about making ends meet in 2012.
Except in Washington DC, of course, where our legislators are still spending like drunken sailors who even other drunken sailors would describe as being really stupendously bad with money.
Which is what makes "Wastebook" such painfully amusing reading. "Wastebook" is Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn's annual breakdown of absolutely ludicrous government expenditures, and this year he quickly found $6.5 billion in screwy spending that Barack Obama, Congress, and the superdupercommittee chose to ignore.
In his report, you'll find all the examples cited in the cartoon (except "D") and many more. Did you know you're funding the "Oregon Cheese Trail" and paying to create Horse-Drawn Carriage Exhibits? And to encourage broadband Internet use in "under-served communities," the government is paying to create specially targeted online soap operas so minorities will watch their computers instead of their TVs. Are you kept awake nights wondering if cocaine will cause Japanese quail to engage in high-risk sex? Good news! The government is funding a study on that very topic!
iPads for kindergartners? Why not! A "First Lady's Organic Garden" game to fight obesity? What a terrific idea! Studies of smoking amongst University students... in Jordan... who only smoke hookahs? Money well spent! $300,000 to fund interpretive dancing "to facilitate dialogue on the physics and origin of the universe?" A bargain at twice the price!
While the report (which you can download as a PDF right here) initially makes for some pretty funny reading, the joke wears pretty thin as Coburn documents page after page after page of idiotic expenditures which make a mockery of politician's claims to be careful (or even mentally competent) stewards of our money.
As much as we like to sum up the day's commentary with an original punchline here at Hope n' Change, there's no way we could beat the one that Senator Coburn came up with. Citing the fact that Congress (quite justifiably) has an approval rating of only 9%, he says "perhaps there was no bigger waste of the taxpayer's money in 2011 than Congress itself."
Now that's on the money.